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At the end of the 1996 Doctor Who TV movie, the Master is trapped inside the Eye of Harmony.

How did the Master manage to escape from the Eye of Harmony and steal a new body? It's a question that has been burning on my mind.

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The master was pushed into the Eye of Harmony at the end of the 1996 Television movie, he was then freed by the Time Lords to fight in the Time War:

"The Time Lords only resurrected me because they knew I'd be the perfect warrior for a Time War" Episode: Sound of Drums

Then he fled after an event in the Time War (mentioned in the same conversation as quoted above) and hid away using the chameleon arch and where he re-appeared as Professor Yana in "Utopia".

Hope this helps :)

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    +1 While Richard's answer gives more backstory from the extended universe, this is the best answer that draws directly from the televised canon (or what passes for canon in DW). – Roger Dec 19 '14 at 14:17
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Per the Doctor Who wiki page about the Master's history:

The Master is seen to escape the Eye of Harmony in the short story 'Forgotten' by Joseph Lidster, published in Short Trips: The Centenarian. The story ends with him left in 1906 in possession of a human male's body

Summary:

The Eighth Doctor meets his old friend Edward to say a final goodbye to him; he takes Edward to the TARDIS, where he falls asleep. While Edward is asleep he has a dream in which a voice calls him into the recesses of the TARDIS, to a tomb shaped like a Closed Eye. He leans against a stone staff for support, accidentally releasing the Master. The Master leaves the TARDIS and possesses many people, including George Steer, until he escapes the Doctor's grasp. As the Doctor leaves, the Master possesses the body of an aristocrat named Richard.

Book Quote:

The voice was getting louder, clearer. He continued to ease himself along, already breathless at the exertion. He grimaced as he remembered how once he could have run the length of the corridor without breaking into a sweat. 'I' m coming,' he called out. - He passed another few doors, heading closer and closer to the end of the corridor. Then, stopping, he put his head up against them and listened.

Open the doors... Edward...

Struggling in the darkness, his hands fumbled at the solid metal ring bolted into the wood. He turned it and the doors opened. He looked into the room, his eyes adjusting to yet more darkness. It was about the same size as the control room. A huge stone staircase led to high-up gantries and, there, in the middle of it all, carved out of the ground, was a great stone... thing. He stared at it, his mind desperately trying to give it a name A tomb. He hobbled towards it, his feet cold on the stone floor. The voice screamed in his mind.

TEDDY!

`I'm coming!' Gasping for breath, he clambered up a ramp and practically fell onto what he could now see looked like a giant, closed eye. He gripped a nearby stone staff to support himself. His breathing slowed back down and there was silence. Then the staff exploded as a huge shaft of icy-blue light shot out and made a break out of the sand. Straight into a shark's mouth!

He collapsed back and tumbled down the ramp, screaming out for the Doctor as the Devil itself shot up towards him. Shrieking, it flew past his head and out into the corridor.

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