The Master (''Doctor Who'')
|Doctor Who character|
The Master as portrayed in chronological order, left to right from top row.
|First appearance||Terror of the Autons (1971)|
The Master is a recurring character in the British science fiction television series Doctor Who and its associated spin-off works. The character is a renegade alien Time Lord and the archenemy of the title character the Doctor.
The Master has been played by multiple actors since the character's introduction in 1971. Within the show, this is varyingly explained as the Master taking possession of other characters' bodies, or as a consequence of regeneration, a biological attribute allowing Time Lords to survive fatal injuries.
The role was originated by Roger Delgado in 1971, who portrayed the Master until his death in 1973. From 1976 until the show's cancellation in 1989, the Master was portrayed by a succession of actors: Peter Pratt, Geoffrey Beevers and Anthony Ainley. Eric Roberts took on the role for the 1996 Doctor Who TV film. Since the show's revival in 2005, the Master has been portrayed by Derek Jacobi, John Simm and Michelle Gomez.
The creative team conceived the Master as a recurring villain. He first appeared in Terror of the Autons (1971). The Master's title was deliberately chosen by producer Barry Letts and script editor Terrance Dicks because, like the Doctor, it was a title conferred by an academic degree. The brief given in a sketch of the three "new characters" for 1971 (the other two being Jo Grant and Mike Yates) suggested he was conceived to be of "equal, perhaps even superior rank, to the Doctor".
Barry Letts had one man in mind for the role: Roger Delgado, who had a long history of screen villainy and had already made three attempts to break into the series. He had worked previously with Barry Letts and was a good friend of Jon Pertwee.
Malcolm Hulke said of the character, and his relationship with the Doctor: "There was a peculiar relationship between the Master and the Doctor: one felt that the Master wouldn't really have liked to eliminate the Doctor...you see the Doctor was the only person like him at the time in the whole universe, a renegade Time Lord and in a funny sort of way they were partners in crime."
Aims and character
A would-be universal conqueror, the Master wants to control the universe (in The Deadly Assassin, 1976, his ambitions are described as becoming "the master of all matter"), with a secondary objective to make the Doctor suffer; in The Sea Devils (1972), the Master mentions that the "pleasure" of seeing the destruction of the human race, of which the Doctor is fond, would be "a reward in itself".
History within the show
Encounters with the Third Doctor
The Master, played by Roger Delgado, makes his first appearance in Terror of the Autons (1971), where he allies with the Nestene Consciousness to help them invade Earth. The Third Doctor (Jon Pertwee) convinces the Master to stop this plan at the last minute, and the Master subsequently escapes, albeit with his TARDIS, a space-time ship, left non-functioning after the Doctor confiscates the ship's dematerialisation circuit.
Having become a main character in the show's eighth season, the Master reappears in The Mind of Evil, where he regains his TARDIS' circuit from the Doctor after attempting to launch a nerve gas missile that would initiate World War III. After another incursion on Earth in The Claws of Axos, and failing to hold the galaxy to ransom using a doomsday weapon on the planet Uxarieus in the year 2472 in Colony in Space, in The Dæmons the Master is finally captured on Earth by the organisation UNIT after Jo Grant (Katy Manning) prevents the alien Azal (Stephen Thorne) from gifting the Master his powers.
In The Sea Devils (1972), the Master is shown to be imprisoned on an island prison off the coast of England. He convinces the governor of the prison, Colonel Trenchard (Clive Morton), to help him steal electronics from HMS Seaspite, the nearby naval base, which helps the Master contact the reptilian Sea Devils, the former rulers of Earth, so he can help them retake the planet from humanity. The Master convinces the Doctor to help him build machinery that would bring the Sea Devils out of their millions of years of hibernation, but the Doctor sabotages the device by overloading it, destroying the Sea Devil base and preventing war between humanity and reptiles. The Master subsequently escapes in a hovercraft. The Doctor reveals in this serial that the Master was once a "very good friend" of his.
Delgado's last appearance as the Master is in Frontier in Space (1973), where he works alongside the Dalek and Ogron races to provoke a war between the Human and Draconian Empires. The scheme fails, and the Master escapes after he shoots at the Doctor.
Quest for new life
Played by Peter Pratt in his next appearance, with heavy make-up that makes him resemble an emaciated corpse, the Master returns in The Deadly Assassin (1976). Found by Chancellor Goth (Bernard Horsfall) on planet Tersurus, the Master is revealed to be both in his final regeneration and near the end of his final life. The Master attempts to gain a new regeneration cycle by using the artifacts of Rassilon, the symbols of the President of the Council of Time Lords, to manipulate the Eye of Harmony at the cost of Gallifrey. But the Fourth Doctor (Tom Baker) stops the Master, who escapes after his assumed death.
The Master later returns in The Keeper of Traken, the role taken over by Geoffrey Beevers. Still dying, the Master came to the Traken Union to renew his life by using the empire's technological Source. Though the plot fails, the Master manages to cheat death by transferring his essence into the body of a Trakenite scientist named Tremas (played by Anthony Ainley) and overwriting his host's mind. From there, through Nyssa (Sarah Sutton), the Master orchestrates the series of events that leads to the Doctor's regeneration into his fifth incarnation (Peter Davison). The Master then appeared on and off for the rest of the series, still seeking to extend his life – preferably with a new set of regenerations. Subsequently, in The Five Doctors, the Time Lords offer the Master a new regeneration cycle in exchange for his help. The Master's final appearance in the classic series is in Survival, having been trapped on the planet of the Cheetah People and under its influence, which drove its victims to savagery. Though the Master manages to escape the doomed planet, he ends up back on the planet prior to its destruction when he attempts to kill the Seventh Doctor (Sylvester McCoy).
