The oldest question in the universe has been transmitting through all of time and space.

It certainly was transmitted through all of space - after all, everybody came to see.

But the part that bothers me is time. From what I gather, the message should have been transmitted in the past, present and future.

Technically, this means that the message must have been transmitting during all the other Doctor Who episodes - not just The time of the Doctor. Since it is the "oldest question in the universe" then clearly it must have been transmitting since way before this episode.

I suppose that the message itself is the "beep" we hear in The time of the Doctor, so my question is: is this beep ever played in any prior Doctor Who episode? If not, is there a canon explanation for its absence?

Figures that such an "overwhelming" transmission through all of time and space would have made at least a few apparitions in previous episodes...

  • 2
    The message itself is 'Doctor Who?', which appears in the very first episode of the show, broadcast in 1963 :P
    – evilsoup
    Feb 6, 2014 at 18:19
  • 6
    note that several things in the new Who era happened "through all of space and time" for exactly one episode.
    – KutuluMike
    Feb 23, 2014 at 22:20
  • @MichaelEdenfield: This is my biggest annoyance with this show :( Jan 8, 2015 at 1:48

2 Answers 2


You're assuming that just because it is now transmitting through all time, it always has been transmitting through all time. That doesn't necessarily follow in Doctor Who's conception of time: for example, Gallifrey has been locked out of time completely, and yet the Doctor came from there and went back several times in the original series.

  • 2
    I wholly agree with this. In the Doctor Who canon, something that happens now can affect something in the far future or past without causing a paradox
    – Valorum
    Feb 6, 2014 at 14:20
  • 2
    In fact, the very idea of "canon" in Dr. Who is pretty non-canonical. Canon didn't really exist at all for the first few decades, and it wasn't until the fourth doctor that you saw something like canon accreting - but even then, it was more or less optional. Bear in mind that Douglas Adams was writing and then script editing for the show in that time - and Adams was not someone who'd let petty niggling over trivial details get in the way of a good story. Feb 6, 2014 at 17:03
  • 8
    I think there's a line in Pratchett that sums it up nicely, something about a thing "always having been there", at which point another character says "yes but was it always there, yesterday?"
    – Valorum
    Feb 6, 2014 at 20:10
  • But if Dorium had knowledge of the message prior to the episode, doesn't that mean that the message was already being transmitted?
    – Saturn
    Feb 7, 2014 at 0:30

The show's name is a clear indicator that the question has always existed. Though that was not the intention of the original serial; the whoniverse is "a big ball of wibbly wobbly timey whimey stuff", so no, the question hasn't been asked before because Galifrey hasn't always been trapped.

From a perspective of many theoretical physicists and other (non who) scifi entertainment, when one time travels they create an alternate time line, so the message has always existed at the point the universe that entails Galifrey as trapped came into existence.

So in short, yes, it always existed in the universe it has always existed in, but no in just about every other universe.

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