Monthly Archives: October 2013

Day 31 of 50th Anniversary Countdown – It’s Wholloween (or The Chase, Episode 4)

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Day 32 of 50th Anniversary Countdown – Top 3 Male Companions of the Sixties

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Yesterday the Doctor Who Mind Robber listed our Top 3 Female Companions of the Sixties. Although fewer in number than their women counterparts, today we examine our Top 3 Male Companions of the Sixties.

3. STEVEN TAYLOR

Not unlike his fellow companion Vicki who was number 3 in our list of the Top 3 Female Companions  of the Sixties, Steven joined the Doctor in a traumatized state. Portrayed by Peter Purves, Steven was an astronaut which had been held captive by the Mechonoids for two years.  As the sole human on the planet Mechanus, his only companion was a stuffed Panda named Hi-Fi. In the Doctor Who Mind Robber’s review of Steven’s first complete serial, The Time Meddler, we described his introduction to the TARDIS Crew in the following way:

Steven, Vicki and Hi-Fi in The Time Meddler

Steven, Vicki and Hi-Fi in The Time Meddler

 

After assisting the Doctor, Ian, Barbara and Vicki to escape the Mechonoid City in The Chase, Steven had returned to the City to retrieve Hi Fi just as the Daleks destroyed it. It was great dismay, therefore, that the Doctor and Vicki were confronted by Steven as he stumbled into the TARDIS control room before collapsing to the floor. The TARDIS had just materialized in 11th Century England however Steven had stowed away in the ship, presumably whilst Vicki and the Doctor were saying their goodbyes to Ian and Barbara on Mechanus.  Suffering ill effects from the Dalek blast, Steven assumed that he must have been delirious when he chased after the crew and eventually found the ship.

Astronaut Steven Taylor as we first met him in The Chase

Astronaut Steven Taylor as we first met him in The Chase

The spaceship pilot who had spent two years as a prisoner of the Mechonoids was now the Doctor’s latest companion.  Notwithstanding his experience with space craft, Steven has clearly not seen a machine as magical as the TARDIS before.  He doesn’t believe it is a time-machine or that they’ve landed in the 11th Century.  The TARDIS’s inability to blend into its surroundings, as it was constructed to do, together with the discovery of a modern wrist watch, compounds Steven’s disbelief.  Prone to speak his mind, Steven is openly dismissive of Vicki’s assertions about the ship’s capabilities and earns a quick rebuke from the Doctor for calling him “Doc”.  Quickly recovering from  a state of deep sleep or unconsciousness, Steven shows no ill effects from his previous deprivations on the planet Mechanus.  It would not be unfair to assume that a person who had gone two years without human companionship, and has an overt attachment to a stuffed toy, may be suffering some form of psychological distress. Not unlike Vicki, who rapidly regained equilibrium following her trauma on the planet Dido, Steven is promptly able to put the past behind him, leave the panda on a chair, and embrace a new life of adventure with the Doctor.

Peter Purves first appeared in Doctor Who as Morton Dill, the dim witted hick from Alabama in The Chase.  Here Dill investigates a Dalek on the Empire State Building

Peter Purves first appeared in Doctor Who as Morton Dill, the dim witted hick from Alabama in The Chase. Here Dill investigates a Dalek on the Empire State Building

Steven accompanied the Doctor on his journeys from the final serial of Season 2 until the penultimate Season 3 story, The Savages. In the intervening period he assisted the Doctor battle the evil but beautiful Drahvins in Galaxy 4 and the Daleks in the 12 part The Daleks’ Master Plan.  Steven travelled to ancient Troy where he and the Doctor farewelled Vicki, and to 1572 France where he was the Doctor’s sole companion during the massacre of French protestants.  He and Dodo were compelled to play the Celestial Toymaker’s puerile games to retrieve the TARDIS in The Celestial Toymaker and were confronted by the Monoids in The Ark. Steven’s penultimate adventure was to the American Mid-West where he surprised all by being able to sing and barely escaped a lynching.  His departure in The Savages was less than adequate. Having negotiated peace between the Guardians and the Monoids , the Doctor, much to Steven’s dismay,  volunteered  him to remain on the planet and facilitate the transformation to a fair and just society. Although initially hesitant, Steven quickly accepted the challenge and the Doctor and Dodo departed in the TARDIS. So ended Steven’s 12 month tenure as a companion.