Dalek trial and 'execution'
In the prologue, the Master (portrayed briefly by Gordon Tipple) is executed by the Daleks as a punishment for his "evil crimes". But before his apparent death, the Master requests his remains to be brought back to Gallifrey by the Seventh Doctor. However, as posited in the novelisation of the television movie by Gary Russell, the Master's self-alterations to extend his lifespan allow him to survive his execution by transferring his mind into a snake-like entity called a "morphant". This interpretation is made explicit in the first of the Eighth Doctor Adventures novels, The Eight Doctors by Terrance Dicks, and also used in the Doctor Who Magazine comic strip story The Fallen, which states that the morphant was a shape-shifting animal native to Skaro.
Using his morphant body to break free from the container holding his remains, the Master sabotages the TARDIS console to force the vessel to crash land in San Francisco at the start of Earth's new millennium. From there, the Master has the morphant enter the body of a paramedic named Bruce to take control of him. However, the Master finds his human host to be unsustainable as the body slowly begins to degenerate, although the Master has the added abilities to spit an acid-like bile, both as a weapon and to mentally control victims as an alternative to his usual hypnotic abilities. The Master attempts to access the Eye of Harmony to steal the remaining regenerations of the Eighth Doctor (Paul McGann), but instead is sucked into it and supposedly killed.
Professor Yana and Harold Saxon
During several episodes in the revival show's second and third series, a man known as "Saxon" or "Harold Saxon" is mentioned. In "Love & Monsters" (2006), Victor Kennedy (Peter Kay) is reading a newspaper with the headline "Saxon leads polls with 64 per cent". In "The Runaway Bride", the British Army are heard being given orders from "Mr Saxon" to fire upon the Racnoss Webstar. In "Smith and Jones" (2007), medical student Oliver Morgenstern (Ben Righton) tells the news that "Mr Saxon" was proven right about there being life beyond Earth. A poster with the words "Vote Saxon" also appears in the episode. In "The Lazarus Experiment", Francine Jones (Adjoa Andoh) leaves an answerphone message for her daughter Martha (Freema Agyeman), warning her that the Tenth Doctor (David Tennant) is "not safe" and "This information comes from Harold Saxon himself."
In "Utopia", a scientist called Professor Yana (Derek Jacobi) is revealed to be the Master, disguised in biological human form to hide from the Time War. Overhearing conversations between the Doctor and his companion Jack Harkness (John Barrowman) causes Yana to become curious about the device which controlled his transformation; opening the fob watch, he is reunited with the Master's consciousness and made biologically Time Lord again. He is shot, regenerates into a younger incarnation (John Simm) and steals the Doctor's TARDIS. In "The Sound of Drums", the Doctor makes his way back to Earth to find the Master has become Prime Minister of the United Kingdom under the alias of Harold Saxon. The Master kidnaps Martha's family and conquers Earth. A flashback shows the Master at the age of eight, during a Time Lord initiation ceremony where he is taken before a gap in the fabric of space and time known as the Untempered Schism, from which one can see into the entire Vortex. The Doctor states that looking into the time vortex causes some Time Lords to go mad, and that this event was where "some say" it all began for the Master. In "Last of the Time Lords", Martha spends a year working on an elaborate plan to defeat the Master's plan to wage war against the universe and also save her family. In the episode, the Master himself mentions that looking into the vortex as a child made "the drumming" in his head choose him as a "call to war". When fatally shot by his human wife, Lucy Saxon (Alexandra Moen), the Master refuses to regenerate, knowing it will haunt the Doctor.
The Master returns again in The End of Time (2009–10), when his disciples attempt a resurrection ritual using a surviving piece of the Master's body. However, Lucy sabotages the ritual, bringing the Master back as a manic undead creature, hungry for human flesh and leaking electrical energy. The Master proceeds with a plot to transform the entire human race into his own clones, and using their combined presence, triangulates the "drumbeat" in his head to its source: The Time Lord President Rassilon (Timothy Dalton). The Time Lord Chancellor (Joe Dixon) describes the drumming noise in the Master's head as something "[h]istory says [is] a torment that stayed with him for the rest of his life." The Time Lords, having set up the signal back in time in the Master's head as a child as a means to escape the last days of the Time War, return to the universe. Confronted with Rassilon, whose drumbeat is the cause of the Master's insanity, the Master teams up with the Doctor to destroy them. He too is sent back to Gallifrey when the Time Lords are again sealed away in the Time War, trapped once more.
On 6 April 2017, the BBC confirmed that Simm would be returning as the Master in the tenth series, appearing alongside his successor in the role, Michelle Gomez, for the first multi-Master story in the programme's history; he appears in the two-part finale. Previously, there have been multi-Master stories in audio dramas, books, and comics.
The End of Time marked the last appearance of the Master until 2014, when the character was brought back as a woman with no explanation given at the time as to how he escaped Gallifrey or what prompted his regeneration. Four years later, Simm reprised the role for the show's first ever "multi-Master" story, "World Enough and Time"/"The Doctor Falls" (2017), which caught up with Simm's Master shortly before his regeneration. In the story, the Master is posing as a menial worker on the basement floor of a Mondasian colony ship, helping to bring the Cybermen into existence anew. When the Doctor appears aboard the ship with the Master's own future incarnation, he meets his successor, Missy (Michelle Gomez), who is struggling between her nature and a promise to reform her ways. In the second part, the two Masters pair off as friends, but Missy's loyalties remain divided between the Doctor and her old self. The Master explains to the Doctor that the Time Lords "cured" his condition from The End of Time and expelled him from Gallifrey; he set himself up as a ruler on the Mondasian colony ship after his TARDIS broke, before being overthrown and hatching a new Cyberman-related plan. He and Missy plan to abandon the Doctor on the ship using Missy's spare dematerialisation circuit to repair his TARDIS, but Missy decided, at the last, to stand alongside the Doctor. She stabs her past self, giving him enough time to reach his TARDIS before he will regenerate. In return, he shoots her with his laser screwdriver to prevent himself from ever siding with the Doctor, promising to have disabled her regenerative abilities. He leaves his future self to die, and returns to his TARDIS, where he will soon forget having met his future self.
