The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (abbreviated as the UK) was a European nation which was composed of the Kingdoms of England and Scotland, the Principality of Wales and the Province of Northern Ireland. Each of these countries were represented on the Union Flag.
The United Kingdom largely consisted of Great Britain; the largest island composed of England, Scotland and Wales. The province of Northern Ireland was to its west. At one time, the whole of Ireland had been under British rule. (AUDIO: The Settling) The UK was in northern Europe with only the English Channel between itself and the mainland. (TV: The Reign of Terror, et al.)
- Main article: British government
The government of the United Kingdom was led by a Prime Minister who was appointed by a democratic vote. Together, the Prime Minister and ministers formed the Cabinet. The Cabinet traditionally operated out of the Houses of Parliament. (TV: The Dalek Invasion of Earth, Aliens of London) Members of Parliament each had their own constituency where they were also empowered by a vote. (TV: Aliens of London) By 2027, the monarchy had been restored to full power and once again ruled England, and hence the UK. (AUDIO: A Death in the Family)
In a parallel UK the Third Doctor visited, the Republic of Great Britain was in control. (TV: Inferno) In a world in which Donna Noble turned right, the UK fell into chaos and an emergency government acting on martial law came into power. (TV: Turn Left)
Military power was a significant feature of the UK's prowess. It allowed the British Empire to stretch to far off lands such as India. (TV: Tooth and Claw) The British Army formed the primary ground force. Early troops were given the name Redcoats, because of the colour of their uniform. (TV: The Highlanders) The term "Tommies" was applied to British troops during World War I and World War II. (TV: To the Last Man, TV: Victory of the Daleks)
The Royal Navy and Royal Air Force each held their own roles in the military. (TV: The Sea Devils, The Seeds of Doom) The Unified Intelligence Taskforce also acted in the defence of the UK, largely against alien threats and in association with the Doctor. (TV: The Invasion, Spearhead from Space, The Ambassadors of Death, Terror of the Autons, The Mind of Evil, et al.)
The Torchwood Institute was formed by Queen Victoria to fight alien threats. As opposed to UNIT, Torchwood was solely based in the British Empire, and later the United Kingdom after 1924 (TV: Tooth and Claw, TV: Everything Changes, AUDIO: Golden Age) Its success led to it developing an almost mythical state and it branched off into several divisions. (TV: Army of Ghosts, Everything Changes)
MI5 was a similar organisation. Although it was not directly created to deal with alien threats, it still did so upon occasion. It was based in Thames House, London. (TV: Children of Earth: Day Three)
Influence on the Doctor
The Doctor had an obsession with the United Kingdom. Most of his journeys to Earth brought him to the UK. For this reason, he an intimate knowledge of the countries' history and had acquainted himself with many of its historical figures and was even a friend of the monarchy. (TV: The Time Meddler, Voyage of the Damned, et al.) The Doctor took on much of the UK's culture. He frequently drank tea and even took on the accents, whether English or Scottish. (TV: An Unearthly Child, Time and the Rani) The Eighth Doctor even decided that he was British because of this attachment. (TV: Doctor Who) When visiting other countries, it was often suggested that he was British either because of his appearance, mannerisms, accent or all three. (PROSE: History 101, TV: Doctor Who) The United Kingdom was also the most common source of his companions, with the vast majority originating from the region. (TV: An Unearthly Child, The Massacre of St Bartholomew's Eve, The War Machines, The Highlanders, The Evil of the Daleks, et al.)
The Doctor singled out England to be his favourite place, specifically during the 19th century. (PROSE: The Banquo Legacy) After the Doctor was exiled to Earth, he lived in the UK and carried on defending the Earth by assisting UNIT in their various operations. (TV: Spearhead from Space)While posing as a human, the Seventh Doctor appeared to be of British nationality, (PROSE: Human Nature) and this was again the case under a similar situation where the Tenth Doctor believed he was British as he became John Smith, a teacher at Farringham School for Boys. (TV: Human Nature) In 1963, the Doctor lived in the UK for some time, enroling his granddaughter, Susan Foreman, in education. During this time he operated out of his TARDIS which he had stored in 76 Totter's Lane. (TV: An Unearthly Child)
The Doctor visited the UK throughout its history; from the joining of Scotland, (TV: The Highlanders) to the region's departure from Earth. (TV: The Beast Below) The vast majority of these visits saw him defending the UK from alien threats, sometimes with the assistance of UNIT. (TV: The Dalek Invasion of Earth, The Faceless Ones, The Ice Warriors, The Web of Fear, The Invasion, Spearhead from Space, et al)
Influence on the Master
The Doctor's association drew the Master to the UK and he became trapped there following his imprisonment at Fortress Island. (TV: Terror of the Autons, The Sea Devils) In another incarnation, he chose to run for Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. He won through use of the Archangel Network. (TV: The Sound of Drums) Like the Doctor, the Master visited the UK throughout its history. (TV: The Mark of the Rani, et al.)
