Face of Boe
|Doctor Who character|
|The Face of Boe|
|First appearance||"The End of the World"|
|Portrayed by||Struan Rodger (voice)|
The Face of Boe is a fictional character in the British science fiction television series Doctor Who. Not portrayed on-screen by an actor, the Face of Boe is a wholly mechanical effect, resembling a gigantic human-like head with a weathered face and in place of hair, numerous tendrils which terminate in round pod-like structures. Typically this is encased in a clear sealed container and mounted on a movable pedestal base. The Face merely grunted during his appearance in "The End of the World", communicated telepathically in "New Earth" and "Gridlock", and spoke for the first and last time in the latter, and was voiced by Struan Rodger. It is stated in "New Earth" that he is thought to be millions of years old (billions, at least according to "Gridlock"), but responded to a statement of that with a leading question concerning the impossibility of such an age. It was suggested in "Last of the Time Lords" that the Face of Boe is a future Jack Harkness.
Appearances within the series
The Doctor has encountered the Face of Boe (as originally presented) three times. In "The End of the World" (2005), set five billion years in the future, the Face of Boe sponsored the safe viewing of Earth's destruction by the expansion of the Sun. The event was sabotaged, but the Face of Boe survived along with most of the guests, thanks to the Ninth Doctor's intervention.
In "New Earth" (2006), the Face of Boe is apparently dying of old age in a New New York hospital in the year five billion and twenty-three. His nurse, one of the Sisters of Plenitude, Novice Hame, tells the Tenth Doctor that the sleeping Face sometimes sings "ancient songs", which she hears telepathically, and relates the legend that, just before dying, the Face will reveal his greatest secret to "one like himself", "a wanderer without a home" "a lonely God" (such as the Doctor). When the Doctor later asks the Face of Boe about the legend, the Face of Boe claims that the "great secret" can wait for their third and final meeting, and enigmatically teleports away to an unspecified destination.
The Face of Boe's ostensible last appearance is in "Gridlock" (2007), in the year five billion and fifty-three, some time after a drug-induced plague has wiped out almost all life on New Earth. He had been using his life force to power the undercity of New New York, which was sealed off from the rest of the planet to save the only survivors from the now-extinct virus. The Face of Boe needed the Doctor's help to free the people from the undercity, and he uses the last of his life energy to provide a power boost to unseal the exits. As was foretold in legend, initially introduced in spin-off media, the sky (of the undercity) splits asunder just before the Face of Boe dies. In his final moments, the Face of Boe reveals his great secret to the Doctor: "You are not alone." The Doctor tells his companion, Martha Jones, that the Face of Boe must be mistaken, but it is later revealed that there is indeed another Time Lord — the Master has survived the Time War.
In the episode "The End of the World", the Face of Boe is described as a being of considerable influence in galactic circles and is identified as coming from the "Silver Devastation". In "Bad Wolf", set in the 2002nd Century, he is said to be "the oldest being in the Isop galaxy" (the location of the planet Vortis in "The Web Planet"). In "The Long Game", set 100 years earlier (the Face's youngest appearance), a TV network reports that he is pregnant with the "Baby Boemina", though the credibility of Satellite 5's news reporting is taken into question in the episode as well. In "New Earth", it is stated that the Face of Boe is the last of his species, the "Boekind" having died off long before. The Doctor also makes a comment that the Face of Boe is possibly over 5 billion years old.
In the episode "Last of the Time Lords", the immortal time traveller Captain Jack Harkness expresses concern about how he might look if he lives "for a million years", because although he cannot die, he is still aging, albeit slowly. He tells the Doctor and Martha Jones that it is a matter of vanity, because as the first person from the Boeshane Peninsula to join the Time Agency, he was featured on posters, becoming known as "the Face of Boe". Martha then makes a notable quote saying "No way", since Captain Jack's personality differs from that of the Face of Boe. Other evidence is said, such as when the Face of Boe says: "You Are Not Alone", and then Captain Jack Harkness activates the YANA in episode "Utopia".
Writer Russell T Davies, in the episode's commentary, called the implication of this scene "a theory" as to the Face of Boe's origins, prompting Executive Producer Julie Gardner to urge him to "stop back-pedaling" about the two characters being the same. Davies also said that after writing the scene he inserted a line in the ADR recording for "Gridlock" in which the Face of Boe calls the Doctor "old friend". However, Davies does not like making the relationship between Jack and Boe explicit, stating "the moment it became very true or very false, the joke dies". He has refused the publication of spin-off novels and comic books that have tried to definitively link the two.
Appearances in other media
The tie-in book Monsters and Villains states that the Face has an abnormally long lifespan for an unknown reason; he had six children during the 21st Century who only lived for 40 years each, the average lifespan of the species. Jack currently has one known child. This could be explained by Jack's immortality, if in fact Jack and the Face of Boe are one and the same.
- ""Last of the Time Lords" Podcast". 2007-07-27. Retrieved 2007-06-30.
- Sepinwall, Alan (2009-06-26). "Russell T. Davies talks 'Doctor Who' & 'Torchwood'". New Jersey Star Legder. Retrieved 2009-07-09.
- "Doctor Who: Regeneration" Narr. Mark Gatiss. BBC Radio 2, 20 December 2005.
- Richards, Justin (2005). Doctor Who: Monsters and Villains. BBC Books. p. 63. ISBN 0-563-48632-5.