Master (Doctor Who)

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This article is about the character. For the Big Finish audio drama, see Master (audio drama).
Doctor Who character
Versions of the Master.png
Actors who have portrayed the Master (left to right, top to bottom): Roger Delgado, Peter Pratt, Geoffrey Beevers, Anthony Ainley, Eric Roberts, Derek Jacobi, John Simm and Michelle Gomez.
Species Time Lord
Home planet Gallifrey
Home era Rassilon Era
First appearance Terror of the Autons
Portrayed by

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. Delgado portrayed the Master from 1971 until his death in 1973.[1] 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. Gordon Tipple and Eric Roberts then took on the role for the 1996 Doctor Who TV movie. 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, a "Professor Moriarty to the Doctor's Sherlock Holmes."[2] 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".[3]

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.[4] 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 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."[5]

An unrelated character called the Master of the Land of Fiction (also referred to as "the Master") had previously appeared in the 1968 Doctor Who serial The Mind Robber opposite the Second Doctor.[6]

History within the show[edit]

Childhood and early life[edit]

The eight-year-old Master (William Hughes) stares into the Untempered Schism on Gallifrey.

In "The Sound of Drums" (2007) and The End of Time (2009–2010), 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, implying that event to have been the cause of the Master's actions and the four-beat sound of drums, which the Master calls the "drums of war". The drumming is later revealed to be a signal retroactively placed in his mind by the Time Lord High Council during the Time War as part of Rassilon's plan to escape the Time Lock.[7] In The End of Time, Rassilon identified the signal to be a Time Lord's heartbeat.

Aims and character[edit]

A would-be universal conqueror, the Master wants to control the universe (in The Deadly Assassin his ambitions were described as becoming "the master of all matter"), with a secondary objective to make the Doctor suffer. The Master, played by Delgado, makes his first appearance in Terror of the Autons where he employs the Nestene Consciousness. But it resulted with the Master stranded on Earth by the Third Doctor as he becomes a reoccurring nemesis who utilizes his disguises and hypnosis to mingle among humans while enlisting the aid of alien races in his plans, which include the Dæmons. Delgado's last appearance as the Master was in Frontier in Space, where he worked alongside the Daleks and the Ogrons to provoke a war between the Human and Draconian Empires. But the scheme failed and the Master escaped after he shot at the Doctor.

Delgado was slated to return in a serial called The Final Game, which would have been the season 11 finale. However, he died in a car crash in June 1973 and the story was never filmed.

Quest for new life[edit]

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 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 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.[8] Still dying, the Master came to the Traken Union to renew his life by using the empire's technological Source. Though the plot failed, 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, the Master orchestrates the series of events that leads to the Doctor's regeneration into his fifth incarnation. 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 managed to escape the doomed planet, he ended up back on the planet prior to its destruction when he attempted to kill the Doctor.

Dalek Trial and 'Execution'[edit]

The Master appeared as a main character of the 1996 Doctor Who television movie, played by American actor Eric Roberts.

In the prologue, the Master (portrayed by Gordon Tipple) was executed by the Daleks as a punishment for his "evil crimes". But before his apparent death, the Master requested his remains to be brought back to Gallifrey by the Doctor. However, as posited in the novelization of the television movie by Gary Russell, the Master's self-alterations to extend his lifespan allowed his continued existence as survived 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 (DWM #273-#276), 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 sabotaged 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 as a weapon and a snake-like ability to hypnotize. The Master attempts to access the Eye of Harmony to steal the Doctor's remaining regenerations, but instead is sucked into it and supposedly killed.

Professor Yana[edit]

The Master as portrayed by Derek Jacobi regenerates into his John Simm incarnation, as seen in "Utopia."

When Doctor Who was revived in 2005, before learning how it truly ended, the Doctor believed the Time Lords all died on the final day of Time War with the Daleks. However, foreshadowed in "Gridlock" where the Face of Boe gives the Tenth Doctor a message before dying: "You are not alone", the "The Sound of Drums" reveals that the Master was resurrected by the Time Lords to serve as their ultimate front line soldier in the Time War. But after the Dalek Emperor took control of "The Cruciform", the Master fled the war in fear, ignorant of its outcome. He disguised himself as a human through the same process the Doctor himself used in "Human Nature"—a Chameleon Arch that stores his Time Lord nature and memories in a fob watch and allows him to become biologically human—and hid at the end of the universe while aging into the scientist that comes to be known as Professor Yana. The professor was still plagued by the constant drumbeat in his head as he attempts to send the last remaining humans to Utopia.

