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

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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? THE BEST OF SERIES 12 SO FAR… says Beth

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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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5 Questions we have after Spyfall

By Beth Axford

After a year’s wait, Doctor Who finally returned to our screens last week in the huge Series 12 opener, Spyfall. The two-part story exploded with twists and turns that took our breath away – leaving us with a whirlwind of questions and ponderings. The Kasaavin! The Master! Gallifrey! It’s more excitement than a Time Lady can handle. There are five main things we’ve managed to get our brains around and thoughts down, but a million more questions inside each one…

Who are the Kasaavin?

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The Doctor managed to stop the Kasaavin and their evil plan to upgrade human beings by travelling back in time and planting a virus in their tech. But just who are the Kasaavin? We know from what we’ve seen so far that the creatures are ‘alien spies’ who have been collecting information on the human race, but is there more to them than we’ve seen in Spyfall? We aren’t sure what they truly look like or the real reason they appear the way they do. Plus, their plan to upgrade and make humans better all seems a bit… Cybermen. We know the Doctor’s deadly foes are returning later this series (as seen in the S12 trailer) – could they be in on the plan too? We’re intrigued and hope series 12 expands more on these deadly villains.

Barton also nips off to an unknown location, leaving us questioning what became of him. As seen on the scanner in Part 1, He isn’t 100% human – so what is the other 7%? Will he stay in league with the Kasaavin? Where has he disappeared to? So many questions!

What happened to Yaz?

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Poor Yaz got zapped to the Kasaavin dimension during Spyfall Part One. The next time we see her, she is transported to Australia where the Doctor, Graham, and O are investigating – but what happened to her, and why was she taken? It’s unclear why she was moved between the dimensions and if anything significant happened to her there. She is visibly shaken and distraught from the experience, even telling Ryan she thought she was dead. It seems like something deeper might be going on here and that Yaz might not be the same person who went into Barton’s office.

Building on this, the Master pays significant attention to her and tells her to stick with him. This could just be his way of messing with the Doctor by teasing her friends – or perhaps something more is going on with the pair since we are unaware of what happened to Yaz in the Kasaavin dimension. One thing seems clear though; Yasmin Khan has been through a lot – who knows where her character arc will go next?

Who is the Timeless Child?

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The Timeless Child was first mentioned in The Ghost Monument (2018). Surrounding the Doctor and the gang, the deadly shrouds hissed at the Doctor; ‘We see deeper though. Further back – the Timeless Child.’ At the time, none of us were sure if it was a hint at a story arc or just a throw-away line, but it looks like Chibnall has been planning this one for a while. At the end of Spyfall, The Master tells the Doctor that he destroyed Gallifrey because the Time Lords lied to them; ‘built on the lie of the Timeless Child.’

Who is the Timeless Child? What is the lie surrounding them? Will we find out this series?

Will the fam ever truly know the Doctor?

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During Spyfall, we see Yaz, Ryan, and Graham split up from the Doctor. Of course, a returning villain like the Master brings up LOADS of questions and the fam realise the absence of knowledge about their friend. At the end of the adventure, Graham asks, ‘Why don’t you ever share anything with us?’ Rightly pointing out that she knows everything about her TARDIS team but they don’t know much about her at all. She reveals where she’s from and the name of her race, telling her friends who the Master really is. But will their relationships be affected by how little they know about her? It seems like the lack of trust may be a continuing plot thread in this series, and we are very intrigued by this deeper look into the Doctor and her companions.

What will the Master do next?

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The biggest surprise of Spyfall has to be the return of the Master… seriously, who was expecting that?! Played by the incredible Sacha Dhawan, the Master disguised himself as agent ‘O’ in order to fool the Doctor and help the Kasaavin with their plan. Hell-bent on killing the Doctor and her friends, he puts them on a crashing plane with a bomb in the front seat. Of course, the Doctor isn’t letting her fam die in a hurry and manages to save them from their impending death. The Master follows the Doctor through time, trying to track her down and end her once and for all; even having time for a deep chat on the Eiffel Tower. Good will always win out though, and when the Kasaavin hear the truth of the Master’s plan they disappear to their realm, taking him with them. What will the Master do next? Will he be stuck there? If the Gallifrey storyline continues, we’re bound to see him pop up again…

What did you think of Spyfall? Do you have any other questions or theories? Let us know via Twitter, Instagram or email us at thetimeladies@yahoo.com

23 Stories to Revisit on Doctor Who’s 56th Anniversary

The 23rd of November marks the 56th anniversary of Doctor Who – a milestone it wouldn’t be close to reaching without the passion and devotion of its incredible fan base. Over the years we’ve been treated to a number of specials that specifically celebrate each anniversary – all of which are obvious choices to re-watch each November. 

This year we decided to ask 23 contributors to share with us a story that sums up the magic of the show, no matter how unique or controversial. The results showed us that actually, it isn’t the big celebratory, spectaculars that capture what we love about Doctor Who. In fact, it’s the smaller and more personal stories full of life lessons and heart.

Surprisingly, hardly anyone picked the same story as another. The diversity of options and opinions shows that Doctor Who truly has something for everyone. So, if you’re having trouble picking a DVD from your shelf this anniversary, look no further than these 23 stories special chosen by female, trans and non-binary fans.

An Unearthly Child – @0hmyst4rs

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It wouldn’t be a Doctor Who anniversary if you didn’t watch the very first episode, would  it? The magic begins in 1963 as two teachers follow their student into a Junkyard to discover more about her, unaware the truth is bigger than they could ever have imagined. The relationship between the characters are wonderfully unique, these brief and chaotic encounters eventually blossoming into a magical TARDIS team. Full of black and white charm and 60’s vibes that makes me nostalgic for an era I never knew, this story is a special one for us all – the very beginning!

