Doctor Who canon often leaves many fans scratching their heads. With so much conflicting content, encompassing not just the TV series but also the many comics, novels, and audio dramas, it’s no wonder the canon is constantly evolving. With new things added, such as missing adventures, unknown incarnations of the Doctor, and debates surrounding the Doctor’s family and origin, the series is constantly being replenished, even going so far as to add an entire new season. The idea for Season 6B was born out of a fan theory, which saw further adventures for Patrick Troughton’s Second Doctor after the events of Season 6.
In the season finale, The Doctor is put on trial by the Time Lords for breaking non-interference rules. They sentence him to exile on Earth and force him to regenerate, with the audience seeing The Doctor for the last time walk away from the screen. As the next cast member had yet to be cast, the Doctor’s full regeneration was not seen, and when the series returned to 1970, the newly regenerated Doctor played by Jon Pertwee stepped out of the TARDIS and walked into collapsed. At the time, this was considered a linear moment. The Doctor regenerated, landed on Earth according to his exile and that was it. What if it wasn’t? What if those two scenes weren’t linear and The Doctor didn’t regenerate right away? And that’s how Season 6B was born. But what is it really? What stories unfold during this lost season, and most importantly, what does any of this have to do with Patrick Troughton’s hair color?
Immediately there is evidence supporting 6B. For starters, when the regenerated Third Doctor first appears, he has several items he didn’t have when the audience last saw him, such as a ring and a bracelet. However, shows have continuity errors all the time, and they need no explanation, especially something as tiny as The Doctor who now has a ring. But the evidence doesn’t end there, the biggest and most important piece supporting the idea that the Second Doctor may not have regenerated right away are his appearances in the TV news reports, “The Five Doctors” (1983) and “The Two Doctors” (1985).
In both stories, Troughton reprises the role of the Doctor, but he understandably looks older. Instead of the mop of black hair seen during his run, Troughton’s hair is now gray. As many fans have noted, the Second Doctor’s hair should be even darker, like if he was ripped out of time, he would look exactly the same as when he was regenerated. But that’s not the case, and Troughton’s simple decision not to dye his hair was the biggest factor in bringing Doctor Who Season 6B to life.
Season 6B was first named in the 1995 book, The Guide to Discontinuity by Paul Cornell, Martin Day and Keith Topping. One aspect that was examined in the book was the appearance of the Second Doctor in the stories mentioned above, and while his physical appearance is certainly an important factor in proving the existence of 6B, there are several points of l plot in “The Two Doctors” which also support the idea that this doctor is one after “The War Games” (1969). For starters, the story sees the Second Doctor traveling once more with his companion Jamie McCrimon, who now knows the Time Lords, and has a brand new TARDIS console. The Doctor willingly works for the Time Lords in this story and has a TARDIS booster device.
All of the above supports 6B’s idea, with the theory’s basic explanation being that after being condemned by the Time Lords, the Doctor was not forced to regenerate, and was instead forced to working for the Celestial Intervention Agency (The CIA) and was sent on various missions by them prior to his eventual regeneration. This would explain that he works for the Time Lords both in “The Two Doctors” but also in “The Three Doctors” (1972).
This theory grew in popularity over the ensuing years and was eventually canonized by writer Terrence Dicks in his novels. Players and World game. Therefore, the official Doctor Who the website even recognized the lost series, add a page for season 6B. Since then, many stories have unfolded during 6B, such as the short story in Doctor Who: The Target Storybook (2019), titled Save yourself also written by Dicks, which shows that after reluctantly completing missions for the CIA, the Doctor continually has his mind erased.
However, there is an even older origin to Season 6B, long before Troughton returned to the role. And that origin lies in a comic book and again, like most of the supporting evidence for the lost season, it was purely due to production factors. TV comic had printed Doctor Who tapes since 1964. When The Doctor regenerated on screen without Jon Pertwee being cast, instead of removing the tape and continuing with the Third Doctor in 1970, they decided to continue with the Second Doctor. These stories show this Doctor exiled to Earth and in the story “The Night Walkers”, the Second Doctor regenerates into the Third.
Doctor Who Season 6B has many variations, but what is certainly established and accepted by all members of the fanbase is that the Second Doctor had adventures after “The War Games”. Which version of these adventures the audience chooses to believe is up to them, whether they believe the TV comic version of events, or those established by Dicks in his books. Or more recently if they believe the stories set in new audio drama Big Finish Beyond War Games, which stars Troughton’s son, Michael Troughton, as the voice of the Second Doctor. Either way, there are endless possibilities of what the Second Doctor may have done before regenerating.
Doctor Who fans have a lot to look forward to over the next year with the casting of Ncuti Gatwa leaving many excited at the prospect of a potentially odd Doctor as well as David Tennant returning to the role which has fans already speculating on what his change in appearance might mean. Series 4B maybe? It is definitely a possibility!