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As of the second season of Matt Smith as The Doctor, we've seen him give his age variously in a range between 900 and 1100 years (Note: I'm being deliberately vague here to avoid spoilers; being more accurate wouldn't add to my question).

As Matt's the eleventh doctor, this implies an average of 100 years of living per incarnation, assuming that the ages are somewhat accurate and not just fabrications.

Do we know the ages of any of the "other" Doctors?

How old was the Jon Pertwee Doctor, for example? Was he younger than expected, given that the regeneration was forced upon him?

William Hartnell's Doctor looks oldest physically, but did that correlate with actual age in any way?

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6 Answers 6

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As with any time travel story, it's complicated! There are several contradictory statements, especially if you consider (as most do) the comics, novels, audio dramas and supplementary media (like annuals) canon - for this answer I'll stick to the TV episodes only. However, there are some ages that are generally accepted. Remember also that the Doctor has been caught lying about his age at least once.

In the 4th Doctor story The Pirate Planet Romana said that the Doctor had been traveling in the TARDIS for 523 years, and in The Ribos Operation gives his age as 759 (she was only 140). So the 1st Doctor was at least 236 when we first see him. This is 'confirmed' in the 11th Doctor story The Doctor's Wife, when the TARDIS says the Doctor has traveled with it for 700 years, at which time the Doctor is supposedly 909 (except that he's meant to be older by then - see below).

In the story where the 1st Doctor regenerates into the 2nd (The Tomb of the Cybermen), the 2nd Doctor tells Victoria he is around 450.

The 3rd Doctor's age is vague - we don't really know how long he was imprisoned by the Time Lords prior to regeneration (and whether that counts, or was some sort of Time Lock), and he didn't say much about his age.

The 4th Doctor makes several references to his age being about 750 (The Brain of Morbius, The Seeds of Doom, The Robots of Death, as well as the Romana reference above), and 760 by The Power of Kroll, which is near the time he regenerates into the 5th Doctor.

The 6th Doctor described himself as roughly 900 (Revelation of the Daleks and The Trial of a Time Lord: The Mysterious Planet). In Time and the Rani, when the 6th Doctor regenerates into the 7th, he is 953 years old (this is also the Rani's age and the combination to a lock).

The 8th Doctor doesn't say anything about his age in the movie, although there are references in the stories in other media (over 1000).

We now get to a problem: the 9th Doctor says he is around 900 years old in The Empty Child. This, of course, is problematic, because he's meant to be older already. Even if you allow for this to be rounded, he gets more specific later (and younger than 953).

The 10th Doctor continues with the new ages, saying he is 903 in Voyage of the Damned. However, this doesn't really work (even in the new scheme) because he spent over two years looking for Martha (The Infinite Quest), as well as months mucking about on Earth (Human Nature, Blink).

In the final 10th Doctor episode, The End of Time, he says that he is 906, indicating to the Ood that he spent some time traveling along after Donna.

The 11th Doctor tells Amy and others that he is 907 (later 908, and 909) in several episodes, and in The Impossible Astronaut

The 11th Doctor from the future tells Amy that he is 1103.

There are various theories (but no explanation in TV episodes or other official media) about the "900 problem", such as:

  • Trauma from the Time War making him forget his proper age.
  • He was de-aged (he gets aged in The Sound of Drums and Last of the Time Lords).
  • He lies more consistently about it now (or was lying more consistently before!).
  • He's now giving his age as the number of years spent traveling in the TARDIS (i.e. he's about 1145 now) - this works nicely with the ages from earlier, as long as you interpret the TARDIS saying they have been traveling together for ~700 years as meaning something a bit different (perhaps actual time in the TARDIS, not on-world).

The amount of time in each incarnation is more based on how quickly he gets into danger he can't get out of. The 1st Doctor was apparently a bit more careful (which matches the character), so lasted a lot longer. The 10th Doctor lasted only a few years. The 11th may last longer than the first - we have yet to see.

In terms of the physical appearance, the Doctor generally looks younger each time he regenerates (out of universe, a big problem with Hartnell was that his age and ill health caused problems - so going with a younger actor made sense - although a very young one would have been a huge change rather than a subtle one).

  • William Hartnell was 55-58 when he played the Doctor.
  • Patrick Troughton was 46-49 when he played the Doctor.
  • Jon Pertwee was actually older than Troughton - 51-55 when he played the Doctor.
  • Tom Baker was again younger: 40-47 when he played the Doctor (the longest so far).
  • Getting younger continued with Peter Davidson: he was 30-33 when he played the Doctor (we see him aged when he appears in Time Crash - Davidson was then 56).
  • With Colin Baker the trend is reversed (perhaps the Doctor was starting to look a bit too young). He was 41-43 when he played the Doctor.
  • Sylvester McCoy was around the same age as his predecessor: 44-46 when he originally played the Doctor. We see him aged in the 8th Doctor movie, since McCoy was then 53 (still younger than Hartnell).
  • Paul McGann was 37 in the 8th Doctor movie.
  • Christopher Eccleston was 41 for his time as the Doctor.
  • With David Tennant we start getting younger again. He was 34-39 during his time as the Doctor (he almost certainly gets the prize of playing the largest proportion of his incarnation's life on screen - 5 years of acting for only 3 or 4 in-character).
  • Matt Smith's only 29 - we've finally got younger than Davidson.
  • John Hurt was 73 when taking on the role of The Warrior (Doctor #8.5, though chronologically appearing after Matt Smith).
  • Peter Capaldi was 55 when he took on the role of the 12th Doctor.

