We won’t learn the Doctor’s name this Saturday. Unless Steven Moffat has really come up with something incredibly brilliant that no one has thought of before, it’s not going to happen. He’ll whisper it to River Song, and probably also Clara, but we won’t hear it.
But I would love to be wrong about that. Consider: most Time Lords have names. Sure, there’s the Master, the Rani, the Corsair, the Meddling Monk, and the War Chief; but there’s also Susan, Romana, Borusa, Flavia, Drax, Andred, Maxil, Hedin, Kelner, Rodan, Spandrell, Runcible, Rassilon, and Omega. And that’s just counting televised stories. There’s nothing established in the show about Time Lord names being especially secret, so surely one of the following must be true:
- We treat Rassilon as a special case (perhaps a title of some kind?), so with the Corsair and the Master as the only other Time Lords mentioned by name in the new series, we have a potential retcon in effect where Time Lord names are secret.
- Time Lord names aren’t generally secret, but the Doctor’s is, for some reason. It’s something meaningful that other people would recognize, or it’s become dangerous because of one of his adventures, etc.
- The Doctor isn’t (just) a Time Lord, hence his name is special.
The first option is pretty stupid. The third one is less so, but I didn’t like the idea in the McCoy era and I don’t like it now. The second one I can work with, and actually offers the possibility of an interesting revelation that would have an impact on the story without actually pinning us down to a specified name. In this scenario, it’s OK that we don’t learn his name, as long as we learn that it’s the combination to a box that contains the Key to Time, for instance. That wouldn’t be the most interesting story to tell, but it beats a simple whisper.
So just for fun, let’s speculate on what his name could possibly turn out to be.
- Theta Sigma. His old college nickname, spoken casually in the old series, but not at all in the new series that I can recall. River includes the Greek letters in a message to the Doctor (I think it’s the one from “The Time of Angels”) so clearly she knows them. Plausible, but anticlimactic for just about anyone.
- John Smith. Surprise! His alias is really his name. Except see previous: he’s used it casually in all sorts of adventures, most recently in “Smith and Jones.” So not likely.
- St. John. Mentioned in one of my favorite Doctor Who blogs, as a joke, but a funny one.
- Jehovah / Jesus / etc. There’s no way. Everyone in the entire world, even people who don’t watch the show, would lose their minds, including me. It would make “half-human” seem like nothing. But it would be pretty ballsy.
- William Havelock Orwell. W.H.O., right? Riiiight. So maybe it’s just…
- Who. Canon, according to some fan circles. I can imagine an Abbott and Costello sequence where this is revealed. Also a bit anticlimactic, but if written just right, I’m sorry, it would be pretty funny.
- I.M. Foreman. From the junkyard hiding the TARDIS in “An Unearthly Child,” and several episodes revisiting the same place since. Arbitrary, unlikely to do much for anyone except the classic series fans, but consider: who owned that junkyard? How did he not notice the TARDIS there? And why was the Doctor’s granddaughter going by the name “Susan Foreman” if that wasn’t at least an alias of his? And if it’s not that, maybe something related, like…
- Imagination Master. Ooh! Get it? I.M. Foreman? Gag, I know. Or maybe…
- Four. As in “I am Four, man.” Oh god, now I’m getting really stupid.
- Slartibartfast. Not really, but I’ve long suspected the Douglas Adams character’s name was a joke on “Romanadvoratrelundar,” and the punchline (“I said it wasn’t important”) would perfectly sum up my feelings on this issue.