Time Ladies Debate: Orphan 55

The third episode of Doctor Who series 12, Orphan 55, has turned out to be a divisive one among fandom. Some of us love it, some of us loathe it – like marmite, but with added space adventures. The only thing we can all agree on is how iconic the line ‘BENNI!’ is. In order to cover all sides of the story, we present to you; Time Ladies Debate: Orphan 55!

ORPHAN 55? NOT FOR ME… says Kez


In some ways, Orphan 55 is the very essence of Doctor Who – a base siege, a chase, a threatening monster… but it never truly landed for me. The first scenes of the fam landing at the plush spacey spa were brilliant – the pace from Spyfall was still there, as was sustaining the brilliant wit from the leading characters. I was overjoyed at the mental imagery being conjured of Graham lounging with a cocktail, and them all taking a damn break after wrestling with a deep-space squid, well deserved.

As in the series opener, the fam were expertly split off from each other, primed for different versions of the adventure. But alas, were (literally) crammed together again for large parts of the story, a massively missed opportunity. Talk about three being a crowd – when you have a main cast of four, adding another seven (!) onto that means that frankly, we’re not going to have time to become emotionally invested in these guest characters. You could barely keep track of who was there, who had died and who was left behind. Something that really highlighted this for me was the use of sacrifice in this story – something that should hold such impact – a total stranger giving their life for the Doctor and their friends. But this was done four times in one story. When we don’t have time to become invested in these characters, we probably care little when they die, let alone when it becomes a ‘thing’ that happens.

This need for sacrifice feels like it’s there to create peaks in a story that fundamentally is a constant chase. A chase that, instead of thrilling, completely flatlines when they leave the building. After the pacey beginning, where was the push and pull from each side? When the Doctor looked into the mind of the Dregs, she could see the terrifying reality of who they were. But why did we not have the opportunity to learn about this further, to hear about what happened, and how to help them now? Leaving the planet with no resolution apart from ‘hoping it’s just one possible future’ felt like they were running away from the problem rather than facing what had been done. Climate change is a real terror, it’s not something we can run away from. It felt callous and abrupt to simply leave it there.

I admit that as someone who was completely transfixed by the end of Spyfall, I may have been a little disappointed by the drop in focus. But a story centred around such an important message? It could have been better.



Orphan 55 captures many aspects of my favourite parts of Doctor Who; Action. Adventure. Love. Danger. An important message. There are many layers and characters woven throughout the Tranquillity Spa – something I believe works well to establish the world we’re immersed in. Thanks to Ed Hime’s brilliant characterisation, everybody has a personality and a reason to root for them. Then there are the dregs, some of the scariest and well-designed Doctor Who creatures for a while. Not only do they look incredible, but the truth behind their existence is even more gruesome and hammers home the message of the tale. It’s great to see the Doctor teaching her friends too – even though she’s suffering. It’s particularly interesting to see the fam’s relationship changing out of mistrust and the Doctor’s sorrow, which ties in brilliantly to the storyline.

The truth of Orphan 55 is hidden inside a wrapper of capitalism and human fault – the planet is Earth’s future and the dregs are the human race, evolved and terrifying. This is the type of plot that Doctor Who was made for. In a similar vein to The Green Death, it educates and opens the mind to the climate crisis as well as providing fun and escapism on a Sunday night. There is a positive to come out of such an on the nose message. Because even though Doctor Who is an escape, a place to disappear away from the terrors of our world, it is also a reminder that we can be better and that we should be better – and that’s the most positive thing of all – that we still have hope. As the Doctor tells us at the end of the adventure; ‘Be the best of humanity.’ Hopefully, we won’t let her down.


After we discussed the story, we decided to put our differences aside and have a custard cream and a cup of tea. After all, Doctor Who is vast and complicated and beautiful – we won’t always love it or hate it!

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Time Ladies Debate: Clara Oswald

Clara Oswald is a divisive character and many a Doctor Who fan will jump at the chance to give their opinion on her. This week on Time Ladies Debate Beth talks about her love for the impossible girl, while Kez explains why she’s not really as much of a fan…

Defending Clara Oswald: Beth


Ever since she arrived on our screens in Asylum Of The Daleks, Clara Oswald has had a firm place in my heart. A mysterious beginning for the impossible girl gave the show a fresh perspective, both for The Doctor and the viewers. The three different versions of Clara that we saw I instantly loved, especially the way we had the past, present and future represented in her. Series seven turned the companion into the storyline that ended with Clara jumping into The Doctor’s time stream to save him. A character almost specifically created for the 50th anniversary really excited me and getting to see her saving each version of The Doctor made the 2013 series instantly iconic!


