The Best Speeches from Doctor Who

Last Saturday’s episode of Doctor Who, “The Zygon Inversion”, featured an impassioned speech by the Doctor, played to perfection by Peter Capaldi. It was brilliant and had a Shakespearean quality to it. Afterwards Twitter just exploded with comments about the episode, the speech, and Capaldi – and comments about other great speeches from Doctor Who. This post is a collection of some of the best speeches from Doctor Who, roughly one per Doctor. I have no desire to do a “top ten” style list, so they are presented in reverse chronological order, newest to oldest, with youTube clips where I can find them.

12 – Peter Capaldi – Zygon Inversion,
written by Peter Harness & Steven Moffat, BBC 2015

“You just want cruelty to beget cruelty. You’re not superior to people who were cruel to you.  You’re just a whole bunch of new cruel people. A whole bunch of new cruel people being cruel to some other people who will end-up being cruel to you. The only way anyone can live in peace is if they are prepared to forgive. Why don’t you break the cycle?” – The Doctor
“Why should we?” – Bonnie
“What is it that you actually want?” – The Doctor
“War.” – Bonnie
“Ah. And when this war is over? When you have a homeland free from humans. What do you think it’s going to be like? Do you know? Have you thought about it? Have you given it any consideration? Because you’re very close to getting what you want. What’s it going to be like? Paint me a picture. Are you going to live in houses? Do you want people to go to work? Will there be holidays? Oh. Will there be music? Do you think people will be allowed to play violins? Who’s going to make the violins? Well? Oh, you don’t actually know do you? Because like every single tantruming child in history, Bonnie, you don’t actually know what you want. So let me ask you a question about this Brave New World of yours. When you’ve killed all the bad guys, and when it’s all perfect, and just, and fair, when you have finally got it exactly the way you want it. What are you going to do with the people like you? The troublemakers. How are you going to protect your Glorious Revolution from the next one?” – The Doctor
“We’ll win.” – Bonnie
“Oh, will you? Well, maybe. Maybe you will win. but nobody wins for long. The wheel just keeps turning. So, come on, break the cycle.” – The Doctor (Peter Capaldi), “The Zygon Inversion”, BBC 2015

“You set this up, why?” – Kate
“Because it’s not a game, Kate. This is a scale model of  war! Every war ever fought right there in front of you! Because its always the same, when you fire that first shot. No matter how right you feel, you have no idea who’s going to die! You don’t know who’s children are going to scream and burn! How many hearts will be broken! How many lives shattered! How much blood will spill until everybody does what they were always going to have to do from the very beginning – sit down and talk!” – the Doctor

“You’re all the same, you screaming kids, you know that? ‘Look at me, I’m unforgivable’, well, here’s the unforeseeable – I forgive you! After all you’ve done – I forgive you!” – The Doctor
“You don’t understand! You will never understand!” – Bonnie
“I don’t understand? Are you kidding? Me? Of course, I understand. I mean, you call this a war? This funny little thing? This is not a war! I fought in a bigger war than you will ever know. I did worse things than you could ever imagine! And when I close my eyes… I hear more screams than anyone would ever be able to count. And do you know what you do with all that pain? Shall I tell you where to put it? You hold it tight… until it burns your hand. And you say this! No one else will ever have to live like this. No one else will ever have to feel this pain. Not on my watch.” – The Doctor (Peter Capaldi), “The Zygon Inversion”, BBC 2015

11 – Matt Smith – Pandorica “The Pandorica Opens”,
written by Steven Moffat, BBC 2010

“Hello, Stonehedge! Who takes the Pandorica takes the universe. But bad news, everyone…Cos guess who? Ha! listen, you lot, you’re all whizzing about, it’s really very distracting. Could you all stay still a minute? Because I…am…talking! Now, the question of the hour is, Who’s got the Pandorica? Answer – I do. Next question, Who’s coming to take it from me? Come on! Look at me, no plan, no backup, no weapons worth a damn. Oh, and something else, I don’t have… anything to lose! So, if you’re sitting up there in your silly little spaceship, with all your silly little guns, and you’ve got any plans on taking the Pandorica tonight, just remember who’s standing in your way. Remember every black day I ever stopped you. And then, and then, do the smart thing. Let somebody else try first.” – the Doctor (Matt Smith)