Steven with the body of the Abbot of Amboise in The Massacre

Steven with the body of the Abbot of Amboise in The Massacre

2. IAN CHESTERTON

Ian Chesterton was one half of the “Ian and Barbara” duo who introduced the world to Doctor Who. A science teacher at Coal Hill School, he shared a concern with history teacher Barbara Wright about their 15 year old student, Susan Foreman.

After being kidnapped by the Doctor when he and Barbara entered the TARDIS looking for Susan, Ian’s initial relationship with the Doctor was tense and combative. His relations with the self-centred Doctor remained strained  until the Fourth serial, Marco Polo. Included in Doctor Who as both a point of identification for the audience and as a “man of action” for the more elderly and sedate Doctor, Ian remained with the TARDIS crew until the penultimate serial of Season 2, The Chase. During his two year tenure showed himself to be both intelligent and compassionate.  He had  penchant for wearing cardigans and was knocked unconscious more times than any other companion in the history of Doctor Who. Ian was knighted as Sir Ian of Jaffa by King Richard 1 of England in The Crusade.

Sir Ian of Jaffa is knighted by Richard the Lionheart in The Crusade

Sir Ian of Jaffa is knighted by Richard the Lionheart in The Crusade

It is our intention to provide no more than a cursory examination of Ian in this piece.  A comprehensive analysis of William Russell and his contribution to the history of Doctor Who would require a wordy dissertation, many thousands of words in length.  Instead we will leave you with a photographic essay of Ian.  All images are courtesy of http://thechestertons.tumblr.com.

Ian Chesterton had a fond appreciation for cardigans

Ian Chesterton had a fond appreciation for cardigans

Ian was shrunk to the size of an ant and caught in a matchbox in Planet of Giants

Ian was shrunk to the size of an ant and caught in a matchbox in Planet of Giants

Ian comforts Barbara

Ian comforts Barbara

Ian endeavours to unravel Barbara's cardigan in The Space Museum

Ian endeavours to unravel Barbara’s cardigan in The Space Museum

Ian displays how to paralyse a man with finger pressure only in The Aztecs

Ian displays how to paralyse a man with finger pressure only in The Aztecs

Barbara attends to Ian's hair in The Romans

Barbara attends to Ian’s hair in The Romans

Ian parties

Ian parties

Ian and Barbara embrace on returning to 1965 London in The Chase

Ian and Barbara embrace on returning to 1965 London in The Chase

Ian and Barbara frolic in London during their farewell in The Chase

Ian and Barbara frolic in London during their farewell in The Chase

3. JAMIE McCRIMMON

Jamie was the last male companion to join the Doctor in the Sixties although he made up for his late arrival by holding the record as the longest standing companion in Doctor Who’s history. Appearing in 116 episodes in total, Jamie exceeded the next most proficient companion, Sarah Jane Smith, by 21 episodes. Suffering from chicken pox during episode two of The Mind Robber, Frazer Hines was replaced by Hamish Wilson for that episode and the beginning of the following one. As luck would have it The Mind Robber was set in the land of fiction and Jamie’s change of appearance was quickly scripted to arise from the Doctor incorrectly reconstructing his face after he’d been transformed into a cardboard cut-out. Wilson’s departure and Hines’ return was facilitated by the Doctor correctly reconstructing Jamie’s face, with Zoe’s assistance, after he was again transfigured into a cut-out.

