Season 6B — also known as Season 6b and Season 6 (b) — is the narrative space between the end of the televised Doctor Who stories The War Games (which concludes Season 6) and the beginning of Spearhead from Space (the opener to Season 7).
The gap exists because the regeneration of the Second Doctor (played by Patrick Troughton) into the Third Doctor (played by Jon Pertwee) was never explicitly shown on television - although the Second Doctor's face is shown beginning to change and contort, and then disappear, as he spins away into the void. Instead, viewers were left only with the impression that the Doctor had been sentenced to two fates: enforced regeneration and exile on Earth. Season 6B thus contains stories in which the Second Doctor is living under the threat of these two sentences. Depending on the story involved, he may be living on Earth or not, but all stories in this period have him waiting to be forcibly regenerated.
Season 6B is regarded as a theory or fanon by those fans who hold that only the televised stories are "proper" or "canonical", but it has been the backdrop to many officially licensed, if untelevised, stories. Because this wiki takes the view that all officially licensed stories are of equal value, the basic notion that the Second Doctor had many adventures after The War Games is regarded here as a "truth" of the Doctor Who universe.
When the First Doctor (William Hartnell) had regenerated into the Second (Patrick Troughton), things had been relatively easy for Polystyle Publications, the official Doctor Who comic licensees. There had been precisely a one-week gap between Hartnell and Troughton on TV and their TV Comic, a weekly publication, had easily followed suit. In 1969, though, Troughton was leaving at the end of the season. To make matters worse, there would be a significant break as Doctor Who cut its annual episode output almost in half. It was almost six months between the end of War Games and the beginning of Spearhead, easily the longest gap between new televised episodes of Doctor Who up to that time.
Not wanting to stop publication of their Doctor Who comic strip, Polystyle kept on publishing stories featuring the Second Doctor. In the stories, the Doctor has indeed been exiled to Earth, but was awaiting his Time Lord-imposed regeneration. For a time, the Second Doctor lived the high life as a celebrity based in London's swanky Carlton Grange Hotel. (COMIC: Action in Exile) He travelled the Earth, responding to calls received via the Carlton Grange switchboard, with nary a UNIT soldier in sight. (COMIC: The Mark of Terror, The Brotherhood, U.F.O.)
One day, conveniently around the time Spearhead from Space aired on TV, he was a celebrity panellist on Explain My Mystery, a game show of sorts that asked experts to explain supernatural phenomena. Unable to diagnose the caller's mystery over the phone, the Doctor went into the English countryside to a farm. There, in the deep of night, scarecrows animated by the Time Lords captured him and forced him to regenerate. Then, they sent the TARDIS on one last journey, leaving the reader to believe that when the Doctor arrived, he'd fall out of the TARDIS in Oxley Woods as the Third Doctor, just as he did in the first episode of Spearhead from Space. (COMIC: The Night Walkers)
These comic strips, however, were soon forgotten. In an internet-less age, it wasn't easily possible for fans in possession of the comic strips to share them with the broader fanbase. They would lay outside of fans' grasp for another few decades.
Fans start to ponder things
In the meantime, Patrick Troughton returned to Doctor Who as the Second Doctor, each time looking a little older. At the same time, it became easier to get home video of early serials such as The War Games and Spearhead from Space. Fans began to question what they were seeing. Amongst the questions asked were:
- Why does the Third Doctor begin TV: Spearhead from Space with several items that the Second Doctor didn't have at the end of TV: The War Games, such as a ring, a bracelet and a TARDIS homing watch?
- How, in TV: The Five Doctors, does the Second Doctor know that the Time Lords had erased the memories of Jamie McCrimmon and Zoe Heriot? The erasure took place immediately before the Doctor is seen to "twirl around" at the end of The War Games, so that twirling must not have indicated regeneration.
- Why do the Second Doctor and Jamie appear older in TV: The Two Doctors?
- How does Jamie know about the Time Lords in The Two Doctors unless The Two Doctors comes after The War Games for him?
- How come the Second Doctor is working, apparently willingly, for the Time Lords in both TV: The Three Doctors and The Two Doctors?
- Why does the Second Doctor possess a TARDIS recall device of a type the Sixth Doctor does not have in The Two Doctors?