The Doctor meets Yana in "Utopia", and a discussion of Time Lords and related issues by the Doctor and his companions (Martha Jones and Jack Harkness) causes Yana to recall his Time Lord essence. This, along with the increased intensity of the drumming in his head and Martha's curiosity about the fob watch, causes Yana to open the watch and become the Master again, in a scene that makes clear that YANA is an acronym for the Face of Boe's final words ("You are not alone."). Near the end of "Utopia", the Master is mortally wounded when his companion Chantho shoots him after he fatally injured her, regenerating into a new younger incarnation. The Master steals the Doctor's TARDIS and escapes, but the Doctor sabotages the TARDIS using his sonic screwdriver so that the Master is only able to travel between present-day Earth and the year 100 trillion.

Harold Saxon[edit]

The political poster used by Saxon during his Prime Ministerial campaign.

Following his escape from the end of the universe, he arrives in the United Kingdom 18 months before the 2008 election, prior to the fall of Harriet Jones. The Master assumes the identity Harold Saxon, becoming a high-ranking minister at the Ministry of Defence. He apparently holds this post during the 2006 Christmas episode, "The Runaway Bride", as the Army are said to be firing upon the Racnoss ship on Mr. Saxon's orders. During this period, he finances Professor Richard Lazarus' (Mark Gatiss) research and sets up the Archangel communications network, which allows him to influence humanity using a telepathic field, enabling him to rise to the office of Prime Minister. Before the events of "The Runaway Bride" in the show's adult-themed spin-off Torchwood, a "Vote Saxon" poster is seen on a wall among several other tattered posters in the episode "Captain Jack Harkness", possibly the first indication of the Master's return. In "Love & Monsters", an article about Saxon leading the polls can be seen when the Abzorbaloff first reveals himself.

After becoming Prime Minister, the Master uses the Doctor's TARDIS to recruit the Toclafane as allies, having them kill one tenth of the world population, and rules the Earth for a year, while he turns whole nations into work-camps and bases for a fleet of war rockets. Just as he is ready to wage war on the rest of the universe and forge an empire, the Doctor is restored to strength by the efforts of Martha Jones, using the Archangel network. The Doctor intends to keep the Master with him on the TARDIS; this plan is thwarted when the Master is shot by his wife Lucy Saxon (Alexandra Moen). The Master then dies after refusing to regenerate, unwilling to be the Doctor's prisoner. Since his death emotionally hurts the Doctor, the Master views this as a victory.

The Doctor cremates the Master's body on a pyre. His ring remains, which is picked up by a woman with long, bright red fingernails, revealed later to be a member of a coven loyal to the Master.

The Master Race[edit]

In The End of Time, the Governor and other members of the Master's coven conduct the Master's resurrection ritual at Broadfell prison, where Lucy Saxon was incarcerated. Lucy sabotages the ritual and the Master is returned to life with a failing, undead body and a ravenous hunger. He is able to manipulate bolts of electricity, move with phenomenal agility and jump great distances by manipulating his life force. Resorting to wandering the fringe of London and feeding on homeless people while being pursued by the Doctor, the Master is eventually captured by billionaire Joshua Naismith in order to use his knowledge to repair an alien 'Immortality Gate' to make Naismith's daughter immortal. But the Master hijacks the device, using its original purpose as a planet-wide medical tool to overwrite the DNA of every human on Earth with his own and create a "Master Race". However, the gate fails to repair the Master's failing body as he attempts to get the location of the TARDIS from the Doctor.

By then, the Master realises that the drum beat in his head is a signal and uses his duplicates to triangulate the signal to its source: The Time Lord President Rassilon. Having set up the signal in order to be released from the time-locked Time War, Rassilon sent a unique Gallifreyan diamond to Earth to help the Master create a link through which Gallifrey, the Time Lords, and all in the Time War could escape. The Master intended to overwrite his DNA onto the Time Lord race, only for his influence on the human race to be undone while he learned how the war became so grave that the Doctor was forced to end it to stop Rassilon from destroying creation. The Master, upon finding out that he has been a pawn in Rassilon's scheme, attacks the Lord President after the Doctor destroys the link that keeps the Time Lords from returning from the Time Lock. Bent on revenge for a lifetime of manipulation, the Master attacks Rassilon and follows him as Gallifrey is removed from the known universe.

Missy [edit]

The Master returns in the eighth series, this time as a woman. This new female incarnation calls herself "Missy", which is short for "Mistress". Missy first appears in the Twelfth Doctor's debut episode "Deep Breath", posing as an apparent guardian of the afterlife who greets characters who have been killed throughout series 8 as a result of the Doctor's actions.