The Five Doctors – @Tardis_monkey

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The Five Doctors’ was the first-ever Doctor Who story I watched as a kid. It was the most fantastical story with five actors playing The Doctor, a menagerie of companions and a whole load of classic villains. What more could you want from a Doctor Who story that celebrates not only its history, but was in aid of a brilliant cause: Children in Need. It opened up so many doors to the world of Doctor Who and I have never looked back. Thank you, Terrance Dicks and happy anniversary Doctor Who.

Hell Bent – @Clara_paige

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I love Hell Bent! It’s perfect for an anniversary rewatch because it packs in so much of what works in Doctor Who. Before Jodie took to the TARDIS, Clara Oswald assumed the role of the Doctor and flew off to have adventures in her own right. What could be more inspiring?

Flatline – @vranouk

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From the tiny TARDIS to the iconic “goodness had nothing to do with it” closing line, Flatline is a work of genius that joyfully subverts nearly every rule in the Doctor Who playbook. It manages to turn a very simple concept – The Doctor is trapped and the companion has to get them out – into a thoughtful exploration of Doctor Who itself. The casual horror of the Boneless walking, the joy with which Clara calls herself the Doctor, ‘local knowledge’ Rigsy, the visual gag of the Doctor moving the tiny TARDIS Addams Family-style: all of these are stand-out moments in a near-flawless episode. But perhaps most importantly of all, Flatline is a story about the Doctor and the consequences of being around them. For 45 brilliant minutes, the roles of the Doctor and Clara are reversed, and she is confronted with the impossible choices the Doctor makes every day. Years before the Thirteenth Doctor, it was an absolute joy to watch.

The Husbands of River Song – @FaceofBoaz

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I love The Husbands of River Song because it gives us a glimpse into both how The Doctor sees the Companion role, and how a Companion behaves without The Doctor around (as far as she knows). While it’s all great fun, there is still a hurt that permeates – River doesn’t need The Doctor or care about him at all. The eventual revelation that she truly loves him and the counter revelation that he truly loves her is one of the most feel-good resolutions of an episode. Especially knowing that this is River’s last true interaction with the Doctor, it gives us a nice bow on their relationship, echoing her words from The Wedding of River Song – “I can’t let you die without knowing you are loved . . . and by no one more than me.” Watching relationships play out in often unorthodox fashions is one of my favourite elements of Doctor Who, and this episode is one of the best representations of that aspect of the show.

The Woman Who Fell to Earth – @Niamhmakennedy

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“We’re all capable of the most incredible change”

After Jodie was announced as the 13th Doctor, I couldn’t watch any of her trailers, or appearances in character, without crying. Bit weird, I’m aware. Turns out I was going through a personal experience just as monumental as the casting, to me, at least. Gender has never quite sat right with me. I didn’t know why, but being a ‘woman’ or ‘man’ felt restrictive and gross. Watching 13 bound onto the TV, improvising her way through saving the world, not only comfortable but rejoicing in her new body and personality while also not giving a frick that it happened to be a woman’s one, showed me the possibilities open to me if I did the same. A few months later, I came out as non-binary, and I’ve never been happier. (And yes, I cried all through the episode. It was awesome.)

Genesis of the Daleks – @abitmeddlesome

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Genesis of the Daleks is a story that captivates by the title alone. As the audience, we’ve seen the Daleks but were never given an origin. It begins with the Doctor and his friends dropped into a war to end all wars between two races: the Thals and the Kaleds. We watch as a mad scientist creates the Doctor’s most fearsome foes. Among the chaos, our hero is faced with a terrible choice: with his foreknowledge, does he allow these creatures to evolve knowing what they will become, or does he obliterate an entire race at their birth?

Demons of the Punjab – @NatalieRobyn812

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Demons is probably not the first episode that would come to mind when you think of a Doctor Who anniversary rewatch, but for me, it’s a perfect example of a type of story that Doctor Who does so well, yet you’d never really think about it. It’s all about the darkest side of human nature, think about stories such as the Caves of Androzani or Planet of the Ood or Oxygen. But what Demons does differently is provide us with a strong emotional connection to the story and the characters that it has, which leads up to a devastating conclusion. It’s just another case of the show being extraordinarily good at forming a connection with characters we barely know. And yet, it ends perfectly like Doctor Who, with the idea and theme of hope always being there.

Dimensions in Time – @JDenchen

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I’ve chosen this story as my entry into essential viewing for 56 years of Doctor Who, not just as it means so much to me on a personal level, but as I genuinely believe there is something for all fans here. If you look past the obvious lack of plot and shoehorned addition of EastEnders, which in fairness are huge things to look past, it has all surviving Doctors of the time, bundles of companion cameos, the madness of the JNT era (after all this was his last story in charge of the show) and the charm of 90s television. This story serves more as a celebration of the series rather than a plot-driven piece.

As far as John Nathan-Turner and David Roden were concerned this was the final legitimate Doctor Who story. I believe it celebrates the series in such a way, not with the plot, or cameos, or Doctors, or references, but the ambition.  I believe the same ambition went into bringing the show back and the eventual casting of the first female Doctor Jodie Whittaker. This story is one of those people either love or loathe, and hating it isn’t fair. Don’t take it seriously. Watch it for its comedic and bizarre nature and it’ll make for great viewing. This is why I think it’s perfect viewing to celebrate 56 years of Doctor Who. I’m not saying Dimensions in Time is “Heaven Sent” drama, but that its uniqueness will make a fun viewing.

Boom Town – @HarryLikesSuits

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Boom Town may seem like an odd choice of an episode to pick out as one to watch to celebrate Doctor Who’s anniversary, but it’s a story that doesn’t take itself too seriously, has great moments for everybody in the TARDIS team, and that allows the viewer to simply enjoy themselves. After all, who could forget Margret the Slitheen’s dinner date with the Doctor? Or the TARDIS defeating her by turning her into an egg? No, it isn’t the most profound story that Doctor Who has ever had, but it’s pure fun – and, at the end of the day, isn’t that what the show is supposed to be?