The origins of the United Kingdom was in 1705, when the Alien Act was passed by the English Parliament, which forced the Scottish Parliament to negotiate full union with England. By 1707, England and Scotland had formed the Kingdom of Great Britain. (TV: The Highlanders)
There was a Second Jacobite Uprising in 1745, in which the Second Doctor's companion Jamie McCrimmon fought for the rebels. It ended in victory for the government with the Battle of Culloden. (TV: The Highlanders)
In 1752, Faction Paradox bought from London authorities eleven days, 2 September to 14 September, that never came to pass with the reform of the Gregorian Calendar, and separated them from reality to create the Eleven-Day Empire. (PROSE: Interference - Book One)
In the early part of the century were the Napoleonic Wars with two Alliances at war, with the United Kingdom on one side, and France on the other. The wars ended with victory for Britain's alliance. (PROSE: World Game)
From 1838, Victoria, Queen of Great Britain and Ireland, Empress of India ruled the United Kingdom. Her reign, known as the Victorian era, saw Britain make huge territorial gains across the globe. (TV: The Curse of Peladon, Tooth and Claw, Ghost Light)
In 1879, after an attack by the Lupine Wavelength Haemovariform, Victoria banished the Tenth Doctor from her country and leading her to form the Torchwood Institute, as the British Empire's defence against the dark forces which the Doctor seemed to consort. For a period of over a hundred years, Torchwood would have many encounters with aliens. From 1885, a third Torchwood branch located in Cardiff monitored the activity of a Space-Time Rift. (PROSE: Slow Decay) In 1899, Jack Harkness, a Time Agent from the 51st century and one of Torchwood Three's most famous employees, with a career lasting over one hundred years, joined the branch. (TV: Fragments)
World War I
On 28 June 1914, the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria-Hungary triggered a series of events that rapidly escalated into Earth's first global conflict, World War I, with the United Kingdom and its allies such as France and Russia, against the Central Powers of Germany and Austria-Hungary. Some of the battlegrounds were Passchendaele, the Somme and Gallipoli. A million British soldiers died during the war. (TV: The Sea Devils, TV: To the Last Man)
The immortal Jack Harkness fought in the war (TV: Utopia, COMIC: The Forgotten), as did Tim Latimer and Hutchinson. (TV: The Family of Blood) Tommy Brockless also served, and was eventually executed in 1918, when, suffering from shell shock, he refused to return to the front lines. (TV: To the Last Man)
Between the wars
World War II
On 1 September 1939, Nazi Germany invaded Poland which caused Britain, France and Russia to declare war. The Seventh Doctor ensured Hitler would fail to prevent the British evacuation of Dunkirk, thus ensuring Britain would remain in the war. (PROSE: Timewyrm: Exodus)
In 1940 and 1941 Germany bombed Great Britain, an event known as the London Blitz. (PROSE: Illegal Alien, TV: The Empty Child/The Doctor Dances) The Royal Air Force carried out its own systematic bombings of Germany. (PROSE: The Turing Test)
During World War II, when it appeared that the United Kingdom would be invaded by Nazi Germany, four citadels were built under the surface of London. They were intended to allow the British government to continue operations if the worst happened. After the war, the citadels were maintained due to the threat posed by the Soviet Union in the Cold War. (AUDIO: The Fifth Citadel)
During this period, Edwin Bracewell approached a desperate Winston Churchill, offering what to all appearances were robotic war machines of a futuristic design that Churchill could use first to fend off Luftwaffe air raids on London and later, in mass numbers, take the war to Germany. Churchill summoned the Eleventh Doctor and Amy Pond to view the new weapon. The Doctor realised immediately that the "Ironsides" that Bracewell had "created" were actually a resurfacing of the Daleks, who had used themselves as bait to get the Doctor to aid in the creation of the Progenitor Daleks. A small number of Spitfire fighters were briefly upgraded with Dalek technology to fight a Dalek saucer, but all tech was subsequently removed by the Doctor to prevent wide-scale tampering with history. The Daleks attempted to destroy Earth with a powerful explosive in their android, Edwin Bracewell but the Doctor and Amy defused it. The new Daleks then escaped to rebuild their race. (TV: Victory of the Daleks)
In 1943, Fenric was working with his Haemovores at Maiden's Point. Russia and Britain, while nominally allies, were plotting against each other in preparation for post-war conflicts . (TV: The Curse of Fenric)