Hamish Wilson played the role of Jamie in episodes two and three of The Mind Robber

Hamish Wilson played the role of Jamie in episodes two and three of The Mind Robber

Jamie joined the Doctor, Ben and Polly in the second serial of the Second Doctor’s tenure, The Highlanders. The last historical in Classic Series Who until the 1982 Fifth Doctor’s adventure, Black Orchard, Frazer Hines’ contract as Jamie was originally to last for only the four weeks of the serial.  Hines’ rapport with the cast quickly saw him offered a full time position in the TARDIS Crew prior to the first episode of The Highlanders being broadcast.

Jamie confronts the Doctor, Ben and Polly in The Highlanders

Jamie confronts the Doctor, Ben and Polly in The Highlanders

James Robert McCrimmon met the Doctor and his companions, Polly and Ben, at the Battle of Culloden in 1746. A young and brave Highlander, the kilted Scot was ignorant of 20th Century technology which prompted an array of startled responses to everyday occurrences.  A plane in The Faceless Ones was a “flying beastie”.  In that serial he also had to ask the Doctor what a passport was, to which the Doctor responded, “Oh, some sort of official mumbo-jumbo”.

The Doctor and Jamie beside a "flying beastie" in The Faceless Ones

The Doctor and Jamie beside a “flying beastie” in The Faceless Ones

In The Evil of the Daleks Jamie was inquisitive about the sound of a train rumbling past.  He had no idea what the noise was and the Doctor described them to him in the simplest manner possible – “Well, it’s a train.  There are carriages and they go on wheels, on rails, and they’re drawn by a steam ..”.   He was unaware of what the Himalayas were in The Abominable Snowmen  and mistook the Doctor in his big fur coat as “a great sort of hairy beastie”.

Jamie mistook the Doctor in his fur jacket for a "hairy beastie" in The Abominable Snowmen

Jamie mistook the Doctor in his fur jacket for a “hairy beastie” in The Abominable Snowmen

In a state of delirium Jamie thought that a Cyberman in The Moonbase  was the Phantom Piper, the McCrimmon clan’s equivalent of the Grim Reaper. When Zoe first met Jamie in The Wheel in Space she was intrigued by his clothing.  She was unable to resist laughing and blurted out to Jamie, “You’re wearing female garments”. Needless to say, he was less than impressed and was quick to advise Zoe that his garb was that of a true Scotsman.  After initially mistaking him for a “kiltie” from Denmark or Scandinavia,  Zoe admitted that pre-century history was not her forte.  Jamie famously responded, “Aye, maybe not but just watch your lip or I’ll put you across my knee and larrup you”.

Polly tends to the ailing Jamie.  Whilst hallucinating  Jamie mistakes a Cyberman for the "Phantom Piper" in The Moonbase

Polly tends to the ailing Jamie. Whilst hallucinating Jamie mistakes a Cyberman for the “Phantom Piper” in The Moonbase

Jamie was also responsible for giving the Doctor his alias of John Smith.  In episode two of The Wheel in Space the Doctor was unconscious.  When asked what his name was by Gemma  Corwyn, Jamie glanced at piece medical apparatus with the words “John Smith & Associates” inscribed on it and replied, “John Smith”. That name has remained the Doctor’s preferred non de plume to this day.

The piece of medical equipment which inspired the now literate Jamie to give the Doctor the alias John Smith (The Wheel in Space)

The piece of medical equipment which inspired the now literate Jamie to give the Doctor the alias John Smith (The Wheel in Space)

Jamie’s naivety allowed him to seamlessly ask the “what’s this, Doctor” questions. One of his favourite phrases was “look at the size of that thing, Doctor”, to which the Doctor would invariably respond by saying, “Yes, Jamie, that is a big one.”Jamie was fiercely protective of the Doctor and the two men had a magnificent rapport.  Frazer Hines and Patrick Troughton were not averse to hamming it up occasionally and on two occasions held hands.  In The Tomb of the Cybermen the Doctor mistook Jamie’s hand for Victoria’s, and in The Dominators they jumped from a small landing hand-in-hand.

