Doctor Who

Z is for The Zygon Inversion speech

Throughout the series and the Doctor’s regenerations there’s always been some really great speeches from the Doctor. They’re impassioned as they fight to get people to understand, to get people to stop fighting and to listen, to find a peaceful resolution for a conflict, or to talk someone down from the metaphorical edge.

I love how each Doctor gets a big speech, sometimes more than one, and how each version of the Doctor, each actor who plays them, delivers the speech differently. Especially when you compare where each Doctor is in their lives, what experiences are still too raw while for others they’ve had a lot more time and distance from a tragedy and can perhaps reassess things more clearly.

“The Zygon Invasion”/“The Zygon Inversion” is a two part story in series nine and overall I don’t have strong feelings either way about the episodes themselves but the Twelfth Doctor’s big speech in the climax of the story is brilliant. Peter Capaldi is phenomenal and the pain and guilt over his acts during the Time War, the regret he has about the things he’s done and the unfathomable consequences of war is just fantastic. The Doctor is pleading for Bonnie and Kate Stewart to make better choices, to choose to talk to one another and find a better solution rather than pressing a button in mutually ensured destruction. It’s a fantastic and emotional speech, so well-written and performed, and it’s a standout moment in Capaldi’s time as the Doctor.

Y is for Yasmin Khan

Yasmin Khan was a good companion and Mandip Gill played her wonderfully – I think it was often her performance that made me like Yaz rather than the writing. Having her be one of three companions for most of her time in the TARDIS made it easy for any of the them companions to fade into the background as there wasn’t enough time, space, or dialogue for good character development for any of them. It’s a juggling act having that many companions, plus the Doctor, and often it seemed like the writers failed at giving them all well-rounded personalities and motivations and giving them all something to do of consequence in each episode. Yaz, along with Graham and Ryan, sometimes felt like a homogenous blob because of how they reacted to things. While one of the main points of the companion is to question things/be the eyes of the viewer, the way they questioned things or reacted to stuff seemed to be just there to drive the plot forward rather than the reactions of lived in characters with life-experiences.

Yaz perhaps got the most interesting backstory elements, with her grandmother being caught up in the partition of India and it being revealed that Yaz contemplated taking her own life, but those major events didn’t seem to have ramifications for her and were forgotten about as soon as those episodes were over.

Yaz was a trainee-police officer before meeting the Doctor so her rookie investigative skills and notetaking came in handy when traveling through time and space. She was also often quite level-headed and was quite good at calming people who were shocked or scared. Yaz was also pretty good at getting people to open up and to trust her and the others when they were trying to help and stop whatever bad thing was going to happen.

One thing I did like about Yaz and her time in the TARDIS was how she became the Doctor’s co-pilot and had clearly been taught how to fly the TARDIS and was a diligent student, taking notes and using post-it notes to remind her of what each level or button did. The Doctor doesn’t always trust a companion with the TARDIS so the fact that she trusted Yaz shows a big part of their relationship and the Doctor’s feelings. It’s a pity we didn’t get a more concrete demonstration on how the Doctor and Yaz’s relationship evolved over time.

Yaz’s developing feelings for the Doctor and how she fell in love with her was pretty subtle to begin with – so much so that I didn’t notice what other people were reading into various episodes or quick glances. With hindsight I could kind of see it, but I think it was something that was never intended to be explored and it was a sort of bittersweet and tragic would-be romance in the end as Yasmin’s time with the Doctor ran out before they could act on any feelings or really properly address them.

I did like Yaz, and her fellow companions during Thirteen’s run, but when comparing her to some of the previous companions mentioned during this A-Z Challenge she unfortunately doesn’t standout. It could partly be childhood nostalgia, but I do think there wasn’t enough done to make Yaz a layered character and one that I can easily list off her traits that make her a great companion.

X is for X-tra Companions

Look, the letter “X” is a hard prompt to fill so I am cheating a bit. In each episode of Doctor Who you meet a lot of new one-off characters and some of them leave a mark. This post is for some of those characters who I could totally see have become a companion if the Doctor had met them at a different time, or if the events of the episode(s) they were in went slightly differently because the tragedy of such good one-off characters and would-be companions is sometimes, they don’t survive the adventure.

