From Academic Kids

Missing image
A Vardan spaceship approaches Gallifrey from space (from The Invasion of Time).

Gallifrey is a fictional planet in the long-running British science fiction television series Doctor Who. The planet is home to both the Doctor, and others of his race, the Time Lords. It is supposed to be located in the constellation of Kasterborous, at "galactic coordinates ten-zero-eleven-zero-zero by zero-two from galactic zero centre", some 250 million light years away from Earth. During the first decade of the television series, the Doctor's home planet was not identified by name. The name was first used in the 1973 serial The Time Warrior.

It is never definitively stated "when" the appearances of Gallifrey in the television series take place. As the planet is often reached by means of time travel it could conceivably exist anywhere in the past or future relative to our present. The spin-off novels seem to take the stance that Gallifrey is in the relative past.



From space, Gallifrey is seen as a yellow-orange planet. The Doctor's granddaughter Susan described it as having an orange sky. This casts an amber tint on anything outside the city, as seen in The Invasion of Time (1978), although Gallifrey's sky appeared blue and Earth-like in The Five Doctors (1983). It is close enough to central space lanes for spacecraft to require clearance from Gallifreyan Space Traffic Control as they pass through its system.

Gallifrey is surrounded by an impenetrable force field called the transduction barrier. This prevents all outsiders (with hostile intent, or otherwise) from approaching the planet and allows the Time Lords to maintain their status of absolute neutrality, letting them observe the actions of the rest of the Universe without actually taking part in its affairs. The barrier was breached once during The Invasion of Time by the Sontarans, when it was sabotaged from within.

Gallifrey is also the name of its major city, the Citadel, which holds the Capitol of the Time Lords. The Capitol is also known as the Panopticon, under which the Eye of Harmony, the nucleus of a black hole, is kept. The Eye provides the power required for time travel, and all Time Lord TARDIS time machines draw their power from it. Also situated in the Capitol is the Matrix, the vast extradimensional computer network which acts as the repository of all Time Lord knowledge as well as containing the memories of dead Time Lords.

Outside the city lie wastelands where the Shobogans, or "Outsiders", Gallifreyans who do not belong to the Time Lord elite, live in less technological tribal communities. The wastes of Gallifrey include the Death Zone, an area that was used as a gladiatorial arena by the first Time Lords, pitting various species kidnapped from their respective time zones against each other. Inside the Death Zone stands the Tomb of Rassilon, the founder of Time Lord society.


Various spin-off novels and audio plays have expanded on the history and nature of Gallifrey, although many fans do not consider the information in them to be canon. For more on general Time Lord history, see that article.

In the BBC Books novel The Ancestor Cell by Peter Anghelides and Stephen Cole, Gallifrey was destroyed as a result of the Eighth Doctor's desire to prevent the voodoo cult Faction Paradox from starting a war between the Time Lords and an unnamed Enemy. This also apparently (and retroactively) wiped the Time Lords from history. It is unclear what the attitude of the new Doctor Who television series is toward the information in the novels and audio plays, the latter produced by Big Finish Productions. However, a number of writers of the novels and audio plays are also writing for the new television series.

In the last regular Eighth Doctor novel, The Gallifrey Chronicles by Lance Parkin, it was revealed that while Gallifrey was destroyed, the Time Lords were not erased from history. However, the cataclysm set up an event horizon in time that prevented anyone from entering Gallifrey's relative past or travelling from it to the present or future. The Time Lords also survived within the Matrix, which had been downloaded into the Eighth Doctor's mind, but their reconstruction required a sufficiently advanced computer. At the novel's end, the question of whether or not the Time Lords would be restored remained unanswered. However, it can be assumed that both they and the planet were restored at some point before the start of 2005 series if the novels are to remain consistent with the new series' continuity.

In the 2005 season episode The End of the World, the Ninth Doctor stated that his home planet — not mentioned by name, but presumably Gallifrey — was destroyed in a war and that he is the last of the Time Lords. However, the episode also indicated that the Time Lords are remembered in the far future.

Subsequently, in Dalek, it was revealed that the last great Time War was fought between the Time Lords and the Daleks, ending in the obliteration of both sides and with only two apparent survivors; the Doctor and a lone Dalek that had somehow fallen through time and crashed on Earth. At the conclusion of that episode, that surviving Dalek self-destructed, leaving the Doctor believing that he was the sole survivor of the Time War. However, as the Daleks return in the two-part 2005 series finale, the fate of the Time Lords may not be definitive as well.

Gallifrey audio series

Gallifrey is also the umbrella title of a series of audio plays set in the Doctor Who universe, produced by Big Finish Productions, featuring Louise Jameson as Leela and Lalla Ward as Romana. A second series of stories, featuring Ward and the first incarnation of Romana, Mary Tamm, is planned for 2005.

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