The Green Death – @IreneWildthyme

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The Green Death is to me, a perfect Doctor Who story. Love, environmental justice and fighting for what you believe in. Giant maggots in Llanfairfach lead The Doctor to BOSS and Jo Grant to Professor Clifford Jones, Biologist, expert of fungus, who she would marry by the end of the story. An ending Jo deserved and an adventure that has been long explored throughout the Who universe and continues to thrive, particularly through Big Finish. Mike Yates undercover, Metebelis 3 and The Doctor’s many disguises are all memorable, the most poignant being the subtle exit of The Doctor in Bessie after toasting the happy couple never fails to make one shed a tear. It is truly the end of an era for Pertwee fans but also the beginning of new adventures for The Doctor, Jo and UNIT. That is why this will forever be one of my favourite stories.

Love and Monsters – @strange_cherry

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I don’t know any episode as misunderstood as “Love and Monsters”. I know most of you probably cringed when you saw this name in this list. “What is this… thing is doing here? I am here to celebrate Doctor Who!” Indeed you are. But is it not a great way to celebrate Doctor Who than to watch again an hommage to its fans?

 L.I.N.D.A. is the most accurate representation of Doctor Who fans you can find… and it comes from the show itself! A group of people with various backgrounds, various hobbies, but united by one passion: The Doctor. Friends sharing many fond moments, even if they have nothing more in common than this Gallifreyan folk. If it is not the quintessence of the fandom, I don’t know what is.

The Doctors Wife – @christawolf94

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For me, one of the stories that is a perfect illustration of everything worth loving about Doctor Who is The Doctor’s Wife, Neil Gaiman’s first and best contribution to the show. By focusing on the TARDIS and giving her a voice, it changes how we see the show: not just the story a madman (or madwoman) with a box, but the story of two very close friends exploring the universe together. Even when the Doctor hasn’t got any human companions around, they’re never really alone. The TARDIS will always be there, ready to go on another adventure.

Journeys End – @jodieewhittaker

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As someone who grew up with the Tenth Doctor and his companions by my side, who fell in love with Russell T Davies’s new version of a very old show, there is no better episode that sums up my love for Doctor Who than Journey’s End. It has threat on the largest scale (the literal destruction of the universe), it has buckets of emotion (who doesn’t cry throughout the final fifteen minutes?) and, most importantly is has the friendships that make Doctor Who the show that is. Nothing celebrates this show, and particularly its revival, better than the display of family in the scene where everyone is towing the Earth back home and it’s the perfect episode to sum up the era of my childhood.

The Holy Terror (Big Finish) – @mumford_98

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Listening to The Holy Terror for the first time was an incredibly unique experience. I love the DWM 6 comics and their breezy, fun feel and Holy Terror is able to capture the dynamic between the two leads while still feeling unique thanks to the high concept setting and mesmerizing score. The episode plays with character archetypes ranging from dark fantasy to Shakespeare plays to biblical stories. This gives it an almost theatrical feel and managing to deconstruct said tropes in a way that is both funny and also plays into the ultimate narrative scope of the story; one that’s both powerful and puts much of the story in an entirely new context. The full story manages to be a piece on trauma, parenthood, hierarchy & tradition, the ethics of fiction and a humanistic perspective on the concept of godhood.

Twice Upon a Time – @timelesbians

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Twice Upon A Time remembers the First Doctor in a beautifully written story of self-discovery and new beginnings. A perfect anniversary watch, it honours old companions and new alike, honours those who fought for our country, and introduces Jodie Whittaker as the thirteenth, the first female aligned Doctor, after a lead up to just who she will be and what she will represent. The Twelfth Doctor meets himself in his first incarnation, both of them refusing a change, and follows their journey as they accompany each other in a story of self-contemplation to wrap up Capaldi’s time on the show. It is heart-warming and heart-breaking, powerful and brilliant, and encompasses everything Doctor Who is truly about.

Vincent and the Doctor – @brittanyplus

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 Vincent and the Doctor is one of the most quintessential episodes of Doctor Who. Very few episodes capture the heart and warmth of the show, while also reminding the audience that not everything can change. I believe it’s perfect for an anniversary rewatch because it captures the show’s essence. It will leave you feeling warm but heartbroken, just like all the best of Doctor Who should.

Fear Her – @Safarox8

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Although it’s not my favourite, Fear Her will always have a special place in my heart because it was, oddly, the first Doctor Who I ever saw. Although I enjoyed it, I didn’t properly discover the show for a few more years and was delighted when I came across the episode once again (“Oh, so *that* was Doctor Who!”). I love the humour and warmth it radiates while dealing with the heavy, and to me, personally meaningful topic of family trauma. That’s what I love about the show; even the most unlikely of stories can make a lasting impression.

Aliens of London/World War Three – @AlexFacemelter

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 Aliens of London and World War Three as one full story is, in my opinion, one of the most authentic interpretations of Doctor Who I’ve ever seen. The Doctor is portrayed more realistically than ever, the alien plot is creative but chillingly realistic, the arc of each character is phenomenal, and the dialogue is beautifully written. The Doctor’s reactions are so truly in character, he wants to experience and be in the middle of history and nothing could be more exciting than watching humanity’s first contact with extraterrestrial life. The character arcs of Jackie, Mickey, and Harriet Jones are realistic and wonderfully clever.

The pinnacle of the story is the Doctor. If the Doctor was a real person, I can bet he would be a lot like he’s shown here. The way he stands unafraid of the aliens and the way he bluffs them and the way he analyzes the fake alien in the hospital room, all of it is perfectly Doctor Who. You may be worried about the fart jokes, and while I hate them with a seething passion, I still think this story is one of the best that Doctor Who has to offer. That’s how good this story is. So if you want to watch some Doctor Who to celebrate its anniversary, I can wholeheartedly recommend this story. It is, in a word, fantastic.