Lynda Moss – “Bad Wolf”/“The Parting of the Ways”
Lynda was the first one-off character who I instantly found to be very likeable and wouldn’t have minded of seeing more of her. She’s a very sweet, bubbly person and helps the Doctor to acclimatise to this strange and unexpected situation he found himself – apparently a housemate in the Big Brother house. Lynda was brave and fun and the fact that the Doctor said yes when she asked if she could travel with him after only knowing her for a few hours shows how much of an impression she’d made on him.


Dr Nasreen Chaudhry – “The Hungry Earth”/“Cold Blood”
Nasreen is a bit different to the other characters mentions here she does survive her episodes but she does choose to hibernate under the Earth for hundreds of years so there’s no real chance that we can see her again. I did love that decision though; she chose to stay with the Silurians (a lizard-like race) underground to pursue her thirst for scientific knowledge and to be with the man she loved. I think a sign of how great Nasreen was is that the Doctor chose her and Amy Pond to be Ambassadors for humanity in the human-Silurian talks that would decide the fate of the planet. He’d only known Nasreen for a couple of hours but was already impressed by her intelligence and had considered taking her on a trip in the TARDIS because of it.

Rita Afzal – “The God Complex”
Rita was an English medical student who along with other humans and aliens was abducted from their lives and placed in a hotel that killed people with their deepest fears. She was smart and perceptive, quickly figuring out possible scenarios for what was happening thanks to observing everyone and everything. The Doctor instantly took a shine to her and even joked that Amy was fired and Rita was now going to join him in the TARDIS. Rita was a devout Muslim and I really liked how her faith was incorporated into her character as that’s not something we see that often in Doctor Who. Or rather fictional/alien faiths are mentioned quite frequently but not real-world/present day ones.

Grace O’Brien – “The Woman Who Fell to Earth”
Honestly this one still makes me mad. Grace is such a wonderful character and is the one who instantly rolls with the weirdness of the Doctor falling through the roof of the train she’s on and the weird glowing ball of light that zaps her. Her husband is far more hesitant about getting involved while Grace embraces the adventure and the desire to help others. I get that it’s a tragedy that Grace dies and doesn’t get the chance to travel the universe after loving every second of the short adventure she was on with the Doctor. Grace has all the best qualities of a companion; she’s kind, is calm under pressure, and she’s adaptable. I instantly took to her and wanted more of her compared to the other characters who’d end up as companions. I honestly think Grace had more personality and definable traits in one episode than a lot of Thirteen’s companions did in dozens of episodes.

W is for Rory Williams

Rory is such a fun and relatable character and I loved it when he started travelling with Amy and the Doctor. I think his personality balanced out the kind of impulsiveness that both Amy and the Doctor had and tried to keep things on an even keel. Sure, he had his moments of jealousy over Amy and the Doctor’s relationship but once it became clear where everyone stood then this TARDIS trio worked really well together.

I’ve always liked moments when you can see how travelling with the Doctor has rubbed off on the companions in some way. It’s like how in “Asylum of the Daleks” it must’ve been a few years since Amy and Rory had travelled with the Doctor but Rory still carries a pocket torch and is ready for anything. I also like how Rory is a nurse and his medical skills are used throughout the series, and that he’s just generally a really caring and empathetic person. Rory’s always willing to help people, even those who are perhaps seen by others as dangerous or beyond help, which can then put him in danger.

Rory has a sarcastic sense of humour and it can be a bit dark at times which I appreciate as someone who also has a dark sense of humour. You’ve got to find the humour in certain situations or else you’ll cry. I do find it very funny how blasé Rory becomes about his many near-death and actual death experiences. It kind of became a running joke in the fandom but his first death really was surprising and heart-breaking, especially as the circumstances around it meant that Amy forgot about him completely.

As I said, I really starting vibing with series five when Rory joined the TARDIS. The Eleventh Doctor and the Ponds is one of my favourite Doctor/companion dynamics as I think the three of them balanced each other out and it was clear how much they all cared about each other. While Rory may have been a bit jealous of the Doctor to being with, I liked how their dynamic developed and how Rory was one of the people who could call the Doctor out on his lies.