Much more detail is available at the TARDIS index file.

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Smith is the first actor playing the Doctor that's younger than I am. I suspect this is true for a large number of fans of the 1st-7th Doctors. –  Tony Meyer Jun 3 '11 at 6:25
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Somewhat ironically, after all those words, I can't actually give an answer for the one Doctor (#3) that you singled out. Somewhere between 450 and 738 is about as good as it gets. –  Tony Meyer Jun 3 '11 at 6:29
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+1 for It's complicated - and thanks for a great answer. –  Bevan Jun 3 '11 at 10:22
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+1 Bravo, Tony. You captured the complicated nature of a being removed from Time having to relate to people about something they cannot escape from, the Flow of Time. Of course, he lies. Everyone lies about their age... –  Thaddeus Sep 22 '12 at 2:29
    
Does it ever reveal why he doesnt age in appearence ? –  howler Aug 6 '13 at 14:16

As internally-consistent canon in sci-fi TV series/tie-ins is a relatively recent fashion, there is no definitive answer.

The Doctor may lie, but the script writers are just making stuff up.

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“the script writers are just making stuff up” — we could just put that as the answer for pretty much every question on here. –  Paul D. Waite Jul 14 '11 at 8:30

Well, apparently, if we are of the opinion that he came out of a loom looking like 56-year-old William Hartnell (but can work even if the First Doctor was not always old):

(ages may contradict what said in the series, but they're not necessarily strictly chronological as the Doctor follows a different wiew of time, plus i'm being a bit AU)

The First Doctor steals the TARDIS as a 95-years-old, after having been a teenager for 50 years. He runs away with his "granddaughter" Susan (which is just another Timelady named Arkytior or the Lady Larn, that regenerated to look like a toddler)

We first see the Doctor as a 110-years-old, and Susan as a 15-years-old. (Susan aged like an human because she was chameleon-arched and wanted to be an human teenager. At this point, the Doctor does not like humans very much, though.)

When the Doctor leaves Susan, the Doctor is 113, and Susan is 18. Ian and Barbara never age past the ages they both were in 1963, they're both around 40 but still look 37.

115-year-old Doctor and 42-year-old Ian and Barbara, join up with Vicki Pallister, who is currently 16.

43-year-old Ian and Barbara get replaced with 35-year-old Steven. the Doctor is 116, and Vicki is 17.

Vicki leaves the show at age 19 to get replaced with the 16-years-old Dodo. Steven is 37, and the Doctor is 118.

39-year-old Steven and 18-year-old Dodo get the boot of the replacement, new companions being the 34-year-old Polly and Ben. the Doctor is 120.

The Doctor regenerates for the first time at 122-years-old, Polly and Ben are 36. 25-years-old Jamie joins the crowd.

Polly and Ben get the boot when they are 38, and replaced by 18-years-old Victoria. The Doctor is 124, and Jamie is 27.

125-years-old Doctor, and 28-years-old Jamie, when they're joined by the 15-years-old Zoe.

The Doctor is 129 when he gets changed into the Third Doctor and works at Unit. 32-years-old Jamie and 18-years-old Zoe get their memories cancelled.

The Doctor is around 129-132 while in "series 6b", 132-years-old working with 26-years-old Liz, then he meets Jo when he's 133 and she is 23. They split off when he's 139 and she is 29.

141-years-old Doctor meets 26-years-old Sarah Jane. The Doctor regenerates into Fourth when he's 145, Sarah's 30, and new-comer Harry is 32.

146-years-old Doctor and 31-years-old Sarah leave a 33-years old Harry. The two enbark in many adventures, until 153-years-old Doctor has to leave 38-years-old Sarah.

The Doctor spends a little bit on Gallifrey alone, as Lord President, from 154-years-old to 159-years-old. Then he meets the 6-years-old K-9 and 23-years-old Leela.

Leela leaves the Tardis as a 27-years-old, and the Doctor is 163-years-old.

164-years-old Doctor and 148-years-old Romana, who regenerates for the first time at 149.

172-years-old Doctor and 156-years-old Romana welcome 14-years-old Adric in the group.

157-years-old Romana gets replaced with 16-years-old Nyssa. The Doctor is 173 and Adric is 15. 23-years-old Tegan also joins in a few months later.

The Doctor regenerates into Peter Davison at the age of 174. Nyssa is 17, Adric is 16, and Tegan is 24.

Adric dies a few months before turning 17.

20-years-old Nyssa gets replaced with 24-years-old Vislor Turlough (tho he's posing as 14). The Doctor is 177, and Tegan is 27.