The Master returns in the eighth series in a new female incarnation called "Missy" (Michelle Gomez), which is short for "Mistress". The Master's return is seeded in the series 7 episode "The Bells of Saint John" (2013), when a "woman in the shop" brings Clara Oswald (Jenna-Louise Coleman) and the Eleventh Doctor (Matt Smith) together by giving Clara the telephone number to the Doctor's TARDIS. This plot thread is picked up on again in "Deep Breath" (2014); the Twelfth Doctor (Peter Capaldi) and Clara realise that a woman has been scheming to keep the two together. Missy is shown observing the pair from a world she refers to as 'Heaven', speaking to recently deceased individuals the Doctor encountered throughout the series.. It was in "Dark Water" that Missy formally introduces herself to the Doctor while revealing the "afterlife" to be a Gallifreyan Matrix Data Slice hosting a virtual afterlife storing the conscious minds of recently deceased people to be housed later within an army of Cybermen. In "Death in Heaven", revealing herself as the one who gave Clara the phone number to the TARDIS and had also manipulated the Doctor and Clara into staying together, Missy offers the Doctor control of her Cybermen army in the hopes of compromising his morality. She is defeated when her Cyberman army is destroyed, and appears vapourised when shot by the posthumously cyberconverted Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart.
Missy returns in "The Magician's Apprentice" / "The Witch's Familiar" (2015), revealed to have faked her demise using a teleporter powered by the energy of the Cyberman laser weapon that shot her. She contacts Clara when she believes the Doctor anticipates that he will die, and travels to Skaro with the pair to confront Davros. She helps save the Doctor from Davros' scheme, but fiendishly attempts to trick the Doctor into killing Clara as they escape the crumbling Dalek city. When the Doctor and Clara abandon Missy on Skaro, she encounters a room full of angry Daleks, but informs them that she has a clever plan.
Gomez' final series in the role was series 10, airing in 2017. Early in the series, the Doctor explains to his companion Bill Potts (Pearl Mackie) that he is guarding a vault on Earth as a result of a promise, which is revealed by a flashback in "Extremis" to be a promise to watch over Missy, who is captive in the vault after the Doctor spared her from execution on a faraway world, and Missy promised to become good. In "The Lie of the Land", the Doctor's crew visits Missy in the safe to gain intelligence on an enemy she had defeated in the past. Her demeanour seems little changed and she has low regard for human life, but in the episode's coda, she sheds remorseful tears for all the millions of deaths she has caused. Missy's gradual reform is indicated in several more episodes. In "Empress of Mars", she returns the Doctor's TARDIS to Mars to rescue the Doctor and Bill; in "The Eaters of Light", she has been released from her cage by the Doctor to run repairs on his TARDIS, which is isomorphically locked so that she cannot pilot it. The Doctor attempts to test Missy's reformation in series finale "World Enough and Time"/"The Doctor Falls" by sending Missy, Bill, and Nardole (Matt Lucas) on a rescue mission aboard a space ship experiencing time dilation near a black hole. However, they soon run into Missy's past incarnation aboard the ship, where the Master (John Simm) has initiated the genesis of new Cybermen. Trapped aboard the ship together, Missy finds her loyalties torn between her promise to the Doctor and the lure of her old self. After initially betraying the Doctor, she later chooses to stand alongside him against a Cyberman army, stabbing her past self and sending him back to his TARDIS to regenerate, concluding her life has led to her becoming the Doctor's ally. Enraged at the idea of ever becoming the Doctor's ally, the Master shoots Missy with his laser screwdriver, disabling her regeneration and seemingly killing her.
Intelligence and attitude
The Master and the Doctor are shown to have similar levels of intelligence, and were classmates at the Time Lord Academy on Gallifrey, where the Master outperformed the Doctor. A similar connection between the two was also referenced in The End of Time in which the Master reminisces with the Tenth Doctor about his father's estates on Gallifrey and his childhood with the Doctor before saying "look at us now". In the 2007 episode "Utopia", the Tenth Doctor calls the transformed and disguised Master a genius and shows admiration for his intellect before discovering his true identity. The Tenth Doctor further expresses admiration for the Master's intellect in The End of Time by calling him "stone cold brilliant" and yet states that the Master could be more if he would just give up his desire for domination. The Twelfth Doctor states that Missy is "the one person almost as smart as me" ("The Lie of the Land").
Delgado's portrayal of the Master was that of a suave and charming sociopathic individual, able to be polite and murderous at almost the same time. His design is homage to the classic Svengali character: a black Nehru outfit with a beard and moustache.
Aspects of Simm's portrayal of the Master parallel Tennant's Doctor, primarily in his ability to make light of tense situations and his rather quirky and hyperactive personality. According to the producers, this was done to make the Master more threatening to the Doctor by having him take one of his opponent's greatest strengths, as well as making the parallels between the two characters more distinctive. This rationale is written into dialogue by the Master in "Utopia", in which he explicitly states, as he is regenerating, that if the Doctor can be young and strong, then so can he. In an episode of Doctor Who Confidential, "Lords and Masters", Russell T Davies also classifies the Master as both a sociopath and a psychopath.
Michelle Gomez maintained Simm's portrayal of the character, specifically the psychopathic behavior and inappropriate emotional responses to certain situations, as well as the original traditions of ruthless, murderous behaviour and grandiose, Machiavellian criminal intelligence that have been consistent throughout all incarnations. However, she also displayed a much more coquettish manner, with her new female identity allowing her to fully express aspects of the Master's ambiguous bond with the Doctor (as previously explored by Simm's incarnation in "The Sound of Drums"). While determined to torment and corrupt the Doctor with moral temptation while inflicting pain and death to humanity, she frequently referred to him as her "boyfriend" or "friend" and appeared to ultimately desire his acquiescence and company. She is also well aware that she is even more dangerously psychopathic than before, describing herself as "Bananas" to UNIT agent Osgood right before killing her ("Death in Heaven"). However, when circumstances result in Missy being kept in a vault and monitored by the Doctor after an averted execution, Missy actually comes to show signs of remorse for what she had done in the past, to the point that she prepares to side with the Doctor over her own past self ("The Doctor Falls").