V is for Village of the Angels

Series 13 of Doctor Who did something a bit different and had one larger story told over the course of six episodes. It was called “Flux” and there was a lot of moving parts to it, personally there were some I liked, some I didn’t, and some stuff I still didn’t quite understand even having now watched it twice but one thing that did stand out was the fourth episode in this story arc; “Village of the Angels”.

It’s my favourite episode of this story arc because it’s one of the more self-contained ones. Set in Devon in the 1960s, a little girl has gone missing, Professor Eustacius Jericho (Kevin McNally) is conducting psychic experiments, and in the village graveyard, there is one gravestone too many – it’s the Weeping Angels.

As mentioned before when I talked about “Blink” which is the first episode these creatures appeared in, the Weeping Angels are proper scary when done right. By this point it’d been a while since we’d had an episode with Weeping Angels, and the last time they were used it had got a little samey for me so they didn’t feel as terrifying as they once were. “Village of the Angels” changed that and made the Weeping Angels a proper threat again. Characters got caught by the Angels and sent back in time, some characters we care about, others we don’t, and the realities of getting stuck in the past feels real and dangerous.

As well as giving us a scary villain, “Village of the Angels” gives us some great new characters in Professor Jericho and Claire (Annabel Scholey). There’s a lot happening in these Flux episodes and new characters are introduced all the time but those two really stood out. Jericho is smart, kind and quickly adapts when the Doctor arrives and starts talking about moving statues and the importance of not blinking. Claire is a woman out of time with some psychic abilities meaning there’s the opportunity to do something different with the Weeping Angels and her mind. The highest accolade I can give to characters like Jericho and Claire is I’d love to see them have more adventures in the TARDIS. They are both companion-material.

“Village of the Angels” is a really atmospheric story that does push the overarching “Flux” plot on, but also puts characters in proper peril, has a relentless villain, and has the kind of cliffhanger that is almost impossible to live up to the potential it sets up.

U is for Utopia

“Utopia” is one of my favourite episodes of series three (and of the whole of Doctor Who in general to be honest) and it’s a great lead in to the series finale.

“Utopia” does for Martha what “School Reunion” did for Rose, showing what the fate of the Doctor’s companions can be; left behind somewhere and no longer being mentioned to the new people the Doctor travels with.

It also has Derek Jacobi as both the Professor and the Master and absolutely killing it as both. The contrast from a well-meaning and brilliant scientist to someone who has just realised all that’s been hidden from them, the power and knowledge they really hold is excellent. Though he only portrayed the Master for a few minutes, they were great and were a nice stepping off point for John Simm’s more eccentric take on the character.

What I really love about “Utopia” though is how it’s the return of Captain Jack Harkness and both the character and the viewer gets some answers about what happened to him. I watched Torchwood so knew about his newfound immortality and with being a viewer could put together that it had something to do with Rose and the heart of the TARDIS, but Jack wouldn’t know any of that – just that he’d been left on a satellite full of dead bodies in the year 200,100.

The dynamic between the Doctor and Jack is interesting from the outset. It’s clear that the Doctor doesn’t want to see him and he’s standoffish until the mention of Rose. There’s resentment from Jack for being left behind and there’s annoyance from the Doctor for having to face up to his past when all he ever wants to do is keep moving forward.

Their conversation when Jack’s in a chamber full of radiation is so good – it’s honestly one of my favourite moments in Doctor Who. Having this door between the two of them with the Doctor standing at the window, gives them the opportunity to talk without being in each other’s personal space while simultaneously not being able to avoid any questions because they’re both right there waiting for a response. You get your reasoning behind the Doctor leaving Jack behind and seeing what a prejudiced Doctor is like, calling Jack “wrong” and it being painful to look at him because of his Time Lord senses. It’s such a different side to the usually tolerant and open Doctor that it’s jarring and really drives home how different Jack is to the rest of humanity. At this point Jack has lived for almost 140 years as an immortal and it’s clear that the thought of never being able to stay dead is taking its toll on him.

