The Time Ladies Doctor Who Fandom Spotlight: Art

by Beth Axford

Here at The Time Ladies, we are committed to lifting female, trans and non-binary voices, and getting their work seen and heard. There are many amazing female artists, writers, creators and cosplayers that we adore – and we want to share them with you.

Last summer we ran an exciting competition with our friends at Big Finish for the opportunity to write for their Bernice Summerfield short-story collection, In Time. Brilliantly, some of the finalists have also been commissioned to write for Benny boxset The New Adventures of Bernice Summerfield Volume 5: Buried Memories as well! We’re so proud of all the talented Doctor Who fans we know.

Some of these fans are incredible artists, and were lovely enough to share some of their work with us. Let’s meet the women who draw, paint and sketch Doctor Who…


When we decided on Imogen’s art to feature in this post, we didn’t know we were picking a future fan art competition runner up! Her beautiful artwork Positive Energy was printed onto t-shirts for fans to purchase here, and announced at San-Diego Comic Con last month. Imogen counts Mandip Gill as one of the many fans that adore her work and has even given prints to her in person.

What inspired Imogen to create Doctor Who art? ‘Probably my dad. He is a bigger fan than I am and is the reason I started watching the show In 2005! He used to work in graphics so always encouraged my artistic abilities. I admittedly trailed off making Doctor Who art until Jodie became the Doctor. When I saw her costume design I fell in love with the colours and I’ve been drawing her a lot since. Her expressive face is a treat for us artists to draw!’

You can find her portfolio HERE

Commission Imogen by emailing her at

Get the shirt

Follow Imogen on Twitter

Fetin Sardaneh


Fetin is a huge 13th Doctor fan and frequent attendee at London’s biggest Doctor Who quiz, The Quiz of Rassilon. We love her adorably soft aesthetic that creates dreamy pieces featuring our favourite Who characters. ‘I originally started as cosplaying Doctor Who characters at Comic Con, and it was only a few years ago that I decided to properly get back into drawing.’ Fetin revealed to us.

‘I naturally tend to turn my creativity towards the things I love, and for me that has been Doctor Who, ever since it was brought back to our screens in 2005! It doesn’t look like I’ll stop loving it and stop creating Doctor Who art anytime soon.’

You can find Fetin on Twitter

Or purchase her artwork on Etsy

Lucy Ward

This wonderful artwork captures our hero animatedly giggling and sonic-ing her way through space. We adore the colours and mood the piece creates, giving us ALL the Thirteenth Doctor feels.

‘I started to make Doctor Who art because I wanted to capture the Thirteenth Doctor’s energy through my style’ Lucy tells us. She has also created pieces featuring Yasmin Khan, the Eleventh Doctor and more, adorably created with a cute anime-esque style that we love.  Her use of colour and characterful expressions are the highlight of her work, we could pour over them all day!

For commissions contact through email or socials :

Instagram: lucy_m_ward

Rosie Vernon

Rosie’s Doctor Who art regularly fills our Twitter timeline with pops of colour and fun that is much appreciated during the long hiatus when the show isn’t on air. This Thirteenth Doctor piece is full of fun and captures the Time Lord perfectly as she stares off into the distance with a knowing expression on her face.  ‘I’ve loved Doctor Who since I was 4, and I’ve basically been making fan art for it ever since! (I once came home from school with a drawing of Satan’s Pit, much to my parents’ dismay)’ Rosie told us.

‘Something I love about the show is that it’s ever-changing, which means there are always new Doctors and companions to fall in love with, and inspire my art!’ We couldn’t have put it better ourselves!

Follow Rosie

Commission some art

Shop her art

Sefie Roselund


The most serious piece we’ve picked for this spotlight was beautifully created by Sefie Roselund, a chemical engineer and Doctor Who fan living in Finland. ‘I really started watching Doctor Who 7-8 years ago and was immediately sucked in!’  In her spare time she paints digitally, creating life-like and atmospheric art celebrating our favourite show.

‘For me, fan art in general is about celebrating the original media. When I really like a show or a character, I feel very inspired to draw something related to the show. Basically, drawing Doctor Who art is me saying “I really love this show!”. Sefie explained to us.

Follow Sefie here

Take a look at her portfolio

We’ve added these wonderful artists and other content creators to the new Our Friends page – a space for you to find art, podcasts, video, cosplay and more from the most talented, hard-working Doctor Who fans – KEEP AN EYE OUT!