Both the Doctor and the Master have been shown to be skilled hypnotists, although the Master's capacity to dominate – even by stare and voice alone – has been shown to be far more pronounced. In Logopolis the Doctor said of the Master, "He's a Time Lord. In many ways, we have the same mind." The Master is often able to anticipate the Doctor's moves, as seen in stories such as Castrovalva, The Keeper of Traken, Time-Flight, and The King's Demons, where he plans elaborate traps for the Doctor, only revealing his presence at the key moment. In The Deadly Assassin, the Master was able to send a false premonition as a telepathic message to the Doctor, but it is unclear whether he performed this through innate psychic ability, or was aided technologically.
In The End of Time the Master uses a kind of psychic technique, previously used by the Doctor to read the minds of others, allowing the Doctor to hear the constant 'drumming' inside the Master's mind.
In the original Doctor Who series, the Master's TARDISes have had fully functioning chameleon circuits, having appeared as various things, including a horsebox, a spaceship, a fir tree, a computer bank, a grandfather clock, a fluted architectural column, an iron maiden, a fireplace, a British Airways jet, a cottage and a triangular column. Of the Master's TARDISes seen in The Keeper of Traken, one appears as the calcified, statue-like Melkur, able to move and even walk; the other appears as a grandfather clock. The Melkur TARDIS is destroyed. At one point in Logopolis, the Master's TARDIS even appears as a police box, like the Doctor's.
When the Master reappears as Missy, the Doctor muses in Death In Heaven that Missy must have acquired a TARDIS in order to carry out her plan. However, Missy time travels via Vortex Manipulator in series 9. In The Doctor Falls, the Master acquired a TARDIS before leaving Gallifrey, but burned out its dematerilization circuit while attempting to get away from a black hole too fast. His future incarnation Missy provides him with a spare and the Master is able to fix his TARDIS and depart.
The Master's original weapon of choice was the "tissue compression eliminator", which shrinks its target to doll-like proportions, killing them in the process. Its appearance is similar to that of the Doctor's tool, the sonic screwdriver.
Despite his own fondness for the weapon, Russell T Davies decided against bringing it back for the Master's reappearance in "The Sound of Drums", on the grounds that the Master had too many new "tricks" to use against the Doctor.
In some audios, the Master has used a staser pistol rather than the TCE.
During the course of "The Sound of Drums", the Master unveils a new handheld weapon: a laser screwdriver. The device functions as a powerful laser weapon, capable of killing with a single shot. It also carries the ability to age victims rapidly using a miniaturised version of the genetic manipulator developed by Professor Lazarus ("The Lazarus Experiment"). The screwdriver itself also contains isomorphic technology, a biometric security feature which effectively disables use of the device by anyone other than the Master. In "The Doctor Falls", the Master uses a laser screwdriver again to battle the Cybermen. After being stabbed by Missy, the Master shoots her with the laser screwdriver at "full blast" which will prevent her regeneration and kill her permanently.
In "Dark Water" / "Death in Heaven", Missy uses a small hand-held device, about the size of a large mobile phone, which allows her to remotely control her technology and scan her surroundings. It also contains a weapon that she uses to disintegrate Dr Chang, Osgood, and Seb. In "The Magician's Apprentice", Missy uses a newer, upgraded version of this device which appears to be more powerful. It allowed her to control airborne planes after she had frozen them in time, as well as simultaneously disintegrate several UNIT guards.
Missy's parasol is revealed to be a disguised sonic/laser device in "The Doctor Falls". She uses it to defend against an attacking Cyberman. A more unusual feature, demonstrated in "Death in Heaven", allows her to travel through the air in a Mary Poppins-style fashion, but presumably only for short distances.
While not actually weapons, Missy also possessed a pair of vortex manipulators -- "cheap and nasty time travel"—which are linked to one another, which she used to transport herself and Clara Oswald to the Doctor's 'farewell party' in medieval Essex ("The Magician's Apprentice"). They are destroyed in "The Witch's Familiar" when, to avoid being killed by Daleks, they channel energy from the Daleks' weapons to teleport them away, looking as if they were exterminated. In the same episode, Missy says her brooch contains a Gallifreyan Dark Star alloy pin, given to her by The Doctor "when my daughter...", which she uses to pierce a Dalek's armoured shell. In "The Doctor Falls", Missy uses a small blade concealed in her sleeve to stab her own past self, triggering his off-screen regeneration.
The actors who have played the role of the Master in the series and the dates of their first and last appearances in the role, are:
|First appearance||Date aired||Last appearance||Date aired|
|Roger Delgado||43 (8 stories)||Terror of the Autons||2 January 1971||Frontier in Space||31 March 1973|
|Peter Pratt||4 (1 story)||The Deadly Assassin||30 October 1976||The Deadly Assassin||20 November 1976|
|Geoffrey Beevers||4 (1 story)||The Keeper of Traken||31 January 1981||The Keeper of Traken||21 February 1981|
|Anthony Ainley||28 (11 stories)||The Keeper of Traken||21 February 1981||Survival||6 December 1989|
|Eric Roberts||1 (1 story)||Doctor Who||27 May 1996||Doctor Who||27 May 1996|
|Derek Jacobi||1 (1 story)||"Utopia"||16 June 2007||"Utopia"||16 June 2007|
|John Simm||7 (3 stories)||"Utopia"||16 June 2007||"The Doctor Falls"||1 July 2017|
|Michelle Gomez||15 (12 stories)||"Deep Breath"||23 August 2014||"The Doctor Falls"||1 July 2017|
Unlike the Doctor, the Master does not usually have companions. There have been times when he made exceptions, though in his case they are not so much "companions" as "tools". In Castrovalva, the Doctor's companion Adric was abducted by the Master and forced to create a block transfer computation. Later, in The King's Demons, Kamelion is controlled by the Master before the Doctor steals him away, with the Master regaining control of Kamelion in Planet of Fire. In the second episode of The Ultimate Foe, Sabalom Glitz chose to go with the Master in search of Time Lord secrets.