- In The Two Doctors, why is the Second Doctor's TARDIS control room of an obviously different design to that which he used prior to his trial?
- Possibly related to the above: How can the Second Doctor be confident of his ability to retrieve Victoria after The Two Doctors when he could never control the TARDIS during his own era?
- Why is the Doctor's recorder in the second console room in TV: The Masque of Mandragora? We never saw him use the second console room on television, so he must've used the room at some point after The War Games.
These questions were given detailed consideration in The Discontinuity Guide by Paul Cornell, Martin Day and Keith Topping. A theory grew from this book which was quickly embraced by fandom. Indeed, it eventually became "fanon". When the BBC started printing excerpts from the Guide on their website, it crossed over from fanon into essentially BBC "policy". As of 2011, "season 6B" remains a part of the official BBC episode guide. The full text of the official position on 6B is more extensive, but the core of the idea goes something like this:
- Rather than undergoing the regeneration shown starting at the end of The War Games, the Second Doctor was recruited to work for the Celestial Intervention Agency, a clandestine Time Lord organisation shown to exist in TV: The Deadly Assassin. During this time, the Second Doctor regained Jamie and Victoria as companions, acquired a Stattenheim remote control device to summon his TARDIS and undertook an unknown number of missions, including that depicted in The Two Doctors. Eventually, the Doctor's association with the CIA ended for reasons not known and his full War Games sentence was executed at the beginning of Spearhead from Space.
Established as narrative fact
TV Comic had long established an actual, narrative period of time where the Second Doctor was exiled on Earth. But for a while, The Discontinuity Guide's notion of the post-War Games Second Doctor working for the CIA had remained purely theoretical. It was just a way to explain the discontinuity. It really took Terrance Dicks to put the theory into action. Dicks' "Players trilogy" pressed the theory into service, making it explain the presence of the Second Doctor in PROSE: Players and World Game. The latter novel, in fact, walks the reader from the end of The War Games into the beginning of the Doctor's association with the CIA and into his first adventure on their behalf.
Thus, this final Second Doctor novel, published after David Tennant had made his first appearance as the Tenth Doctor, effectively rewrote the book on the Second Doctor's era. It had taken more than thirty years since people first started scratching their heads at the adventures of the Second Doctor in colour, but at last there was something in print, bearing a BBC logo, that actually explained it all.
Season 6b, in pretty much all the detail that Cornell and company had envisaged, was no longer just a theory, but the narrative explanation embraced by Terrance Dicks — the man who had created most of the discontinuity in the first place.
Stories taking place during this period
All stories listed are a part of season 6B from the perspective of the Second Doctor.
|Television||Doctor Who||The Three Doctors|||
|The Five Doctors|||
|The Two Doctors|||
|Novels||BBC Past Doctor Adventures||Players|||
|Comics||TV Comic||The Killer Wasps - Martha the Mechanical Housemaid||Jamie and the Doctor are travelling alone together.|
|The Duellists - Operation Wurlitzer||The Doctor is travelling alone, but he still has use of his TARDIS.|
|Action in Exile - The Night Walkers||The Second Doctor is explicitly in exile on Earth and we actually see him regenerate by Time Lord fiat at the end of the story cycle.|
|Short stories||Short Trips||The Time Eater||Jamie gets his first look at the Stattenheim remote control.|
|All of Beyond|||
|That Time I Nearly Destroyed the World Whilst Looking for a Dress|||
|Mother's Little Helper|||
|The Steward's Story|||
|Blue Road Dance|||
|The Man Who (Nearly) Killed Christmas|||
|Doctor Who Yearbook 1994||Loop the Loup|||
|Brief Encounter||Time, Love and TARDIS|||
|Audio||The Companion Chronicles||Helicon Prime|||
|Video games||Destiny of the Doctors||The Doctor recognises the Tremas Master thus placing his encounter after TV: The Five Doctors, a Season 6B story. Additionally, the Master sends Graak on a mission to find the Stattenheim remote control (In the Second Doctor's TARDIS), which he was given by the Celestial Intervention Agency. (PROSE: World Game, TV: The Two Doctors)|