The Real Origin Of Doctor Who’s Timey-Wimey Catchphrase

day of the doctor
Image via BBC

Fans of the new seasons of Doctor Who will be familiar with the Doctor’s use of “timey-wimey,” first thrown out by David Tennant in the episode “Blink” to explain the not-always-consistent rules of time travel. Matt Smith’s Doctor also employed it in “The Day of the Doctor,” while the phrase has become a kind of sci-fi shorthand for situations where clear information isn’t present. However, it seems that the expression has its origins back in classic Who. Well, sort of, anyway.

According to ScreenRant, a 2017 Titan Comic miniseries focused on the Third Doctor places “timey-wimey” in that era of the Time Lord’s adventures. More specifically, writer Paul Cornell has it being coined by companion Jo Grant, who begins to use it to try to get her head around “The Three Doctors” and its use of multiple versions of the Doctor. At this point, Jon Pertwee’s Doctor is dismissive of the wording that Jo has apparently been using for some time.

The reference was presumably thrown in by Cornell, who’s written for the post-2005 Doctor Who, as a nice piece of fan service. His work on the The Third Doctor run for Titan acts a love letter to this era of the production, including many familiar faces and Easter Eggs from Pertwee’s take on the character, like UNIT and Roger Delgado’s Master. Whether or not the events in the story can be considered as canon is another question, though.

With new episodes of Doctor Who not likely to arrive for a while, now is a good opportunity to catch up with the classic era of the show. As it happens, I’m currently ploughing through the Pertwee era, and it’s definitely worth the effort. Those wanting more Who content can also check out the current Doctor Who: Time Lord Victorious multi-platform event, which is already making some big continuity changes.