Meddling Monk

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Peter Butterworth

The Meddling Monk, or simply The Monk, was a fictional character in the British science fiction television series Doctor Who. He was played by the British comic actor Peter Butterworth. The character appeared in two stories (The Time Meddler and The Daleks' Master Plan, written and co-written respectively by Dennis Spooner) as an adversary of the First Doctor.

Other than the Doctor and Susan, the Monk was the first member of the Doctor's race to appear in the programme, and the second Doctor Who villain (after the Daleks) to make a return appearance.

The Monk was the possessor of a stolen Mark IV TARDIS – superior to the Doctor's and with a fully functioning chameleon circuit – and said he left the Doctor's then-unnamed home planet some fifty years after the Doctor did—which could indicate that he was a Time Lord, although it was never stated at the time since the concept of the Doctor's race had not yet been devised.

He liked to meddle in history and to change it for his own amusement and for what he considered to be the better — lending mechanical assistance to the builders of Stonehenge; giving Leonardo da Vinci tips on aircraft design; making money by using time travel to exploit compound interest; and, when the Doctor first encountered him, attempting to prevent the Norman Conquest as part of a plan to guide England into an early age of technological prosperity. On that occasion he wore the guise of a monk in order to gain the trust of the 11th-century locals of Northumbria, hence the name by which he is most often known. (His actual name was never revealed in the series.)

The Doctor stranded the Monk in the 11th century by stealing his TARDIS's dimensional controller, which reduced the interior dimensions of the time machine to minuscule size. The Monk eventually restored his ship and tracked the Doctor to a volcanic planet, where he attempted to maroon his enemy by destroying the Doctor's TARDIS's lock. However, the Doctor managed to repair it and next materialised in Egypt, with the Monk still following him. While there, the two encountered the Daleks, and the Doctor stole the directional unit from the Monk's TARDIS (later destroying it when he tried to use it in his own ship, as it was incompatible), causing the Monk to lose control over his TARDIS's navigation. The two never met on screen again, the Monk being last seen marooned once more, this time on a desolate icy planet.

Unlike the Doctor's other Time Lord adversaries, such as the Master, the Monk was presented as a comic figure: a fairly well-meaning but childish man who was not half as clever as he thought he was, and who never seemed to realise the seriousness of what he was doing. The fact that his plans always failed to come to fruition, at least on screen, also helped maintain the comic tone, disguising how dangerous a person like the Monk could really be.

Other appearances

For some time, there was speculation among fans that the Monk was actually an earlier regeneration of the Master (see also the War Chief), propagated mainly by the 1980s Doctor Who roleplaying game published by FASA. However, this theory has not been as widespread in recent years, and was contradicted by the statement that the Doctor and the Monk had not met previously, whereas it is known that the Master and the Doctor knew each other before leaving Gallifrey, as well as in the spin-off novels.

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