The Doctor and Jamie hold hands again in The Dominators

The Doctor and Jamie hold hands again in The Dominators

Jamie’s last fellow companion, Zoe Heriot, was named as our favourite female companion of the Sixties.  The pair’s departure from Doctor Who in the final episode of The War Games was both powerful and melancholy. With his memory wiped of all but his first adventure with the Doctor, Jamie returned to the battlefields of Culloden.  Momentarily dazed, Jamie picked himself off the ground, sword in hand, and with a scream of “Creag an tuire” resumed battle with the enemy.  Frazer Hines reprised his role as Jamie briefly in the 1983 20th Anniversary Special, The Five Doctors, and more substantially as a companion of both the Second and the Sixth Doctors in 1985’s The Two Doctors. 

Jamie with the Second and Sixth Doctors in The Two Doctors

Jamie with the Second and Sixth Doctors in The Two Doctors

Vivien Fleming

©Vivien Fleming, 2013.

The illustration at the top of this post is by tygerbug and is courtesy of deviantART – http://tygerbug.deviantart.com/art/Doctor-Who-Ben-Polly-Jamie-184396442.  No copyright breach is intended.

It’s About Time, It’s About Space

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ImageSo pervasive was the force of American television popular culture on this child of the 1960s that every time I type An Adventure in Space and Time, the forthcoming docudrama on the genesis of Doctor Who,  I have to make a correction that the spell checker never picks up. What error could this be, I hear you ask? Well, for the last 40 odd years a catchy little theme song has been running through my head that goes something like this “It’s about time, it’s about space, about two men in the strangest place …”

Yes, the Sherwood Schwartz created one season science fiction comedy series, It’s About Time, will forever make me type An Adventure in Time and Space. This 1966-1967 CBS show was in production at the same time as Schwartz’s more famous offering, Gilligan’s Island. It’s About Time chronicled the adventures of two astronauts that travelled faster than the speed of light and somehow found their way back to the prehistoric times. Their interactions with the locals were the constant cause of merriment.

The stars of It's About Time Frank Aletter and Jack Mullaney

The stars of It’s About Time Frank Aletter and Jack Mullaney

Having watched the short YouTube clip memories of my Australian childhood came flooding back as I recalled the days when we had only three TV stations.  It wouldn’t have mattered that It’s About Time was filmed in wonderful “Technicolor”, because we still only had black and white TV. Colour transmission didn’t begin in Australia until 1 March 1975. Name an American children’s themed TV show of the Sixties and you can be sure that it was played ad nauseam on one of Australia’s networks.

The clan of cavemen, in wonderful Technicolor, from It's About Time

The clan of cavemen, in wonderful Technicolor, from It’s About Time

I couldn’t help but notice the similarities between episodes two, three and four of An Unearthly Child and It’s About Time. The Cave of Skulls, The Forest of Fear and The Firemaker saw the Doctor and his companions, Ian, Barbara and Susan, caught in pre-historic times and at the mercy of likes of Za, Kal, Hur and Horg. As Season One of Doctor Who was never aired in the US the likelihood of Sherwood Schwartz having seen, let alone heard, about Doctor Who is negligible. Stranger things have happened, though!

The Doctor is at the mercy of cavemen in An Unearthly Child

A monochrome Doctor is at the mercy of cavemen in An Unearthly Child

Vivien Fleming

©Vivien Fleming, 2013.

An Adventure in Space and Time Retro Posters and Interviews Released

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The anticipation for the Doctor Who 50th anniversary docudrama, An Adventure in Space and Time, is growing daily as the BBC drip-feeds publicity stills, posters and interviews for the forthcoming drama. The 90 minute special, which was penned by Doctor Who and Sherlock writer Mark Gatiss, will air on ABC1 in Australia on Sunday 24 November 2013 at 8.45 p.m.

