The Doctor's Academy Speech

Emotional Attachment and the Alien Perspective – the Preparation and the Speech

“He could never understand their policy of non-involvement, but then the Doctor had what his old tutor at the Academy used to call ‘a distressing tendency to become emotionally attached and to see things from the alien perspective’. He had even, against his tutor’s advice, delivered an extremely persuasive and passionate speech on the subject for one of his final examinations, but although he achieved top marks for manner and delivery of the speech, he nearly failed because of the politically incorrect content. But even so, it never changed his ideals or his opinions. As he grew older and travelled more widely, the ‘distressing tendency’, instead of dissipating as his family, friends and mentors had hoped, just became even stronger. As a result, the Doctor always became involved, whether it was by design or by accident, often landing himself in deep trouble, but always earning the eternal gratitude of the particular aliens that he chose to assist in the process.”

- A description of the Doctor’s background from “A Change for the Better” Part 2 by Prue Thomason

Part 1 – “The Preparation”

This was the last major assessment item before his graduation from the Academy. The students had all had it impressed upon them how important this speech was to their final result. So much so that a student could have performed extremely well for the rest of their degree, but could still be failed if this speech was not good enough. Many good students had, in fact, failed this final hurdle.

Each speech was to be a topic of the student’s own choice and was expected to be something that reflected their learning during their time at the Academy. This was as much an opportunity to show their talents of persuasion and their grasp of overall politics and ethics as a means to illustrate their character. It was quite a momentous effort and with more than a passing resemblance to a major rite of passage in the life of a young Time Lord. Not only was the assessment incredibly important – content, manner and persuasion – but it was so important that the students remained on campus until their speech was finished. Additionally, the Academy directors insisted that each student was to use a nom de plume when writing the speech and to indicate their nom de plume solely to the adjudicator prior to commencement. This way, no other student knew who the real author of a speech was prior to its delivery.

Most students chose a more formal version of one of their lesser-known birth names, but they always had the alternative of choosing to stylise themselves under a title of some sort. For the bright, but according to many, troublesome young Time Lord who was known by the nickname of Theta Sigma, choosing a title as his nom de plume had almost a ritual significance. It was entirely irresistible to his capricious nature. He chose the obscure title of ‘the Doctor’ for his speech and while writing it under that name, he felt strangely comfortable with it as a persona and from then, until the delivery of the speech, thought of himself as ‘the Doctor’. Indeed, it was to become his definitive persona later in this incarnation and for the rest of his life.

It was strange that in this particular graduating group at the Academy, there had been three very bright, but troublesome, individuals. Each was troublesome in a different way, with completely different personal characters. One was ‘the Doctor’; one was a former close friend and academic and personal rival of his who chose ‘the Master’ as his nom de plume for the speech; and the other was the only female Time Lord to graduate in their year – a former girlfriend of Theta Sigma’s who chose to stylise her speech under the name ‘the Rani’. Like ‘the Doctor’, both ‘the Master’ and ‘the Rani’ chose to adopt these names as their later personas. Yet, apart from this time at the Academy, there were no real parallels in the three students’ lives…..

The students had seven days in which to determine their topic, research it and then craft their speech. During this time, they were required to reside in colleges on campus, without communication with family or friends outside of their fellow students and tutors. Part of this was for assessment validity; part was to ensure they were not distracted and could reach inside themselves to produce a speech which was unique and had the imprint of their personality upon its content. It made the whole process a test of stamina and of character just to last out this preparation period, let alone passing the assessment itself. Frequently, students who were unable to cope with this preparation period would have to repeat this process in another year or drop out completely. This assessment was the main reason why many students chose a lesser stream than this one which was designed for the academic elite.

There were many educators on Gallifrey, both at the Academy and elsewhere, who thought that this assessment was subjecting the best students to unnecessary mental stress or even cruelty so close to the end of their training, but the Directors were adamant that this test of character and strength was essential to equip them for their futures as members of Gallifrey’s elite. It was to be one of the Academy’s ironies that in the future, none of this trio of very bright students who chose titular names was to be permanently part of that said elite…..

‘The Doctor’, unlike most of the students, brought none of his study notes or textbooks with him to the college where he was allocated to reside during this period. Although he had access to the library, as all the students did, his tutors were particularly concerned about his lack of study notes and offered him copies of lecture notes to work from, if he needed them. They all thought he would have nothing to refer back to as a basis for his speech. It was absolutely unheard of for a student to attempt preparation and successful completion of this most important of assessments without such a reference. Yet ‘the Doctor’ was adamant. He was determined to use his memory for detail, but more than that, his feelings and emotions about the topics he had studied and their relevance – past, present and future – to Gallifrey and the Time Lords’ existence and role in the universe.