If you’d like to send us your creations, you can do so at


Women Behind the TARDIS: An interview with Lisa Bowerman

Our Women Behind the TARDIS series focuses on the amazing women who’ve worked on our favourite show, with behind the scenes insights and in-depth interviews. We recently sat down with Lisa Bowerman to ask more about her incredible journey with Doctor Who and find out exactly where it all began…

Doctor Who has always been kept alive by spin-off shows, books, comics and more when it’s not on the air. One of the biggest and most loved parts of the Who world is Big Finish, home to officially licensed Doctor Who audio plays. Covering every Doctor, they’ve even brought back the original actors for new adventures to get our ears around. What some may not know so much about, however, is their creation of legendary original ranges and their expansion on guest characters and stories. A notable example is Seventh Doctor companion Bernice Summerfield. Created by Paul Cornell in 1992, she featured in Virgin New Adventures novel Love and War and was nabbed by Big Finish for audio tales in 1998. To get the low down on Bernice Summerfield and Lisa Bowerman’s long term involvement with Who, we went on an exciting trip to Big Finish HQ!

Stepping into the Big Finish studio in London feels like walking into a family home. Welcoming smiles and plates of sandwiches fill the lounge space, while exciting things are happening behind the studio doors; new Benny adventures are coming to life!

Excited Doctor Who chat ensues as it always does between fans, and we’re immediately comfortable in Lisa and the team’s presence. We’re eager to hear all about the last 30 years of her life and her journey with Doctor Who, and she seems excited to tell us about her first experience of the show, “I was always aware of it, but sometimes you’re just too young to know what’s going on. But I was aware of William Hartnell being on the television with his striking costume, and of Patrick Troughton. The one that I properly remember was Jon Pertwee.” We laugh as she remembers the terrifying Autons and reveals her love for the quirkiness of the third Doctor’s era. “Weirdly, My middle brother (also an actor) was getting his equity card in Northampton where they were filming The Talons Of Weng Chiang, and he was in it – as one of the stage hands (strictly non-speaking)! He got me Tom Bakers autograph!” she lovingly recounts. “But my first proper experience was, of course, Survival.”


Lisa’s first professional stint in the world of Who was an appearance in classic serial Survival, which sadly happened to be the last when the show was cancelled in 1989. So just how did she bag the role of a feisty, horse riding cheetah woman? “Mainly by accident, because someone backed out! They needed someone who could ride a horse, and I knew the director. They called me out of the blue and asked, ‘do you wear contact lenses?’ I said no, but I’m sure I can learn! The show was revealed to be Doctor Who with Alan Wareing directing, who had killed me off in Casualty!” (Lisa appeared in the first two series of the show playing paramedic Sandra Mute). Unfortunately, Lisa had previously had a horse accident, and had to be tested with a horse wrangler before being involved. “They said there was nothing they couldn’t teach me in a couple of lessons”. And what about realising the role of a Cheetah person? “If you read the original script, the Cheetah People were meant to be much more human than animal. The way the physicality’s were written is beautiful. It was nothing like the way it was realised.” Due to constraints and budget, these things often happen in television and film. “Everybody couldn’t quite decide. The make-up took 3.5 hours to test and with the full head piece, I couldn’t move my head. There was lots of confusion about who was responsible for what between the costume department and props.” The final make-up came together in 4 parts: the face panels and head piece, the contact lenses and the teeth, completing the look and transforming Lisa into a cat woman.

As well as the exciting role, this serial was the last transmitted story of the classic era. Did Lisa know it was going to be the last one? “The Doctor Who thing at that point, wasn’t as cool a thing as it is now, but no, we didn’t know it was going to be the last to go out. We certainly didn’t know it was going to be the last one ever… There was a BBC strike and we were running out of time and money. It took longer to take my makeup off than to put on, so they were ripping it off my face at the end of the day – just to get finished in time. I was supposed to die with my eyes open, but because of earlier delays, they’d taken my contact lenses in and out all day, and by the time we got to shoot the scene, I couldn’t physically open my eyes – which is why I died with them closed!” So, it turns out Lisa had quite a lot on her plate without thinking about the future of Doctor Who. “Of course, the episode went out on a weekday evening opposite Coronation Street, which didn’t help – and when it became obvious it was the end of the whole series. Andrew Cartmel wrote that lovely final speech, which I think is really good – and that was that.”

We go on to talk about that famous lesbian subtext that was included between Lisa’s character Karra and Sophie Aldred’s Ace. “Rona Munro had written this Lesbian subtext which I didn’t know was there. I was too busy trying to keep my teeth in and stay on the horse!”

Survival features fun, feisty companion Ace visiting her hometown, with a modern feeling storyline that almost certainly influenced the 2005 Reboot of the show, and Lisa agrees. “It is a continuation. When you look at Rose, especially with the council estate and that environment, you can absolutely see the parallels. Russell T Davies knew what he was doing. He knows his Doctor Who. Of all the people who could have brought it back, he was the guy wasn’t he?” She’s not wrong. When Doctor Who re-launched in 2005 it became a national, and eventually global phenomenon. With similar traits to late 80’s Who, its sad to think that the show was going in the right direction, but perhaps seemingly too early. “Compared to a lot of the stories around then, it really found its feet – Sylvester really found his feet. At that time there was a certain demographic of fan who didn’t quite go for it and who were probably going to dismiss anything from that era anyway”.