Invasion of the Dinosaurs – @Jessicatzen

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Invasion of the Dinosaurs has everything a classic Doctor Who story should have – a big goofy looking monster, UNIT, and a bit of excitement. The best part, I think, is that it’s a true test of loyalty for some of the Doctor’s friends, and without spoiling anything, the Doctor and Benton make a really good duo!

The TV Movie – @bexpls

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The TV Movie is one of the first Classic DW stories I watched, and it’s one of my absolute favourites. It’s one of only two televised Eighth Doctor stories, and both of them are amazing, but that isn’t a reason to watch it. As a Doctor Who story, the TV Movie really shines for me because of how different it is, completely unique from the Classic and NuWho runs. It’s one of the best introduction stories to a Doctor and a great exit for the Seventh Doctor, whose scenes are superb. While I adore the Big Finish audios and BBC Books’s Eighth Doctor Adventures series (which people wanting to experience more of the DW Extended Universe should look into by the way), it really does make you wish the Eighth Doctor had more televised stories, because Paul McGann is honestly a delight. It’s a perfect anniversary-celebration story because it highlights the fantastic, often under-appreciated Eighth Doctor in one of his, including all the books, audios, and comics, best stories ever.

Resolution – @FetinSmiles

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For me, Resolution is the perfect episode to watch for the anniversary; it’s dramatic, tense, and nostalgic. For the first time in series 11, we find The Doctor faced against a monster from her past. What better way to end the Thirteenth Doctor’s first series than by having to stop a Dalek invasion from happening on Earth? There’s a real sense of danger, especially for viewers who know the history between The Doctor and the Daleks. The Team (Gang? Fam??) work brilliantly together, and the episode leaves us wanting to see what they will get up to next in series 12.

Listen – @lookingfortelos

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I got into Who in 2014. Series 8 was the first time I watched live. Also, sad coincidence, 2014 was when my life took a stark downturn. Depression is bad, especially when it’s been brewing for a long time and feeds on your issues with sexuality and gender. And I think that’s why this season of Who in particular stuck with me: not just because it’s really good (although, it is), but also because it was the one that was most helpful to me, personally. “Listen” is a story about how the whole canon of Who, all the mysteries and the lore and the cleverness, ultimately are irrelevant, because what truly matters is that it can be present, in the end, to comfort a crying child. It’s a ghost story where the ghosts are the characters’ own pasts and neuroses, and where they have to find beauty and balance in their inner turmoil. And as someone who was very afraid for a very long time, being told by the Doctor that it was alright – that was invaluable.

Happy 56th anniversary of Doctor Who everybody! 

Which episodes will you watch to celebrate? Tweet us @thetimeladies_

#WhoForSchools – We Need YOU

As Doctor Who fans, we all want to be just like the Doctor and help those around us. Today you can do just that!

Join us in supporting #WhoForSchools, a new fundraising initiative from Gallifrey Stands, a group of Doctor Who fans and podcasters who united last year on #WhoAgainstGuns, a fundraiser to help stop gun violence. This year, they’re working to help raise funds for organisations that improve access to education.

The Campaign

This October, your favourite Doctor Who podcasts and creators as well as some very special guests will be coming together to record podcast commentaries for every story of season 26; The final season of classic Who.

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To celebrate 30 years since the season’s broadcast, over 50 people will be talking about the following stories: Battlefield, Ghost Light, The Curse of Fenric and Survival.

These commentaries will not be available publicly, unless you provide a donation to an amazing organisation that helps give children access to education. 

How to do your bit

All you have to do to take part is make a donation of £10 or more to one of the following organisations:

The Time Ladies chosen charity is Plan International UK, who work to give every child, every chance in life. 15 million girls will never have the opportunity to learn to read or write in primary school, but Plan International are striving to change that.

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More charities you can support:

The Malala Fund

Or, in the U.S.:
I Have a Dream Foundation
Donors Choose
Communities in Schools

In Canada:
Pathways to Education

In the UK:
Shine

Once you’ve made your donation, send a copy of your receipt to gallifreystands@realitybombpodcast.com and you’ll get information on how to download your special commentary.

Spread the word using #WhoForSchools

 

 

 

 

Doctor Who and Mental Health: Why does it have such a positive effect on ours?

by Beth Axford

The discovery of a world like Doctor Who tends to start a personal journey that many usually do not forget. Whether you discovered it as a child or found it whilst going through a difficult period, the show remains a part of you forever. Maybe you stumbled upon it whilst searching through Netflix, or a family member/friend/ex-partner introduced you to it. Perhaps Doctor Who shone out of your television (or preferred device for media consumption) and wrapped its arms around you. Either way, there is no denying that the 55-year-old show has impacted thousands of people, transforming lives with its message and community. But what is it that makes Doctor Who so good for our mental health, and why does it have such a huge impact on the people that love it?

‘There is, surprisingly, always hope’

Writer and Doctor Who fan Heather Challands thinks that it is the message of hope that the show portrays: ‘It meant, and continues to represent, a lot of hope for me. I would watch Doctor Who under my covers, after being unable to face school that day. It made me think that the next day, I might be brave.’

Bravery. A sentiment that has passed through the show since the very beginnings in 1963, when school teachers Ian and Barbara were kidnapped by the Doctor and taken on a trip of a lifetime. The original TARDIS team faced history, human evils and alien monsters, representing bravery and courage to inspire children all over the UK. This message has continued consistently throughout the years. 2015’s Face the Raven saw companion Clara Oswald sacrifice herself, facing her death with courage whilst telling herself to be brave. Last year the show presented bravery in a different way, in the form of facing up to prejudice, racism and sexism. The portrayal of these issues on screen empowered many and gave them hope. Hope for the world, for themselves and for the future. The Eleventh Doctor told Amy Pond that ‘There is surprisingly, always hope.’ – a quote that engraved itself into many viewers minds from 2010’s The Big Bang, and the thirteenth Doctor talks about being hopeful across most of her stories so far, stating that ‘love is a form of hope. And like hope, love abides in the face of everything.’ The man behind this quote, Vinay Patel, explained to us why he thinks people have such a deep connection with the show: ‘Beyond the Doctor’s innate compassion and instinct for fairness, I think the answer lies in their embrace of the stranger side of life and the universe. That willingness to engage, to be curious when others condemn. The Doctor always seeks to understand – in turn, we ourselves might hope to be understood.’