The Radio Times published two retro inspired posters yesterday for what Mark Gatiss has described as his “love-letter to Doctor Who”. The BBC Media Centre has also released a Media Pack for An Adventure in Space and Time which includes an interview with Mark Gatiss, together with press releases and short interviews with the show’s stars – David Bradley (William Hartnell), Jessica Raine (Verity Lambert), Brian Cox (Sydney Newman) and Sacha Dhawan (Waris Hussein).  

An Adventure in Time and Space Retro Poster First Doctor

Vivien Fleming

#SaveTheDay Invitation

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Make your own invite save the day

The BBC Doctor Who Facebook page has created a digital invitation to the 50th Anniversary Special, The Day of the Doctor, which allows you to put your name and face into the opening titles. You can then share it with all your friends. Access to the invitation generator can be found here.

In the meantime you can check out the Doctor Who Mind Robber’s invitation here.

Vivien Fleming

An Adventure in Space and Time to Screen in Australia on 24 November

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The Doctor Who Club of Australia has today reported that An Adventure in Space and Time, the 90 minute drama on the beginnings of Doctor Who, is to screen on ABC1 at 8.45 p.m. on Sunday 24 November 2013. The Mark Gatiss penned docudrama will be broadcast following the repeat of the 50th Anniversary Special, The Name of the Doctor, at 7.30 p.m. The Name of the Doctor will first be simulcast early on the morning of 24 November.  The time has not yet been announced.

David Bradley with Claudia Grant as Carole Ann Ford (Susan Foreman) in An  Adventure in Space and Time

David Bradley with Claudia Grant as Carole Ann Ford (Susan Foreman) in An Adventure in Space and Time

Together with showing repeats of Series 6 of Doctor Who each weekday evening at 7.40 p.m.  ABC2 is also screening a series of Doctor Who Specials on Sunday nights at 7.30 p.m. Episode 1, which screened last Sunday night and is repeated this evening at 10.30 p.m. is The Science of Doctor Who.  Next Sunday, 3 November, is The Women of Doctor Who and the following Sunday, 10 November is The Timey-Wimey of Doctor Who. All specials are repeated on ABC2 on the Tuesday following their original broadcast and are available on iTunes for at least a week thereafter.

Sacha Dhawan as Waris Hussein, the Director of An Unearthly Child and Jessica Raine as Verity Lambert, Doctor Who's first Producer

Sacha Dhawan as Waris Hussein, the Director of An Unearthly Child and Jessica Raine as Verity Lambert, Doctor Who’s first Producer

To read our article on An Adventure in Space and Time click here.  For a detailed article on Doctor Who from an Australian perspective click here.

Vivien Fleming

Day 33 of 50th Anniversary Countdown – Top 3 Female Companions of the Sixties

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In the lead-up to Doctor Who’s 50th Anniversary the Radio Times has been running an online poll on the Greatest Companion Ever.  Voting has now closed and the results will be announced on the anniversary date, 23 November 2013. Today and for the following two days the Doctor Who Mind Robber will be ruminating on our Top 3 Female and Male Companions of the Sixties, together with  the 3 companions who failed to live up to our expectations.  Your comments on our choices would be greatly appreciated.

3. Vicki

On 10 July we posted an article on Vicki, the First Doctor’s companion who was hastily shown the door at the conclusion of The Myth Makers. Here’s how we described her tenure:

I have to admit I really liked Vicki. Young, perhaps no more than 17, she had a vibrancy that had been missing in her predecessor, the Doctor’s grand-daughter, Susan.  As a former secondary school teacher I envied the way she was schooled. In The Web Planet Vicki incorrectly assumed that Barbara had taught at a nursery school because they “worked upwards from the three Rs.”  The curriculum of Coal Hill School in 1963 seemed like child’s play to her.  At the age of 10 she took a certificate of education in medicine,  physics and chemistry.  When asked by Barbara how long she spent in the classroom Vicki was totally perplexed.  She’d spent almost an hour a week with a machine.  Life in 2493 must have been a child’s dream existence!