We tell her that we adore Survival, and that a lot of the fan base see it for how great it is now. “I love the fact that Survival has been re-evaluated, for Rona’s sake. She must have been one of the only female writers at that time.” We discuss Jane Baker (Of the Pip and Jane pairing) who had written for the show, but that Rona was indeed one of the first women to write a Who story by herself, with only a handful of women having written for it since. “When I met Rona for the first time and told her that I had been in Survival she asked, ‘were you eaten by a cheetah?’ I said, ‘I was the cheetah!’” Rona and Lisa would go on to hang out at the Gallifrey One convention earlier this year, which we’ll touch more on later.

Of course, Lisa then went on to portray Bernice Summerfield in her very own audio series, 20 years ago this year. How does it compare working in audio compared to TV? “I love creating characters. Audio gives you more freedom. It doesn’t matter what you look like, it doesn’t really matter how old you are… Acting, though, is a group sport, it’s like playing. It isn’t called a play for nothing!” When Big finish began, they had no Doctor Who rights and couldn’t get them because the BBC didn’t give out the license. They wanted something Who-related to create stories for fans and plucked Benny straight from the Virgin New Adventures novels. Virgin had just lost the rights to the show because of the release of Doctor Who’s TV Movie and had given Benny her own solo novel range, making her perfect for audio adventures. So what was it like recording the first Bernice audio story? (Oh no it isn’t! By Paul Cornell and adapted for audio by Jacqueline Rayner)

“After my initial audition with the chaps from Big Finish (Jason Haigh-Ellery, Gary Russell and Nick Briggs) I wasn’t too sure what I was in for. I’d been used to BBC Radio drama – and I had a feeling this might just be a few fan boys, in their front room with a Casio Recorder. The first studio they used was in a damp basement in Elephant & Castle – with a single microphone and a man with a DAT machine in the corner – then, of course – the cast turned up, and they were brilliant – including, of course, Mark Gatiss, and there was Nicholas Courtney (The Brigadier) – playing my cat!

I hadn’t particularly high hopes – but it wasn’t until I heard the final product, having been brilliantly edited by Alistair Lock – that I realised how good it was going to be. Needless to say – we moved studios after that! Digital recording was very much in its infancy in those days – but it sounded great. Obviously, the standards have got higher and higher over the years, and I think it’s fair to say, Benny’s fan base has expanded somewhat as well. It was a job I thought would last a couple of weeks, and that was it – I hadn’t even told my then agent I was doing it. I was slightly surprised when I was suddenly ‘launched’ by Big Finish, with a succession of interviews and presentations at conventions… I was suddenly introduced to a new world I never knew existed.”


How did Lisa prepare for the role of this iconic character? “I didn’t do my homework” She laughs, “I didn’t read any of the books – mainly because the character was so well drawn in the scripts.” We begin chatting about the transition of the character from the books, and how that was developed. “We must mention Jacqueline Rayner (Doctor Who author) here.” Lisa gushes. “She did such a brilliant job at adapting those books, as she had to take the Doctor out, as Big Finish didn’t have the rights at that time. She had to adapt it to make the character of Bernice central. Not an easy job. The moment you read her you realise she’s fun, clever and funny.” And what is it that she thinks makes the character so popular? “She’s not a superhero, and I think that’s her strength. She’s just a normal human being. She has ‘agency’ – a term I heard recently from Simon Guerrier. When she’s in trouble, she gets herself out of trouble. She’s not stupid, she has knowledge and she’s instinctive, but also – I think she’s quite good company.” We all agree that there is a certain relatability to the character that makes her exciting even without connections to the Who universe.

Bernice has had adventures with the seventh and eighth Doctors as well as unbound universe Doctor, David Warner. She seems to work brilliantly with all of them, and Lisa explains why. “I’ve worked with Sylvester McCoy, Paul McGann and now David Warner, and the character works with every single Doctor! She has a very convincing relationship with every Doctor because she takes every one of them at face value, won’t be afraid to challenge them – but will equally admit when she gets things wrong. She’s not a feminist icon, she’s not an icon, she’s somebody that people can relate to. She’s an ordinary person in extraordinary situations.” An archaeologist from the 26th century, Bernice meets the seventh Doctor and Ace on the planet Heaven, and subsequently began travelling with them in the continued new adventures books until Virgin Publishing lost the license. There’s a very big difference between Benny’s adventures and Doctor Who adventures though. “It’s much more adult, and if she’s in with the Doctor, we have to go back to Doctor Who rules…”


It’s also important to note that Bernice is officially the longest running Doctor Who companion, having adventures and continuous stories since 1992. In fact, in terms of audio dramas, she’s the longest running continual lead in an audio, ever! “And she’s never even been on television!” Lisa says, exasperated. “Sometimes I feel like, I’ve got the invitation but never quite get invited to the party. You get celebrations and anniversaries of the show, and she’s never mentioned! She wasn’t even mentioned in Night of The Doctor.” She did, however, make an appearance in official Twelfth Doctor Book The Big Bang Generation (2015). “I said to Gary (Russell, author of the book), ‘Oh it’s only because you couldn’t use River Song’, and he said ‘no, I’ve included Benny at Steven Moffat’s request!’ I always wish I’d had the balls to go up to Steven and say ‘I dare you. Put her in one episode, just one episode!” It does seem a shame that she hasn’t been seen on-screen and appreciated by the wider fan base, even though she’s been canonised officially on page.

