This week’s Scottish-flavoured episode of Doctor Who The Eaters of Light takes an unexpected dive into the intricacies of a little-explained part of Doctor Who lore, with companion Bill (Pearl Mackie) discovering that she can communicate with Latin-speaking Romans thanks to the translation circuit in the Doctor’s Tardis. Described by the Ninth Doctor as a "gift of the Tardis, a telepathic field that gets inside your brain — translates” in 2005 episode The End of the World, the translation circuit has existed in the series for years as a handy shortcut for explaining why all aliens and historical peoples visited by the Tardis team appear to speak in English. As Bill notes in this week’s episode, it even lip-syncs (the first time in the series this has been acknowledged), matching people’s mouth movements to the English equivalent of whatever they’re saying in their own language. But over the years the translation circuit has been referenced and explained in various different ways. The first mention came in 1976 episode The Masque of Mandragora, when Tom Baker’s Fourth Doctor described the translation to companion Sarah-Jane Smith (Elisabeth Sladen) as a “gift of the Time Lord” that he allowed her to share. […]

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