Kamelion is 3 by the time he is in the TARDIS, but only stays here for a few months.

28-years-old Turlough finds 18-years-old Peri, who stays in the TARDIS. The Doctor is 181, and a few days later he regenerates into Colin Baker.

The Doctor and Peri tag along until the Doctor is 184 and Peri is 21. She gets replaced by the 22-years-old Mel Bush (who had previously been a companion of the Seventh Doctor from her side of things), and a few months later, the Doctor regenerates into Sylvester McCoy.

The 185-years-old Doctor leaves 23-years-old Mel for 16-years-old Ace McShane, who remains in the TARDIS until she leaves for the Time Lord Academy at the age of 20, and The Doctor is 189.

The Doctor is 192 at the time of the TV Movie, and the Time War begins when he's 198.

The Doctor becomes The Warrior (John Hurt) at age 199, and stays in this form until age 219, when the sullness of being war-torn ages him a lot, and the last bullet from the Time War turns him into Christopher Eccleston.

The Doctor is 219 when the New Series starts, having only spent a few months in his ninth (tenth if you count Warrior) body. He meets 18-years-old Rose Tyler, and 21-years-old Adam Mitchell, and the 42-years-old Jack Harkness (even tho he gets revived by the Tardis and cannot age anymore, like Barbara and Ian but explained better.) also are in for short rides.

The Doctor regenerates into David Tennant when he's 220 and Rose is 19.

The 223-years-old Doctor leaves the 22-years-old Rose Tyler with his hand-clone, and then meets Martha Jones when he's 224 and she's 28.

The 227-years-old Doctor replaces the 32-years-old Martha with the 43-years-old Donna.

The Doctor regenerates into Matt Smith when he's 232, and starts travelling with the 21-years-old Amy and the 20-years-old Rory. He also gets mysterious visits from the 51-years-old River (which we know, is actually the Tardis-conceived future daughter of Amy and Rory). The 237-years-old Doctor leaves the 26-years-old Amy and 25-years-old Rory for the 23-years-old Clara.

The 238-years-old Doctor goes away from 24-years-old Clara to protect Trenzalore until he's 245-years-old and has picked up the 83-years-old Cyberman Head: Handles. Then, he regenerates into Peter Capaldi.

... And the legend lives on, as the 246-years-old Doctor, 84-years-old Handles, and 25-years-old Clara pick up the 34-years-old Tom, the Coal Hill teacher. Handles explodes less than one year after, in a particularly contrived adventure. The 18-years-old Jenny, loomed daughter of the Doctor, joins in as a Susan surrogate. And they meet both new and old friends, filling many hearts and bringing peace. NuWho gets cancelled in 2030 and changes its name into "Doctor Who Part 2", with a "Part 3" returning in 2038, thriving until the 100° Anniversary in 2063, where he breaks the 4th wall to say "goodbye", and makes one of the best flashback scenes ever.

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It's important to remember that the Doctor isn't like other Time Lords - unlike them, he constantly travels, and by their standards is very careless with his incarnations. One Time Lord in 'The Deadly Assassin' expresses disdain at the idea of government 'chopping and changing every few centuries'. I think this suggests that Time Lords often think in terms of centuries or even millennia when considering their own lifespans. The Doctor, however, is quite different.

If we assume that the Doctor's companions age at roughly the same rate as they did in their own environments, we can assume that each incarnation of the Doctor lasts about three years. Exceptions to this would be any time where the Doctor has no official companion (and could therefore travel for centuries without us being able to tell), and any time he travels with a fellow Time Lord/Lady (Romana and River). I like the idea that after losing Jo, the Third Doctor could have gone on any number of adventures through time and space, before returning to UNIT and meeting Sarah.

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I seem to remember in the story arc with the impossible astronaut, that the doctor we see get "killed" by the astronaut is 200 years older than the doctor that shows up in the diner later. Considering that Matt Smith's appearance doesn't look that different, it implies that his body ages slowly. Given that we see a young John Hurt's reflection in Night of The Doctor, and a visibly older John Hurt in Day of The Doctor, he could have spent centuries as the "War Doctor". Or maybe the war itself aged him. But the previous post is correct; there were many times where the Doctor was by himself, or with non-human companions, where he could have spent 100's of years between us seeing him. In fact of all 11(12) incarnations, the 9th is the only one I can think of that didn't. Assuming that he was freshly regenerated when he met Rose; which given the fact he seems to be looking at his reflection for the first time in Rose's apartment. Unless he spent years in places where there were no reflections.

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Not really sure, but I do know that the 11th Doctor is the longest lasting incarnation, because he was approximately 907 at the start of his era, and around 2100 years old when he regenerated in The Time of The Doctor (this is probably because he had no choice but to stay in this form, as a major illness or injury could result in death, because he was actually the 13th Doctor). The 7th Doctor is very much implied to be one of longer lived forms, because in the movie you see him with grey/white temples, and an obvious increase in age (I know it's because Sylvester McCoy was growing old, but it's because of this that the producers wanted to show the audience that the Doctor had spent centuries in this form).

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