The character definitely has similarities with on-screen character River Song, who also happens to be an archaeologist with a diary. “When River turned up, Steven Moffat did admit to a very big Benny fan at a convention recently that Benny was the inspiration. But I always say they diverge hugely as characters. Other than archaeology, and the diary, there’s nothing to compare the two characters at all.” Her tone changes again to exasperated but light hearted. “When she first turned up I was quietly seething in my armchair. ‘I’ve been slogging my guts out for years you could have at least…’ But then it became obvious that it was a very, very different character indeed.” We divulge that we’re not huge River Song fans, but that the character is loved by many. But what is it then, that makes Benny and her story maintain such longevity? “We’ve had 20 years to flesh her out. Paul Cornell created such a great character, which means she can live on for so long.”

Benny’s adventures were Big Finish’s first audio outing, and proved that there was still a huge market for Doctor Who and it’s spin offs. “Big Finish did prove that there was still a market, an appetite, a huge appetite. I went to Gallifrey One in 1999, when it was 250 people attending. Now look at it!”


Lisa tells us the story of where she was when the show came back. “When it came back in 2005, my partner and I happened to be at Heathrow and they had put it up on the flight arrivals board! When other new series have started, they’ve even lit up the London Eye blue and I thought how the hell did this happen? I was against Coronation Street 16 years ago and now this, what’s going on?!” A truly phenomenal time then for fans of the classic series and the audio books, who so desperately wanted the show to return. And it’s a good job it did, or we wouldn’t even be here conducting this interview!

“Rose was like yesterday.” Lisa mutters in shock. “What I have noticed about fandom now is that there are more girls. When I went to conventions 12 years ago, you’d find 3 middle aged women and that was it.” And, as we’ve proved on The Time Ladies, there are hundreds of female who fans out there. Why does she think this is nowadays? “You could argue that when there’s a younger Doctor it changes the dynamic they have with the companions, which I’ve always been cautious about. The ‘will-they-won’t-they’ changes the relationship between them, and the responsibility of the Doctor to be the moral guardian. It muddies the pool a bit. I personally, as a child never felt any attraction towards the Doctor.” She laughs heartily. “There was an eccentricity to all the Doctors in those days. So you could argue that, in changing that- it was an interesting move, and brought in more female Doctor Who fans. The end game of that though is that because there are more female Doctor Who fans, it opens the door to a lot more options, which is what we’ve got now.”

And, as we finish up the interview, there is one last thing that Lisa wants to touch on. The subject being America’s biggest Doctor Who convention: Gallifrey One’s ‘Gallifrey Waits No More’ all female panel which took place in February 2018. “I was at Gallifrey One and as you probably know, there was a panel which turned into a sort of ‘Me Too’ confessional.” ‘Me Too’ is a global movement fighting against sexual harassment and assault, encouraging victims to tell their stories with the hashtag #MeToo. Various female Doctor Who alumni, on stage – recounted their own experiences of sexual harassment, and it quickly went viral in the community. So what was the panel originally supposed to be about? “It was meant to be about a female Doctor. ‘Gallifrey waits no more for a female Doctor!’” she explains. “But it very quickly became a panel about something completely different, about women working in the industry. It’s very difficult to comment on because some of the stories were very harrowing, some weren’t so harrowing. I hate this word ‘empower’ because it’s not very helpful.” She goes on. “You should just be yourself and do your job without having to play a game of being powerful. I was very conscious that the stories that had come out on the internet didn’t really convey the fact that none of these stories related to anything that anyone had experienced on the Doctor Who set or in the Doctor Who world.” Which is, indeed a very important point. Nobody on stage had experienced sexual harassment or abuse on the Doctor Who set, which is an incredible testament to the show and its morals, and something we’re very happy to report.


So what are Lisa’s thoughts on the Me Too movement? “I haven’t experienced anything personally to be able to say ‘Me Too’. There are certainly many different interpretations and levels of offence. but as the quote says– ‘the past is a foreign country , they do things differently there’ – and certainly in terms of historic cases – though it’s not justification – people just took some of the behaviour as the norm. It depends on how easily you are offended, and what level the ‘offence’. In terms of equal opportunity for actresses though – as I said earlier on in the panel, Doctor Who and science fiction have served female characters well over the years. I think if you’re going to be an actress in any genre this is the one. In terms of the ‘new’ Doctor – The Doctor, as a character, will always have the same traits, the same moral compass, and isn’t known for throwing his muscles around. So really, It doesn’t matter if it’s a woman or a man playing the character.”