Missy's full identity and long-term plan were finally revealed in the two-part series finale "Dark Water" / "Death in Heaven". The apparent afterlife which she presided over – the Nethersphere – turned out to be a "Matrix Data Slice" hosting a virtual afterlife trapping the conscious minds of the recently deceased from all time periods, in order to eventually be resurrected as an army of Cybermen. Having revealed herself to the Doctor, Missy claims that she manipulated him and Clara Oswald into meeting and staying together. Missy later tries to hand over control of her Cyberman army to the Doctor and goads him into conquering the universe as part of an overall plan to win the Doctor back as a "friend" by dragging his morality down. The Doctor turns down the offer, proclaiming that he is not a good or a bad man but merely an 'idiot' who goes around helping out, and passes control of the army to the partly Cyber-converted Danny Pink, who orders it to self-destruct. When Clara then attempts to take revenge by executing Missy, the Doctor takes this task upon himself to save his companion of the moral burden. Regardless, giving him a false hope about Gallifrey's location, Missy accepts her death as she still forces the Doctor to sink to her level. Just before the Doctor can act, Missy disappears in a blue flare, seemingly disintegrated by a Cyberman revealed to be a converted Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart.

Steven Moffat has however, hinted at a return for the Master despite her apparent end: "Supervillains don't die, do they? So I wouldn’t trust anything about that character’s ability to lie down and stop breathing."[9] Michelle Gomez has also confirmed that she will return for series 9.[10] During an exclusive interview with the RadioTimes Steven Moffat, Showrunner of Doctor Who, stated that he has asked Michelle Gomez to reprise her role as Missy. He stated in his interview that "I can't imagine anyone who's ever watched this genre being convinced that she's dead". Moffat then went on to says "The Master is never dead, no matter what happens to him or her. She's entirely unzappable!"[11]

In February 2015, it was confirmed that Missy would return in "The Magician's Apprentice" / "The Witch's Familiar", the opening episodes of the ninth series.[12]


Intelligence and attitude[edit]

The Master and the Doctor are shown to have similar levels of intelligence, and were classmates on Gallifrey, wherein the Master outperformed the Doctor (Terror of the Autons). This is mentioned several times in different stories (The Five Doctors, The Sea Devils and Terror of the Autons). A similar connection between the two was also referenced in The End of Time in which the Master reminisces with the 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 Doctor calls the transformed and disguised Master a genius and shows admiration for his intellect before discovering his true identity. The 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.

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,[13] as well as making the parallels between the two characters more distinctive.[14] 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.

The 2014 female version of the Master, portrayed by 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.

Mental abilities[edit]

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 "Utopia" after the Master regenerates and reveals himself, he taunts the Doctor to try to stop his elaborate schemes again.

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 (Terror of the Autons), a spaceship (Colony in Space), a fir tree (Logopolis), a computer bank (The Time Monster), a grandfather clock (The Deadly Assassin and The Keeper of Traken), a fluted architectural column (Logopolis, Castrovalva, Time-Flight), an iron maiden (The King's Demons), a fireplace (Castrovalva), a British Airways jet (Time-Flight), a cottage (The Ultimate Foe), and a triangular column (Planet of Fire). 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.

Handheld weaponry[edit]

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 favourite tool, the sonic screwdriver. Both the tissue compression eliminator and the sonic screwdriver resemble a short hand-held rod; at different times in the series, both tools have had a LED on the end to signal its use.

John Simm's incarnation of the Master with his laser 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.[15]

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 "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, Seb, and Osgood.


The actors who have played the role of the Master in the series and the dates of their first and last regular appearances in the role, are:

Actor No. of
Original start Original end
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 5 (2 stories) "Utopia" 16 June 2007 The End of Time 1 January 2010
Michelle Gomez 3 (2 stories)[a] "Deep Breath" 23 August 2014 "Death in Heaven" 8 November 2014


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 realize 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).

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.

Other appearances[edit]

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.

Target Novels[edit]

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 (Colony in Space). 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."[16]

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."[17]

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) 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".[18]


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 – Koschei turns 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. Not knowing she is a Time Lord and that she will simply regenerate, Koschei completes a time-based weapon in an attempt to bring her back and the weapon is used to destroy the planet Teriliptus and its inhabitants. 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 the former, the Master, disguised as Police Inspector LeMaitre, assists an alien race called the Gaderene to invade Earth, starting with a small village. In the latter, 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 which, while published by Virgin, was not considered part of the Missing Adventures series.

The short story Stop The Pigeon, and the Past Doctor Adventure Prime Time, both by Robert Perry and Mike Tucker and probably set before First Frontier, 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,[citation needed] somehow surviving the cataclysm. Gallifrey's destruction here is not related to its subsequent destruction just prior to the new series (see Time Lord – Recent history). 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's 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.)

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.

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[citation needed] 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.[citation needed] 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.

Martha Jones's year long journey across a Master-controlled planet Earth is detailed in the short story collection The Story of Martha, which was released on 26 December 2008.

In the Doctor Who e-book 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.

Alistair Reynolds' novel Harvest of Time published in 2013 features the Roger Delgado incarnation, set after his capture at the end of The Daemons and before his escape from prison in The Sea Devils.

