How long was the Doctor sulking in Victorian England before the Snowmen?

Vastra seemed to indicate that it has been a "long time".

  • 2
    This won't answer the question, but the Children In Need mini-episode was a prequel to The Snowmen, which features the Doctor telling Madame Vastra that he has retired.
    – Mr Lister
    Dec 27, 2012 at 17:38

3 Answers 3


Unfortunately, there is no canonical answer to this question.

Most of the in-series evidence we might use to try to fix a time-span is actually fairly unreliable. For example, any statement the Doctor makes about his age is pretty much a lie. He claimed to already be in his 900s back during his 7th incarnation (Rememberance of the Daleks), then again several times during his 9th, 10th and 11th until finally claiming it had been 200 years since he'd last seen the Ponds and hence was 1100 or something in "The Impossible Astronaut".

But since the 900ish number was already a lie, the 1100ish number is also, likely, a lie. Which brings us back to Rule #1: The Doctor Lies.

If we assume that the Paternoster Gang were part of the Doctor's meagre social circle the entire time he was parked in London sulking, then he cannot have been there for more than a few years. While we have no idea how Silurians or Sontarans age, we do know how humans age, and Jenny has given no indication of being significantly older than she was when we first encountered her in "A Good Man Goes to War".

Of course, it's always possible that the Doctor arrived and parked well before the events that brought Vastra and Jenny together, and kept an even lower profile to avoid self-interference until well after, and then finally got lonely enough to contact them.

However, we simply have no firm evidence either way, and I suspect that is not an accident, and we will never get a canonical answer. Leaving it indeterminate gives Moffat & Company more flexibility if they choose to insert incidents into the Doctor's self-exile later.


80 years according to a news article online

The Doctor is different. He's still a bit goofy, but he's more mature, less lost. It's been about 80 years since the Ponds left him, and he's ready to go back into the world-saving business.

  • 2
    And this news article is...?
    – Naftali
    Dec 27, 2012 at 15:11
  • 7
    And their source is...?
    – Naftali
    Dec 27, 2012 at 15:12
  • 1
    Hi Outrageous, welcome to stack exchange! Please provide more than just a link in your answer. It helps summarise for people before they read and it preserves some of your answer if the news article is ever taken down.
    – AncientSwordRage
    Apr 18, 2013 at 21:16

The answer is roughly 70-90 years. Once in the Snowmen it was mentioned a thousand years and in the season preview again they mentioned the Doctor as a thousand years old. Last mention of his age was that he was from 907 to 909.

In the Impossible Astronaut http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Impossible_Astronaut another doctor seen them.
"1,103 years old, nearly 200 years older than he was when he last saw them".

I would assume that he is younger than that 1,103 years old but at least a thousand years old.

My hope is that this information will be given in the upcoming season, the guess at 80 years and it is most likely close. The Christmas episodes like to stand alone and not give too much into the upcoming season.

  • 3
    Can you convincingly make the case that the Doctor that was shot in The Impossible Astronaut is from later in the timeline than the currently-current Doctor? My recollection is that the 1,100 year-old Doctor (assuming he didn't lie, that is) is the Doctor of the current season. Jan 2, 2013 at 20:02
  • The 1100-year-old Doctor is the one who "died" in "The Wedding of River Song", so he is at least that old in "Snowmen".
    – KutuluMike
    Jan 3, 2013 at 0:14
  • 1
    Yes, younger than that, which is my point. His timeline hasn't came up to that point. The doctor, however, lies or forgets his age so no one really knows anyway.
    – donlaur
    Jan 3, 2013 at 15:07

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