“They’ve always existed: Vicki, Liz Shaw, Sarah Jane.” She goes on to add. “They’re all strong female characters. You could argue against some of them, but they are there. They weren’t always just screaming girls. I don’t think Bonnie [Langford] was very well served, but it got better with Ace.” It’s always hard to examine characters from such a long time ago, mostly because they are products of their time. In some ways, Doctor Who was always ahead of the game with its women, but not always. “I can’t stand when things are too politicised. It alienates people. It’s important to have well written drama that isn’t too polemic – or there’s an inevitable backlash. You’re never going to convert anyone by bashing them over the head with ‘messages’. Intelligent, well written, relatable drama, is the key. There were a lot of comments in the panel saying ‘isn’t it a pity that we haven’t got… And I was thinking, ‘well actually you are talking about Ace’, I wanted to bring up Liz Shaw, Sarah Jane, Leela and Romana – even Benny. Again, I have a slight issue with the words ‘strong woman’. Why don’t you just call them women – or just… people? You get weak women, you get strong women. You get weak men, you get strong men. It’s an individual thing. If they’re a well written, observed and truthful character, that’s the bottom line.”

Doctor Who has now significantly stepped up its game in terms of equality, and have finally cast a female Doctor. There’s been some backlash though, with lots of people saying the role should stay male. What are her thoughts on this? “Change is always a challenge. They did the same to Matt Smith and Peter Capaldi. This particular fandom have a sense of ownership and entitlement and you get it with most fandoms. I listened to Matt Smith’s desert island discs and he said he almost turned it down! After he’d said yes, somebody apparently said to him in the street ‘just don’t ruin it’. Everything creative is subjective, you can’t please all people all the time. You can’t play to a demographic, otherwise you end up with an end product that’s very bland. In terms of the Doctor being a woman – well – why not? As I said earlier – the Doctor’s essential character won’t change – and I think, as with most Doctors in the past – she’ll just be reflecting the spirit of her age.” Doctor Who has always been one to take risks, and probably wouldn’t have lasted over 50 years without doing so.


Going back to the Gallifrey One panel, Lisa says, “They were talking about the Bechdel test saying, ‘isn’t it a pity we don’t have a character like this…’ and making a list of traits. Ironically, James Goss had written a recent article talking about how many points of the test Benny as a character had passed. I had to put my hand up and say ‘she does exist, and I’ve been playing her for the last 20 years and GUESS WHAT? She was created by a man!” It’s clear to see that Lisa is massively passionate about Bernice, her legacy and how she fits in with the rest of Doctor Who. With 2018 being her 20th anniversary year of audios with Big Finish, is there anything she wants to add? “I’m now past my mid 50s and thank god for audio, because there’s not much else of interest on offer unfortunately after a certain age. It’s been proven that Bernice can survive away from the Doctor Who world, and she’s stayed around since. Big Finish have always stuck with Bernice Summerfield, and I’m so grateful that they have.”

With a call to the studio, Lisa is whisked away by the Big Finish team, ready to carry on her many adventures in space and time. Here’s to another 20 years, Benny.

We recently partnered with Big Finish to launch a competition for a new Bernice Summerfield writer! The winner will have their short story read by Lisa Bowerman as part of the Bernice Summerfield short stories anthology, In Time. Keep your eyes peeled on our social media channels for the winner announcement.

Jenny Colgan: The Christmas Invasion Q+A

Today marks the launch of 5 new Doctor Who target novelisations, featuring new series episodes for the first time! We spoke to Jenny Colgan about her Christmas Invasion novelisation, her favourite female Who character and more…

How does your version of The Christmas Invasion differ to the television episode?

We go a little deeper, both into how the Guinevere space programme works and meet some of the people behind that, as well as more into what life is really like for Jackie. If everyone is the hero of their own story, Jackie’s is utterly heartbreaking, certainly for the first couple of series. And Daniel Llewyllen gets a lot more screen time in the novel, I liked him a lot in the show.


How did you find writing an adaption of a pre-existing story?

Oh, brilliant! It was writing with all the difficult bits taken out! RTD is of course a genius and he’d done all the hard work for me. All I had to do was add a few ‘she saids’ onto his brilliant script (more or less :)).

How does writing for Doctor Who differ to writing your other novels?

Well you have a very clear set of physical characters and lots of established rules. But in a funny way that makes it more fun; you have to be more creative. I’ve been doing it for a while now, and I never lose the joy of someone standing at a TARDIS console.