‘You see Doc, the thing about grief is it needs time’

Doctor Who is a television drama set in a fantasy world – but deals with very real, very human situations. The nature of travelling the universe battling monsters and aliens is that nobody is guaranteed to be safe, leaving the stakes high for the characters that we adore. Through the loss of companions and Doctors, we are taught about life, death and grief. When researching for this piece, it became apparent that Doctor Who had helped many people through difficult times over the years, with grief topping the list. ‘It’s funny, the day you lose someone isn’t the worst. At least you’ve got something to do.’ said the Twelfth Doctor. ‘It’s all the days they stay dead.’ Our hero uttered this harrowingly relatable line during Heaven Sent (2015) whilst reeling over the death of Clara Oswald. The Ninth Doctor’s whole personality centred around his grief-stricken mind after the events of the time war and the loss of his entire race. Throughout series one we see the ways in which the Doctor is saved – by Rose and the universe and helping people. We also see his rage, pain and sorrow. There is plenty of relatable grief in Doctor Who, which in a way is helpful to us. It helps us to cope and understand the ways to deal with life after losing someone, as well as providing a distraction from the worse of the pain. Doctor Who fan Daisy Price told us ‘My mum sadly passed away when I was 18 and I pretty much stayed in all the time and watched Doctor Who. It helped me and gave me real comfort. Every time I watched I felt like I was out of the real world for a while.’ That comfort and familiarity is something that many of us feel towards the show – even the bits we don’t like or agree with, we still connect to the feeling of Doctor Who. Sometimes grief is the thing that starts somebody’s journey with Doctor Who, sometimes it is the thing that makes them stay. Most importantly though, grief is more bearable to lots of us because of Doctor Who – a gift that is not easily found in the world.

‘Please save me from the monsters’

The Doctor, through fighting real monsters, helps us to fight our personal monsters. The creeping presence of anxiety that many suffer from can feel like a real monstrous being, mentally and physically taking a hold of its victims and turning their lives upside down. Anxiety takes many horrible forms, making us question ourselves and altering our grip on reality. It could be social interactions, personal trauma, health worries or stress. In these times, we want comfort. We want familiarity. We want the escapism that Doctor Who offers and to feel safe in the TARDIS with our friends. Joy Wilkinson (Writer of The Witchfinder’s, 2018) explains how she thinks Doctor Who can help us feel less alone:

‘Doctor Who is such a vast universe of stories that whatever you’re going through, there’s a place where you can escape it or a place where you can face it and hopefully come back feeling stronger in some way, if only because you know you’re not alone. The community beyond the show is also second to none, so you can feel part of something bigger than yourself, which may be helpful if you’re feeling lost.’

The sense of community and inclusion that the show offers seems to be a big help to many fans who suffer with anxiety, giving them something to concentrate on and people to share passions with. It has to be mentioned that anxiety can be hard to deal with if you are involved in online fandom – where opinions cannot be had, and hatred fuelled people can ruin it for others. But let it be said – I have suffered some of the worst of this hate, and yes it has most certainly changed Doctor Who for me. But no matter the situation, the show has brought me more good things than bad – from close friendships and relationships, to jobs and opportunities. Anxiety should be the reason people watch the show. It’s one of the best types of escapism there is. Let us talk about it, destigmatise it and use Doctor Who to improve the lives of people suffering from it, because at its heart, that is what the show is about.

‘You’re unique in this universe. There is only one you and there will never be another’

There are 1.4 million people with a learning disability in the UK alone. A theme that seems to be especially prominent with fans who fall under the autistic spectrum is that the Doctor was one of the only people or characters in the world that they could identify with. Thirteenth Doctor fan Katie Maxwell told us her story, and how the character of the Doctor helped her: ‘One of my favourite things about the Thirteenth Doctor is how much of myself I see in her, in a way. I have Asperger’s syndrome, which is a form of Autism. Before series eleven came out, I was ashamed and depressed over how people have treated me in the past.’

‘Seeing a character who is just like me, having problems with communication, people acting like she is a freak and not having good fashion sense – it’s given me acceptance in who I am. It made me think that if the Doctor can be the leader in the room, then maybe I can be like that as well. This had led me to giving a speech in front of my NHS colleagues about Autism and how it has affected me – I definitely would not have done this before Doctor Who came into my life.’

‘You don’t just give up. You don’t just let things happen. You make a stand!’

The term ‘social justice warrior’ is thrown around the internet as an insult to those who believe in, well, social justice. This is odd considering that being a ‘social justice warrior’ seems to be the very basis of the Doctor’s essence. Our hero has traversed the universe for over 55 years now, saving civilisations and standing up for what is right. The show has tackled subjects such as racism and equality in between its monsters and aliens – taking on the darkness at the depths of our humanity. There’s something about Doctor Who that seems to play into our inner social justice warrior, making us feel better about the bad things in life, because the Doctor always saves the day.

We spoke to Doctor Who writer and fan of the show, Paul Cornell, about why we connect to the Doctor and their fight for social justice: ‘I think that because the Doctor has only his or her wits, and stands against those with greater power, that really connects with people who are similarly unarmed, and face opponents, inner or outer, that would otherwise daunt them.’ He explains. ‘Also, the Doctor is just a person, in that they don’t display a hard-line code or set of ethics, like a superhero. They’re someone who makes moment by moment decisions, like we all do, and sometimes gets them wrong. That’s very relatable too.’ We’re all unarmed in the world before us, just trying to figure it out and do our best. For those of us who find it harder to deal with inequalities and discrimination, the Doctor is there for us to look up to, to hope for, and most importantly; believe in. And sometimes, in order to give us purpose, we just need something to believe in.