His stubbornness and unpredictability were well-known and many of his educators shook their heads whenever they thought about him and his future. Still, it was expected by now that he would not do things in the usual way, so no-one pressed him to accept notes he clearly did not want. It was not permitted that tutors could ask students what they were intending to speak on nor to provide direct advice or review of the speech. Their role was to provide research and reference advice and explanations of points in the topics studied for clarification only. However, they were all consumed by curiosity – or as curious as a Time Lord educator could be – to see what this unusual student was going to present. None of them had any doubt that he would make it through the preparation period and would present a speech and that it would be unusual. But none of them were in any way prepared for how unusual and controversial it was to be.

To ‘the Doctor’, there had never been any doubt as to the topic of his speech. Yes, the speech was to be relative to some point of his training; yes, the speech was to show a grasp of politics and ethics; yes, the speech was to showcase his powers of persuasion; and yes, the speech was to show character. But the topic was to be his choice. He smiled to himself as he realised what he would use for his topic. This was his opportunity to make a difference, he thought. Although he was a bit dubious about his powers to persuade them to his point of view, considering his topic was going to be unpalatable to many. However, he was optimistic enough to believe that what he lacked in persuasiveness, he more than compensated for in his passion and emotion for his topic.

But some would say that he took emotion too far at times. Unlike his fellow students, he preferred not to use a computerised means of documenting his preparation and his speech. He far preferred the more, as he described it, personal touch. This meant that when he settled himself comfortably down on the bed to commence his writing, it was with a notebook at the ready and a pen in hand…..

Part 2 – “The Speech”

Every speech presented by the students was unique, except he found them all frustrating. Each and every one followed the correct line – even ‘the Rani’ kept her strange ideas on other life forms out of her speech. She was attractive in appearance, but those bizarre ideas of hers so disgusted him that he terminated their relationship before it ever became serious. He doubted that she had ever truly forgiven him for that, but that was past history and best forgotten. Now, he just awaited the call for his speech, the final one to be delivered by a student for this year’s round of examinations. The suspense was agonising.

As his nom de plume was called, he stood up, tall and straight, took a deep breath, and walked calmly, but purposefully, to the centre of the stage in the Academy Great Hall. At that moment he felt as if he truly was ‘the Doctor’. He didn’t know it, but the passionate speech he was about to deliver was to be remembered as one of the most controversial speeches ever attempted by a final year student at the Academy. As a result, the transcript of the speech, as delivered, was chosen to be published, unedited and unreviewed, in the Academy newspaper, despite its politically incorrect content and the loss of the marvellous passion, inflection and gestures of the speech’s delivery. Unfortunately, that is always the problem when transcribing a breathtaking speech from the heart into two-dimensional silent print form, but it was still worth reading…..

“Madam Director, Distinguished Guests, Time Lords, Fellow Students,

We are taught about those things that make Gallifrey great and those great responsibilities that are our inheritance as Time Lords of Gallifrey. Gallifrey has such a fantastic history – both in peace and in war. We learn about the deeds of Rassilon and his great vision for us. He is quite rightly revered by us all. We are taught about the magnificence of time travel and of the superb feat of solar engineering and the personal sacrifice that Omega made to harness the power for that magnificence and to enable Rassilon’s vision to be realised. His efforts are honoured by all Time Lords.

We learn of the Time Lords’ great power in the universe and of their watch and guardianship over other races, always ensuring the Laws of Time are obeyed. But we must remain emotionally detached while we carry out our duties and the alien races that we claim guardianship over are not consulted to find out whether they actually appreciate our methods of guardianship or not!

But the emotional attachment that we are taught to guard against is not only necessary, but essential in our role as the guardians of the Laws of Time and together with the alien perspective enables us to deal with those other races respectfully and to understand them, the way they are, not the way we wish them to be or expect them to be. This is the crux of my speech today.

Consider, if you will, the legends of the notorious race of giant vampires that we all were brought up with as children; the planets that they drained for their peoples’ lifeblood; the civilisations that were destroyed in the battles that ensued with them and how Rassilon caused the Time Lords to triumph over them. Do you remember them as the creations of your nightmares? Were you secretly fascinated by them? Did you play childhood games pretending that different races and planets were destroyed by them? But always the Time Lords of Gallifrey triumphed over them. We never knew how, but just that we always won.

