176 – UFO – The Psychobombs

Channeling the fundamental forces of the universe, the aliens turn perfectly ordinary people into superhuman psychobombs!  Find out why this may be their dumbest plan yet when Ben and Eugene discuss the episode, the Psychobombs!

Sleeping accommodation in The Barn That's Not On Gallifrey

Where the Hell is that Barn?

Simon has argued in another post that the barn from Day of the Doctor and Listen is not on Gallifrey.

I will state that I wholeheartedly agree that the barn in Day of the Doctor is not on Gallifrey, never was on Gallifrey and, apart from a slight similarity in the color of the sky with Gallifrey, there is not a single scrap of evidence that the barn is on Gallifrey.

I have argued this since the day Day of the Doctor aired and I’ve been mystified why anyone would think that it was.  Based solely on what the Doctor knows and what we’ve learned through his (now proven to be faulty) memories being related to us it’s not logical that it would be Gallifrey.

The Doctor has stolen The Moment, a weapon that can…  come to think of it, how powerful is The Moment?  Is it nothing more than a bomb with a conscience?  In that case, it must be “planted” on Gallifrey.  But that conscience can violate the laws of time and bring multiple Doctors together including future incarnations from a future where Gallifrey was destroyed and the even time looped out of existence! That’s a bit overkill for just a bomb, ist it?

The Doctor was not in this time loop, nor apparently at ground zero (Gallifrey.)  We also know that the Doctor left the TARDIS “miles away” making his escape from ground zero even more unlikely.  This is not Gallifrey.

The barn is clearly a remote and desolate place.  It’s in a place where apparently only idiots would build a barn — barren wastelands do not good barn locations make — and, although we know that outside the Gallifreyan cities are nothing but wastelands (Invasion of Time) we also know “nobody” goes there except dropouts from Time Lord society.

Now, obviously, based on the Doctor’s comments about his childhood, he’s been outside visiting the hermit many times, so it is conceivable that there are buildings, structures and impossible barns out there, too.  Equally possible, then, that the Doctor would know of such a place.

On the flip side, if you were going to steal the most deadly weapon of the most technologically powerful species in the universe, would you take it away by TARDIS and conceal it in a barn within a boy’s walking distance of a Gallifreyan city?

If The Moment is a bomb, it must be Gallifrey and if The Moment is a directed weapon it must not be Gallifrey.  From everything we see in Day of the Doctor, The Moment is a directed weapon.  It is not remotely logical that the barn is on Gallifrey.


In Listen, this barn is undeniably an integral part of the Doctor’s childhood.  From both the dialogue and the script, this is the exact same barn as in Day of the Doctor.

Is it feasible that the Doctor lived on another world for some or all of his childhood?

While not expressly impossible, it doesn’t fit with any previous information we’ve received about Gallifrey in the series’ past.  Gallifreyans are strict isolationists (That exact word has been used.)  In their later, post-Rassilon days, they have withdrawn to their world and left the universe alone, save for the occasional dubious activities of the Celestial Intervention Agency (CIA.)

It doesn’t really fit into that model that a group of (apparently ordinary) boys would be living off world.  I say “apparently ordinary” because there’s no hint of destiny to them – the man is expecting the young Doctor to want to go into the army – generally the destination of the more plebeian members of society.

We’ve seen that the Time Lords are a class and caste driven society, at least in some fashion, with the Prydonian Time Lords at the top of pecking order.  It seems unlikely that those lower than the Time Lords would be the freedom to roam that the Time Lords are not.

I suspect that it’s not so much like Simon’s comparison to North Korea, but rather to Shangri-La, a fictional place where the peoples are so elevated that they maintain no interface with the outside world by choice.  Outlier personalities like the Doctor rarely achieve access to the TARDIS technology to allow them to leave and the others have no need or desire to leave.

Therefore the Doctor would have spent his childhood on Gallifrey and the barn, despite its appearance in Day of the Doctor, is apparently within the walking or running distance of a small, scared boy on a nightly basis.

In this case, Occam’s Razor tells use that the simplest conclusion, with the least amount of new assumptions is that the barn is on Gallifrey.

And yet it can’t be.  Gallifrey is time looped and/or lost in another universe, inaccessible to the TARDIS, even with the safeties off.

So here’s what the problem is, we’re attempting to impose rationale continuity to a fictional universe.

Continuity is meaningless in Doctor Who.  Once the Time Lords were massively powerful but completely disinterested, yet somehow they couldn’t find the Doctor until he called them.  (War Games)

During Pertwee’s reign, we learned of the Doctor’s childhood and his friendship with the Hermit who taught him many things that he didn’t learn from his Time Lord training.  Also during this time, we begin to learn that the Time Lords do meddle, but never interact directly, yet they are still massively powerful beings.

During Tom Baker’s time, we learn that, rather than all-powerful beings, the Time Lords (apart from the CIA) are a comical, fatuous, wastrel of a society.  Inflated by its on pomp and circumstance and completely out-of-touch and isolated from the universe.

The degradation of the Time Lords continued…  They themselves have never had any meaningful continuity.  They have been what they need to be at the whim of writers and script editors since the very beginning.