Vicki, Steven and the Doctor in The Time Meddler

Vicki, Steven and the Doctor in The Time Meddler

Vicki was a member of the TARDIS Crew  in episodes which screened from 2 January 1965 until 6th November 1965.  In just under 12 months Vicki had gone from an orphaned girl stranded on the planet Dido to the love interest of Troilus, son of the King of Troy. During that time, however, there was little in the way of character development. Save for when we met Vicki in The Rescue and she was clearly suffering from the effects of Bennett/Koquillion’s abuse, she remains a vibrant and forthright young woman throughout. As I have previously lamented, it was a shame that the opportunity wasn’t taken to examine the long term effects of this abuse on Vicki, however my concern for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder plainly comes from a 21st century perspective.

Koquillion menaces Vicki in The Rescue

Koquillion menaces Vicki in The Rescue

This absence of character evolution says much about the 1960′s perception of women, particularly young ones.  In the 1960s the median age of first marriage for women was around 20 years of age.  Career opportunities  were limited and pay was not equal.  Although unable to locate figures for the United Kingdom, Australia as a Commonwealth country would have been reasonably similar. Until 1966 the Australian Public Service required single women  to resign from their positions on the eve of their marriage. Equal pay was not granted until 1972. Is it any surprise, therefore, that women were portrayed as either children or mothers?  With women having perhaps only five years between leaving school and marriage, this period between childhood and motherhood was marginalized and frequently forgotten.

Vicki - I hope that tasted nice!

Vicki – I hope that tasted nice!

When we first meet Vicki she is in a stereotypical role as carer for Bennett.  As Bennett is supposedly crippled and unable to work, Vicki is compelled to undertake all the chores including collecting water, cooking and cleaning.  She isn’t seen to complain about this notwithstanding the absence of any thanks from Bennett.   Once a member of the TARDIS Crew, Vicki  is somewhat of a companion for the Doctor – a faux grand-daughter, if you like.   The Doctor has someone to fuss around, care about and instruct.  She provides him with moral support  and most probably a sense of identity.  She is close by his side in The Romans and The Crusade and does not distance herself in any great manner until The Space Museum, where she becomes involved with the young Xeron rebels and seems to start a revolution for fun.  A potential love interest comes to nothing. Although coupled with Steven for much of The Time Meddler, Vicki is back at the Doctor’s side during Galaxy 4.  In her final serial, The Myth Makers, Vicki  is again separated from the Doctor but only because he’s compelled her to remain in the TARDIS because of a sprained ankle.  As was the case with both Susan and Barbara, female companions in Doctor Who are overly susceptible to wrenching their ankles.  They require time to recuperate from such injuries, unlike Ian who was frequently knocked unconscious and seemed able to get up, and shake it off, each time.

Vicki with the Doctor in The Crusade

Vicki with the Doctor in The Crusade

Quite phenomenally Vicki is capable of falling in love with Troilus in less than 24 hours, most of which time she was a prisoner in a dungeon.  This love affair was even quicker than Susan and David’s in The Dalek Invasion of Earth. Having pleaded with the Doctor in The Crusade not to leave her as the TARDIS was her only home, Vicki was extraordinarily quick to leave its confines in The Myth Makers. The television audience is not even privy to Vicki’s farewells to the Doctor as they take place out of camera shot inside the TARDIS. The Doctor, nonetheless, appears satisfied with her explanation which seems to have been that she didn’t want Troilus to think she had betrayed him.

Although spending one’s life travelling in a blue wooden box through time and space may appear somewhat aimless, it’s certainly more secure than with a bloke you’ve only known for a day; in a time several thousand years before your own; and in a land where your love’s home City has been destroyed.  Ever quick to point out logical flaws in a witty manner, Wood and Miles in About Time 1 couldn’t help but extrapolate on a grave problem that Vicki and Troilus would be confronted by.  As the TARDIS translates languages for the benefit of the Crew and persons they meet along the way, once it had left then the two lovers would be unable to communicate with each other.  Unless, of course, Vicki had learnt Ancient Greek, the language that Homer attributes to the Trojans in Iliad, in school!