In the 1996 television movie, Chang Lee helps the Master because he has been duped into believing that the Doctor had stolen his body. When Lee begins to realise the truth behind the Master, his loyalty begins to falter, therefore the Master attempts to kill him without hesitation. In promotional media surrounding the movie, Lee is depicted more as a companion to the Eighth Doctor (alongside Grace Holloway), and was referred to as such in a documentary series released as part of the 50 year anniversary celebrations, The Doctors Revisited - The Eighth Doctor.
In "Utopia", Chantho plays a similar companion role to the Professor Yana persona. Chantho states that she has been with him for 17 years as a "devoted assistant". Later, when the Master persona resurfaces, he berates her for never freeing him from his confinement and the two fatally wound one another, resulting in Chantho's death and the Master's regeneration.
In "The Sound of Drums", the Master, as Harold Saxon, is married to Lucy Saxon, to whom he refers at one point as his "faithful companion". Lucy is aware of the nature of the Master's plans yet is still loyal to him. She has travelled with him to Utopia, the end of the universe, and thus believes "there's no point to anything." Their relationship appears to be non-platonic; they kiss quite often and it seems as though their marriage is more than just a pretence. Lucy comments, "I made my choice, for better or for worse." In "Last of the Time Lords" she is still present, but showing signs of apparent physical abuse, and her loyalty towards him begins to waver. She shoots the Master at the climax of the story, killing him. She is imprisoned, but when the Master's coven made the preparations for his resurrection in The End of Time, she is forced into giving the Master's biometric signature on her lips to complete the ritual. Having foreseen his return, Lucy threw a vial containing a chemical to disrupt the resurrection, killing herself in the resulting explosion while only succeeding in giving the Master a tentative life.
Although not a companion in the traditional sense, the Master allied himself with another evil renegade Time Lord, the Rani, in The Mark of the Rani to thwart the Doctor. The Master has also been known to ally himself with other villains of the series, including the Daleks, the Cybermen and the Autons. None of these alliances lasted past the Master achieving his own aims, or his being stopped by the Doctor.
The Master has featured in spin-offs of the series, which are of unclear canonicity and may not take place in the same continuity. The Master in these stories is, nevertheless, recognisably the same character.
One of the most notable of these other appearances is David A. McIntee's "Master trilogy" of novels comprising The Dark Path and First Frontier in the Virgin Publishing lines and The Face of the Enemy for BBC Books, and the Doctor Who radio dramas produced by Big Finish Productions, in which Geoffrey Beevers has reprised the role, with a new incarnation being portrayed by Alex Macqueen.
The Target Books novelisations give additional insight into the character. These were chiefly written by Terrance Dicks and/or Malcolm Hulke (who had collaborated on the television serial The War Games). In addition, Dicks oversaw the editing of the majority of the range. The first Target novel to feature The Master, written by Hulke, is Doctor Who and the Doomsday Weapon. This begins with two Time Lords discussing the history of TARDISes. One remarks that "Two [TARDISES] have been stolen. By Time Lords. They both became bored with this place. It was too peaceful for them, not enough happening... One of them nowadays calls himself The Doctor. The other says he is The Master". The narrative continues "The old Keeper smiled to himself, although remembering with some glee all the fuss when two TARDISes were stolen." Asked for further information about the pair "You mentioned the Doctor and the Master?" the elder Time Lord continues "There were tens of thousands of humans from the planet Earth, stranded on another planet where they thought they were re-fighting all the wars of Earth's terrible history. Well, the Doctor had done the best he could to stop it all. But in the end we had to step in and get all those poor soldiers back to Earth, and to all the right times in Earth’s history."
Doctor Who and the Sea Devils, also by Hulke features a conversation between the Doctor and Jo Grant where the Doctor states "We used to be great friends. Hundreds of years ago, when we were both young Time Lords, we were inseparable. After all, we had a lot in common." Asked for an example, the Doctor replies "You know the Golden Rule of the Time Lords – just to sit and watch but never actually do anything? He and I are different. We wanted to get out into the Universe, to meet other species, to explore." Jo asks "one for good and the other for evil?", to which the Doctor responds "Yes, you could say that."
Doctor Who and the Terror of the Autons, written by Dicks, gives further clarity to the history between the Doctor and the Master. When the Time Lord (played by David Garth in the original serial) comes to warn the Doctor, he states "I've come to bring you a warning, an old friend of yours has arrived on Earth. These days he calls himself The Master." The narrative states that "[The Master] had been behind several interplanetary wars, always disappearing from the scene before he could be brought to justice. If ever he were caught, his fate would be far worse than the Doctor's exile. Once captured by the Time Lords, the Master's life-stream would be thrown into reverse. Not only would he no longer exist, he never would have existed." The Doctor asks "Is his TARDIS still working?". The Time Lord replies "I'm afraid so. He got away before it could be de-energised." "Then he was luckier than I" said the Doctor sadly. He had never really got used to his exile. The Time Lord replies "Don't be bitter Doctor, your punishment was comparatively light".
