I've been listening to a lot of Chameleon Circuit (a 'trock' band) and it reminded me that in season 3 of Doctor Who, the Master returns as is hinted over the series with a slight change.

We later find out in the series what that is:

The other Time Lords, don't like being trapped in the time lock, and thus have set up 'the sound of drums' in the master's head so he could, nay, would return and free them.

Has this ever been stated in the original series? Is this an in-universe retcon of the masters previous motives (i.e it fits with the Master of old, but adds an explanation)? Or is it a definite change? I know the Master was a megalomaniac but I don't know how extensive that tendency was for him....did this change things?

4 Answers 4


Prior to the current (2005) rebooted Doctor Who, there was no in-universe indication of the drumming being the source of the Master's lunacy or megalomania.

The concept was invented specifically for the new series by Russell T. Davis who (according to an interview have gave to Doctor Who Magazine) was inspired by the drumming sound of his alarm clock.

Ironically, there was a mention in one of the more obscure Doctor Who books of the Master having been a drummer during his time at the Galifrey Academy but there's no indication that RTD was aware of this when he invented the Drumming.


The Master did say that this had become worse with each new regeneration. So it's probable that it never bothered him, the first couple of lives.

I'll try to find some canon.

  • 1
    Did you find any?
    – AncientSwordRage
    Commented May 1, 2014 at 22:11
  • 2
    No he didn't. Because there isn't any.
    – Valorum
    Commented May 1, 2014 at 22:21

I think that it only happened after the necessity existed for the time lords to do it. The Time Lords changed the Master, but it only affected the most recent incarnation because the previous ones never heard it. This means that it affected his memory as well without actually changing his past incarnations lives.

  • 2
    Hi, welcome to SF&F. Can you cite any references for this or is it just a hypothesis? Answers are expected to provide evidence. Please read How to Answer.
    – DavidW
    Commented Jun 9, 2019 at 1:34

The drums began when The Master was initiated into the Galifreyan "Academy" to become a Time Lord. As a child, he had to look into the Untempered Schism, a rift in time. The drums started then, and became worse as he aged.

The Time Lords trapped inside the time lock were able to use this link to the outside of the time lock because it had existed before the Time War was time locked.

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