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A Series Four ideal-world wishlist

August 8, 2007

I suppose I should warn folk that this post contains reference to rumours that could turn out to be spoilers for series four of Doctor Who.

Well, the prize for least-surprising revelation for this week goes to Doctor Who producer Julie Gardner in this interview with iF magazine:

I’m going to tease you by telling you there is a classic monster that returns, but that’s as far as I’m going to go.

Given that there has been at least one classic Doctor Who monster/villain return in every series so far, I kind of took that as read.

But still, it does leave me with the fun task of speculating what old enemy is going to return, and daydream about what I'd really like to see happen if I was in charge.

So far in the new show, we've had one iconic Doctor Who enemy show up in every series. Daleks in series one, Cybermen in series two and of course the Master in series three. Also, there've been a few minor old enemies thrown in (e.g.: Autons and Macra) for the obsessives amongst us. So which recurring enemy is going to turn up in series four?

In terms of the traditional recurring enemies of Doctor Who, we're now getting down to some of the less instantly recognisable ones. The two that spring immediately to mind are the Sontarans (like a lot of old whovians I mistook the Judeen for Sontarans when I saw the trailer for series three, episode one) and the Ice Warriors. Maybe the Sea Devils/Silurians at a push.

However, there is another, truly classic Doctor Who villain who could come back. Consider: as of Evolution of the Daleks, there is only one, partly cannibalised Dalek left in existence. But of course you can't wipe out the Daleks ("They always survive"), so how do you bring more Daleks into existence? Ask the man who did it in the first place: one part Hawkins, two parts Hitler and three parts Mengele, I am of course talking about Davros.

Davros is a great Doctor Who baddie: he's at least the Doctor's intellectual equal, unfettered by morality and he needs to be played really evil without a drop of camp. He could re-create the entire Dalek species, and in fact bring them back new and improved.

It'd also be interesting to use the return of Davros, introduced in Genesis of the Daleks, to compare the Doctor of those days (who refused to commit genocide and slaughter the nascent Dalek race) with the current Doctor (who ended up destroying both their race and his own).

(UPDATE: Oooh, look what popped up in the Outpost Gallifrey RSS feeds while I was putting this post together. But honest, I have been expecting Davros since before then!)

But enough about enemies, what about the hoo-hah about companions? If you know me at all, you'll know about my reservations about Catherine "Bollocking" Tate being the companion for the entire next series. I'm extremely dubious, but if anyone can pull it off, it's the fine folk behind Doctor Who.

However, there are a couple of alternative ways that the show could go with new companions. For a start, there are rumours that Mickey might return, and since he is supposedly trapped in the same parellel dimension as Rose, there is speculation that she might make a comeback, too.

I'm not so sure if that's a great idea. Rose occupies a special place in the heart of both the Doctor and fans of the show, so her return should be a Big Deal. It won't be if she comes back from her exile after just one season. No, if that's going to happen, do it only after least another two or three series have passed. Make it an Event, you know?

I humbly suggest I have a better idea. What the Doctor really needs is someone that can really keep him on his toes, someone who can give him a run for his money, and someone who he doesn't need to worry about outliving. As we saw at the end of "Last of the Time Lords", what the Doctor truly craves is the company of another Time Lord.

Well, the Time Lords may have been wiped out from this universe, but there is at least one other Gallifreyan who isn't in this universe. She was last seen hanging around in the parallel universe of e-space. Yep, old school whovians, I'm talking Romana. If Mickey can get out of his parallel dimension, then Romana can get out of hers.

UPDATE: Sadly, this is bollocks on my part. Apparently RTD has stated that Romana was president of Gallifrey during the Time War. Bah.)

Romana has made and would make a fantastic companion: she's actually the Doctor's academic superior (albeit less well travelled back in the day), is just as bright, knowledgable and tough and she can handle a TARDIS with ease, something no other companion in the new series has been able to do (without absorbing the Time Vortex, a bit of a drastic solution for day-to-day use). This would open up loads of new plot possibilities.

Also, consider this: Romana and the Doctor are reunited, but Romana is unaware of the Time War and its apocalyptic conclusion. What if she didn't approve of the Doctor's actions? Imagine the tension between these two old bosom buddies and how it would temper the Doctor's joy at once again being reunited with his kind.

Imagine if Romana decided that she didn't like the way the Time War had turned out, and maybe wanted to do something about it ... Now that could be a plot arc over multiple series ...

Of course, if you treat the Doctor Who novels as canon, then Romana returned from e-space ages ago and became the President of Gallifrey, but if you treat the novels of canon that means that you also think that the events of Human Nature happened twice.

Anyway, much more of this and I might as well be writing fancfic, so let's think about the casting. Who could you cast as Romana? Would you have her unregenerated, newly-regenerated or both? Probably the latter, for the same reasons the show did it with Jacobi/Simm as the Master

For an older Romana, you could do a lot worse than Dame Judy Dench: she's got the presence and her appearance in The Chronicles of Riddick demonstrated that she isn't above doing hokey Sci-Fi from time to time. In fact, it seems that luvvies are queuing up to be in the show, so she could be a shoo-in for the role.

Alternatively, why not just cast Lalla Ward again? She's done further Doctor Who voice work and the like since she was in the TV series, so she might well be amenable to reprising her role.

As for a regenerated Romana, there are a few choices that spring to mind.

Kate Beckinsale looks a bit like Mary Tamm and has experience playing a young-looking but centuries-old role in the Underworld films. Trouble, is, much as I enjoy those films, I don't think she really put across the many years of experience that Celine had, so I'm not sure she's make a good Time Lady. Still, cor.

I tell you who would be good at that though: that Cate Blanchett. She gave off an effortless aristocracy as the immortal Galadriel in the Lord of the Rings trilogy. She'd make a perfect Romana in my opinion, shame that I doubt that a) the show has the budget and b) as successful an actress as Blanchett could spare the time to be a full time companion on Doctor Who! Still, this is an "ideal world" wishlist.

People not to be considered:

  • Lindsay Lohan
  • Pauline Quirke
  • Catherine Fucking Tate
  • Wendy Richard
  • Fearne Cotton
  • Fern Britton
  • Paris Hilton
  • Pink

Posted by Jonah at August 8, 2007 10:09 AM