‘We’re all stories in the end. Just make it a good one.’

Not bad for a little old show known for its wobbly sets and overtly emotional plots, eh? It’s those sets that give it charming re-watchability, the emotion that makes us relate and love it. It may seem odd from the outside, but if it changes people’s lives to this extent, maybe Doctor Who should be taken more seriously. In fact, fandoms should be taken more seriously and celebrated for what they bring people around the world. After the way that a show like Doctor Who has improved people’s lives, it’s hard to imagine a world without it. We are incredibly lucky to have not only the show, but hundreds of books and audio adventures to keep us company throughout the difficult times. We have spin-offs, live events, games and many more ways that will keep the universe of Doctor Who alive for years to come. But wherever and whenever we may be, there is one thing for sure; The Doctor will always be there with open arms, ready to take us on an adventure.

 

 

Thanks to everyone who contributed and gave their thoughts! Let us know what you think about Doctor Who and it’s effect on mental health @thetimeladies_ or email us: thetimeladies@yahoo.com

If you enjoyed this blog post, please consider tipping us below, or donating to our chosen charity Mermaids.

 

Doctor Who Quotes to Live By

By Beth Axford

It’s the beginning of the year. The weather is gloomy, the world of politics is rife with anger and confusion and a new series of Doctor Who is still (what seems to be) a lifetime away. Dear friends, whatever must we do?

Aside from rocking back and forth to the sound of the Doctor Who theme (we’re fine), we love looking to our favourite quotes and moments from the show to keep us going. So, if you’re in need of a little motivational boost – or just a little bit of Who to fuel you through the week, we’ve got you covered. Here are ten Doctor Who quotes to live by and take with you through each day:

1 – Love abides in the face of everything

_Love is the most powerful weapon we have. because love is a form of hope, and like hope, love abides in the face of everything._

2. Make a stand and do what’s right

_Love is the most powerful weapon we have. because love is a form of hope, and like hope, love abides in the face of everything._ (2)

3. Make the most of your story

_Love is the most powerful weapon we have. because love is a form of hope, and like hope, love abides in the face of everything._ (3)

4. Appreciate small beautiful events

_Love is the most powerful weapon we have. because love is a form of hope, and like hope, love abides in the face of everything._ (4).png

5 – Always be kind

_Love is the most powerful weapon we have. because love is a form of hope, and like hope, love abides in the face of everything._ (5)

6. Know your worth

_Love is the most powerful weapon we have. because love is a form of hope, and like hope, love abides in the face of everything._ (6).png

7. Embrace change

_Love is the most powerful weapon we have. because love is a form of hope, and like hope, love abides in the face of everything._ (7).png

8. Live life your way

_Love is the most powerful weapon we have. because love is a form of hope, and like hope, love abides in the face of everything._ (8)

9. Be childish sometimes

_Love is the most powerful weapon we have. because love is a form of hope, and like hope, love abides in the face of everything._ (9).png

10. Never give up

_Love is the most powerful weapon we have. because love is a form of hope, and like hope, love abides in the face of everything._ (10)

Worlds Collide: The Doctor Who Escape Room

By Beth Axford

If you’ve always wanted to experience an adventure with the Doctor first hand, 2019 is the year for you! Escape Hunt and BBC studios have teamed up to bring us Worlds Collide: A live Doctor Who escape game, where you can become the Doctor’s new fam and save the world.

We recently tried out the exciting game before its opening in Bristol – so what did we think?

It’s best to experience the game for yourself to get the most out of it, so we’ve left out any surprises and spoilers for the adventure.

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Storyline

The storyline is simple and original – The Doctor needs your help! After a quick briefing from the Time Lord herself, you are transported into the future to the offices of ChronosCorp HQ. Here, eccentric billionaire Alastair Montague’s efforts to develop commercial time travel have caused a tear in the fabric of space and time, which the Cybermen will use to attack Earth.

You then have 60 minutes to work out how to close the tear before the Cybermen break through, using only what remains of Montague, his prototype time engine and the extensive collection of time-related artefacts acquired over the course of his experiments. The fate of the universe rests in your hands – if you take too long the human race will be ‘upgraded’!

There is a nice mixture of time and space folded into the story, particularly as it is set in the future. 6 artefacts must be collected by completing puzzles and riddles, each one with a historical meaning. These elements mean that the adventure feels like proper Doctor Who, all timey-wimey and fun. The pay off if you complete the story is brilliant and will leave you wanting to travel the universe with the Doctor forever!

Fan Experience

This Doctor Who live game has been created in a similar vein to the Doctor Who Experience, but with a much more interactive nature. Inside you’re left almost entirely on your own to complete the mission, with a little hint here and there from the ‘Game Master’ via audio cues. Other than that, there are vague instructions in the form of videos, written documents and other props that create a true sense of reality. You don’t necessarily need to be a fan of the show to play either – there are subtle references here and there but the story and Cybermen are explained well. From a fan perspective though, the moments when you find a prop/reference are a real payoff.

Difficulty

The escape room can be a real test on your communication and team working skills, so make sure you REALLY LOVE the people you’re playing with. The game is a mixture of easy and not so easy tasks, but most of the difficulty comes from finding out what you need to do with a prop or section in the first place. Once you realise what it is for, it’s generally quite easy to complete a puzzle, but some take more time than others. There is nothing better than completing a task and getting one step closer to saving the world…we may or may not have done a few air jumps and screams of excitement. You’ll realise that your many years of watching the show may finally pay off when your brain connects the dots throughout the adventure!

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Set/Effects

There is no danger of wobbly sets around here! The room is designed so realistically that you forget you’re underground in a game. Some of the set is sealed down and cannot move, but lots of it is moveable and interactive, meaning you can never entirely be sure if an object is of significance or not. As time goes on you will notice that some props will be more familiar than others. Because you’re in a set you never know what anything means, so it’s best to play about with the fantastic surroundings and see what happens or is relevant to any instructions you’ve been provided with.

