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Third Doctor: Misc


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Up to date as of January 31, 2010

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Third Doctor
Also known as: Dr. John Smith
Race: Gallifreyan - Time Lord
Home Planet: Gallifrey
Home Era: Rassilon Era
Appearances: Full List of Appearances
Actor: Jon Pertwee
"A straight line may be the shortest distance between two points, but it is by no means the most interesting!"
―The Doctor





The Third Doctor was the result of a forced second regeneration imposed upon the Second Doctor by the Time Lords. (DW: The War Games) This Doctor was exiled to 20th century Earth and his memory blocked so he could not use his TARDIS to escape. He struck up an arrangement with old friend Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart wherein he would serve as UNIT's "scientific advisor", and in return could use UNIT's technical and scientific facilities to attempt to make the TARDIS operational again. (DW: Spearhead from Space)

Enter the Master

After the arrival of the Master on Earth, the Time Lords began to allow the Doctor limited use of his TARDIS, but always compelling it to return him to 20th century Earth when his missions were completed, essentially turning him into "some sort of a galactic yo-yo". (DW: The Claws of Axos)


When the first three Doctors successfully stopped Omega in his quest to destroy the Time Lords, they rewarded the Third Doctor by restoring his knowledge of the TARDIS codes and lifting his exile. (DW: The Three Doctors)

Guilt and redemption

The Third Doctor continued to assist UNIT, though his presence on Earth was now much more intermittent. Finally, to defeat the Spiders of Metebelis III, he sacrificed his own life by exposing himself to lethal levels of radiation. With the assistance of his old mentor K'anpo Rimpoche, he was able to regenerate into his fourth incarnation. (DW: Planet of the Spiders)

For a list of Third Doctor stories in the order in which he experienced them, see Third Doctor - Timeline.


The Third Doctor often had problems with the Brigadier's tendency to think of situations in military terms and with petty officials generally. The Third Doctor had a continuing series of contests and challenges with the Master, and was the first known incarnation to encounter the Silurians and Sea Devils as well as the Ogrons, and the Autons. (DW: Doctor Who and the Silurians, The Sea Devils, Spearhead from Space, Terror of the Autons and Day of the Daleks) The Third Doctor never faced the Cybermen but he and Sarah Jane Smith did witness a Raston Warrior Robot massacre a squad of Cybermen (DW: The Five Doctors)

Psychological profile


The third Doctor

The Third Doctor was a man of action, aggressively joining the fray whenever he could, unlike the first two Doctors who generally insinuated themselves into events discreetly. This was a Doctor who was unafraid to pitch in with his physical skills, often bringing his mastery of Venusian aikido into play when the situation called for it.

But much like his predecessors, his keen mind was still his primary asset, and this was a Doctor who particularly loved to create and play with gadgets of all sorts. This passion displayed itself both in terms of the Third Doctor's scientific bent and in his love of vehicles, such as his yellow roadster Bessie and his car which he specially built.

Staunchly moral, often to the point of being preachy, the third Doctor was every bit the gentleman, a hero of the Victorian mold.

The Doctor had a noticeably antagonistic relationship with his predecessor, the Second Doctor. Their relationship was so rocky that they were incapable of working together without the authoritative presence of the First Doctor. (DW: The Three Doctors, DW: The Five Doctors) The nature of the Second Doctor's regeneration into the Third may be the cause of their open disliking of each other.

Habits and Quirks

The Third Doctor was known for his great passion for gadgets.

He would also occasionally perform magic tricks

He also loved his vintage car Bessie and later his futuristic Whomobile almost as much as he loved his TARDIS.

He could at times by very tetchy and argumentative, an attitude that he demonstrated repeatedly with bureaucrats and other authority figures.

Being a man of action, he used a wide variety of martial arts including Venusian Aikido.

He was also the first Doctor who would consume alcohol. The First Doctor is offered and seems to drink wine in The Romans.

"Reverse the polarity of the neutron flow" is thought to be his most commonly used quote, but in fact he only says it fully once. In The Paradise of Death, he admits to Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart that the phrase doesn't actually mean anything from a scientific point of view.

Mysteries and Discrepancies

  • The Doctor describes himself as thousands of years old (DW: Doctor Who and the Silurians), which seems inconsistent with figures of his age given in later incarnations. He repeats that age later to Jo Grant. Previous incarnations of the Doctor gave his age to "some hundred years"

Unrecorded adventures

As the Fifth Doctor was going through a rather unstable regeneration at that point however, the claim of having had an adventure with the Brigadier and chasing the Ice Warriors may not be entirely factual.

Key Life Events

Jo Grant and the Doctor
However, the Doctor tells Jo that Capt. Yates had the job of "cleaning up" after the previous encounter with the Autons, so it is logical that the Doctor had met him off-screen prior to this story.
The above episode also saw the introduction of the Sontarans. However a later serial, The Two Doctors, established that the Second Doctor had previously met the creatures, making this no longer a first encounter. This serial is also the first time the name of Gallifrey is mentioned on screen.

Behind the scenes

  • It is interesting to note that, during his exile on Earth, Torchwood made no (known) attempts to capture the Doctor, despite him being named in the Torchwood Charter. However, it could be explained that Captain Jack Harkness most likely would have stopped them from interfering with his personal timeline.


  • Ron Moody was approached by the producers after his success in "Oliver" but he turned down the role. He has stated in interviews that turning down the role of the Third Doctor was the worst thing he ever did professionally; every time he hears the familiar Doctor Who theme tune he kicks himself.

External links

The incarnations of the Doctor
Companions of the Third Doctor
Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart  • Liz Shaw  • Jo Grant  • Sarah Jane Smith
Other media
Arnold  • Jason  • Crystal  • Zog  • Jeremy Fitzoliver

This article uses material from the "Third Doctor" article on the Dr Who wiki at Wikia and is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike License.


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