From 29 to 30 November of the same year, Shoreditch became the site of the end of the Dalek Civil War between Davros' Imperial Daleks and Renegade Daleks loyal to the Dalek Supreme. Both sides were fought by the Seventh Doctor, aided by the human Intrusion Countermeasures Group. The Renegade forces (bar the Supreme) were destroyed by the Imperials, while they in turn were tricked and destroyed by the Hand of Omega. After leaving Earth, the Doctor then taunted the Supreme Dalek into self-destruction. (TV: Remembrance of the Daleks)
The Conservative Party was in office during the early 1960s. Harold Macmillan served as Prime Minister until his resignation in 1963. He was succeeded by Sir Alec Douglas-Home. (AUDIO: The Pelage Project)
In 1964, the Conservatives was defeated by the Labour Party in the UK general election and the latter's leader Harold Wilson became Prime Minister. In the immediate aftermath of the election, General Peters led a military coup against Wilson's government. However, it was defeated by the Intrusion Countermeasures Group. (AUDIO: State of Emergency)
In 1965, the British government was secretly contacted by an alien race dubbed the 456, who demanded a dozen children in exchange for an anti-virus for an influenza outbreak that wouls otherwise kill millions. Jack Harkness of the Torchwood Institute delivered a busload of children from an orphanage in Scotland. The children were delivered delivered, bar one, the anti-virus was provided, and the flu outbreak was quelled. (TV: Children of Earth: Day Four)
Sometime later, the newly regenerated Third Doctor returned to Earth, forced into exile by the Time Lords. He helped UNIT defeat the Nestene Consciousness and its Auton servants' attack on Earth. During the next few years, the Doctor would mainly stay on Earth as UNIT's scientific advisor. (TV: Spearhead from Space)
After this, Lethbridge-Stewart and the Doctor faced many threats from the Doctor's old enemy, the Master. Facing a return from the Autons (TV: Terror of the Autons); the Keller Machine disrupting the World Peace Conference almost causing World War III, (TV: The Mind of Evil); an attempted Axon invasion (TV: The Claws of Axos); and the rise of Azal. (TV: The Dæmons)
In later years, Harold Wilson's position seemed untenable after the failures of the Wenley Moor nuclear research facility in October 1969 and the Inferno Project in February 1970 were publicised by James Stevens in his "Bad Science" series of articles.
Wilson called a general election for June 1970. The Labour Party lost and the Conservative leader Edward Heath became Prime Minister. Political observers speculated that the publication of the book version of "Bad Science" had coincided not-so-incidentally with the election. (PROSE: Who Killed Kennedy)
By 1976, Labour was once again in government with Callaghan as Prime Minister. (AUDIO: The Oseidon Adventure) He served in that position until 1979, when he was succeeded by the Conservative Margaret Thatcher. (TV: Tooth and Claw)
On 9 June 1983, Labour lost the general election in a landslide to the ruling Conservative Party. (AUDIO: Rat Trap) The party was still out of office in 1987 while Thatcher remained Prime Minister. (TV: Father's Day)
Late 20th century
In late 1997, Queen Elizabeth was temporally deposed by the Ice Lord Xznaal in the Ice Warrior invasion of Earth. The invasion was later defeated by the Eighth Doctor and Elizabeth was restored to the throne. (PROSE: The Dying Days)
In 2002, as the United Kingdom headed for a general election, Sherilyn Harper's far right New Britannia Party threatened to hold the balance of power in a volatile political climate. Several assassination attempts were made against Harper, first by unknown gunmen and then by a terrorist organisation called United Front - which also firebombed some district NBP offices in the southeast. These assassination attempts were later discovered to have been staged by the NBP itself. As the crisis deepened, riots broke out in London just before polling day. (AUDIO: The Fearmonger)
In March 2006, the Passameer-Day Branch of the Slitheen family killed the Prime Minister and also murdered several government officials whom they used as disguises. They crashed their own ship into the Thames (TV: Aliens of London) to convince the world there was an alien threat so they would be given the codes for nuclear weapons by the United Nations, which they would then use to destroy Earth and then sell its remains for starship fuel. This plot was foiled when Mickey Smith fired a Harpoon missile at 10 Downing Street, where the Slitheen awaited the nuclear codes. (TV: World War Three) A surviving Slitheen, posing as Mayor of Cardiff, exploited the Cardiff rift and advocated a plan for a proposed nuclear power plant called Blaidd Drwg. Secretly, she wanted to cause an "accident" at Blaidd Drwg. This disaster, located so near the rift, would destroy Earth. This plot was again foiled by the Doctor and Rose, along with Jack Harkness and Mickey Smith. (TV: Boom Town)
