King James 1
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James I of England, known in Scotland as James VI, succeeded Elizabeth I in 1603 and continued her Protestant reforms. According to the Eighth Doctor, his accent was so thick, members of his new English court required a translator. A close advisor to the new king was William Lethbridge-Stewart, an ancestor of Alistair Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart. (The Dying Days, Birthright).
An influential version of the Bible was ordered by him, and eventually bore his name. The First Doctor and Vicki Pallister once passed by the room where the translators were busy working on what would become the King James Bible. According to Barbara Wright, James’ rule was characterised by relative religious tolerance. Though a staunch Protestant, he discouraged persecution of Catholics. Barbara claimed that he realised that “to govern well it made sense to unify people rather than drive them apart.”
For a brief time, the TARDIS came into James’ possession, but he was mostly annoyed by it, calling it a “wooden puzzle box” because he and his courtiers could not gain entrance to it. In the end, he entreated the Doctor to perform an exorcism upon it, just to ensure it was not possessed of evil spirits. The Doctor agreed, and performed an elaborate ceremony at the Guildhall in London. During the middle of this ceremony, eagerly attended by James, the Doctor and his three companions entered the TARDIS and dematerialised. (The Plotters)
In 1609, James attended one of William Shakespeare’s plays at the Globe Theatre. Shakespeare, having returned from Venice, attempted to inform James about wild alien technologies he had discovered. The First Doctor and Vicki, however, distracted the King by performing the play on the stage while Shakespeare was stopped. (The Empire of Glass)
At some point in the during his rule, James visited Bilehurst Cragg to witness the witch hunts lead by Becca Savage. There, he met the Thirteenth Doctor and her companions, Ryan Sinclair, Graham O’Brien and Yasmin Khan. He immediately took a liking to Ryan, granting him a pendant to word off evils, and became suspicious of the Doctor. After one of his men was killed by the Morax, he began to believe she was actually a witch and, at Savage’s suggestions, had her tried by drowning. However, she escaped her bindings and revealed Becca’s possession, who kidnapped James to be possessed by their king. Saved by the Doctor, her companions and Willa Twiston, he killed Savage and the Morax Queen inside her by lighting it on fire; an action that angered the Doctor. Before they left, he asked for Ryan to accompany him back to London and become his personal guard, though he was politely refused and given back his pendant. (The Witchfinders)
Upon his death in 1625, he was succeeded by his son Charles I, who ruled England, Ireland and Scotland until his execution on 30 January 1649. (The Roundheads) More than sixty years after his death, his grandson James II was overthrown in the Glorious Revolution in November 1688. (The Glorious Revolution)
Behind the scenes
In the real world, there’s some question as to whether the title James I of the United Kingdom would be appropriate, since the United Kingdom was not technically formed until 1707, almost 82 years after James’ death. He is most often styled, James I of England and James VI of Scotland. However, the Eighth Doctor specifically calls him James I of the United Kingdom in The Dying Days. However, due to it being the Doctor calling him that, because he has access to all time/space knowledge, the usage of the title is vague.
According to The Brilliant Book 2012, a book that contains non-narrative based information, James encountered the Eleventh Doctor’s companions, Amy Pond and Rory Williams, on their honeymoon in 1605. Because the Tenth Doctor had taken the virginity of his cousin and predecessor Elizabeth I, he tried to have them arrested and thrown in the Tower of London after Rory told him of their friendship with the Doctor.
He was portrayed by Alfred Lynch in Churchill’s People, Bill Paterson in Life of Shakespeare, Hugh Ross in God’s Frontiersmen, Jonathan Pryce in The New World and Derek Riddell in Gunpowder.