Even as children, we were not permitted to be emotionally attached to the thoughts or feelings of other races. All our emotional attachment was through our pride in Gallifrey and its achievements. But how many of you know that the giant vampires were not the creations of our nightmares – they did exist! The wars with the giant vampires happened; many worlds and civilisations were destroyed. The Time Lords suffered great casualties from the bloody battles, but were unable to help most of the worlds that were attacked. Eventually, Rassilon determined the only way to vanquish these creatures, but not before the decimation of so many planets. The Time Lords were never quite the same after that. But the effect on Gallifrey was terrible.

Instead of recovering our emotional investment in these people we had guardianship over and working in partnership with the surviving races to rebuild the galaxies, the Time Lords retreated and became even less emotionally attached to these people than before. It was also decided from that time on that the perspectives of other races that we came in contact with would not be considered. The Time Lords always knew best and could never be wrong! How arrogant! But we were not only wrong, we lost so much of the respect we had earned. This lack of respect not only affected alien reaction to the Time Lords, but affected how important other races saw the preservation and maintenance of the Laws of Time. It could therefore be said that the lack of emotional attachment and the alien perspective had the potential to cause many of the Laws of Time to be breached.

How many of you have written long treatises on the importance of the Time Lord rule of non-interference in the development of other planets and their civilisations without knowing why this rule became part of the code of conduct for all Time Lords? I can see that many of you have been in that position. Consider for a few moments, those planets – my fellow students will all know their names very well – where the Time Lords visited their arrogance and their ignorance on the developing civilisations of these planets, changing the fundamental directions of those planets’ development by accident or by design. Some of those planets were treated simply as playthings and the Time Lords were not only regarded as gods, but actively encouraged the populations to worship and treat them as if they were gods. This was against everything that Time Lords stood for.

But some went even further and actively meddled in the natural development of civilisations. This of course resulted in the non-interference rule that we know from the code of conduct today. But interference is not the same as emotional attachment. Interference usually occurs completely coldly and unconcernedly, in the best tradition of emotional detachment. If there had been more emotional attachment to the rights and the alien perspective of the people of these developing civilisations, Time Lord arrogance would not have been visited on these people and the problems of which we are all painfully aware that developed in these worlds would never have occurred.

Finally, of course, there is the ultimate need for emotional attachment and the alien perspective. You would all have heard of the recent Rutan invasion of the Eastern sector of the galaxy, of course? What you may not know is that the Time Lords received warnings that this may take place, vague though they may have been as to time and exact location. Yes, it is shocking, but I assure you that the information is accurate. Fair enough, you might say, without time and exact location it was impossible to do anything concrete to prevent it. And in a way you would be right, except that no-one made any effort to warn the sector of the galaxy concerned that they may be subject to an invasion. If the Time Lords had had any emotional attachment to those races in that sector that they were guardians over, the warning would have been almost immediate.

Because they had no concept or understanding of the alien perspective of those races, or indeed of the Rutan invaders themselves, it never occurred to them to provide any general warning to that region. Many of you look shocked. The worst shock is still to come. To reach the Eastern sector, the main Rutan invasion fleet had to pass within detectable range of Gallifrey space traffic control. But still the Time Lords did nothing. To them it was a fact of life that planetary systems became the victims of invasion. Providing the Laws of Time were not infringed, there was no commitment to the well-being of these planets. But I strongly believe that if the Time Lords had valued emotional attachment and the alien perspective enough to provide that warning, the billions of people in that sector who were enslaved to enable the Rutans to manufacture more armaments for their interminable war against the Sontarans would have been able to mount a satisfactory defence against the Rutan invasion fleet and would be free today.

Without emotional attachment we are as good as empty shells. Where are the passion and the lifeblood of the Time Lord civilisation then? Without the alien perspective how can we even know when we are using our intelligence and powers wisely or unwisely? Or how our efforts may affect others? We need the emotional attachment and the alien perspective to carry out our role of guardians of the Laws of Time, efficiently, effectively and with understanding.

Emotional attachment and the alien perspective are not the interference of days gone past, but the appreciation of the rights of all alien races to exist peaceably within the universe according to the Laws of Time.”

- Final assessment for the Academy by ‘the Doctor’ reproduced in the Academy newspaper by kind permission from the Director of the Academy, Gallifrey.