After the Slitheen plot of March, Harriet Jones soon became Prime Minister, but the newly regenerated Tenth Doctor plunged her career into downfall on Christmas Day after she destroyed a Sycorax ship fleeing Earth after an attempted invasion. (TV: The Christmas Invasion) In the period of government paralysis (TV: Love & Monsters) that followed, Harold Saxon became popular with the government and the people. (TV: The Sound of Drums) In summer 2007, Torchwood One caused ghosts to appear across Earth. These were revealed to be Cybermen from a parallel universe. (TV: Army of Ghosts) The Cult of Skaro, having survived the Last Great Time War, also arrived and fought the Cybermen. Dalek Sec then released millions of Dalek prisoners from the Genesis Ark, causing a catastrophic battle across London resulting in many deaths and the near-destruction of the Torchwood Institute. (TV: Doomsday)
In late 2007, in the aftermath of the destruction of Torchwood One, Torchwood Three in Cardiff under Jack Harkness was forced to operate on its own, facing many threats in Cardiff throughout the next few years. (TV: Everything Changes, Day One, Ghost Machine, Cyberwoman, et al.)2008, Harold Saxon continued his campaign for Prime Minister. He was given high support after the Royal Hope Hospital's disappearance and reappearance. (TV: Smith and Jones) A few days later, he was elected Prime Minister. He presented the Toclafane to the public, saying they were peaceful aliens offering friendship with Earth. However this turned out to be an invasion and the Toclafane ruled over Earth for a year. This year was then negated by the Doctor. (TV: The Sound of Drums/Last of the Time Lords)
In 2008, Sarah Jane Smith formed a group of friends including her adopted son. Based in 13 Bannerman Road, they fought many alien threats for the next few years in Ealing. (TV: Invasion of the Bane, Revenge of the Slitheen, Warriors of Kudlak, Whatever Happened to Sarah Jane?, et al.)
Miss Foster, exploiting the serious weight problems in the United Kingdom, created Adipose Industries, using the Adipose pill so it would kill humans and replace them with Adipose. However, due to the intervention of the Tenth Doctor and Donna Noble, only one human was killed and merely 10,000 Adipose were born in the March of the Adipose. (TV: Partners in Crime)
In the Dalek Invasion of Earth in 2009, Torchwood Three in Cardiff and Mr Smith in Ealing allied together to use the Earth's phones and the Rift to bring the Tenth Doctor into the Medusa Cascade, where the Earth and 26 other missing planets were one second out of sync with the rest of the universe. (TV: The Stolen Earth) They later helped use the Rift to allow the TARDIS to pilot the Earth home. (TV: Journey's End)
On Christmas Day, the Master was captured by soldiers working for Joshua Naismith so that the Master could help him use the Immortality Gate. He was taken to Naismith's residence in southern England. There, he used the Immortality Gate to duplicate his appearance and personality into every person in the world. This was reverted when the White-Point Star was destroyed. (TV: The End of Time)
By 2010, the Torchwood Institute ceased function, though a revival group operated in Swansea and Cowbridge for a time in 2011. (TV: Children of Earth: Day Five, The Categories of Life, The Middle Men, The Gathering)
Late 21st century
Sometime before 2050, Lomax, a Korven from the future, hijacked the British government. MI5 and MI6 were turned into the brutal, totalitarian government agency known as the Department. Lomax needed an ally on Earth and recruited Thorne, who was implanted with Meron DNA as the Korven aided them in their war against the Jixen. (TV: The Eclipse of the Korven)
In 2050, K9 Mark I arrived in Gryffen Manor battling four Jixen. He later self-destructed and regenerated into a brand new model. He later made several friends, saving the Earth many times. (TV: Regeneration)
When one of the last surviving Aeolians arrived on Earth, she tried to call out to her mate. This caused severe storms across Britain and threatened the whole world. She was found by the Department which attacked her but Starkey was able to play to her mate, who arrived. The Aeolian couple departed. (TV: Aeolian)
In 2157, Earth was beset by meteorites that carried a plague. This plague was carried across the globe and, when the Earth was sufficiently weak, the Daleks invaded and conquered the planet. While most countries had their populations destroyed, the people of UK were largely enslaved.
