The Doctor's Acquaintances
(From the Books and Audios)
William Shakespeare
The Shakespeare Code
The Shakespeare Code
 Name: William Shakespeare

 Format: Television Show, Book and Audio.

 Time of Origin: Earth, 1564 to 1616 (With a couple of brief time-travelling encounters to other eras).

 Time Span: "The Empire of Glass", "The Kingmaker", "The Time of the Daleks", "Apocrypha Bipedium" and "The Shakespeare Code"

 Doctor: First Doctor, Fifth Doctor, Eighth Doctor and Tenth Doctor

 Companions: Vicki, Steven Taylor, Peri Brown, Erimem, Charley Pollard and Martha Jones

 History: As one of Earth’s most famous writers throughout its history, it was inevitable that Shakespeare would have some encounters with a time traveller as fond of Earth as The Doctor, The Doctor more than once expressing an admiration for Shakespeare’s work and implying that he has assisted Shakespeare in writing some of his work, to the point that he apparently collaborated with Shakespeare between draft one and draft two of Hamlet, one of Shakespeare’s most famous plays ("Byzantium!"), writing some parts of the play when Shakespeare sprained his wrist writing sonnets ("City of Death").

Audio - The Time of the Daleks
The Time of the Daleks
(Justin Richards)
 Apart from the obvious details of his writing career - having written such famous tales as Romeo and Juliet, Macbeth, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and Richard III, many of which remain favourites of The Doctor -, Shakespeare’s life has intersected with The Doctor’s on various other occasions. His earliest recorded meeting with The Doctor occurred when Shakespeare was twelve years old and working as a kitchen boy, when The Doctor discovered that General Mariah Learman, a corrupt dictator in the future, was attempting to erase Shakespeare from history so that she could stop the revolution against her using him as a figurehead (Ironically caused by the fact that some people were beginning to forget Shakespeare as the event that would result in him being erased became more likely) ("The Time of the Daleks"). While attempting to create a time machine using orthopositronium-coated mirrors, thus allowing her to witness Shakespeare’s plays, Learman accidentally drew in a group of Daleks who had escaped a temporal extinction device by travelling through the temporal fissure.

Discovering that Learman was collaborating with the Daleks to repair their ship so that she could kill Shakespeare, retaining a protected copy of his work so that only she could appreciate his work afterwards, The Doctor and Charley Pollard were able to divert the Dalek assassination force by manipulating the time machine to send them to various dangerous points in history. Having rescued the young Shakespeare - who had been drawn into the future by one of the rebels in an attempt to protect him, the young Will working in Learman’s kitchens -, The Doctor and Charley tricked the Daleks into activating their temporal extinction device ahead of schedule, trapping them in a time loop where they would forever repeat the same actions over and over without ever escaping, three surviving Daleks creating an attack force that The Doctor would later destroy so that three Daleks would be the only ones to escape. While taking ‘Will’ home, The Doctor and Charley briefly visited the First Doctor’s companion Vicki - now known as Cressida and married to the soldier Troilus in the aftermath of the Trojan War ("The Myth Makers") -, although Will had already read the historical accounts of Troilus and Cressida’s life and did not allow his knowledge of their relocation to Cornwall to affect the tragedy he would write as an adult ("Apocrypha Bipedium").

Book - The Empire of Glass
The Empire of Glass
(Andy Lane)
 The First Doctor had another interesting meeting with Shakespeare when he was investigating strange goings-on at the Armageddon Convention, a debate between various galactic powers about the use of certain weapons in future wars, that was being held on Earth in 1609 to remind the debating powers what they were trying to protect (The Doctor would have chaired the debate, but he was given the ticket during the Omega crisis ("The Three Doctors") and lost all memory of the ticket’s purpose when his memories of meeting his future self were erased, although The Doctor’s place as chairman was effectively filled by Catholic priest Cardinal Bellarmine, who used imagery from the Book of Revelations to mediate a dispute between what he believed to be warring angels) ("The Empire of Glass"). While The Doctor investigated an unusual attack on Gallileo when he was preparing to present his new telescope, Shakespeare was recruited by spymaster Thomas Walshingham to investigate reports of a conference being held in Venice by a mysterious new empire, being particularly surprised to run into his old friend Christopher Marlowe, who had already befriended The Doctor’s companion Steven Taylor. Learning that Marlowe had faked his death after he witnessed strange demons abduct the inhabitants of the lost American colony of Roanoke and found a strange piece of metal in his body later, Shakespeare joined Galileo and The Doctor in their investigations while Steven used a holographic disguise unit to assume Galileo’s place in history and unveil the telescope.

At the same time, Vicki discovered that the alien Greld were arms merchants who participated in the conference only to sabotage it, having planted micro-fragments of a bomb in the bodies of the Roanoke colonists with the intention of bringing them together with post-hypnotic suggestions so that the assembled bomb could destroy the conference. Although the bomb initially failed to go off after Marlowe was killed in a duel before he could join the other colonists, matters were complicated when it was discovered that the Jamarans - an ambitious race that Braxiatel had selected to help him organise the conference because he believed their lack of ties to others would make them neutral coordinators - were attempting to steal equipment from the others races, culminating in Shakespeare stealing a telepathic data storage device and downloaded its contents into his mind with the intention of using the new knowledge he acquired to help England. Fortunately, a distraction caused when the Jamaran shuttle was destroyed after the colonists were sent on board and one of the envoys sacrificed himself to transport Marlowe’s fragment of the bomb onto the ship gave The Doctor and Steven time to slip Shakespeare an amnesia pill so that he wouldn’t remember anything he had experienced or any of the technology he had tried to acquire.