Comic strips[edit]

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 (DWM 287–296). 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 (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)
  • "Flashback" by Warwick Gray and John Ridgway (Doctor Who Magazine Winter Special 1992)

In the IDW publication Prisoners of Time, a 12-issue series to celebrate the 50th anniversary, the Master (in Tremas' body) 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 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 the Master. However when the Eleventh Doctor manages to summon his previous ten selves to Adam's fortress to rescue their companions, the Master reveals he plans 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 to date in any medium in which the Ninth and Eleventh Doctors encounter the Master.

Audio plays[edit]

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 and he becomes a walking corpse again, 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.

The Master (Played by Geoffrey Beevers) appears again in the Fourth Doctor audio plays Trail of the White Worm, The Oseidon Adventure and The Evil One and is due to reprise the role again in the fourth season. Beevers also appears in the 50th Anniversary story The Light at the End and in the Companion Chronicle Mastermind.

David Garfield played the Master, using the pseudonym Professor Stream, in 2010's Lost Story The Hollows of Time.

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 and Dark Eyes 3]. 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. Macqueen's incarnation of the Master will feature in the final Dark Eyes boxset due for release in March 2015.

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.

Short stories[edit]

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.


In 2003, an android version of the character (resembling the Delgado version of the Master voiced by Derek Jacobi) appeared in the animated webcast Scream of the Shalka. He also appears, with the "Shalka Doctor" (Richard E. Grant), in the webcast of The Feast of Stone. This versions Master has some psychic abilities and attempts to hypnotise another character but is unable to 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.

Audio book[edit]

Computer game[edit]

Role playing game[edit]

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.[19]


In the Comic Relief sketch Doctor Who and the Curse of Fatal Death, the Master was played by Jonathan Pryce.[20]


  1. ^ Gomez appears in 7 episodes (6 stories) in the eighth series but is only credited for 3 appearances.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "h2g2 – Roger Delgado – Actor". 2004-03-30. Retrieved 2013-09-17. 
  2. ^ Doctor Who Magazine Special Edition No. 2, 5 September 2002, [subtitled The Complete Third Doctor], page 14)
  3. ^ BBC Archive. Internal memo written ca. 1970.
  4. ^ "Roger Delgado (1973) | Doctor Who Interview Archive". 2009-09-17. Retrieved 2014-03-02. 
  5. ^ Doctor Who Magazine (91): 17, 28.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  6. ^ The Mind Robber. Doctor Who. 1968-09-14–1968-10-12. BBC. BBC One. 
  7. ^ The scene may not be intended to be a literal depiction. In Doctor Who Magazine No. 384, writer and series producer Russell T Davies states that he "didn't want to trample over the past by introducing something that would rewrite continuity... I came up with a comparatively light origin – it's more a theory of the Doctor's, rather than a blunt description of the day that Baby Master fell into the Cauldron of Evil. It's more atmospheric than factual." He adds, "it's all the better for being an image, almost a fairytale, rather than a straight flashback."
  8. ^ Doctor Who Fact File: Utopia
  9. ^ "Moffat on Finale Death, Master Future". Doctor Who TV. 9 November 2014. Retrieved 9 November 2014. 
  10. ^ "Michelle Gomez Reveals Series 9 Return, Rani Trickery". Doctor Who TV. 12 November 2014. Retrieved 14 November 2014. 
  11. ^ Morgan Jeffery (4 December 2014). "Doctor Who's Steven Moffat: 'I've asked Michelle Gomez to come back'". Retrieved 11 December 2014. 
  12. ^ "BBC One - Doctor Who, Did you miss her? Michelle Gomez returns to Doctor Who!". BBC. BBC One. Retrieved 19 February 2015. 
  13. ^ Russel T. Davies, David Tennant, John Simm, Anthony Head (23 June 2007). Doctor Who Confidential, "The Saxon Mystery". 
  14. ^ UK Doctor Who Magazine issue 384
  15. ^ Griffiths, Nick (30 June – 6 July 2007). "On Set With... Freema Agyeman, plus Russell T Davies on the exciting series finale...". Radio Times. pp. 10–14. 
  16. ^ Hulke, Malcom (1974). Doctor Who and the Doomsday Weapon. W. H. Allen & co. Ltd. pp. 1–3. ISBN 0-426--10372-6. 
  17. ^ Hulke, Malcom (1974). Doctor Who and the Sea Devils. W. H. Allen & co. Ltd. p. 30. ISBN 0-426--11308-X. 
  18. ^ Dicks, Terrance (1975). Doctor Who and the Terror of the Autons. W. H. Allen & co. Ltd. pp. 26–28. ISBN 0-426--11500-7. 
  19. ^ Keith, J.Andrew (1985). The Doctor Who Role Playing Game The Master. FASA. ISBN 0-931787-94-7. 
  20. ^ "Rowan Atkinson is Doctor Who – Classic Comic Relief". YouTube. Retrieved 2014-03-02. 

External links[edit]