The Master

The Master is a Time Lord from the planet Gallifrey, just like the Doctor. But unlike his nemesis he chose to travel the universe causing chaos and revelling in wickedness on an epic scale. ‘That jackanapes!’ the Third Doctor once exclaimed. ‘All he ever does is cause trouble!’

Fact titleFact data
Also known as:
Reverend Magister, Professor Yana, Harold Saxon et al.
Home Planet:
Weapons of choice:
Laser Screwdriver and the Tissue Compression Eliminator – a gun that shrinks you to death!
Hatred. He’d delay an execution to pull the wings off a fly.
First Appearance:
Most Recent Appearance:
Key Story:

We should dislike the Master. His schemes are evil, his respect for humanity borders on zero and the list of aliens he’s allied himself with reads like a who’s who of galactic villainy – the Daleks, Daemons, the Rani and the evil Axos are just four entries in his rogues’ gallery of comrades.

Envy is the beginning of all true greatness!
The Master

But he’s hard to hate, perhaps because the Doctor clearly harbours a fondness for him. Many, many years ago they were friends and maybe this is why the Doctor will always forgive the Master’s sins; will always be there for him whether he’s been imprisoned for his terrible crimes or he’s weeping like a child because yet another plan to rule the galaxy has been defeated. No wonder the Doctor calls him his ‘best enemy’ and the Master once conceded that ‘a cosmos without the Doctor scarcely bears thinking about’.

We first encountered the Master during a period in the Doctor’s life when he was stuck on Earth, without the use of a fully-functioning TARDIS. The Master – at this point a charismatic, witty and well-dressed madman - was attempting to form an alliance with the deadly Nestene Consciousness. The Doctor was able to persuade him of the plan’s folly and it was aborted at the very last moment, but the rogue Time Lord continued to plague the Doctor during his exile on Earth, tirelessly bidding for power with the Sea Devils and the dangerously powerful Azal; unleashing terror with his TOMTIT machine and even destroying Atlantis when one of his more insidious plots backfired.

Why did the Master choose to execute his schemes on a planet where he knew the Doctor was waiting for him? The answer was possibly revealed years later when he claimed that his former friend was his ‘greatest stimulation’.

When the Doctor encountered the Master on Gallifrey he had reached the end of his regeneration cycle and the once urbane and attractive figure had been involved in some kind of accident giving his form a monstrous appearance. His charm had been replaced by a seething malevolence and even the Doctor seemed less charitable to his old enemy, branding him the ‘quintessence of evil’, although he did admit that his mathematical skills were absolutely brilliant – almost up to his own standard, in fact!

The Master later stole another body (‘a new body, at last!) and didn’t waste time making bad use of it. His plan to gain dominion over the universe led to the destruction of Logopolis and only the Fourth Doctor was able to prevent this disaster triggering the end of the cosmos –but at a great cost… The Fifth, Sixth and Seventh Doctors battled this ‘version’ of the Master across the galaxies – from England, 1215 to the far away planet known as ‘Cheetah World’.

The Master again stole a new body during his stay in San Francisco, 1999 (and he almost caused the end of all life on Earth – again) but the Doctor’s travels were unhampered by his fellow Gallifreyan following the Time War between the Doctor’s people and the Daleks.

That changed on the planet Malcassairo where the resurrected Master had been existing as the kindly genius, Professor Yana. Even he didn’t know he was the Master until a device looking like a fob watch was opened and his true personality was unleashed. ‘I… am… the Master!’ he declared, making up for many lost years by quickly killing a faithful, old companion, stealing the TARDIS and leaving the Doctor to die at the hands (and fangs) of the Futurekind. Now he and the Doctor were the only surviving Time Lords in the universe.

When the Doctor next came face-to-face with the Master he’d regenerated and this latest version had ‘become’ Harold Saxon, been elected Prime Minister and seemed more dangerously insane than ever. Urged on by the ‘sound of drums’ in his head he attempted universal domination by working with a race he called the ‘Toclafane’ although later he decided not to enslave humanity and instead tried to replace every living person with a version of himself, creating, as he called it, a ‘Master race’. Again, the Doctor was able to derail his mad enterprise and the Master was thwarted.

Throughout all their encounters they usually showed a respect towards each other and on the occasions when they were forced to work as a team it was clear they made terrific allies. These two rogue Time Lords – so different but so very similar – facing the world on their terms with gusto and enormous talent, but forever ending up alone. It was perhaps summed up best in The Sound of Drums: ‘Don't you see,’ the Doctor told the Master, ‘all we've got is each other.’