The epicentre of this invasion was Bedfordshire, a county in England. There, the Daleks planned to drill through the ground to the Earth's core. The First Doctor and his companions thwarted the Dalek plan and helped the inhabitants of Bedfordshire stage a revolution against their conquerors. Soon enough, the humans were once again in control. (TV: The Dalek Invasion of Earth)
- In an alternative timeline in which Adolf Hitler did not lose the power of the Timewyrm, Nazi Germany had conquered the United Kingdom and the rest of Europe by 1941. After visiting the occupied London in May 1951 in this timeline, the Seventh Doctor and Ace prevented this from coming to pass. (PROSE: Timewyrm: Exodus)
- In an alternative timeline created by the Elder Gods in the hope of destroying Earth, World War III broke out on 9 November 1989 between the United States and its allies, including the United Kingdom, on the one hand and the Soviet Union on the other hand. Given that nuclear weapons were used by both sides, hundreds of millions of people were killed in the conflict. This timeline was ultimately negated by the Seventh Doctor. (AUDIO: Protect and Survive)
Behind the scenes
Often in the series, the term Great Britain (which is the island which England, Scotland and Wales are situated upon) will be used to refer to the United Kingdom as a whole, ignoring Northern Ireland. This is a common practice in real life.
Only once in the BBC Wales era has the full name of the UK been mentioned, this being The Beast Below - which implies Northern Ireland will still be part of the UK in the 29th century. Children of Earth: Day Three intended to give the full name but accidentally said "the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland".
Doctor Who and the UK
Doctor Who is critically linked to the UK as its homeland. For this reason, the show has often orientated itself around the history and interests of the region.
As a result of this connection, Doctor Who was occasionally embroiled in the region's politics. This was apparent during Sylvester McCoy's tenure where it was often suggested that the show aimed to overthrow Margaret Thatcher's government. McCoy himself once said:
The idea of bringing politics into Doctor Who was deliberate, but we had to do it very quietly and certainly didn't shout about it.
In the same tabloid, both Andrew Cartmel and Sophie Aldred also claimed this was the case. The BBC, however, denied the allegations, firmly stating they had always been impartial from a political view.
Ratings in the UK have varied over Doctor Who's history. The Hartnell era drew consistently high viewing figures, primarily because of the "Dalekmania" period, but not restricted to stories featuring them. Patrick Troughton's final season had notably low ratings but the show was saved thanks to the popularity of the show in colour. Tom Baker saw the ratings go from strength to strength, peaking at sixteen million during the ITV strike.
The Davison era saw above average ratings, but the show had one of the smallest budgets. Following this, particularly after the postponement of season 23, Doctor Who ratings in the UK fell dramatically. The McCoy era saw it fall to three million. Upon its return in 2005, Doctor Who held up viewing figures, securing itself a future on television.
Many stories have been set in the United Kingdom, starting with the Shoreditch, London setting of An Unearthly Child (identified as Shoreditch in Remembrance of the Daleks). Setting aside the many unspecified locations, almost every region of the country has been used as a setting. However, no television story has ever been set in Northern Ireland.
BBC Classic Doctor Who website
An article on the BBC Classic Doctor Who website, "Party Politics", notes that the prime minister of the UK in TV: The Green Death (airdate 1973) is called "Jeremy". It claims that due to the various alien invasions of the late 1960s, the 1970 general election produced a hung parliament. It says that in the early 1970s, a coalition government is led by Jeremy Thorpe. However, after the events involving Global Chemicals, the government's involvement in the "Axonite scandal" and the "Operation Golden Age fiasco", this government collapsed in 1973, and was succeeded by the Labour government under Shirley Williams.