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The Ancestor Cell was the thirty-sixth novel in the BBC Eighth Doctor Adventures series. It was written by Peter Anghelides and Stephen Cole, released 3 July 2000 and featured the Eighth Doctor, Fitz Kreiner and Compassion. It marked the end of Stephen Cole's role as editor of the BBC Books ranges.

Publisher's summary

The Doctor's not the man he was. But what has he become? An old enemy — Faction Paradox, a cult of time-travelling voodoo terrorists — is finally making him one of its own. These rebels have a mission for him, one that will deliver him into the hands of his own people, who have decreed that he must die. Except now, it seems, the Time Lords have a mission for him too...

A gargantuan structure, hewn from solid bone, has appeared in the skies over Gallifrey. Its origin and purpose are unknown, but its powers threaten to tear apart the web of time and the universe with it. Only the Doctor can get inside... but soon he will learn that nothing is safe and nothing sacred.

Shot by both sides, confronted by past sins and future crimes, the Doctor finds himself a prisoner of his own actions. With options finally running out, he must face his most crushing defeat or take one last, desperate chance for salvation...


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  • This is the first time Gallifrey is destroyed (but not the last).
  • Both versions of Fitz appear in this novel, the "current version" and the original who became Father Kreiner; Father Kreiner is killed during the novel.
  • This novel's version of Gallifrey is notably parodic of the glimpses seen in PROSE: Alien Bodies and PROSE: The Taking of Planet 5; it is mentioned that the Edifice's temporal damage is affecting and twisting not only Gallifrey's history, but its culture as well.


The Ancestor Cell saw the culmination of the War arc, which had begun in Alien Bodies. That novel's author, Lawrence Miles, had already begun plans for the Faction Paradox series, which continued the storyline; independently, he criticised The Ancestor Cell for its revelations about the enemy (suggested to be primordial cells irradiated by temporal interference and energised by a leaking bottle universe) and Grandfather Paradox (a future version of the Eighth Doctor). According to Miles, Stephen Cole claimed that both revelations were not definite answers.

Other recontexualizations

  • Despite this novel being the "end" of the War for the Eighth Doctor, Compassion, specifically following her travels with the Doctor, would become a recurring character in the Faction Paradox series.
  • Lance Parkin's novel The Gallifrey Chronicles later specified that The Ancestor Cell's Faction Paradox fleet is a devolved and militaristic sect, come to the Eleven-Day Empire and invading Romana's Gallifrey from 292 years into the War. Parkin also retconned Grandfather Paradox to be everyone's potential future.
  • Though The Ancestor Cell states Romana is War Queen of the Nine Gallifreys (with hers being the original and sire of the eight cloneworlds) and asserts all nine are destroyed, The Book of the War implies "nine" is actually a misnomer, with every cloneworld believing itself to be the original and creating even more tertiary worlds of their own. The Book of the War mentions some of the cloneworlds having a "War Queen." Previous novels Alien Bodies and The Taking of Planet 5 had both mentioned a Gallifrey being destroyed early in the War. Obverse Books' The Brakespeare Voyage carries this assumption forward, mentioning several being destroyed throughout the course of the conflict.
  • According to Obverse Books' Spinning Jenny, set after The True History of Faction Paradox, there are different versions and conflicting accounts of Faction Paradox's destruction.
  • The idea of the enemy having more than one "true" answer for its identity is a major recurring theme of Obverse Books' The Book of the Enemy.


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