The Master's past with the Doctor is explored somewhat in The Dark Path, which reveals that his name prior to taking the alias of the Master is Koschei, when he encounters the Second Doctor during their travels. Although initially a somewhat anti-heroic version of the Doctor, willing to commit murder as a first option to save the day but generally still trying to do the right, Koschei turns to evil and becomes the Master after he discovers that his companion and lover, Ailla, is an undercover agent of the Celestial Intervention Agency sent to spy on him. During the course of the novel, Ailla is shot and killed, with Koschei, not knowing that she is a Time Lord and will simply regenerate, completing a time-based weapon to benefit the anti-alien efforts of soldiers from Earth's Empire, in an attempt to bring her back. The weapon is used to destroy the planet Teriliptus and its inhabitants, but when Ailla turns up alive, the knowledge that he has destroyed a planet for nothing, coupled with the revelation of Ailla's betrayal, proves too much. Koschei resolves to bring his own order to the universe at the expense of free will and becoming its Master. Thanks to the Doctor reprogramming his weapon, Koschei is trapped in a black hole at the end of the novel, with it being left uncertain how he will escape. Although it is generally implied that it takes him most of his remaining lives to do so (hence why the Master is on his last life while the Doctor, intended to be his contemporary, is only on his third), the cover art of The Dark Path depicts Koschei as being already the same regeneration as the Delgado-era Master.
The Face of the Enemy centres around the Delgado-era Master, but includes a cameo by a Koschei from an alternate timeline (specifically, the timeline the Third Doctor visited in Inferno) who never became the Master. This version of Koschei is still a loyal Time Lord who becomes stranded on the alternate Earth after that universe's version of The Web of Fear destroyed his TARDIS. He is subsequently captured and forced to work for the fascist rulers of this Earth, who keep him alive, in agony, using life support systems. When the Master, crossing over from the other universe, learns of this, he ends his counterpart's life in a rare moment of compassion.
Last of the Gaderene by Mark Gatiss and Deadly Reunion by Terrance Dicks and Barry Letts are both close homages to the Delgado/Pertwee stories. In Last of the Gaderene, the Master, disguised as Police Inspector LeMaitre, assists an alien race called the Gaderene to invade Earth, starting with a small village. In Deadly Reunion, he attempts to control powerful forces through a cult, but finds himself at the mercy of a godlike alien. The Delgado Master also appears in Verdigris by Paul Magrs, a more parodic take on the Pertwee era. The eponymous genie spends much of the novel impersonating the Master, who is in fact controlling him: the real Master appears in the novel's epilogue, buying a Chinese takeaway.
The reason the Master is so emaciated when he appears in The Deadly Assassin is explored in John Peel's novel Legacy of the Daleks, in which he attempts to capture the Doctor's granddaughter Susan Foreman, resulting in an out-of-sequence encounter with the Eighth Doctor when the Doctor receives a telepathic cry of distress from Susan and attempts to trace it back to before its origin. The Master is badly burned when she attacks him in self-defence and takes possession of his TARDIS. After Susan escapes, the dying Master is eventually found by Chancellor Goth on the planet Tersurus, which leads directly into the events of The Deadly Assassin.
The Ainley-era Master appears in the novel The Quantum Archangel by Craig Hinton, a direct sequel to The Time Monster. In this novel he poses as a Serbian businessman called Gospodar- prompting the Sixth Doctor to wonder if he's "running out of languages"- while attempting to subvert the power of the higher dimensions to turn himself into a god, only for it to be revealed that this plan was actually the result of the machinations of the Chronovore/Eternal hybrid Kronos trying to trick the Master into punishing the Chronovores for his lifetime of imprisonment.
First Frontier shows the Master (apparently the Ainley version) finally acquiring a new body, who according to McIntee is based on the cinema persona of Basil Rathbone. This incarnation reappears in Happy Endings by Paul Cornell, Virgin Publishing's celebratory fiftieth Virgin New Adventures novel. After the broadcast of the television movie, some fans suggested that this is the incarnation briefly played by Gordon Tipple in the prologue, eventually succumbing once again to the cheetah virus in the first Eighth Doctor novel The Eight Doctors.
Prior to the end of the Virgin Missing Adventures series, the Delgado version of The Master appeared in the novel Who Killed Kennedy, depicting him setting up a complex plan to manipulate a journalist to bother UNIT by convincing him that they are part of a corrupt conspiracy, which, while published by Virgin, was not considered part of the Missing Adventures series.
The short story "Stop The Pigeon" by Robert Perry and Mike Tucker, and the Past Doctor Adventure Prime Time, by Tucker, are probably set before First Frontier and feature the Ainley Master looking for a cure for the Cheetah virus.
Gallifrey and the Time Lords are destroyed in the Eighth Doctor Adventures novel The Ancestor Cell, but in The Adventuress of Henrietta Street a mysterious stranger wearing a rosette appears who could have been the Master, somehow surviving the cataclysm. In Lance Parkin's The Gallifrey Chronicles, a surviving Time Lord named Marnal appears, and it is implied in dialogue that he may have been the Master's father. In the same novel (and earlier, in Sometime Never...), the Doctor talks with a malign entity within the TARDIS' Eye of Harmony, which could have been the Roberts Master, throwing the true identity of the Man with the Rosette into doubt. The entity within the Eye refers to itself as an "echo", thus leaving scope for the real Master to be elsewhere. (In his Doctor Who chronology book AHistory, Parkin suggests that Lawrence Miles intended the Man with the Rosette to be the Master, even if it was not explicitly stated.)
Another version of the Master appears in The Infinity Doctors (also by Parkin), where he is known as the Magistrate and is, once again, the Doctor's friend, although when this takes place in continuity is unclear. Parkin has stated that the novel can fit into continuity and that its incarnation of the Master is based on Richard E. Grant.
During the Faction Paradox arc that runs through the Eighth Doctor Adventures, a character known as the War King is featured which is implied to be a future incarnation of the Master. The character is also referenced in The Book of the War, published by Mad Norwegian Press when the Faction Paradox stories spun off into their own continuity.
Alastair Reynolds' novel Harvest of Time published in 2013 features the Roger Delgado incarnation, set after his capture at the end of The Dæmons and before his escape from prison in The Sea Devils. In the course of the novel, the Master is nearly erased from history by an ancient race known as the Sild, who have captured multiple incarnations of the Master to create a complex temporal manipulator by linking the Masters in a neural network, but the Doctor and the Master track the Sild to their origin, allowing the Master to take control of the Sild's network and turn it against them before his other selves rebel against his control, forcing him to allow the other Masters to escape.