This scene is great as they get a chance to be honest with each other and while the Doctor still has issues with Jack being a “fixed point of time” having hashed it out a bit, they can start to work together better and without snapping at each other as much. The Doctor is practically immortal, so I do like the idea that they can meet Jack at any point in their life and have a friend that is pretty much a near constant – the Doctor could always do with someone like that.

T is for Jackie Tyler

Back in 2021 when my A-Z theme was my favourite characters, Rose Tyler made the list but this year I’m going to be talking about her mum, Jackie.

I’ve always liked the relationship between Rose and Jackie, even when I was watching the first series back when it first aired in 2005 as a young teen and now rewatching the series as an adult I have a different appreciation for their relationship. It is such a well-written mother/daughter relationship and though my mum is very different to Jackie, there’s so many things Jackie says and does that remind me of my mum. That’s because it’s the ways she shows Rose how much she loves her, the way she’s always there for her daughter and will always stand up for her and protect her. Jackie is such a mum. She can be overprotective and reactive but she’s also kind and funny and has a shorthand with her daughter that just shows how it’s been the two of them against the world for so long.

In my Doctor Who rewatch last year, I’ve always cried during the series two finale (because Doctor/Rose has always been my OTP) but this time what really set me off was when Rose turned to Jackie on the beach, and she didn’t have to say or do anything, her mum knew and just ran to her. I was bawling as Rose ran to her mothers’ arms.

Another one of my favourite Jackie Tyler moments is in the series one finale – how those two series finales have such a focus on Rose and her family (which includes Mickey and the Doctor) is something I noticed and loved on this rewatch. After Rose tells her she went back in time to be with her dad as he died, Jackie is at first angry she would say such a thing, to bring up something so painful, but then she uses it to go and do exactly what Rose wants, she gets a truck powerful enough that will let Rose open up the heart of the TARDIS and get back to the Doctor.

I just the love and respect and trust Jackie has in her daughter is wonderful, even in those moments when she can see how much travelling with the Doctor has changed Rose – for better or for worse.

S is for Sarah Jane Smith

As I’m a new Doctor Who fan, I first met Sarah Jane Smith in the series two episode “School Reunion” and I immediately liked her a lot and that only grew over seeing her in more Doctor Who episodes and leading the spinoff children’s TV show The Sarah Jane Adventures which is fab.

I think Sarah Jane is used in “School Reunion” really well because she acts like almost a cautionary tale for both Rose and viewers like me who were young and hadn’t watched Doctor Who before the revival. You got to see that companions get older, the Doctor leaves them behind and doesn’t even mention them again. Companions see and do amazing things throughout time and space and then they’re back on Earth and have to go back to a normal life when what they’ve been used to for months or years is anything but normal. Sarah Jane is the future for Rose, whether she likes it or not and she is an example of how the Doctor moves on and while companions may be able to sped their life with him, he can’t spend his life with them.

I love how inquisitive Sarah Jane is. After her travels with the Doctor she becomes a renowned journalist, investigating things that seem unusual partly in the hope it’ll allow her to meet the Doctor again – which eventually it does. Sarah Jane is loyal and confident and she becomes quite the pacifist over time. Her pacifist nature actually helps her sometimes as enemies consider it a weakness and a sign of naivety when it makes her strong and clever as she has to think of solutions that are more unorthodox.

I love Sarah Jane’s relationship with the variety of characters she meets in both Doctor Who and The Sarah Jane Adventures. She’s very caring towards her young neighbours, Clyde, Maria, and Rani, and acts as a mentor figure to them and her adoptive children Luke and Sky. I especially love her relationship with Luke as before he came along, she’d been quite alone, with just a robot dog (K-9) and a super alien computer (Mr Smith) for company and she’d been so focused on her work and defending the planet in any way she can. Luke helps Sarah Jane come out of her shell a bit more and start making more human connections and their mother/son relationship is one of my favourites.

R is for Rose

No, this post is not about Rose Tyler (who I do love a lot and wrote a A-Z post about a couple of years ago), it’s about the episode “Rose” – the first episode of the first series aka the episode that started it all.

