The Discontinuity Guide

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The Discontinuity Guide
The Discontinuity Guide.jpg
Author Paul Cornell, Martin Day, Keith Topping
Cover artist Slatter–Anderson
Country United Kingdom
Language English
Subject Doctor Who
Published 1995 Virgin Books
Media type Print (paperback)
Pages 357 (first edition)
ISBN 0-426-20442-5
OCLC 60225122

The Discontinuity Guide is a 1995 guidebook to the serials of the original run (1963–1989) of the BBC science fiction series Doctor Who.[1] The book was written by Paul Cornell, Martin Day and Keith Topping and was first published as Doctor Who - The Discontinuity Guide on 1 July 1995 by Virgin Books.[2]


The book focuses on the fiction of Doctor Who. For each serial, the authors discuss the roots of the story, technical and narrative gaffes, technobabble, dialogue disasters and triumphs, continuity, and a "bottom line" critical analysis of the story. The book also contains short essays on subjects in Doctor Who continuity, such as the Doctor's family, the history (or histories) of the Daleks, UNIT dating and the origins of the Time Lords. One of these essays marked the first publication of the Season 6B theory.

Season 6B[edit]

Although The War Games is the final serial to feature Patrick Troughton as the current incarnation of the Doctor, he would go on to make three appearances in later stories. His appearances in The Three Doctors, The Five Doctors and The Two Doctors have led to fans raising points about continuity problems regarding the Second Doctor's ultimate fate.

  • When the Third Doctor emerges from the TARDIS at the beginning of Spearhead from Space, he has a number of possessions that he didn't have at the end of The War Games.
  • In The Five Doctors, the Second Doctor has enough control over the TARDIS to be able to go to the Brigadier's regimental reunion.
  • In The Five Doctors, the Second Doctor comes across projections of both Jamie and Zoe, and knows they can't be real because they were returned to their own times and had their memories erased by the Time Lords; however, this happens right at the end of The War Games, just prior to the Time Lords sentencing the Doctor to his forced regeneration and exile.
  • In The Two Doctors, both the Second Doctor and Jamie appear visibly older than at the end of The War Games.
  • Jamie only learned that the Time Lords were the Doctor's people in The War Games, meaning that the events of The Two Doctors would need to take place later in his own personal timeline than this (as he knows he and the Doctor are on a mission for them).
  • The Second Doctor appears to be working for the Time Lords willingly in both The Three Doctors and The Two Doctors.
  • The Second Doctor possesses a Stattenheim Remote control device with which he can operate his TARDIS remotely in The Two Doctors, something that the Sixth Doctor does not possess.
  • The TARDIS console room used by the Second Doctor and Jamie in The Two Doctors is a different design from the one in The War Games.
  • In The Two Doctors, the Second Doctor is confident that he has enough control over the TARDIS to be able to go and pick up Victoria once his mission is completed.
  • In The Masque of Mandragora, the Second Doctor's recorder is discovered in the wood panelled console room of the TARDIS that debuts in that story, suggesting that the Second Doctor may have used that room at some point after the events of The War Games.

The authors of The Discontinuity Guide gave voice to these various points and came up with the hypothesis that a significant period of time occurred between the end of The War Games and the beginning of Spearhead from Space in which the Doctor remained in his second incarnation and was not immediately exiled to Earth. This hypothesis has been expanded into the Season 6B concept. In this, the Celestial Intervention Agency (CIA, a Time Lord intelligence organisation mentioned in The Deadly Assassin) recruits the Second Doctor immediately following his trial at the end of The War Games to serve as a clandestine agent, undertaking missions for them on an as-needed basis. For this, he is given back his TARDIS (together with the Stattenheim Remote Control) and allowed to reunite with both Jamie and Victoria as companions. The events of The Two Doctors are just one of the missions that the Doctor subsequently undertakes before, at some point, his association with the CIA ends and his sentence of exile on Earth and forced regeneration is carried out, leading into Spearhead from Space.