Jenna Coleman’s acting had me in tears on multiple occasions by the time series 8 aired and Peter Capaldi joined the show. I will admit I was a bit confused as to how Clara had suddenly turned into a teacher, but teaching at Coal Hill was the perfect setting for a woman so intelligent. Something that made her stand out for me was how she was seen as just as important as The Doctor, even knowing just as much as him sometimes. Twelve and Clara complimented each other perfectly, challenging and looking after one another in a way that created chemistry hard to recreate. They soon made their way into my top favourite Doctor/companion pairings because of this.


By the time Series 9 came around and Clara had lost her mum, eleven and her beloved Danny Pink, the character had become reckless which proved her ultimate downfall. This is something that resonated with me completely and I wish they had delved into her mental health further as a lot of people related with where she was coming from. She almost represented me and other fans in the way that she felt she had nothing and so put all her time and energy into The Doctor and their travels.

Her grief and how she dealt with it came at a time when I lost somebody extremely important to me and seeing her in a similar position made me feel less alone and gave me something to help me through. By the time Clara sacrificed herself unintentionally in Face The Raven, I felt like I had lost a great friend and started a grief process all over again. Being a massive part of my life for so many years and meeting so many friends through love for her character meant it was hard to say goodbye. Clara Oswald means so much to so many, and even if you disagree with some of her storylines or characterisation, you cannot deny her importance to Doctor Who.


Against Clara Oswald: Kez

I’d never claim to actively hate Clara and there are far more questionable characters to speak about disliking, but there’s something about her that hasn’t ever clicked with me.

‘The Impossible Girl’ – exactly that, the title that she was given nearly from the moment she appeared on screen. Her character was nothing more than a mystery, which isn’t her fault, but effectively made her disposable. The Doctor wasn’t interested in her as a person but simply as a thing to ‘solve’ and that feeling bled through the screen to the audience too. All I wanted was to know what her deal was so she could bugger off. Again, this is simply how she was written. She wasn’t a constant and appearing as different Clara’s at the beginning of her journey in Who made it difficult to bond with her. Since her whole character was written around this ~mystery, her core personality as a character got left behind. I finished series 7 part 2 wondering who the hell she was.


What made us love Rose, Donna and those before her? They were very much real. And Clara could have been the same. You can still write a relatable character from the Victorian times or a lost soul in a crashed space ship; as long as you believe in that character, it doesn’t matter where in time and space they’ve been picked up from.

But who is Clara really? She’s a nanny, oh no she’s suddenly a teacher (wonder when she did her training hmm). Where are her family? Oh, they’ve popped up for a single episode and are then never spoken of again. Conveniently bisexual for about 5 minutes? She’s bossy, stubborn and ‘more than a match for the Doctor’ –  which sounds like the typecast Doctor Who companion since 2005. She’s been called the ultimate companion because she has these traits of previous characters, but to me this just makes her fade into the background more, rather than standing out – ‘A bit stubborn like Amy but not as funny’, ‘best friends with The Doctor like Donna… except she does fancies him’. I don’t even actively dislike her, I just don’t know WHO she is.


All these poor decisions around building up the very basic core of her character meant that I couldn’t empathise with her. We were meant to be going on this journey with Clara through the Doctor’s regeneration, but instead of feeling like she was the constant, she held the series back. She was the one constantly on and off about travelling with him and I felt like her selfish-ness of wanting the charismatic young Eleventh Doctor back wasted so much of a potentially brilliant series. I found it difficult to believe how much The Doctor loved her because I didn’t understand what he loved in particular… (and don’t even get me started on how she can open the TARDIS with a click of her fingers, as if!)

Clara, forever The Impossible Girl. Will I ever understand you? Probably not, but you were never quite real for me anyway.

