Harriet Jones, continuity error

Dear Johnny Fanboy,

In the Christmas episode of Doctor Who, the new Doctor realises that Prime Minister Harriet Jones has become corrupt, so he sows the seeds for her downfall by whispering to an aide: "Don't you think she looks tired?" Soon she is fending off rumours of ill health and facing a vote of no confidence.

However, in the earlier episode World War Three, the previous Doctor had stated that Jones was destined to be Prime Minister for three successive terms and would become the architect of a golden age in British politics.

Has the Doctor changed history? That seems out of character. If so, why don't the Reapers arrive to "sterilise the wound"? You cannot argue that The Christmas Invasion is set during Harriet Jones' third term, because then she, Jackie and Mickey would all need to look a decade older - which they don't.

Adam Leigh, nit-picker

Johnny Fanboy, nit-pick solver, replies:

Let's get the Reaper question out of the way first. The episode Father's Day, which features the Reapers, strongly implies that the creatures only appear when time has been severely weakened and do not materialise each and every time history is altered. In that instance, time had already been weakened by the Doctor and Rose visiting the same vicinity in space and moment in time (the day her father died) twice. This is a clever get-out clause on the part of the writer, Paul Cornell, so that future writers need not necessarily involve the Reapers every time history is changed or a time paradox occurs.

Indeed, in an earlier episode, The Unquiet Dead, the Doctor informs Rose that time is in a constant state of flux, "changing every second". Whether history has always been this mutable, or is only so since the Time War and the fall of the Time Lords, is unclear. Nevertheless, there is further evidence of its instability in The Long Game, and the Reapers don't appear in that episode either.

So it would appear that the Doctor does indeed change history in The Christmas Invasion. This is something of a shift in character for a man who's usually concerned with preventing such things, but maybe he realised that the golden age he remembered was from a timeline invalidated by the Time War and that this corrupt Harriet Jones cannot be the architect of it.

Alternatively, perhaps an older and wiser Jones later resumes her role as Prime Minister for three successive terms and does indeed eventually lead Britain into a golden age.

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