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Although he is most prominently known in history as the Prime Minister who led Britain against Hitler’s forces during the Second World War, Winston Churchill was also a close friend of at least three Doctors, providing them with aid and assistance in various adventures and forming a close friendship with them despite some potential personality clashes. Born the son of a cabinet minister, Churchill began his life in the military, but his initial attempt at a political career failed, resulting in him taking on a new job as war correspondent for the Daily Mail during the Boer War.
When forced to take command of an effort to move a train after it had been knocked off the railway by a bomb, Churchill encountered the Sixth Doctor and Peri Brown, the two having landed in Africa by accident while trying to travel to London in the same era. Although The Doctor and Churchill were able to effectively coordinate the effort to move the train back onto its tracks – The Doctor and Peri also thwarting an attempt by The Players, powerful beings who manipulated history for their own amusement, to assassinate Churchill just to see what would happen to history without him -, they were both subsequently captured and locked in a Boer prison. Fortunately, another faction of Players provided Churchill with the means to escape, while The Doctor and Peri were able to reacquire the TARDIS – which had been taken into the prison storage for later examination – and escape after triggering an explosion in the ammunition shed to distract the guards.
During the public acclaim he received after his heroic escape, Churchill returned to the military for the duration of the Boer War, later returning to politics and rising to become First Lord of the Admirality by the beginning of the First World War. However, a political scandal after the failure of his attempt to attack Turkey via the Dardanelles prompted Churchill to return to the field, rejoining his old regiment and returning to France as a Major. During an ambush staged by another group of Players, Churchill was rescued by the Second Doctor and his friends Lieutenant Jeremy Carstairs and Lady Jennifer Buckingham; having recently thwarted the War Games arranged by his old friend the War Chief, The Doctor had asked to see for himself that some of his friends from the Games had been returned to their proper places in time before doing some work for the Time Lords. When they were subsequently captured by the Players known as the Count and Countess, who planned to send Churchill to Germany (Although they were unconcerned about whether the Kaiser intended to kill Churchill or claim that he had defected), The Doctor apparently sacrificed himself to hold the Count at gunpoint while Churchill, Carstairs and Lady Jennifer stole the plane that they had been planning to use to take Churchill to Germany and returned home. Churchill served in the trenches for a year before returning to Parliament, feeling that he had been redeemed in his eyes for his old failure, recognising that he could play a better role to aid the war effort in government.
By 1936, Churchill’s career, despite having held several prestigious posts in Parliament, was in decline due to his opposition to the policy of appeasement practised by most of his peers, with only a few close friends such as the now-Colonel Jeremy Carstairs recognising that his fears about Hitler’s plans were correct. During this time, Churchill was reunited with the Sixth Doctor and Peri as they investigated the Players’ continued interference – the two posing as their own descendents to account for the fact that they hadn’t aged since meeting Churchill in Africa -, Churchill introducing them to the future King Edward and his American mistress Wallis Simpson. While spending time with Churchill, The Doctor and Peri discovered a German conspiracy to allow Edward to take the throne and dismiss the government in favour of a new cabinet that would be more sympathetic to Hitler’s policies, Churchill helping them dismantle the conspiracy by tricking Edward into incriminating his treasonous plans after Peri acquired a list of those involved in the conspiracy.
From The Doctor’s perspective, his next meeting with Churchill occurred in 1944 (“The Shadow in the Glass”), when he asked for his friend’s help in sneaking him into France to infiltrate a planned German raid on the English village of Turrelhampton; an alien ship had crash-landed there a few months prior and The Doctor was attempting to determine how The Fourth Reich that he was facing in 2001 would acquire certain items from the ship. Although The Doctor was naturally only able to provide Churchill with a limited amount of information about what he was attempting to accomplish, Churchill and his cabinet were able to plant forged documents in Germany’s records for The Doctor’s alias of Major General Johann Schmidt of the Berlin Fifth Medical Corps, The Doctor sabotaging the raid while allowing the Nazis to recover the items that he knew they would possess in the future.
However, it would appear that later Doctors met Churchill on at least two occasions between 1936 and 1944, the first of these meetings resulting in Churchill learning the truth about The Doctor’s nature as a time-traveller who was able to change his appearance (He subsequently expressed a constant interest in acquiring the TARDIS to use as a weapon in the war against Hitler, although he always accepted The Doctor’s refusal and never appeared to hold it against him).
On the second occasion, he asked for The Doctor’s advice regarding a new weapon developed by the genius Professor Bracewell, which Bracewell referred to as his ‘Ironsides’, robots equipped with powerful weapons (“Victory Of The Daleks”). However, the Eleventh Doctor swiftly identified the Ironsides as Daleks, realising that Bracewell was a robot that the Daleks had created; the entire scenario was set up to lure in The Doctor so that the Daleks could trick him into activating the ‘Progenitor Device’, which would allow them to recreate their virtually-extinct species from new DNA (The Daleks couldn’t do it themselves as they registered as being ‘impure’ after they were created from Davros’s cells (“The Stolen Earth/Journey’s End”), but the device responded to them after the ‘testimony’ of The Doctor, the Daleks’ greatest enemy, confirmed their identity as Daleks). While The Doctor confronted the Dalek ship, Churchill and Amy Pond were able to convince Bracewell – shaken at the discovery of his true identity – to help them modify fighter planes to confront the Dalek ship in the upper atmosphere, although The Doctor was forced to allow the Daleks to escape when they threatened to detonate Bracewell.
Although he did not meet The Doctor personally, Churchill helped The Doctor discover a trap that his greatest enemies were preparing for him when he came into possession of one of the last paintings of Vincent Van Gogh, another friend of The Doctor’s (“Vincent and the Doctor”), which depicted the TARDIS exploding, Churchill’s subsequent attempt to call The Doctor being diverted to River Song when The Doctor didn’t answer his phone, allowing River to recover the painting in the future and take it to Earth, where The Doctor deciphered coordinates written on the TARDIS door in the painting to help him track down the trap’s location (“The Pandorica Opens/The Big Bang”).
In a reality where time was fractured so that all of history was happening at once, Churchill was the Holy Roman Emperor of Earth, questioning The Doctor – now the captured ‘soothsayer’ – to learn what had happened to history. Although The Doctor was able to explain that the damage to time was caused by an attempt to avert the fixed point that was his death, his demise being apparently ‘necessary’ to prevent him from answering the question that would reveal a great secret, Churchill was prevented from responding to this turn of events when The Silence – a mysterious race who people forgot about as soon as they stopped looking At them – attempted to attack him and The Doctor, only to be driven off by Amy Pond and her assembled forces, The Doctor later managing to put history back on track by faking his death (The Wedding of River Song”).
Although The Doctor and Winston Churchill have experienced the occasional personality clashes that one would expect from two such strong-willed individuals working together, their goals have generally been aligned and they have shown a great deal of trust and respect for each other’s abilities, making Churchill a worthy and willing ally to The Doctor when he needs him.