Vicki and Troilus in The Myth Makers

Vicki and Troilus in The Myth Makers

Aside from the characterization failures in Doctor Who, the reality of Maureen O’Brien’s hasty exit from the role of Vicki appears to lay in programme’s change of producer.  According to Howe, Walker and Stammers in The Handbook, O’Brien had been cast by Verity Truman having been suggested by one of her former drama teachers who then was in the employ of the BBC. The new producer, John Wiles, replaced Truman beginning with the production of The Myth Makers, although he had shadowed Truman during the making of Galaxy 4. Wood and Miles argue that “Wiles had noticed her tendency to pick holes in the dialogue during rehearsals for Galaxy Four, and made arrangements to have her removed while the cast were on holiday”.  It was on her return from a week’s break given to the regular cast whilst Mission to the Unknown was filmed  that O’Brien heard of her dismissal. Although the new character of Katarina was going to replace Vicki it soon became evident to Wiles and story editor, Donald Tosh, that Katarina’s Trojan naivety would make her an unsuitable companion.  It’s for that reason that Katarina was just as hastily written out of Doctor Who in the fourth episode of The Daleks’ Master Plan.

So ends the less than a year long tenure of Maureen O’Brien as Vicki.  This was but the beginning of a revolving door of companions which would grace the screens of Doctor Who over the next several years.

Vicki as we first meet her

Vicki as we first meet her

2. Barbara Wright

Barbara first met the Doctor when she and fellow Coal Hill School teacher, Ian Chesterton, went to 76 Totter’s Lane to check on the welfare of one of their students, 15 year old Susan Foreman.   Kidnapped by the Doctor after they entered the TARDIS, Barbara and Ian remained with the Doctor for two years until they took control of the Dalek time-machine at the end of The Chase. Their return to 1965 London was a joyous occasion as snapshots of them frolicking before prominent landmarks were flashed up on the screen.

The Doctor's grand-daughter Susan, with her History Teacher, Barbara Wright and Science Teacher, Ian Chesterton in An Unearthly Child

The Doctor’s grand-daughter Susan, with her History Teacher, Barbara Wright and Science Teacher, Ian Chesterton in An Unearthly Child

Barbara’s excellent knowledge of history was useful during the Doctor’s early journeys and undoubtedly assisted the programme’s mandate to both entertain and educate.  She was more accepting of the unknown than Ian and was quicker to acknowledge that the tales that the Doctor and Susan spun about the TARIS were indeed true. When the TARIS crew visited South America in The Aztecs she was able to draw upon her knowledge of Spanish settlement and traditional Aztec culture and religion.  That, unfortunately, led her to the false belief that by assuming the mantle of the reincarnated priest, Yataxa, that had been thrust upon her, that she could change the course of history and end human sacrifices. The Doctor was quick to point out to Barbara the folly of believing that history could be altered.  She was also able to utilize her knowledge of history in The Dalek Invasion of Earth when she bamboozled the Daleks with some historical falsities and in The Reign of Terror, when she was able to identify the period of French history in which they’d materialized.

Yetaxa in all her finery as Barbara masquerades in The Aztecs

Yetaxa in all her finery as Barbara masquerades in The Aztecs

Unusually for a woman in her mid thirties, Barbara wasn’t married.  Perhaps the negative stereotype of spinster school ma’ams had been adopted here. Barbara was not without romance, however. She came upon several suitors during the course of her companionship, although none matched the tenderness of her relationship with Ian.  Although never openly remarked upon, it was clear that Barbara and Ian had become more than just colleagues.  Their joyful banter whilst reclining in luxury during The Romans was indicative of a particularly strong personal relationship. The tenderness between Barbara and her fellow companion Ian was undoubtedly a silent nod to a love that couldn’t be broached on Saturday tea time family TV. One can only dream that they became a couple and lived in marital bliss upon their return to earth.