There aren’t many special effects because the props and set do much of the talking, but the way objects interact has been brilliantly thought out and will surprise and excite the child inside of you when you get parts to work together. It really is like living an episode of Doctor Who, and you’ll never want it to end.

Mementos

There are a couple of lovely mementos that you can take away from your adventure with the Doctor; You’ll get a certificate for saving the Earth with your game time written on, and there are photo opportunities with specially made signs featuring captions such as ‘The Doctor’s number one team’ and ‘Space and time were on our side’. If you post your photos on Instagram using the special hashtag, the lovely Games Master will print out a polaroid version of it for you to keep so that you never forget your special day.

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From January 16th, fans can battle through space and time at Escape Hunt Bristol as well as book tickets for the immersive adventure which will be arriving at other Escape Hunt locations on the following dates:


Leeds – 25/01/2019
Oxford – 08/02/2019
Manchester – 22/02/2019
Reading – 08/03/2019
Birmingham – 22/03/2019

 

Tickets for Doctor Who: The Live Escape Game, Worlds Collide are on sale now and are bookable via Escapehunt.com/DoctorWho

 

 

Christmas without Who

By Beth Axford

Whether you celebrate it or not, Christmas is a special holiday for many. It’s a time of rest and giving, for spending with family and loved ones… and for watching Doctor Who. Tradition is important during the festive period and Doctor Who on Christmas day has become just that for many families. Since The Doctor and Rose saved the Earth during Christmas 2005, we’ve been treated to a special festive episode every year.

Taking the prime time evening slot, families would sit down together filled with mince pies and turkey and enjoy an adventure through space and time. This year though, Doctor Who is embarking on a new tradition – the yearly special episode has been moved to New Year’s Day instead of Christmas.

The Christmas Invasion (2005) begun a Christmas tradition for many.

Christmas can be difficult if you’ve lost someone. It can be difficult if you suffer with mental health struggles or family issues. Throughout all of my Christmases, and all of these difficulties, I’ve always been comforted by the Doctor Who Christmas special. It has been there to wrap its arms around me and tell me I’m not alone. It’s taken me on adventures and helped me escape when I’ve found the festive period hard.

No matter the contents of the story, the Christmas episodes are always based around one core theme: hope. This is exactly what I and many others need during the holidays, particularly on the big day itself. I spent Christmas day sick and alone, and I really could have done with that Doctor Who episode this year. Somehow I’ve been left feeling like my hope was taken away, or my only saviour around Christmas time had let me down. That is the importance of this show to me and many others.

The Doctor, the widow and the wardrobe (2011)

In times like this, it’s easy to get upset with how the show changes when it means so much to us, or when things differ from its traditional way. But Doctor Who has lasted for 55 years for a reason – it thrives on change. In the words of the Doctor, ‘If things didn’t end, nothing would ever get started.’

Despite my feelings, I am very excited for a brand new adventure with team TARDIS on New Year’s Day. What better way to begin a new year than with my favourite form of hope – Doctor Who! Christmas may have been hard without it, but January will be much easier with it.

Resolution airs New Years day

Am I upset with the lack of Who on Christmas day? Yes. But times change, and so must Who. We will begin 2019 with The Doctor and friends taking us on a brand new adventure. So begins a new tradition – New year, new Who.

What do you think of the move from Christmas day to New year’s day? Let us know @thetimeladies_

Arachnids in the UK Review

The opening shots of Arachnids in the UK crawl along the floor of locations as if we’re the spiders themselves, discovering the setting for the story about to unfold. This makes for perfect Halloween week viewing and sets the eerie tone straight away. It’s a tantalising beginning to this week’s spooky adventure as we discover there’s a problem at hand… isn’t there always when The Doctor lands on Earth?

Speaking of landing – there’s a time vortex sequence! We finally get to witness this TARDIS in flight through space and time, and it couldn’t be more wonderful. It’s had a bit of an update since we last saw it; dark and glittering like a deep night sky with bursts of life and colour throughout. The scene is only brief but is a much-needed bit of continuity that makes way for a lovely bit of Doctor – attempting – to – land – the – TARDIS. We all know the scene – the Doctor insists that everything is under control, while the companions fall about the TARDIS like they’re on a bumpy rollercoaster and question whether the Doctor *actually* knows how to fly the ship. And Jodie nails it! There’s no flicker of a doubt that it’s the same old Doc we know and love, flying her ship terribly and having a laugh while doing it. Of course, the TARDIS takes them where they need to go – home, Sheffield 2018.

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Yaz (Mandip Gill) and Najia (Shobna Gulati) investigate

When they arrive, the Doctor is faced with the potential of being completely alone for the first time in this regeneration. The pain on her face and in her voice make it clear that this incarnation isn’t one for the lone wolf life. As British as ever though, it’s a cup of tea that saves the day when Yaz suggests going back to her place. Hurrah! This TARDIS team are so utterly thrilling to watch that even the thought of them drinking tea together has us all excited. Yaz’s family are fun and relatable, with her dad immediately trying to feed them and her sister barely looking up from her phone. The humour and timing are spot on from Jodie in this scene, proving every second that she’s finding her feet and becoming the Doctor. The fun doesn’t last for long though, as the team start splitting up and huge cobwebs begin to dominate every shot…

Giant spiders. We’re not talking size-of-your-hand-trap-them-under-a-glass spiders, we are talking BIGGER THAN A DOG size spiders. It’s sort of a genius move for a scary episode of Who, especially when they’re suffocating people with their massive webs and terrorising trump-esque villains. The team all find out about the impending spider doom in their separate ways and come together to face it, in true Doctor Who style.