Let us know if you’re yay or nay over Clara Oswald by tweeting us!
And let us know if there are any more debates you’d like to see on here soon

Time Ladies Debate: Why I’m Adjusting to the Idea of a Female Doctor by Lippmannette

Here at The Time Ladies, we LOVE a bit of debating and swapping opinions. Opening each others eyes to new sides and ideas and hearing what each of us loved and hated is all apart of being a fan of Doctor Who. And so ‘Time Ladies Debate’ is born; A brand new feature in which we pick a topic and discuss either side of the argument! This weeks theme is the recent news of The Doctor becoming a woman. Guest contributor Jenny Lippmann discusses why she was against the idea, and how she’s slowly coming around to it….

NMKHCLA.pngI think, if people had seen my reaction to Jodie Whittaker, and I’d been a man, they would have laughed at me.

As a woman, I’m expected to be delighted with the news. One unnamed tweeter said women who don’t like it are ‘the worst ones’. I’ve come to terms with lots of things since the announcement, and one is that I shouldn’t be ashamed for how I feel.

I don’t think you have to be delighted by the announcement of a female Doctor (though obviously, it’s wonderful that so many people are!) I don’t think you have to accept it right now. It’s a big change. People are excited and scared and even Jodie knows that and that is all just fine.

This post isn’t about hating on a female Doctor. I want to focus on how I felt before the casting, immediately after, and how I’ve grown in my views.

People have asked me why I’ve never wanted a female in the role. In those moments, I’ve yammered about ‘strong, passive male role models’ – something I have since realised is a rather silly excuse, and I expressed apprehension about the handling of female characters as a whole (there are exceptions, but we are still learning). I think I was searching for something that sounded more impressive than this: I am very, very attached to the mad man in a box. It’s simple, it’s boring, it’s stubborn. That’s that.

Since the announcement, I’ve been quietly coming to terms with ‘the big change’ and becoming more and more okay with it as time passes. I drew fanart, I imagined what Thirteen would wear, I thought of Jodie delivering a rollicking ‘I am the Doctor’ speech, and yes, it started to fall into place in my head.


It’s been a long time coming, really.

The moment I started to question my reasoning behind not wanting this was at a Doctor Who finale party I attended, with Time Ladies Beth and Kezia in situ. We got into the discussion on a potential lady casting, and they all listened very carefully as I explained why I didn’t want a female Doctor (reasons I have since realised make no sense)…. Then, after my mini rant, Kezia very gently said to me, something along the lines of: “well, we’ve had over fifty years of that, it’s time a woman did it now”.

And that really made me think. And it really changed my view.

Because why can’t a woman do it?

Let’s flashback to the announcement of an all-female Ghostbusters team. I was mortified. “NO BILL MURRAY?” I shrieked, waving my fist at my laptop screen, then later cringing at the first image of the four of them by the new Ecto-1. “HOW DARE THEY.”

Then they released the trailer, which I watched… and for me, without question, those four women were the Ghostbusters. The trailer had everything that Ghostbusters is to me, right there, and that wasn’t changed by the fact we had women in the roles. Not in the slightest. Later, I came out of the cinema wanting to punch a new crater in the moon: I can be a Ghostbuster too!

So, I asked myself, after having a little (or big, shhh) pathetic cry over Jodie’s casting, why the hell is this any different?

Answer: it’s not. Not really. I always loved the idea of being the Doctor’s companion, but being the Doctor? The thought amazes me. Maybe I could punch a real crater in the moon that way.

As for bad female characters… The Doctor is not a male character, I’ve finally acknowledged. The Doctor is not a female character, either. The Doctor is the Doctor. Jodie must have been the Doctor when she walked in that audition, and I am sure Mr Chibnall will write… you guessed it, the Doctor.

Whether chuffed about a female Doctor or scared, like me, it is all a big shock. Remember that’s okay! The Doctor has been a bloke for over fifty years!

You know what’s not okay, though?  Not giving Thirteen a chance.

What is not okay, is being nasty about Jodie, about women.

Be apprehensive, sure, be shocked and alarmed that things are changing… change is tough. But if you love the Doctor that much, you’ve got to stick with him, or her, because ultimately, the Doctor is the Doctor.

And that’s the jumbled conclusion I’ve come to.

That’s the crux.

Lady bits or no, the Doctor will always be my hero. How great to have a female role model in the Doctor!

Come at me Thirteen. I’m nervous, but if you’ll have me in the TARDIS, doing things wrong and probably getting into a lot of trouble, I’d love to join you.