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Jelly babies were an English sweet favoured by the Doctor, his fourth incarnation in particular. The Doctor often offered them to companions and others he met on his travels. Jelly babies were in the shape of a miniature humanoid child. They were made out of gelatin and were available in a variety of colours and flavours including chocolate. (City of the Daleks) Colours included green, orange, black, pink (Utopia) and red. (Scaredy Cat)
The Eighth Doctor claimed that chewing them helped him to concentrate, as, he noted, “the tensile strength of a jelly baby offers the perfect resistance.” (World of Damnation)
At one point, the company that made jelly babies decided to discontinue production of the pink jelly babies, unaware that it was a favourite colour of their customers. The company began to lose profits and eventually went bankrupt. (Utopia)
Appearances and mentions
The Second Doctor ate jelly babies from a bag while waiting in a travel capsule. (The Dominators) He also offered a jelly baby to Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart while in the TARDIS. (The Three Doctors) When cornered by a Yeti and hunting through his pocket for a firework, he withdrew a bag of jelly babies. (The Five Doctors) He had a bag of jelly babies in his pocket when he visited Mars with Jamie and Zoe. (Lords of the Red Planet)
Jo Grant once found jelly babies in the Third Doctor’s pockets. (Ghost in the Machine)
The Fourth Doctor offered Sarah Jane Smith and Harry Sullivan jelly babies, before taking them off on their adventures. They both accepted. (TV: Robot) The Doctor offered round a bag of jelly babies while aboard Space Station Nerva, shortly making an analogy to Wirrn eating up humanity, should they win. The Doctor later threw a bag of jelly babies to Vira as Sarah Jane, Harry and he were about to beam down to Earth via the transmat. (The Ark in Space) After the Doctor was neutralised by the Cybermen, Kellman searched through his pockets and found a packet of jelly babies. (Revenge of the Cybermen) He offered one to Leela of the Sevateem tribe upon their first meeting, leading her to think he ate babies. He also bluffed the Sevateem by threatening one of the tribe with a “deadly jelly baby”. (The Face of Evil)
The Doctor pondered whether a market world sold jelly babies. (Death-Dealer) When emptying his pockets for Magnus Greel, one of the things the Doctor placed on the table was his bag of jelly babies. He began eating them. The Doctor offered one to Greel, but was refused. (The Talons of Weng-Chiang) The Doctor offered round a bag of jelly babies while on the sandminer; they were slapped out of his hands by an imposter working there. To this, he replied, saying, “A simple no thank you would have been sufficient”. (The Robots of Death) The Doctor gave Ted Moss a jelly baby. While investigating the Fendahl on Earth he offered the skull dubbed “Eustace” a jelly baby, in jest. (Image of the Fendahl) The Doctor told Cordo that instead of ending his life, he needed a jelly baby. When Cordo tried to take the sweet he offered, the Doctor grabbed his hand through the bag and Leela knocked him down. While in the Correction Centre on Pluto, the Doctor offered the workers jelly babies, telling them they were in his jacket pocket. After he was freed, he left the bag with Bisham, another prisoner. This was later a clue Leela used to find him. (The Sun Makers)
Upon arriving on Gallifrey, the Doctor declared that the Chancellery Guard were not worthy to guard a jelly baby. He then offered Andred one, which was declined. Upon returning to his TARDIS to, apparently, retrieve another bag of jelly babies, the Doctor was confronted by Chancellery Guard Andred. After explaining what the jelly babies were, the Doctor simultaneously ate one while Andred ate another. He then gave the bag to Andred, saying to beware a “certain someone” because he didn’t approve of the delicious sweet. While Lord President, the Doctor asked Castellan Kelner to remove a jelly baby from his pocket for him. He asked it be orange, his preference. However, once he heard that there weren’t any orange jelly babies, the Doctor slammed the bag to the table. (The Invasion of Time)
The Doctor offered jelly babies to James T. Kirk, Spock, Leonard McCoy and Montgomery Scott. Spock pronounced them “fascinating.” (Assimilation²) The Doctor offered Fenella Wibbsey a jelly baby, telling her to take two as they were nutritious. (The Relics of Time) Romana I offered a bag of jelly babies around while she and the Doctor were on Zanak. He used them twice to lure a guard away from a vehicle; the second time was not effective. (TV: The Pirate Planet) The Doctor interrupted the game of rock-paper-scissors he was playing with Romana II by placing a jelly baby in her hand, showing illogical moves can sometimes help. The Doctor offered a jelly baby to Davros, which was slapped out of his hand. (Destiny of the Daleks)
While in the Eden projection, the Doctor ate some jelly babies. (Nightmare of Eden) He also gave a green one missing a leg to Bernice Summerfield, who was tracking the Key to Time. (Time & Time Again) The Doctor offered some jelly babies to the Anethans aboard a Skonnan freighter. After Romana showed them they were not poisonous, they accepted. (The Horns of Nimon) The Iron Legion invaded a British town in which the Doctor happened to be at a shop, stocking up on jelly babies. (Doctor Who and the Iron Legion)
The Fifth Doctor gave some Tibetan Sherpas a bag of jelly babies in exchange for the use of their yaks and cart to move his TARDIS. (AUDIO: The Roof of the World)