Barbara and Ian playfully relax in The Romans

Barbara and Ian playfully relax in The Romans

Barbara and Ian in one of their many embraces (The Dalek Invasion of Earth).  Gif courtesy of http://thechestertons.tumblr.com

Barbara and Ian in one of their many embraces (The Dalek Invasion of Earth). Gif courtesy of http://thechestertons.tumblr.com

1. Zoe Heriot

The character of Zoe was arguably the first companion in Doctor Who to reflect the changing views on women that arose with the second wave of feminism. A teenage genius, Zoe first met the Doctor and Jamie in final serial of Season 5, The Wheel in Space. She remained with the Doctor until the end of the monochrome era when all three stars left in the final episode of The War Games.  My review of The Wheel in Space included a detailed introduction to Zoe.  She was  an astrophysicist and astrometricist first class and employed as the Wheel’s parapsychology librarian. Her perfect recall of scientific facts and ability to undertake mental calculations faster than a hand-held calculator were the consequence of her being brainwashed by the City’s educational institution. She had total faith in the ability of pure logic to provide all the answers required.  Zoe’s future adventures would soon show this to be a folly and the Doctor quickly, but tactfully, advised her on the limitations of logic alone.  Perhaps the Second Doctor’s most famous quote was to Zoe in The Wheel in Space when he stated, “Logic, my dear Zoe, merely enables one to be wrong with authority”.

Zoe and Jamie with the white robots in The Mind Robber

Zoe and Jamie with the white robots in The Mind Robber

Zoe was the first companion with an intellect to match the Doctor’s.  Zoe’s extraordinarily high intelligence was remarked upon several times in The Krotons.  She told Selris that the “Doctor’s almost as clever as I am” whilst earlier the Doctor had said to him, “Yes, well, Zoe is something of a genius. Of course it can be very irritating at times”.  In The Invasion she blew up the automated answering machine at International Electromatics by presenting it with a ALGOL problem that it was unable to answer.  She also assisted in the destruction of the entire fleet of Cybermen ships by mathematically calculating the correct alignment and course of projectile for the Russian missiles targeted at the ships. The Seeds of Death saw her piloting a space rocket.

The delightful Wendy Padbury as Zoe Heriot

The delightful Wendy Padbury as Zoe Heriot

The Doctor, however, was never seriously concerned by Zoe’s brilliance. There was no sense of threat and never a suggestion that her intellect was unbecoming of a young woman. That’s not to say that Zoe didn’t escape entirely from the scourge of sexism. In The Invasion the UNIT soldiers’ praise for Zoe masked an underlying sexism when she was described as “prettier than a computer”.

Jamie is initially reticent to accept Zoe as a member of the TARDIS Crew in The Wheel in Space

Jamie is initially reticent to accept Zoe as a member of the TARDIS Crew in The Wheel in Space

Zoe challenged assumptions on the role of women more by her deeds rather than by words. On at least one occasion, however, she verbalized the thoughts of women of that era. Undoubtedly buoyed by the support of Isobel Watkins in The Invasion, Zoe took offence at Jamie’s sexism when she stated “Just because you’re a man you think you’re superior, don’t you”.  Zoe’s relationship with Jamie, however, was otherwise positive.  Although less intellectually capable than his friend, Jamie is never mocked or derided by Zoe.

Zoe and Jamie cling to the TARDIS console after the Ship explodes in The Mind Robber

Zoe and Jamie cling to the TARDIS console after the Ship explodes in The Mind Robber

Both Zoe and Jamie were returned to their own time in episode 6 of The War Games, with their memories wiped of all but their first adventure with the Doctor. Donna Noble was not the first to suffer this fate. The Doctor’s companions’ departures were heartbreaking and perhaps the most poignant of Classic Series Doctor Who.

Jamie and Zoe’s Goodbye.

Vivien Fleming

©Vivien Fleming, 2013.

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