Like today’s version, the character of Doctor Who has worn many faces over the centuries and had some of his story’s elements fade or be recycled so often as to be unrecognizable to the casual viewer, while others were added as suited their era of composition.The “Doctor Who” character can be traced back nearly seven hundred years to a French fabliau; these usually anonymously-written and humorously ribald tales were told by minstrels in northeast France between ca. 1150 and 1400 and generally included obscene sexual, scatological and anti-authority story elements. The title-less manuscript in the London Library (cataloged merely as “Manuscript No. 759”) tells the story of Gaul le Frei who is married to giantess. Her genitals are describes as being “larger insyd than out [sic],” allowing le Frei to slip inside her completely if he so desires. When being chased by the king’s guard for poaching on royal hunting grounds, le Frei escapes by “getting into her boxe [sic]” and encouraging her to flee. The king’s men pursue the married couple but the soldiers turn back when the giantess “loosed her bowells’ and droppd her stinking faeces pon their upturnd faces [sic].”. The king then orders the making of several conical hats with brims so wide that they hang down to his soldiers’ toes, to protect them from suffering such indignities. These hats came complete with trumpet-like devices to suction le Frei from his wife’s genitals, but by then the pair has already escaped.
The Gaul le Frei story circulated through translations into a number of European languages and was influential in forming the tall tales told by the historical figure Hieronymus Carl Friedrich Baron von Münchhausen, which gave birth to the fictional character known simply as Baron Munchausen. Some editions collecting the tales of the fictional Munchausen renamed the character as Mediziner Lügenbaron to avoid the wrath of the real Baron; roughly translated, the new German name means “a doctor or baron of lies.” This was the first time the character was referred to as a doctor.
The next step towards the modern day version of the Doctor Who character came in 1883 with a series of pornographic penny dreadful chapbooks published in London under the name "Charles Dickings." The character’s name was again changed, now to Doctor Frikkens. The title of the first of the series, Doctor Frikkens And His Leather Maid, well encapsulates the nature and quality of the publications.
Silent film star Charlie Chaplin acknowledged modeling his onscreen persona after the character and renamed him The Little Scamp, stripping away the ribaldry and droll obscenities to replace them with sentimentality and wacky sight-gags.The penultimate step in Doctor Who’s evolution came in 1953 when the British television writer Nigel Kneale, who was familiar with the character’s literary history, thought to adapt him to television as a sly bawdy joke. Kneale renamed him “Professor Bernard Quatermass”; “Bernard” comes from a Germanic compound Bern-hard meaning "bear-hardy", or "brave as a bear,” while “Quatermass” has its origins from the British no-man's-land known as The Isle Of Men and was once used as a measurement of land from the division of England made by the French, following their conquest of the country under William the Conqueror in 1066. The “new” character Professor Quatermass enjoyed much success on British television during the 1950s in a series of short, multi-part serials which set the framework for the classic run of the Doctor Who television programme which began in the early 1960s.
As modern day Doctor Who has continued, the show has strayed somewhat from it’s roots, such as making the Doctor an alien with a time machine instead of a Frenchman who travels about inside his wife’s vagina, but it’s stills exhibits and draws the same obscene and scatological interests it always has.