We can’t expect continuity now – or ever.

But, here’s the problem — you can’t tell a coherent story without continuity.  We will always continue to expect continuity in series because, if continuity can be changed from era-to-era, why not year-to-year, episode-to-episode or scene-to-scene?

In Day of the Doctor, it is only logical that the barn is on some remote other world.

In Listen, it is only logical that the barn in on Gallifrey, close to the Doctor’s home.

My vote:  The Impossible Barn is actually the Master’s TARDIS.

The Barn That's Not On Gallifrey

The Barn is Not on Gallifrey

I don’t mean there are no barns on Gallifrey, just that the barn – as seen in Day of the Doctor and Listen - is not on Gallifrey.  And when I say it’s not on Gallifrey, I mean it’s probably not on Gallifrey – in the sense that I’m not aware of any evidence it is, there’s reason to suppose it isn’t (but ‘probably’ in the title would have been one word too many, for, er… a catchy post heading). Of course, maybe you never thought it was on Gallifrey – in which case, run along, and I’m sorry for wasting your time.

I didn’t even think the barn might be on Gallifrey until I listened to Ben and Eugene discuss Listen in the podcast. Then I posted a comment, which began an SMS conversation with Eugene about it until my train drifted into that part of Wales that lies beyond mobile coverage, and as I continued to assemble the arguments in my head they’ve expanded beyond the scope of a comment and into a blog post… (With thanks to Eugene for helping me understand the reasons the barn might be on Gallifrey, though any errors in presenting these arguments are certainly mine.)


Why The Barn is Not On Gallifrey

There are two good reasons to suppose the barn is not on Gallifrey.

Sleeping accommodation in The Barn That's Not On Gallifrey
Sleeping accommodation in The Barn That’s Not On Gallifrey
  • The War Doctor brings The Moment to the barn. In some original timeline, the timeline from which the 9th and 10th Doctor’s memories of the Time War derive (and the 11th’s up to Day of the Doctor) the Doctor activates The Moment and wipes out Gallifrey. If he were on Gallifrey, he’d have wiped himself out and wouldn’t have become the last of the Time Lords.
  • Gallifrey was time looped/locked as part of the Time War, and then shoved into a pocket Universe. He can’t go there, so he can’t be on Gallifrey in Listen.

Those are pretty compelling reasons. So fine. The barn is not on Gallifrey.

Yet some people have assumed it is. Why?

Why The Barn Might Be On Gallifrey

Seating in The Barn That's Not On Gallifrey
Seating in The Barn That’s Not On Gallifrey

The Doctor has referred to his childhood on Gallifrey (both in his third and fourth incarnations – in particular K’anpo Rimpoche in Planet of the Spiders was Time Lord and hermit who lived on a Gallifreyan mountain that is stated to be behind the house the Doctor lived in as a boy).

This doesn’t mean that the Doctor we see in Listen is actually on Gallifrey, unless we know he never left the planet during his childhood. We don’t.

Unless there’s some rule that Gallifreyans are not allowed to leave the planet…

We do know the Doctor fled Gallifrey because of the Time Lord’s restrictive laws about interfering in other times and cultures. Did this mean he was confined to the planet? The Doctor stole and time machine and turned his back on their society.  That was not necessarily because he was confined to the planet – it could be the laws of time (in the legal rather than the physical sense) that he wanted to escape. There are certainly laws against ‘interference’ but whether that means interference in history, and in a military sense, is not clear.

Why Gallifrey Was (Probably) Not Behind An Iron Curtain

Clara in The Barn That's Not On Gallifrey
Clara in The Barn That’s Not On Gallifrey

It would certainly be remarkable if the prohibition on ‘interference’ meant Time Lords had to be entirely isolated, having no trade or exchange of knowledge with other races. After all, many many races we’ve seen in Doctor Who rely on space travel for their economic prosperity. Time Lords are supposed to have an advanced civilisation – yet are we to suppose that they have no economic, diplomatic or social relations beyond their own planet? Can a Time Lord not even book a well-earned space cruise when they have their annual leave?

I do not think it should be inferred from the stated restrictions on the use of time travel and interference in other cultures that Time Lord society is a sealed society like North Korea.

But even if this were true… The Doctor we see is not a Time Lord. It is stated clearly that he has aspirations to become a Time Lord. He may be a Gallifreyan, but unless he is a Time Lord, why would he be bound by their rules? Even if – as it apparently is in the Deadly Assassin – it is stated that Time Lords can only leave the planet on authorised research trips – would that restriction apply to their neighbours, who lack the technology of time travel and present the web of time no danger at all?

Occam’s Razor

So – unless I’ve missed something (which I may well have) – the barn is not on Gallifrey.

I mean, it hasn’t been stated on TV it isn’t on Gallifrey. And maybe we’ll come back to it in a later episode, and it will be stated then. But given the inexplicable contradictions that would arise if one supposes it is on Gallifrey, there doesn’t seem to be any good reason to assume it is.

Podcast and reviews from the team at Fusion Patrol

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