I enjoyed “Rose” when I first watched it back in 2005 and watching it again years later I probably love it even more now. It’s such a great introduction to the world of Doctor Who and having it focus on Rose Tyler and her everyday mundane life with her mum and boyfriend was a great choice. As the viewer you’re right alongside her trying to figure out who this man is that took her hand and told her to run, what was going on with the mannequins and how can she just carry on as normal when she’s learnt there’s so much more out there in the universe.

“Rose” also shows the dangers of being a part of the Doctor’s world, even briefly. Clive, the man who’d researched the Doctor and told Rose all he knew, saw the chaos first-hand before being killed. Straightaway the audiences learns that characters will die, and it won’t just be the bad guys. Nice, normal, everyday people who don’t do anything wrong can still get hurt or killed when the Doctor is around.

There’s so much great character work for a first episode. You immediately can see and believe the dynamics between Rose and her mum and her boyfriend Mickey, as well as her home being so incredibly normal and lived in. With hindsight as you can see the character choices laid out and see how these connections will evolve over time – especially Rose and the Doctor’s. From the outset Christopher Eccleston and Billie Piper had such great chemistry and a really interesting dynamic.

One of my favourite scenes is where Rose convinces the Doctor to tell her what’s going on. Not only is it a cool sequence as it’s a couple of long takes with the two of them walking and talking, but over the course of the conversation, Rose impresses the Doctor with her questions and he starts being honest with her. They already can laugh and joke but she is also ready to listen even if she’s not 100% sure she believes what he’s saying. When the Doctor takes her hand and explains how he can feel the Earth move, Christopher Eccleston feels ancient in that moment. You truly believe he’s an otherworldly creature that has seen so much, perhaps too much, and his life isn’t anything like Rose’s. Also, that sequence highlights Murray Gold’s score which has echoes of motifs that we’ll end up hearing across the series and instantly connect with characters.

“Rose” does everything you want a first episode of a “new” series to do. It introduces new characters, it has a mystery that you’re trying to solve along with the characters, and it’s still funny. It blends the drama and the outlandishness so well, and even moments that are kind of corny work because that has always been a part of Doctor Who’s charm.

Q is for Queens

Q was a bit of a hard letter to find something Doctor Who-related for and then I remembered the various historical figures and the many Queens that the Doctor has met. Here’s a few of the more memorable ones.

Queen Elizabeth I – “The Day of the Doctor”
Elizabeth I is referenced a lot in Doctor Who and from those references you think that her and the Tenth Doctor must have a history long before we actually meet her properly. She has a prominent role in “The Day of the Doctor” aka the 50th anniversary special and in fact she and the Tenth Doctor get married and their wedding is attended by Clara Oswald, the Eleventh Doctor and the War Doctor – multiple Doctors in one place, it’s very confusing and timey-wimey. I quite like how Elizabeth I was so smart and capable and while she was infatuated with the Doctor, it didn’t stop her being a good leader and someone her soldiers listened to.

Queen Elizabeth X – “The Beast Below” and “The Pandorica Opens”
Liz Ten’s story is a bit bleak as she’s unknowingly stuck in a loop, living the same ten years over and over again as when she wipes her own memory after finding out a horrible truth. She’s actually a lot older than she looks. The Doctor and Amy met her in the 29th century and when River Song meets her in the 52nd century, she’s still alive and protecting the Royal Art Collection, even though she must’ve been at least 2,150 years old. Liz Ten is a lot of fun though, she’s charming, confident and brave and will do anything to protect her people. I liked how she wears a mask to be able to investigate what’s happening in her nation without her people noticing her too.

Queen Nefertiti – “Dinosaurs on a Spaceship”
“Dinosaurs on a Spaceship” is such a fun episode. It features Queen Nefertiti who is one of the eclectic mix of people the Doctor recruits to stop a spaceship from crashing into Earth. Nefertiti is wonderfully regal and effortlessly cool and I love how she puts other people, mostly the misogynistic men she meets, in their place. Nefertiti is brave and is willing to sacrifice herself for her newfound allies and how she interacts with the others who are from different times to her is interesting.