Can you share your first memory of Doctor Who, and what is it that makes you love the show so much?

My first memory is of City of Death, seeing the second Romana’s face being drawn as a clock at the end of the episode and being immediately sucked in and fascinated by this amazing show. I must have been about 7 and I’ve loved it ever since.


What is your favourite female character in Doctor Who?

The Doctor!

Finally, could you tell us what having a female Doctor means to you?

It means this to me: it means absolutely nothing to my children (two boys and a girl). They shrugged their shoulders and will watch regardless and consider it no more extraordinary than their female doctor at the local GP practice. That’s what it means.


A massive thanks to Jenny for speaking to us about her book, the Target Collection is available now!

Women Behind The TARDIS: Emily Cook, Doctor Who Magazine

By Kezia Newson

Welcome to our Women Behind the TARDIS series! This year we’ll be bringing you exclusive content from some of the amazing women who work on all aspects of Doctor Who. After all, 2018 is the year of the Time Lady.

We meet our first interviewee at a very busy London Victoria station on a dull, grey Saturday morning. In contrast, Emily is like a ray of sunshine, all enthusiasm and generosity over our nerves of conducting our first ever interview, gulp. Having secured a cosy spot out of the drizzle in the uninspiring but all together capable Pret, we slurped our tea and got to know Doctor Who Magazine’s wonderful Editorial Assistant a little better. They say never leave Doctor Who fans together, because boy can we talk.

Naturally, we gush over the latest issue of DWM which features the 13th Doctor resplendent on the front cover – ‘Jodie Whittaker is The Doctor!’ What does a woman being cast as the Doctor mean to you? Emily considers the question before openly answering “I am just going to be honest here and say that personally I wasn’t sure about the idea of a female Doctor before we knew who it was going to be. It wasn’t because I thought the character should always be a man – that’s a ridiculous thing to say because the Doctor’s a shape-changing fictional alien so anything is possible! – but I was just wary about such a big change (Doctor Who fans can be so resistant to change, can’t they? …which is ironic given the nature of the show!)”.

She pauses before exclaiming, “However! When we saw that big reveal scene, and the hood comes down and it’s Jodie Whittaker… as soon as we saw her, I felt like we were seeing the Doctor and it just felt so right. I was so excited! Obviously now having seen a scene with her, she just is the Doctor. What a fab first line – “Oh brilliant!” – it’s so confident. It’s saying, ‘Right, I’m accepting who I am’ and I think that’s quite a powerful statement. How amazing for Jodie, and how amazing for the show. We’re lucky to have her.”

Emily leans forward, and just like old friends sharing their most treasured memories says, “I’ve met Jodie briefly, and she just had this aura of ‘Doctor-ness’ about her, I can’t describe it any other way. I felt like I was seeing the Doctor. Just trust me, she’s going to be amazing.” Talk about goose bumps, we can’t wait.

So how did Emily get into Doctor Who to begin with? “I was aware of Doctor Who vaguely as a child; my parents talked about it and they tried to get me to watch some Tom Baker stuff but I really wasn’t interested. In 2005, when they told me it was coming back, I thought, ‘I’m not actually that bothered by it.’ I think it was on at the same time as Ant and Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway which I loved and I thought, ‘There’s no way I’m giving up Ant and Dec for this old programme!’ But my parents told me to give it a go… and literally within seconds I was hooked. I don’t think I even blinked all the way through! It was like nothing I’d ever seen before. It captured my imagination and I was so excited about that. And throughout that first series I just loved it more and more – by the time Series 2 was on and David Tennant was the Doctor, I was basically hyperventilating!”

Any young adult Doctor Who fan has excellent memories of playing as an Ood in the playground, designing their own monsters and begging their parents to buy them Slitheen branded frubes in Tesco. Emily went one step further and created her own episode – a girl after our own hearts!


“For my 13th birthday, rather than go bowling, have a disco or a sleepover like a normal teenager would do, I wrote a script for my own episode of Doctor Who – it was called Monsters’ Revenge – and invited all my friends round to act it out and film it. Thankfully I had fantastic friends and they all spent their own time creating costumes and learning their lines! I was Rose (dressed in the Tooth and Claw costume). One friend came in a full Dalek costume created from a laundry basket spray-painted gold, and another friend’s dad’s made an incredibly accurate cardboard K9 which we put on top of a Barbie remote-control car! Once me and dad had edited it (special effects and all!) I held a premiere screening of the episode for all my friends and gave them a DVD each to keep. It was so much fun!”

Touching more on the inspiration Doctor Who gave her, she says “As a 13-year-old I started writing for a David Tennant fan website – it was called The Who Crew and we wrote episode reviews – and I was so proud of it! So I think my love for writing about Doctor Who came from quite an early age really, and it never went away. Now I get to do it as a profession!”


