Legend has it that back in 1976 when The Deadly Assassin first aired, it was hated by committed Doctor Who fans who’d grown up on the myths laid out from The War Games onwards about the Olympian nature of the Time Lords and the bare snippets parceled out elsewhere. Then Robert Holmes upended everything and made the Timelords into the “dusty old senators” as described in School Reunion. In the many years since then the reputation for The Deadly Assassin has been largely not only restored but is regularly regarded as one of the best in the whole of the canon.
But this fan didn’t see The Deadly Assassin until the early 80’s and wasn’t encumbered by all of that history and loved it from the jump. But as time passes and your investiture in Doctor Who deepens you can appreciate that history, but as a fan that history is your own unique history and no one else’s.
This is a convoluted way of approaching The Timeless Children. Part of the reason the Tour loves The Deadly Assassin as we do is for the ‘strictures’ that were laid down with regard to Timelords and regeneration itself, one which the series has paid attention to, when needed, ever since. But Doctor Who History is an enormous blackboard, and is quite capable of erasure when needed.
Blogtor Who (a site the Tour likes) put it better than we ever could about the malleability requisite to keep things canonical. Many things were canonical until they weren’t anymore, and now that includes some of what made us love that Tom Baker story all those years ago. The faces from The Brain of Morbius are all in now along with the ‘Ruth’ Doctor and the depths of multiple lives heretofore unknown to us.
That it all makes sense in The Timeless Children is something of a minor miracle in itself, but we can’t help feeling we’re on the other side of the equation from where we were back in the early 80’s. Then again there are doubtless many for whom this will be their foundational story going forward.