Audio - The Kingmaker
The Kingmaker
(Nev Fountain)
The Fifth Doctor had a far more difficult encounter with Shakespeare when he was attempting to carry out research for a publishing company due to a contract he had made to write various historical novels during his exile in his third incarnation ("The Kingmaker"). When he and his companions were attending a showing of Shakespeare’s play Richard III in 1597, The Doctor spent time drinking with Shakespeare, only to become so intoxicated - this incarnation not being a particularly heavy drinker - that he accidentally revealed the doubts that would arise in the future about whether Richard III or Henry Tudor killed the Princes in the Tower, the patriotic Shakespeare refusing to allow his Queen’s lineage to be accused of such a crime. Stowing away in the TARDIS during The Doctor’s later trip back to 1483 to carry out historical research for a series of novels he had been commissioned to write, Shakespeare attempted to manipulate Richard III to kill the Princes so that nobody could doubt his evil, posing as a time-traveller called ‘Mr Seyton’ as he tried to convince Richard to kill the Princes so that they couldn’t be used as a means of spreading discontent among the people about a possible alternative succession.

However, this attempt was doomed to failure from the beginning as it turned out that the ‘Princes in the Tower’ were actually Princesses, their true genders concealed to prevent the fighting that would have resulted if a male heir couldn’t be produced; Richard couldn’t kill the Princes as there weren’t any Princes to kill, and Shakespeare would never accept that he had won until the truth came out. Despite his attempt to force The Doctor to take him and Richard into Shakespeare’s present so that Richard could be tried for his crimes in an Elizabethan court, Shakespeare was apparently killed when The Doctor accidentally materialised during the Battle of Badon Hill and Shakespeare ran outside the ship, being subsequently killed by soldiers who mistook him for Richard III. However, the real Richard III was apparently able to take Shakespeare’s place in 1597 with The Doctor’s help in tackling the more difficult plays left to him, The Doctor also arranging for the Princesses to take on the role of ‘Shakespeare’s’ daughters so that they could have a better life.

Despite their adversarial relationship during the events of "The Kingmaker", The Doctor and Shakespeare achieved a better relationship during their next meeting in Shakespeare’s adult life in 1599, with there being no reference to Shakespeare’s encounter with The Doctor in 1597 or even any indication that Shakespeare was now Richard III. However, this could be attributed to the fact that history had been reset at least once since that meeting due to The Doctor’s battle with the Council of Eight ("Sometime Never..."), who had sought to collapse history down to a single timeline that they could control ("Time Zero") before The Doctor restored alternate realities to the universe. The idea of the two stories showing different realities is further supported by the fact that "Sometime Never..." featured the Princes in the Tower as genuine princes where "The Kingmaker" established that they were actually Princesses, suggesting that the new timeline that existed after the Council were defeated was not the same as the one that had existed previously (In the new timeline, the Princes were captured by the Council as potential hostages to be used against The Doctor, who subsequently left them with his new friend Professor Fleetward - leaving two random skeletons where the Princes’ bodies would be allegedly discovered in future - as he was confident that Fleetward would be able to provide them with a good life).

The Shakespeare Code
The Shakespeare Code
During a trip to 1599, the Tenth Doctor and his new companion Martha Jones were shocked to learn that Shakespeare intended to show his ‘lost’ play, Love’s Labours Won, the following night, prompting The Doctor to remain to investigate what was happening. After the Master of the Revels was drowned in the middle of a dry street when he threatened to forbid Shakespeare from putting the play on at such short notice, The Doctor became increasingly suspicious at the presence of ‘magic’ in the current era when the structure of the Globe theatre was taken into account. Visiting the Globe architect, Peter Streete, now a resident of an asylum, The Doctor learned that Shakespeare’s grief over the death of his son had drawn the mysterious Carrionites - a race capable of manipulating the rest of the universe in a manner comparable to magic - back into the universe, the grief of a genius creating a rift that they could use to gain access to this universe.

Attempting to further exploit this rift, The Carrionites had influenced Streete to construct the Globe in such a shape that it would further enhance the power of the spoken word while also providing Shakespeare with suitable inspiration to complete his play Love’s Labours Won, the final words of the play being a ‘spell’ that could open a rift to the realm of the Carrionites and allow the rest of their race to reach Earth. Despite the rift being opened as the play concluded, The Doctor and Martha were able to convince Shakespeare to use his genius to write a second sonnet to seal the Carrionites away, banishing them into a crystal ball-like device that The Doctor resolved to keep contained in the TARDIS in future. As The Doctor departed - advising Shakespeare to dispose of all the pages of Love’s Labours Won in case of residual Carrionite magic in the rest of the text -, Shakespeare casually commented that he had deduced his and Martha’s true identities, but assured them that he would keep their secrets, although it was implied that Martha was the ‘Dark Lady’ he dedicated some sonnets to.

Despite the occasional difficulties in their personal interaction, Shakespeare remains one of The Doctor’s favourite writers from his favourite planet, his work often serving as an effective escape from the pressures that The Doctor faces in his work, and their collaborations have generally been enjoyable even if The Doctor obvious regretted the occasions where the two ended up on opposite sides.
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Parts of this article were compiled with the assistance of David Spence who can be contacted by e-mail at
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