10 Most Epic ‘Doctor Who’ Speeches

Sarah Jane, the Doctor and Harry ponder genocide in 'Genesis of the Daleks'

Sarah Jane, the Doctor and Harry ponder genocide in ‘Genesis of the Daleks’

The Doctor is a chatty man. Fond of the sound of his own voice and fairly delighted with his unique view of the universe, he’s prone to make speeches in much the same way you and I are prone to breathing. However, he is also a compelling orator, who appears to know exactly what to say precisely the right moment. It’s almost as if he’s gone back in time to check the script and had another go at his best moments.

Here are ten of those moments, listed in the full and certain knowledge that there are many, many more we could have picked.

The First Doctor’s goodbye to Susan:

We’re so lucky that, out of all the great lost moments of the early Doctor Whos, this speech still exists. It begins with a typically Doctor-ish trick where he leaves her behind for her own good, one that will be familiar to more recent converts. As a speech, it contains all of his most endearing qualities—self depreciation, soft compassion, firm morality and total encouragement—and of course it is punctuated at the end with a vanishing trick, so that Susan can’t argue.

The Second Doctor’s memories are reassuring:

The First has the cold patrician air of someone who knows what is best, whereas the Second is just as wise, but far warmer with it. And while his words are reassuring in themselves, it’s his voice, and the total sincerity in his eyes, that make this such an affecting speech.

The Third Doctor’s memories inspire him:

Somehow, the Third Doctor makes Gallifrey seem a lot less attractive than the Tenth does, or at least he does at first. And did we ever find out what his black day was? We did not.

The Fourth Doctor’s dilemma:

In “Genesis of the Daleks” the Fourth Doctor is sent back in time to Skaro, to wipe out the Dalek race before they can be created. However, as he stands with a stripped wire in each hand, ready to send the charge that will ignite the explosives that will end the Daleks forever, he has a change of heart:

Sarah Jane Smith: Well, what are you waiting for?
The Doctor: Just touch these two strands together and the Daleks are finished. Have I that right?
Sarah Jane Smith: To destroy the Daleks? You can’t doubt it.
The Doctor: Well, I do. You see, some things could be better with the Daleks. Many future worlds will become allies just because of their fear of the Daleks.
Sarah Jane Smith: But it isn’t like that.
The Doctor: But the final responsibility is mine, and mine alone. Listen, if someone who knew the future pointed out a child to you and told you that that child would grow up totally evil, to be a ruthless dictator who would destroy millions of lives, could you then kill that child?
Sarah Jane Smith: We’re talking about the Daleks, the most evil creatures ever invented, you must destroy them! You must complete your mission for the Time Lords!
The Doctor: Do I have the right? Simply touch one wire against the other and that’s it. The Daleks cease to exist. Hundreds of millions of people, thousands of generations can live without fear, in peace, and never even know the word Dalek.
Sarah Jane Smith: Then why wait? If it was a disease or some sort of bacteria you were destroying, you wouldn’t hesitate.
The Doctor: But if I kill, wipe out a whole intelligent lifeform, then I become like them. I’d be no better than the Daleks.

The Seventh Doctor’s mission statement:

Being the Doctor is a full-time job, and it’ll take a lifetime to complete. Several lifetimes, in fact.

The Ninth Doctor Explains Who He Is

It’s tempting to include Nine’s impassioned rant against Dalek-kind in “Dalek” (“I watched it happen. I MADE it happen!”), but this quiet little speech from “Rose,” made to the girl who will play such a significant role in his life, is why Rose first agreed to go travelling with the Doctor, despite him telling her to go home. And if she hadn’t, who knows if we’d have ever heard from this extraordinary man again.

The Tenth Doctor Describes The Time War

I don’t ever want to find out what the things he describes in this speech are. I don’t see how seeing the Skaro Degradations on screen can ever match what they are when written across the disgusted face of the Doctor. I don’t want to know what the Nightmare Child is, because it can’t be as horrific as the suggestion that, in the midst of war, a child is introduced that is somehow more terrible than the war itself. This speech is the trauma of the Time War, delivered through the medium of one extremely battered, weary and appalled face.

The Tenth Doctor punishes the Family

Because it’s important that we all realise that, if pushed, the Doctor is capable of astonishing cruelty, even when justice is on his side. That’s what makes his manifold kindnesses all the more remarkable.

The Eleventh Doctor’s memories weigh heavy

You knew this one was going to be included, right? It narrowly beat the Pandorica speech and the trap speech, because it’s always better when the Doctor admits he’s not the perfect being.

The Eleventh Doctor faces oblivion with Amelia Pond

This is the kind of speech you give after you’ve put the burden of your memories down. The kind of speech you give when there is nothing left, your story has run its course, and your life, with all of its petty details and turmoil, suddenly seems rather daft and unimportant. It’s an awful moment of ultimate reflection, made all the more touching because it’s being delivered by an old, old man to a young, young girl.

So, which speech should be No.11 on this list? Tell us here:

See more: 
Doctor Whom: Five Common Points of Time Lord Pedantry
10 ‘Doctor Who’ Actors Who Were Also in Bond Movies
‘Doctor Who’ Rogues Gallery: The Time Lords
‘Doctor Who’: The Magic Of The TARDIS

Fraser McAlpine

Fraser has been writing and broadcasting about music and popular culture for over 13 years, first at the Top of the Pops website, and most recently for the NME. He also wrote BBC Radio 1's Chart Blog and reviews albums for BBC Music.

He is Anglophenia's current resident Brit, blogging about British slang and running around the Mall taking snaps of the crowd at the Royal Wedding, as well as reigniting a childhood passion for classic Doctor Who and cramming as much music in as he can manage.

Fraser invites you to join him on Twitter: @csi_popmusic

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