10 – David Tennant, “Voyage of the Damned”,
written by Russell T. Davies, BBC 2007

“Wait a minute, who put you in charge?  And who the hell are you anyway?” – Pickton Slade
“I’m the Doctor.  I’m a Time Lord.  I’m from the planet Gallifrey, in the constellation of Kasterborous.  I’m 903 years old, and I’m the man who’s going to save your lives and all six billion people on the planet below.  You have a problem with that?” – The Doctor (David Tennant)
“No.” – Pickton Slade

9 – Christopher Eccleston, “Rose”,
written by Russell T. Davies, BBC 2005

“Really though Doctor,  tell me, Who are you?” – Rose
“You know like we were saying, about the Earth revolving?  It’s like when you’re a kid, the first time they tell you that the world’s turning, and you just can’t believe it, ’cause everything looks like it’s standing still.  I can feel it (takes Rose’s hand) the turn of the Earth.  The ground beneath our feet is spinnin’ at 1000 miles an hour, and the entire planet is hurling around the Sun at 67,000 miles an hour, and I can feel it.  We’re falling through space you and me – clinging to the skin of this tiny little world and if we let go… (pause) That’s who I am.  Now forget me, Rose Tyler.  Go home.” – The Doctor (Christopher Eccleston)

Comment vid – it was the best I could find.

7 – Sylvester McCoy, “Survival”,
written by Rona Munro, BBC 1989

“There are worlds out there where the sky is burning, where the sea’s asleep and the rivers dream.  People made of smoke and cities made of song.  Somewhere there’s danger, somewhere there’s injustice, somewhere else the tea is getting cold.  Come on, Ace, we’ve got work to do.” –the Doctor (Sylvester McCoy)

6 – Colin Baker, “The Ultimate Foe”
Written by Robert Holmes and Pip & Jane Baker, BBC 1986

“In all my travelings throughout the universe I have battled against evil, against power-mad conspirators.  I should have stayed here.  The oldest civilisation… Dedecant, degenerate, and rotten to the core… Power-mad conspirators, Daleks, Sontarans, Cybermen– they’re still in the nursery compared to us.  Ten million years of absolute power– that’s what it takes to be really corrupt!” –the Doctor (Colin Baker), “Trial of a Time Lord – The Ultimate Foe”

5 Peter Davison, “Earthshock”,
written by Eric Saward, BBC 1983

“They [emotions] also enhance life–when did you last have the pleasure of smelling a flower, watching a sunset, eating a well-prepared meal?” –The Doctor (Davison)
“These things are irrelevant.” The Cyber-leader
“For some people, small, beautiful events is what life is all about.” The Doctor in response, (Peter Davison)

4 Tom Baker, “Genesis of the Daleks”,
written by Terry Nation, BBC 1975

“Well, What are you waiting for?”  –Sarah Jane
“Just touch these two strands together and the Daleks are finished.  Have I the right?” The Doctor
“To destroy the Daleks, you can’t doubt it?” –Sarah
“But 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.”  –The Doctor
“It isn’t like that!” –Sarah (Elisabeth Sladen)
“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 child would grow up totally evil, to be a ruthless dicator, who would destroy millions of lives. Could you then kill that child?” –The Doctor
“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!” – Sarah Jane
“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’.” – The Doctor
“Then why wait? If it was a disease, or some sort of bacteria you were destroying you wouldn’t hesitate.”
“But if I kill, wipe out a whole intelligent life form, then I become like them, I’d be no better than the Daleks.” The Doctor (Tom Baker)

4  Tom Baker, “The Ark in Space”,
Written by Robert Holmes, BBC 1975

“Homo Sapiens! What an inventive, invincible species.  It’s only a few millions years since they’ve crawled out of  the mud and learned to walk.  Puny, defenseless, bipeds.  They’ve survived flood, famine and plague, they’ve survived cosmic wars and holocausts, and now here they are, out among the stars, waiting to begin a new life, ready to outsit eternity.  They’re indomitable!  Indomitable!” –The Doctor (Tom Baker)