The Master returns in a new body and guise, that of a street preacher, in the previously mentioned Doctor Who Magazine (DWM) comic strip story The Fallen, although the Doctor does not recognise him. The Master reveals himself a few stories later, in The Glorious Dead. The Master had survived the events of the television movie by encountering a cosmic being named Esterath in the time vortex. Esterath controls the Glory, the focal point of the Omniversal spectrum which underlies all existence. The Master's scheme to take control of the Glory fails, and he is banished to parts unknown (see Kroton).
In Character Assassin in DWM #311, the Delgado Master visits the Land of Fiction and steals part of the technology behind it, wiping out several nineteenth century fictional villains as he goes. He can also be seen in the following comic strips set during the Pertwee era:
- "The Glen of Sleeping" by Gerry Haylock and Dick O'Neill (TV Action 107–111)
- "Fogbound" by Frank Langford (Doctor Who Holiday Special 1973)
- "The Time Thief" by Steve Livesey (Doctor Who Annual 1974)
- "The Man in the Ion Mask" by Brian Williamson and Dan Abnett (Doctor Who Magazine Winter Special 1991)
In the IDW publication Prisoners of Time, a 12-issue series to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Doctor Who, the Master (drawn based on Ainley's portrayal) plays a major part. He is the villain in #6 and #7, meeting the Sixth and Seventh Doctors, attempting to trap the Sixth Doctor in an Auton-staffed asylum and encountering the Seventh as he attempts to drain the energy from a pair of higher-dimensional beings. The Ainley Master is revealed to have teamed up with the Ninth Doctor's disgraced ex-companion Adam Mitchell, who is travelling through time kidnapping the Doctor's companions as revenge, the Master having presented himself as another 'victim' of the Doctor rather than the villain he truly is. His role in the plan culminates in an out-of-sequence encounter with the Eleventh Doctor after Adam abducts Clara Oswald, the Doctor noting that it has been a pleasantly long time since he saw this version of the Master. However, when the Eleventh Doctor manages to summon his previous ten selves to Adam's fortress to rescue their companions when Adam threatens to kill them all, the Master reveals that his true plan is to channel his stolen chronal energies through the Doctors' combined TARDISes, thus destroying the Universe. Horrified at the scale of the Master's evil and encouraged to take action by Rose and the Ninth, Tenth and Eleventh Doctors, Adam stands up to the Master, sacrificing himself to disable the Master's equipment. The Master escapes, noting that he enjoyed the chance to cause further chaos, but his plan has been thwarted. This is the only story in any medium as of April 2015 in which the Ninth and Eleventh Doctors encounter the Master.
2017 sees the return of Delgado's incarnation in Doorway to Hell, a Doctor Who Magazine comic strip printed in DWM #508–511, set after the events of Frontier in Space from the Master's perspective. This depicts an out-of-sequence encounter between Delgado's Master and the Twelfth Doctor in the year 1973, with the Master initially assuming that the Twelfth Doctor is the Fourth who regenerated after an explosion in the TARDIS that left the Doctor trapped on Earth in this time, until the Doctor informs his foe that he is from far in the Master's future. At the story's conclusion the critically wounded Master regenerates inside his TARDIS after the Doctor and the human family he has been living with deflects an attack with the "artron energy" the family absorbed while the Doctor's TARDIS was healing in their garden.
The Master appears in the Big Finish Productions audio play, Dust Breeding, where Geoffrey Beevers reprised the role. The story reveals that, at some point after Survival, the Master's Trakenite body is damaged when he attempts to take control of a psychic weapon trapped in the painting The Scream, which returns him to his walking corpse state once again. He is presented using the alias Mr Seta, another anagram of Master.
In the later Master, it is revealed that while the Seventh Doctor is Time's Champion, the Master is Death's. This is a result of an incident in their youth, where the Doctor killed a school bully who was trying to drown the Master; unable to cope with his guilt and grief, the child who would become the Doctor accepted a deal with Death (personified as a woman) to take away his pain, unaware that this would result in her erasing his memory of committing the crime and transferring it to the Master. Temporarily restored to the person he would have been if Death had not marked him, the Master forgives the Doctor for this, understanding that the adult cannot be blamed for the actions of the child that did not foresee the consequences of his actions, but the end of the play implies that the Master will once again become Death's servant.
An out-of-continuity Master is heard in the Big Finish audio play Sympathy for the Devil, voiced by Mark Gatiss. In this alternate version of events, the Third Doctor — now voiced by David Warner — does not arrive for his exile on Earth until 1997 and the Master has been trapped on the planet while a series of extraterrestrial disasters occurred over the decades without the Doctor's help to stop them.
The Master was set to appear in the television story The Hollows of Time, proposed for the show's 23rd season, but ultimately never produced. When the story was adapted by Big Finish for their Lost Stories range, while Colin Baker and Nicola Bryant voiced their original roles as the Sixth Doctor and Peri, rights to the Master could not be obtained (and Anthony Ainley had died), so the role of Professor Stream (originally meant as the Master's alias—another anagram) was played by David Garfield and left ambiguous as to his true identity, the story presented as a semi-flashback with the Doctor and Peri's memories distorted so that they cannot clearly recall certain key details.
The Master, played by Geoffrey Beevers, returns in the Fourth Doctor audio plays Trail of the White Worm, The Oseidon Adventure, The Evil One, Requiem for the Rocket Men and Death Match. Beevers also appears in the fiftieth anniversary story The Light at the End, where he attempts to erase the Doctor's travels by using an advanced weapon to erase the TARDIS from existence, and in the Companion Chronicle Mastermind, which looks at how he stole a new body in the early twentieth century after his essence escaped from the Eighth Doctor's TARDIS, and survived by possessing a series of human hosts until he tricked UNIT into helping him regain access to his TARDIS.
