DOCTOR WHO - What if SYLVESTER McCOY is the Master?

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With the actor playing the new Master yet to be announced, Christopher Morley wonders if we should be looking a little closer to home - that is if 'home' is a Type 40 TARDIS.


With Steven Moffatt revealing that he's "figured out the cliffhanger to the penultimate episode of the next series. And it’s a whopper. Ohh, I don’t think you’ll see this coming!" (Doctor Who Magazine #475). Could it be that the whopper of a surprise involves a previous lead actor returning to the series as the newest incarnation of the Master?

Be warned that any tea you're drinking could soon be spat out in either disbelief or revelation, because there's one ex-Doctor that could be a perfect fit for the Master, Sylvester McCoy.

After all its not like Seven didn't know the meaning of the word 'manipulative'. Just ask several of the enemies the man in the pullover faced during his time in charge of the TARDIS ( that is to say Seasons 24-26 of Classic Who, plus the beginning phase of the TV film). Should you fancy reacquainting yourself with the man in the pullover, skip to Dragonfire for his first encounter with Ms McShane. From thereon in plays out their story. In effect she's a pawn for both players in a long-running game of chess between the Doctor & Fenric...



Of course he & the ancient entity are as bad as each other! Where Fenric has its 'wolves', the Doctor has both his brains & his young companion. Both of which he proceeds to use to deliver quite a checkmate. But could it be that the Master is now playing a similar game using not one but two Doctors as pawns?

After all if he did succeed in gaining control of the Doctor's body, as he'd planned as far back as the TV film...



...there's no limit to what the Master could have his foe turned mental slave do. Potentially he could lure Twelve into answering a fabricated distress call from his earlier self as House did with all those Time Lords to bring the Eleventh Doctor to him in The Doctor's Wife.

Whether that would involve a return visit to any of the many worlds visited by the Seventh Doctor is an exciting possibility to ponder! The whole scheme could certainly have Fenric's hand of doom writ large over it. Perhaps 'Sexy' lands at Maiden's Point at some time before The Curse Of Fenric, say, at the point where the Vikings buried his remains in that flask under St Jude's Church?

It could be that the being formerly going by the name of Hastur the Unspeakable has done a deal with the Master, who needs a new physical body. In exchange for freeing Fenric, he's promised a fresh start in Seven's body- allowing McCoy to play the new Master as well as being a nice nod to one of the later era of ' Classic Who's best stories. Certainly puts a new spin on this...


And it would explain Sylvester's claims to already know who will be playing the role when Series 8 hits our screens. Back in March he revealed the news at the Newcastle Film And Comic Con, though he could just be leading us all a merry dance (something like this perhaps!).

If McCoy does have designs on the role he wouldn't be the first ex-Doctor to express interest in returning as his former part's antithesis, either. No less a figure than Tom Baker has previously said ( around the time of Doctor Who's 2005 comeback) that he would be interested in portraying the Master somehow, too. He originally stated that his comments were a joke, though later considered that the idea could be an interesting one to look into. The cynics may say that his age could count against him ( he's 80) & it could spoil people's memories of him in the role of the Fourth Doctor...


But equally he could represent as big a surprise, if not bigger, as/than McCoy as Master! If anyone of any age can play the Doctor, as Moffatt stated when announcing John Hurt as the War Doctor, no spring chicken himself at 74) surely the same rule applies to the dark yin to his yang? It would also be a less obvious choice from among the twelve Doctors. 

Would Baker use his eccentricity & charm to deadly effect in an inversion of his Doctorly characteristics? It would certainly be interesting to have the Master offer a jelly baby to someone one minute, then make mincemeat of them the next.

Another possible retrospective explanation for the Baker Master could prove interesting to explore. What if the Master's corpse-like form from The Deadly Assassin were to make a short return before The Keeper Of Traken, succeeding in a plot to use the Doctor's body as a host before being defeated by Twelve & forced to hunt down Tremas as a prelude to his portrayal by Anthony Ainley?

The age thing could be explained by some sort of side effect of the process at a push, the older Baker given free rein to ham it up as the Master as well as looking forward to further battles with the Fourth Doctor in a nod to his previous role. It need only be a short-term thing, too. Perhaps the Baker Master's body could wear a bit thin. Just before he regenerates into a new body he expresses a wish that his next appearance be drawn from a pool of Doctorly faces/bodies, perhaps one with a little more cunning, a schemer.


The scene is thusly set for him to appear again, played by Sylvester McCoy in readiness for another encounter with the Doctor at Maiden's Point & perhaps beyond. Could the Master strike a bargain with Lady Peinforte ( Silver Nemesis) in a bid to use her skill at black magic to transfer his consciousness into the Doctor's body & undo all Seven's good work? If we turn our gaze towards Battlefield we might also ruminate on the idea that ' Merlin' was actually the Master in his pullover-clad stolen body seeking to cause chaos at Camelot & bring down King Arthur..

He could also in the meantime have double-crossed Peinforte in seeking to use the power of the Nemesis statue for his own ends. Perhaps he'd forewarn her that the Doctor would be coming to Windsor, sowing the seeds of mistrust by telling her a little of Seven's history- falsified where necessary, of course. After all meddling in the affairs of two Doctors, in just about the most spectacular manner possible, would be all in a day's work for the Master!
Warped Factor
Words in the key of geek!