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Doctor Who Enemies: Sabbath

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Doctor Who Enemies
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Ice Warriors | The Master | Michael Grade | Omega | Ood | The Rani | Raston Warrior Robot
Sabbath | Sil | Silurians and Sea Devils | Slitheen | Sontarans | Time Lords | Zygons

This entry contains spoilers.

Sabbath is a villain introduced in the Eighth Doctor Adventures (EDAs), a series of books published by the BBC between the film for television and the new series of Doctor Who. He appears in a dozen books, plus cameo roles in two earlier novels. He was created by Lawrence Miles and first appeared in Miles's book The Adventuress of Henrietta Street. He recurs frequently, often as a behind-the-scenes manipulator whose schemes the Doctor must unravel.

The Character

Sabbath is a former British Secret Service agent, born in 1740. After graduating from Cambridge University, he became a member of the Secret Service in 1762. This cabbalistic organisation initiated him by wrapping him in thirteen chains and thirteen padlocks and throwing him into the Thames, leaving it to his initiative to survive.

Sabbath is bald and heavily built. He has used his knowledge of ritualism to gain the power to travel through time. Although not actually evil, his agenda is radically different to the Doctor's, and when their paths cross they are frequently at odds. Sabbath is interested in the preservation and protection of the British Empire, and by extension the dominance of humanity in all time zones. In later meetings with the Doctor, Sabbath has been taken into the employ of a mysterious group who have convinced him (incorrectly) that they are working for the benefit of mankind.

Sabbath's employers are working to destroy history itself. It is implied that the Time Lords formerly guarded history against this type of attack, but with their destruction in the EDA The Ancestor Cell, reality has become much more mutable. This theme was taken up again in the new series TV adventure Father's Day.

Sabbath travels in an iron warship, the Jonah, crewed by alien creatures known as babewyn or baboons. Like the Master, Sabbath has a habit of using disguises and alternate versions of his name (such as Sunday) to keep his presence secret.

Relationship with the Doctor

Although often portrayed as an outright villain, Sabbath is neither evil nor implaccably opposed to the Doctor. It becomes clear that he is in the employ of certain anonymous masters, who have promised to fulfil his desires for humanity if he fulfils their tasks, which further feeds into the idea of Sabbath as an all-purpose mischief-maker.

Sabbath saves the Doctor's life during their first encounter by removing one of the Time Lord's hearts1 and implanting it into his own chest in an attempt to gain mastery over time. This has the unforeseen consequence of making the Doctor unkillable until he regains his heart in Camera Obscura.

Sabbath is responsible for fracturing the timelines of the universe in the novel Time Zero, restoring them in Timeless, and dying in an act of noble self-sacrifice to disrupt his former masters' plans in Sometime Never.

The character is also used in Miles's spin-off Faction Paradox Protocols audio series, where he is played by Saul Jaffe, and in the two issues of the abortive Faction Paradox comic-book series which gives the only visual representation of the character to date. More detail on Sabbath's discovery of his ritualistic abilities is given in the audio Sabbath Dei. The character Godfather Sabbath, who also appears in some CDs in this series, does not appear to be connected to Sabbath.

Critical Assessment

The initial appearance of Sabbath is one of the highlights of the EDA range. However, many of the subsequent appearances of the character are below par, and he is often used as a kind of substitute Master. In books such as Camera Obscura, he is once again back to his best. The build-up of mystery surrounding his 'employers' is well handled, but when they are finally revealed they are rather limp. Sabbath's sacrifice of himself to defeat them is nicely done and a fitting exit for a remarkable character, whose potential career was curtailed by the sudden announcement of the new series of TV adventures and the ending of the EDA range.

1Which was diseased and killing the Doctor.

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