3  Jon Pertwee, Planet of the Daleks,
Written by Terry Nation, BBC 1973

“You know, what you did back there, leading the searchers away from us was very couragous.” – The Doctor
“I just didn’t give myself time to think.  If I had I certainly wouldn’t have taken the risk.” – Thal Scientist Codal
“I think your doing yourself rather an injustice there. If you hadn’t acted the way you did – we’ve all been captured. They give medals for that sort of bravery.” – The Doctor
“Bravery? I’ve been terrified ever since I landed on this planet. It’s different for Taren and Vabor – they’re professionals. They’ve seen action before.” – Thal Scientist Codal
“And do you think they’re any less brave because of that?” – The Doctor
“They know how to deal with fear. They’re used to living close to death. I’m not. I’m a scientist not an adventurer.”  – Thal Scientist Codal
“Well, forgive me if I’m wrong, but weren’t you a volunteer?” – The Doctor
“Yes.” – Thal Scientist Codal
“Well, you must have known what you were getting  into.” – The Doctor
“No. None of us did. We’re not a war-like people, Doctor. We’ve only just developed space flight. No one attempted a voyage of this length before. But every man and woman from my division volunteered. Over 600 of them, you see, I didn’t even have the courage to be the odd man out.” – Thal Scientist Codal

[The Doctor chuckles]

“What are you laughing at?” – Thal Scientist Codal
“You my friend. You may be a very brilliant scientist, but you have very little understanding of people, particularly yourself. Courage isn’t just a matter of not being frightened, you know.” – The Doctor
“What is it, then?” – Thal Scientist Codal
“It’s being afraid and doing what you have to do anyway.” – The Doctor (Jon Pertwee)

2 Patrick Troughton – “The Moonbase”,
Written by Kit Pedler, BBC 1967

“Evil is what I meant. There are some corners of the universe which have bred the most terrible things. Things which act against everything that we believe in. They must be fought.” – The Doctor (Patrick Troughton), “The Moonbase”, BBC 1967 (written by Kit Pedler)

2 Patrick Troughton – “The War Games”,
Written by Malcolm Hulke and Terrance Dicks, BBC 1969

“You asked me to justify my actions, I am doing so. Let me show you the Ice Warriors, cruel Martian invaders, they tried to conquer the Earth, too. So did the Cybermen, half creature, half machine. but, worst of all, were the Daleks, a pityless race of conquerers exterminating all who came up against them. All these evils I have fought, while you have done nothing but observe. True, I am guilty of interference, just as you are guilty of failing to use your great powers to help those in need!” – The Doctor (Patrick Troughton)

1 – William Hartnell, “An Unearthly Child”,
written by Anthony Coburn

“I tolerate this century but I don’t enjoy it. Have you ever thought what it’s like to be wanderers in the fourth dimension? Have you? To be exiles. Susan and I are cut off from our own planet, without friends or protection. But one day we shall go back. Yes, one day. One day.” “An Unearthly Child”, BBC 1963

And finally as an Honorable Mention, because it is a quote about the Doctor but not said by him.

The Family of Blood, Written by Paul Cornell (based on his original Doctor Who novel, Human Nature, published in the New Adventures series by Virgin Publishing), BBC 2007
“Because it [the watch] was waiting. Then because I was so scared of the Doctor.” – Timothy Latimer
“Why?” – Joan
“Because, I’ve seen him. He’s like fire and ice and rage. He’s like the night and the storm and the heart of the sun.” – Latimer
“Stop it.” – John Smith
“He’s ancient and forever. He burns at the center of time, and he can see the turn of the universe.” – Latimer
“Stop it. I said, stop it.” – John Smith (David Tennant)
“And he’s wonderful.” – Tim Latimer (Thomas Sangster)

All speeches and dialogue hand-transcribed by me. Authors and dates from Doctor Who – The Programme Guide by Jean-Marc Lofficier Second and Fourth editions for Classic Who, and from The TARDIS Wikia for New Who. Yes, I realize Paul McGann is missing – I hope to get something from one of the Big Finish audios or the BBC Books Eighth Doctor Adventures at some point. I do really like McGann’s Doctor.

This is why I love Doctor Who so much – it is so wonderfully written, and acted, and brilliant, and diverse. What are your favorite speeches from Doctor Who?

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