The first use of the phrase:

I am the Doctor. The original, you might say

In Doctor Who that I can recall is in The Five Doctors, spoken by the First Doctor as played by Richard Hurndall (with a fair degree of irony).

Was it spoken in any episode prior to that?


The first television appearance of the quote is indeed in "The Five Doctors." This can be determined by searching the scripts online. The phrase does not show up before the twentieth-anniversary show.

Logically, there are just not many places prior to "The Five Doctors" where the quote could have shown up. Prior to the Doctor's Regeneration in "The Tenth Planet," there was no notion of regeneration, and the only appearance of the First Doctor between his regeneration and "The Five Doctors" was the "The Three Doctors" in season ten. However, by the time "The Three Doctors" was filmed, William Hartnell was in ill health (it was his last acting job, prior to his death in 1975), and he had only two brief appearances, filmed separately from rest of the cast. His lines in "The Three Doctors" do not include anything like the quote in question.

"The Five Doctors" was also shown before the existence of the massive Doctor Who extended universe, so it would be very unlikely for the quote to have originated there.

  • I've marked this answer as "the" answer, but the Tom Baker variation is interesting, although I wouldn't have expected the scriptwriter for "The Five Doctors" to have recalled it when writing his script. – Wallnut May 29 '18 at 8:30

It's a misquote/slight change from Tom Baker's first episode, "Robot"

Harry Sullivan: "You're not fit yet"

The Doctor: "Not fit? But I'm The Doctor!"

Harry: "No, Doctor, I'M the Doctor, and I say you're not fit yet"

The Doctor: "You may be A doctor, but I'm THE Doctor - the definite article, you might say"

  • The question is not asking if it was a misquote but if it was said earlier. If you're certain it wasn't said earlier, I suggest you begin your answer by saying it isn't said earlier, but there does exist this quote that is similar. (If you don't like the embedded video, feel free to revert the changes.) – Edlothiad May 25 '18 at 20:33

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