In a confused condition brought on by attacks upon his second incarnation, the Sixth Doctor made random references to his previous lives and “the tensile strength of jelly babies”. (The Two Doctors) On Ravolox, Drathro’s minions, Humker and Tandrell, discovered a bag of jelly babies in the Doctor’s coat as they frisked him. He quickly snatched the bag back, before wordlessly offering them each one. (The Mysterious Planet)
The Seventh Doctor enjoyed a snack of jelly babies from a bowl while reading The Time Machine, just before the events that led to his regeneration, making it the last thing he ate. After appearing to die in a San Francisco hospital, his belongings ended up in the possession of a youth named Chang Lee. Amongst those possessions was a bag of jelly babies. (TV Movie)
The Eighth Doctor produced a bag of jelly babies to distract a police officer, and then disarmed him. He also used a jelly baby to confuse a security guard named Gareth at the Institute for Technological Advancement and Research. The Master also saw an image of the Doctor eating a jelly baby. (TV Movie) The Eighth Doctor also searched for jelly babies in the markets of Hyspero. (The Scarlet Empress) Whilst living on Earth in the town on Greyfrith, he often bought jelly babies by the pound. (Father Time) Fitz once told a tale of when the Doctor went missing for days, having gone searching for the “perfect jelly baby”. (The City of the Dead) On Endarra, he offered a jelly baby to Galayana, stating that he had a preference for the red ones. (Scaredy Cat)
The Tenth Doctor gave Donna Noble a bag to breathe into when she began hyperventilating; she commented that it smelled of jelly babies. (The Forever Trap) When shopping for some Brainy Crisps to conduct an investigation, the Doctor was able to ignore a lot of the sweets but gave the jelly babies a longing glance. (Code of the Krillitanes)
While trying to stabilise into his namesake’s form and personality, a Ganger duplicate of the Eleventh Doctor rapidly fluctuated through the earlier incarnations and asked the real Doctor if he would like a jelly baby, in the voice of the Fourth Doctor while holding out his hand as if holding a bag of them. He then mixed the sentences together and said, “I’ve reversed the jelly baby of the neutron flow.” (The Almost People) When the First Doctor’s companions Ian Chesterton and Barbara Wright did not recognise his eleventh incarnation as the Doctor, he told them to “Think lapels! Think monocles! Think jelly babies!”, before realising they became associated with the Doctor after Ian and Barbara’s time with the Doctor’s first incarnation. (Hunters of the Burning Stone) The Eleventh Doctor found jelly babies from “the late 70’s” in a room of his TARDIS dating back to his fourth incarnation and offered them to Alice Obiefune, Abslom Daak and River Song. (The One)
When investigating the deaths occurring aboard the Orient Express in space, the Twelfth Doctor approached Professor Moorhouse regarding the myth of the Foretold and exchanged information with him. During their conversation, he took out a cigarette case full of jelly babies from his coat, offering one to the professor. (Mummy on the Orient Express)
While on Floor 0507 of the Mondasian colony ship, he offered Alit, a child assisting him and Bill, a jelly baby from a paper bag in his coat. (The Doctor Falls)
Bernice Summerfield went to find a segment of the Key to Time, disguised as a jelly baby, which the Fourth Doctor happened to have. To this end, she met him while fending off Mandrels in the section of Eden taken by the Continuous Event Transmuter. (Time & Time Again)
The Master enjoyed a bag of jelly babies with his wife onboard the Valiant while waiting for the Toclafane invasion. (The Sound of Drums)
When disguised as the Fourth Doctor, Affinity offered the Twelfth Doctor a Worthington’s Superior Peppermint. (Silhouette)
Behind the scenes
Jelly Babies are a real-world product sold under that name since 1953 (existing long before their association with Doctor Who), and under other names many years before that. They are similar to gummi candies.
On a number of occasions, the Fourth Doctor offered “jelly babies” when in fact he was holding another kind of sweet, such as liquorice allsorts. (The Sun Makers, Image of the Fendahl)
On Tom Baker’s official website, an overview of Tom Baker’s tenure as the Fourth Doctor by writer Nicholas Pegg claimed that the original script of The Face of Evil involved the Fourth Doctor threatening the tribesmen with a knife. Feeling that such an act was not appropriate, he insisted that the Doctor bluff his way out with a jelly baby instead.
In the United States, jelly babies had a low profile as a confectionery product. When Pinnacle Books published Doctor Who novelisations in new packaging, the editorial changes made by them included changing jelly babies to jelly beans, for fear of confusing American readers. Later, when the series had a great deal more popularity, many Americans simply associated jelly babies with Doctor Who and with the Doctor as played by Tom Baker. Under license from the BBC, one company sold jelly babies in packaging resembling the Doctor’s TARDIS, advertising them as “the Cosmic Candy of the Time Lords”.
The Inside the TARDIS featurette on the UK DVD of the tele-movie Doctor Who includes a closeup view of the bowl of jelly babies enjoyed by the Seventh Doctor at the start of the movie.
Jelly babies appear as collectible cards in The Adventure Games.