The theory outlined in The Discontinuity Guide was eventually picked up and made explicit by Terrance Dicks in his novel World Game in 2005, which details the Second Doctor's recruitment by the CIA and his first mission. The events at the end of that novel subsequently lead in to the beginning of The Two Doctors. Later still, the BBC began utilising The Discontinuity Guide as a source for its own pages on the Doctor Who website, with a separate page laying out in detail the events of "Season 6B".[3]

In 2015 the Big Finish audio release The Black Hole gave an alternate explanation for the events of The Two Doctors, unambiguously placing the Second Doctor and Jamie during Season 5.[citation needed] The Discontinuity Guide contains an introduction by Doctor Who writer and script editor Terrance Dicks.

Publication history[edit]

The book was first published in 1995 by Doctor Who Books, an imprint of Virgin Books. At the time, Virgin held the licence to publish Doctor Who books from the BBC, and published licensed Doctor Who novels and other non-fiction books under the Doctor Who Books imprint.

The guidebook was subsequently given an un-licensed re-print as simply The Discontinuity Guide in November 2004 through MonkeyBrain Books, with a new foreword by Lou Anders.[4] In 2013, it was published as an ebook — as The Doctor Who Discontinuity Guide — by Orion Publishing Group under its Gateway imprint.[5]

Additionally, the BBC's Doctor Who website incorporated the book's text, along with that of Doctor Who: The Television Companion by David J. Howe and Stephen James Walker, into its classic series episode guide.[6]


Lars Pearson described The Discontinuity Guide as "a lively romp though all the show's consistencies and inconsistencies."[7] When the book was reissued in 2004, Sfcrowsnest gave it a negative review, criticising the re-issue for not updating the volume to incorporate information about the 1996 film or the then-impending new series with Christopher Eccleston, and stating that overall "Serious 'Dr Who' fans will find the book a worthy addition to their bookshelves, but more casual readers will probably want to find a more user-friendly and attractive book or web-site instead".[8] The SF Site gave a more mixed review, praising the book for its humour while stating that the book would probably appeal more to fans wanting to know the finer details of the serials but that more casual fans would not enjoy it as much.[9] In the acknowledgements of The Greatest Show in the Galaxy: The Discerning Fan's Guide to Doctor Who, Marc Schuster and Tom Powers praised The Discontinuity Guide for its "playful wit".[10]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Barron, Neil (2002). What Do I Read Next?, Volume 2. Gale Research Incorporated. p. 272. 
  2. ^ Butler, David (2007). Time and relative dissertations in space: critical perspectives on Doctor Who. Manchester University Press. p. 246. ISBN 9780719076817. 
  3. ^ "Season 6b". Doctor Who: The Classic Series. BBC. Retrieved 11 April 2013. 
  4. ^ "The Discontinuity Guide". MonkeyBrain Books. November 2004. Retrieved 20 April 2009. 
  5. ^ "Paul Cornell, Martin Day, and Keith Topping - The Doctor Who Discontinuity Guide - Orion Publishing Group"
  6. ^ "Classic Series - Episode Guide". BBC Doctor Who website. Retrieved 20 April 2009. 
  7. ^ Pearson, Lars (October 1999). I, Who: The Unauthorized Guide to the Doctor Who Novels. New York: Sidewinder Press. p. 4. ISBN 0-9673746-0-X. 
  8. ^ Monks, Neale. "Review: The Discontinuity Guide". Sfcrowsnest. Retrieved 25 April 2014. 
  9. ^ Przybyszewski, Chris. "Review: The Discontinuity Guide: The Definitive Guide to the Worlds & Times of Doctor Who". SF Site. Retrieved 25 April 2014. 
  10. ^ Schuster, Marc; Powers, Tom (2007). The Greatest Show in the Galaxy: The Discerning Fan's Guide to Doctor Who. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland. p. vi. ISBN 978-0-7864-3276-9.