After gushing over the ingenuity of her 13th birthday party (truly jel), we ask more about her role at DWM. As she responds with a knowing smile, we get the idea that not only does Emily adore her job, but that it’s quite the unique position! “Day-to-day it’s really varied.”

But the kind of things she works on? “When I first got on board I was mainly doing editorial jobs, a lot of proofreading. Over the last year or so I’ve started to do more copy editing as well, which is the next level of getting a text ready and making sure it’s in the DWM style. I compile the letters page, text for the competitions page, put the news together! Plus I’ve recently taken over the social media side of things as well!”


What’s it like being part of the DWM team? “The team is fantastic. In our editorial meetings we all like to pitch in with ideas, working out what content we want for the magazine in the coming months. We’re always looking several issues ahead – by the time you’re reading an issue of DWM we’re already way ahead making the next one. As I’ve got more experience, I’ve had the opportunity to write for the mag. I really love the writing side of the job. I’ve now written reviews, features, interviews, articles… it’s great because this gives me the opportunity to get out and about and meet really cool people to talk about Doctor Who.” Something else occurs to her. “But even when we’re in the office, there’s always a conversation about Doctor Who to be had!” and laughing, she adds “Other people in the Panini office (DWM’s publisher) will say, ‘How do you guys talk about Doctor Who all the time?!’” Classic Doctor Who fans.

Connecting with readers is a highlight. “One of my favourite things is editing the letters page and seeing some really heart-warming messages about how DWM is the light they have in their lives. Or how they’ve read it for decades… or if they’re a new reader!” And is keeping a balance for both new and older fans difficult? “With DWM we’re very aware that the fanbase is so diverse and there are so many people you’re trying to keep happy. What newer fans might want to see possibly isn’t what the long-time readers who have been reading it since it launched in 1979 want to see, so it’s important to get that balance.” We comment on the latest issue being a prime example of a perfect blend; covering the very latest in 13th Doctor news, whilst having the fourth Doctor’s The Face of Evil in the comprehensive feature The Fact of Fiction. “There’s so much Doctor Who to draw on, hopefully there will always be something to keep someone happy.”

Speaking about the rest of her team, who are obviously quite a tight knit bunch, she says, “I love my colleagues to bits. They’re all amazing people who consistently inspire me and make me laugh. We share a love for Doctor Who and get on really well.”


Very obviously, Emily didn’t fall into her job at DWM and it turns out it’s quite the timey wimey tale! “So a little bit of an odd story…” she says as she settles in to take us through her journey. “I was a reader of DWM in my teenage years – my Grandma bought it for me as a subscription and when that ran out I bought it with my pocket money. Jump forward a few years and when I was studying English Language and Linguistics at university one of my modules was ‘Writing in the Media’ and we had to put together a magazine portfolio. As a big fan I obviously wanted to include Doctor Who in it somehow! So I managed to get in touch with Louise Jameson.”

By the way, if Emily isn’t an impressive enough human being already, she’s also the founder and chairman of charity Khushi Feet, which was established in 2012 to fund education for children living on the streets or in deprived slum areas of India. Little did she know two worlds were to collide at an event her charity was running. At her ‘world record for the largest Bollywood dance’ fundraiser in 2013, she got talking to the lead dancer, who’s partner John Ainsworth worked at Doctor Who Magazine!

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John helped her reach out to Louise, “She was more than happy to do an interview.” Which led to her also interviewing Sophie Aldred. “They were both so lovely and helpful when I approached them to ask if I could conduct interviews for my coursework. They were so encouraging at the start of my career too, and I’ll never ever forget that. I enjoyed my coursework so much that I wanted to pursue it further… so I emailed John (again) asking if it would be possible to arrange some work experience. I knew they might not do that sort of thing very often but I said I’d love to come and have a go. I then got offered a placement… and I was thrilled.”

“After I found out I’d got a work experience placement at Doctor Who Magazine, I contacted both Lou and Sophie to tell them my exciting news and thanked them again for their help. Louise told me that she lived just down the road from the DWM office and offered for me to stay at her house for the week to save me commuting in, which was just so incredibly kind of her.” We audibly gasp at the thought of Queen Leela helping out another lady. “I’m still in touch with Lou today. She is one of the nicest people I know!” We probably looked like heart eye emojis by this point as Emily told us about the next step into her role.


“I did the work experience and absolutely loved it! I don’t think the DWM guys actually realised how star struck I was to meet them – they’d made the magazine I’d read and loved for years!” Education calling, Emily went to finish her Masters.  “…and although I’d loved working at DWM for a week I wasn’t expecting to get a job out of it. I applied to do teacher training and got a place on a teacher training course.” What a different life you could have had! “Yeah! And then John got back in touch with me, and asked me what my plans were for the next year ‘because we’d like to offer you some work’ and I thought, ‘Well, teaching can wait for now!’ I started working part time on Doctor Who: The Complete History, then started working on the magazine as well and I’ve never looked back!”