Alex MacQueen plays a new incarnation of the Master in the Seventh Doctor boxset UNIT Dominion and later in the Eighth Doctor boxsets Dark Eyes 2, Dark Eyes 3 and Dark Eyes 4. Macqueen's Master is revealed to be an incarnation between Eric Roberts' Master and Derek Jacobi's, having been rescued by the Time Lords who believe he is needed for a great purpose (implied to be the Time War) — the event had been referenced in "The Sound of Drums".
Chris Finney plays a character named 'Keith Potter' in the story The End of the Line from the audio anthology The Sixth Doctor: The Last Adventure , who is later revealed to be an avatar under the control of the Master.
To commemorate the Master's forty-fifth anniversary, Big Finish did a trilogy of audios featuring the Master in 2016; And You Will Obey Me pits the Fifth Doctor against the Beevers incarnation of the Master, seeking to regain his body after an unspecified attack left him seriously injured and hunted, and Vampire of the Mind pits the Sixth Doctor against the MacQueen incarnation of the Master, who is seeking to drain the neural energy of the Doctor and various Earth scientists to restore his own mind after some terrible accident. These two storylines come together in The Two Masters, in which the Seventh Doctor faces both of these incarnations of the Master at once and realizes that they have been transferred into each other's bodies; the Beevers incarnation (possessed by the McQueen Master) had newly regenerated and sought to strengthen his physiology, and the Beevers-in-McQueen Master believed that he was just in a new body and sought to stabilize his mind after such a drastic event. This switch is part of a complex plan by the Cult of the Heretic, a cult dedicated to a Time Lord who sought to unmake the universe. The resulting paradox of the two Masters in each other's bodies, coupled with the fact that the Cult manipulated the MacQueen Master into attacking the Beevers incarnation- resulting in the crippled form witnessed in The Deadly Assassin- is revealed to be causing the universe to collapse. The Masters are able to restore themselves to their own bodies, steal the Doctor's TARDIS to trap him on a battlecruiser about to crash, and finish unmaking the universe before destroying the Cult, but the Doctor manages to track them using the Master's own TARDIS, which they left behind in the belief that the Doctor would be unable to find it before the cruiser crashed. With the Cult destroyed, the Doctor uses the Masters' discarded weapons to immobilize the two Masters before using the Cult's equipment to rebuild the universe as it was, with his only changes being to send both Masters back to their original locations in time and space and save the life of a temporary companion whom the Master had killed.
In December 2017, Derek Jacobi reprised his role as The Master, specifically as the "War Master", in the audio play The War Master, after having originally played the role in the 2007 episode "Utopia". In the course of these audios, the Master is shown seeking new sources of power for himself, but after he proves unable to control the power of the Heavenly Paradigm, which causes both sides in the Time War to win conflicts they previously lost, the series ends with the Master fleeing in fear to the distant future, setting up his future existence as 'Professor Yana'. Jacobi returns to the role in UNIT: Cyber Reality, in which the modern UNIT- led by Kate Stewart, the Brigadier's daughter- are forced to rely on the aid of the War Master when faced with an invasion of Cybermen.
James Dreyfus portrayed the Master's first incarnation opposite David Bradley as the First Doctor in the audio series, Doctor Who: The First Doctor Adventures.. In this audio, the Master has been trapped on the distant colony world known only as 'Destination' after his TARDIS was seriously damaged, manipulating the local populations into a state of war so that the resulting technological development will reach a point where he can repair his TARDIS. When the First Doctor arrives on the planet, the Master tries to steal the Doctor's ship, but his plans fail, resulting in the Master being trapped in his laboratory- the remains of his TARDIS- which is now so low on power that he cannot even open the doors.
In May 2018, it was announced that the fifth series of The Diary of River Song- focusing on the adventures of the Doctor's 'wife', River Song- will pit River against four incarnations of the Master at once, with Eric Roberts and Michelle Gomez making their Big Finish debuts as their incarnations of the Master, alongside Beevers and Jacobi's incarnations.
Eric Saward included Anthony Ainley's incarnation of the Master in his short story, "Birth of a Renegade", in the Doctor Who 20th Anniversary Special one-off magazine, published by Radio Times (and in the United States by Starlog Press) in 1983.
In a short story by Cavan Scott and Mark Wright, "The Feast of the Stone", an android version of the Master is created by the Doctor as an ally—albeit a slightly sinister one. Exactly why the Doctor created an android duplicate of the Master is not revealed, but it is suggested that the Doctor somehow extended the Master's life by doing so. The android is able to pilot the Doctor's TARDIS, but is physically unable to leave the ship.
The Master is seen to escape the Eye of Harmony in the short story "Forgotten" by Joseph Lidster, published in Short Trips: The Centenarian. The story ends with him left in 1906 in possession of a human male's body.
In the Doctor Who short ebook The Spear of Destiny by Marcus Sedgwick, featuring the Third Doctor, the Master disguises himself as a Viking called Frey (Old Norse for Master) and tries to take the Spear of Destiny.
In 2003, an android version of the character (resembling the Delgado version of the Master, and voiced by Derek Jacobi) appeared in the animated webcast Scream of the Shalka. This version's Master has some psychic abilities and attempts to hypnotise another character but is unable due to his powers being far weaker. At one point he mentions that the Time Lord Council gave him a choice, permanent death or one last chance at life as the Doctor's assistant to make amends for all the harm he had caused the Doctor over the years.
Role playing game
The Doctor Who role-playing game published by FASA in 1985 has two modules outlining the Master's personal history, a timeline of his activities and an inventory of much of the equipment he has obtained during his travels. Most notably, the modules identify the Meddling Monk as an alias the Master has used in his early attempts to alter the history of Earth.
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|Wikiquote has quotations related to: The Master|
- The Master on Tardis Data Core, an external wiki
- "The Feast of the Stone" – short story featuring the Shalka Master on the BBC website.