TARDIS Index File

Mary Celeste

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The Mary Celeste moments before the TARDIS landed. (TV: The Chase)

The Mary or Marie Celeste was a ship commanded by Benjamin Briggs. She was famous for the mystery surrounding why she had been abandoned at sea in 1872. The First Doctor, Ian Chesterton, Barbara Wright and Vicki Pallister materialised on the ship. Daleks had already arrived in their Dalek time machines. The crew of the Celeste mistook the Daleks for "the Barbary Terror", and jumped overboard. The Doctor and his companions were apparently unaware of the name of the ship they had landed on. (TV: The Chase)

Her abandonment apparently was not a fixed point in time, as there were several different accounts of the event. The first three incarnations of the Doctor were all involved in different sets of experiences surrounding the crew's disappearance, though only the Second Doctor knew that he was on the ill-fated vessel.

Another account had it that the Daleks on the ship had actually arrived via a human-made Time-Conveyor and they were being pursued by two human brothers named Peter and David. These time travellers also left without realising the name of the ship. (PROSE: Timechase)

Yet a third said that the Second Doctor, Jamie McCrimmon and Zoe Heriot found that the crew of the Mary Celeste had been abducted by Arcturans. The Doctor freed the crew, but they were all killed by a sea serpent. Their experience of the ship was different from those of other time travellers on board the vessel, in that they actually knew they were on the Celeste. (PROSE: The Mystery of the Marie Celeste)

Marie Celest

The Third Doctor on board the Marie Celeste. (COMIC: A Stitch in Time)

A fourth history put the Third Doctor into the mix. When he landed the TARDIS on the New York docks, the crew of the Mary Celeste mistook it for cargo and had it loaded on board. To regain access to his ship, the Doctor paid for passage on the Mary Celeste. When he showed Professor Theodore Cassells the TARDIS interior, he fled from the hold to the deck. When he tried to tell Captain Briggs what he had seen, the Captain Briggs misunderstood and thought the TARDIS was a time bomb. He, Cassells and the crew left the Mary Celeste in a lifeboat, which was swamped by a large wave that drowned everyone on it. The Doctor left, unaware of the name of the ship he was on. (COMIC: A Stitch in Time)

References made to the ship

Behind the scenes

  • In reality, the disappearance of the crew of the Mary Celeste remains a mystery.
Mary Celeste nameplate

The nameplate of the abandoned ship, identifiying it as the Mary Celeste. (TV: The Chase)

  • On the DVD release of The Chase, the production notes commentary indicates that although some feel the nameplate seen in the episode is misspelled, the spelling used is actually correct. Though Mary is technically correct, Marie was popularised when Sir Arthur Conan Doyle wrote the first fictional account of the ship and misspelled the name. This account became ubiquitous when some 19th century newspapers mistook Conan Doyle's fiction for fact. Through the years, many fictional accounts have traced their way back to Conan Doyle's original account. The net result has been widespread confusion — as expressed in DCOM: The Chase — over whether Mary or Marie is the correct spelling.
  • Although The Chase is played mostly for laughs, the scene in which the Daleks force the passengers to jump overboard takes on a sombre note as a baby is shown among those falling into the sea, becoming the first baby to presumably die during the course of a televised Doctor Who story.

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