Phew, that’s quite the alternate way to get a job! Totally untraditional, we love hearing that someone who started somewhere doing work experience landed their dream role. Emily grins and nods. “I have to pinch myself every month when I’m paid to make DWM rather paying to read it!”

As we tell Emily we’re going to ask her a couple of tough questions, she looks a little nervous, and then cracks up laughing when we ask who her favourite female character is in Doctor Who: “You do realise you are asking the near impossible! I love them all!” Maybe we should give our interviewees some warning beforehand? “I think the fact that there are so many is such a good sign!” And after some serious thought, “I am going to say that my ultimate number 1 is Rose, and she’s also my favourite companion. Because of the age I was when Doctor Who came back (11), I wanted to be her. I think that was the first time in my life that I felt empowered, actually. She was so feisty and had so many moments where I looked at how strong she was and thought, ‘Yeah, I want to be Rose.’”

As we start reminiscing about watching Rose for the first time, Emily speaks more on her Rose love affair. “So I think the very first moment I saw her strength was in Rose when she’s in the Nestene Consciousness’ lair saying ‘I’ve got no A levels. No job. No future…’ She’s got nothing, but instead of giving up she just goes for it and uses her resources. She thinks ‘I’m fairly good at gymnastics – I got the bronze!’ and swings on the chain and saves the Doctor. That’s a companion defining moment.” We nod fervently. “She knows her own mind, she knows what to do, she wants an adventure.”

As we opened up the floor to more than one character they just keep on coming (not surprising really!) “And River Song. Because how awesome is River Song? She does everything the Doctor does just as well, sometimes even better! She’s completely his equal… And Missy, you’re not meant to love her but everyone does, right? And it showed that it worked – having a female version of a character that people had known before. And I must just say Bill as well. Pearl Mackie was the best thing about Series 10. I think that the audience’s way of understanding the series is through the companion and Bill was just such a human character that you could really connect to the Doctor through.”


We’re loving all this love for our favourite characters, and another personal one comes to mind from Emily. “I also love Sarah Jane because she’s a journalist – I can see some of myself in her character!” So many inspirational characters, who are inspirational in so many different ways. “That’s another thing… There’s such a wonderful variety of brilliant female characters in Doctor Who, so hopefully all girls (and boys for that matter) can find someone they relate to.”

As the clock is nearing 12pm we try to squeeze a few more tales over our now cooling tea. Could you possibly give us a highlight from your time working on Doctor Who Magazine? “I love it every single day. There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t appreciate the job. Working on issue 500 of DWM was amazing. There were people who came back to celebrate issue 500 that had been working on the magazine since it started in 1979 and I thought, ‘They’ve been working on this thing for longer than I’ve been born – I’m just a drop in the ocean compared to them – should I even be here?’” We shake our heads as Miss Cook is far too humble for what a mark she’s made on the magazine.

Considering her DWM highlights Emily continues: “As part of issue 501 we had a massive interview with Tom Baker. My biggest DWM highlight has to be driving a box of those issues to Tom Baker’s house because he wanted to sign some…” We nod eagerly, (Emily is a great storyteller). “So I drove some of the DWM team. I was nervous, but it was nervous excitement because I was there in a professional capacity but I’m never going to stop being a fan! And we just sat there chatting to Tom Baker who just completely is the Doctor. He was telling us all sorts of stories. And at the end I said ‘Tom, I know you’ve signed all these magazines but is it possible to sign this one for me?’ And he said ‘Oh of course, not at all!’ It was just the loveliest thing.”

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“For me, this isn’t just a job. DWM will always mean a lot to me and it’s really touching to know how much it means to so many other people. I think the thing to remember about DWM is that the people who make it, we really care about it. The people who make it and the people who read it… we’re all fans together. We all love Doctor Who. We’re all reading, watching it together. And that’s very important. That’s what makes Doctor Who and DWM so special.”

And so rounds up our time with Emily. Commenting on how Doctor Who has fuelled the passion for her career, she nods and says, “It’s my passion for Doctor Who that actually led me into the profession I’m in now. Obviously there are things that I’m doing that aren’t related to Doctor Who, like the journalism skills I’ve picked up which are transferrable, but it’s all been driven by that love. If you’re a proper fan, it’s for life. I’ve sold my soul to Doctor Who!”

Isn’t that something we know all too well?

With a warm hug, a beaming smile and the air of a woman who’s being her absolute best, Emily leaves us to meet a friend. But of course is on Facebook messenger to us later that day, telling us what a lovely time she had, offering nuggets of wisdom and divulging even more incredible stories. She reminds us of a certain someone… we have a feeling that Sarah Jane Smith and Emily Cook would have got on famously.

You can follow Emily on Twitter here, and Doctor Who Magazine here.

We’ll be continuing Women Behind the TARDIS in February, chat to us on Twitter here.