Our guest cast is a real highlight of this story, from Yaz’s mum Najia to spider scientist Dr Jade McIntyre. The development of Yaz’s family takes a natural progression and is integrated into the story by Najia’s job being at the same hotel the spiders happen to be converging around. Mandip Gill particularly shines as we get a look into Yaz’s life, as well as Shobna Gulati playing her mother. The warmth that comes with a sense of family is what Doctor Who does best, and Chibnall gets the balance of character development and scary plot perfectly. The heart-breaking scenes of Graham returning home for the first time since Grace’s funeral resonate with anybody who has suffered a loss, and the writing hits home that human emotion to its core. Bradley Walsh is mesmerising and brilliant, playing every moment perfectly. We’re also treated to some lovely Graham-Ryan development – Ryan seemingly warming to his step grandfather, almost describing him as ‘proper family.’ At its heart, this story is about the characters, and every scene makes you wish you could hang out with them and stop a spider invasion too.

The spiders themselves make for disgusting

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Jodie Whittaker brings a comedic side to her Doctor throughout the story

 viewing, ranging from dog to bus sized and killing humans for food. But these aren’t aliens at work here; an important lesson is behind this terrifying tale. Power hungry hotel owner Robertson has built his empire on unused sites around the world – meaning this one is atop a huge landfill of toxic waste. Coupled with spider carcasses from Jade’s lab, and we have toxic mutant angry Arachnids as a result. The lesson at the episode’s centre is all about our treatment of this planet, and the way money hungry people choose to misuse it. This is a deliberate message on Chibnall’s part, taking Doctor Who back to the reason it was created; to educate and teach the younger generation about the world around them.

The plot wraps up with a humane trap for the Arachnids and an inhumane murder from our villain. The scene is reminiscent of previous Doctor’s; their wonder and care taken over all creatures and beings as she mourns the huge arachnid. This solidifies Jodie’s incarnation even more as her fourth story reaches its end.

Oh, and what an end. Every episode this season seems to have ended on massive, emotionally impactful scenes and this one doesn’t break that habit. Graham, Ryan and Yaz deciding that they want to travel with the Doctor permanently seals them in our hearts as they explain their reasons not to stay in Sheffield.

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Bradley Walsh mesmerises with his grief-stricken performance

‘Being with you and seeing all these things… it really helps’ Graham tells her of his grief. Yaz and Ryan want to escape their mundane lives and travel with the best person they’ve ever met. There is a fully thought out, deeper decision being made here than with previous TARDIS travellers. They want to escape, see more and do more with their lives. They want to see wonders, and marvel at the universe, forgetting the grief they face back at home. That’s what Doctor Who is to all of us, isn’t it? An escape from the world and the problems we face, a light that is there for us even in the darkest of times. Team TARDIS head off together into time and space, leaving the world a little brighter in their wake. But what awaits in ‘The Tsuranga Conundrum’?

What did you think of ‘Arachnids in the UK’ let us know your thoughts @thetimeladies_ or email us at thetimeladies@yahoo.com!

Women’s Bodies in Doctor Who

By Beth Axford & Kezia Newson

A Personal Struggle: Beth

I have struggled with body image my whole life. From being bullied as a child for my overweight figure, to eating problems and self hatred, the struggle has always been there. Body image in television and film has always favoured petite women with tiny waists, with any inch of fat on their bodies considered bad or disgusting. Doctor Who is no exception to this, and over the years has contributed to problems we face as women over what we should or shouldn’t look like.

Doctor Who, A contributor to society’s faults?

Let’s take a look at Doctor Who and its history with body image, as well as sexualisation of women and their status as companions…

Women in Doctor Who have always played major roles as companions, helpers to the Doctor and a relatable hook for people to watch the show. We’ve had intelligent, brave and funny counterparts to our hero since 1963, and not all of them have been victim to sexualisation or negative body image standards. Unfortunately though, there are questionable examples of how the show portrays companions, or how those in close contact interact with them. Could this negatively impact on women and girls of all ages?

Kezia’s take on Classic Who and Body Image

Leela – ‘for the dads’

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As her character is extremely fierce and a total step-up from screaming companions, watching Leela feels both progressive and regressive. Yes, she’s defending the Doctor, saving his life numerous times with her in-tune sense to danger as well as her knife… but she does this all whilst wearing variations of a leather bikini. Even now, people comment on how the viewing figures shot up and how much the dads and young boys loved her, which makes me feel a bit queasy. By speaking about how her body simply upped views, we completely discredit her character and how much of an impact Louise Jameson made on the show as an actress. At the time she was on the show, Louise received a letter from a young girl saying ‘Will you please put some clothes on?’ Even a young girl realises that the character is being more defined by her costume than by her performance.

Peri – ‘the amount you weigh’

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There’s no doubt in anyone’s mind that Peri was a sexual object from her very first appearance in Doctor Who. By just her third scene she’s swimming in an itsy-bitsy bikini, and her body seems to make an impression before her personality. This theme continues throughout her time on the show, with her cleavage being as much part of her character as her voice. Despite her costume being overtly sexual, Peri herself isn’t openly sexually confident or says anything that would include that in her personality. In fact, she’s quite a reserved, quiet botanist. Of course, you can be quiet and wear sexy clothes but it lends itself more to the argument that the clothing was decided on for the male gaze rather than any character development. Even with her figure being flaunted everywhere, the sixth Doctor in Revelation of the Daleks insinuates she’s put on weight when he gives her a leg up over the wall and says ‘Drop you? I’ll be lucky if I can lift you, the amount you weigh.’ The yo-yo-ing in her being attractive or un-attractive enough for the show is completely tedious.

Sophie Aldred –  being told to lose weight for season 25

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“Sophie had a similar experience. She’d struggled with eating disorders as a young woman. After ‘Dragonfire’ aired, she was told to lose half a stone before the next season was filmed. She was so furious that she actually gained weight to spite them.”

-From the Gallifrey One Women’s panel, 2018.

New Who and body image; Beth and Kezia investigate 

Billie Piper/Rose Tyler – ‘it’s like living inside a bouncy castle’

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According to Billie Piper’s book Growing Pains, an eating disorder and problems with mental health are what led her to quit music and eventually pursue acting. She reports that when she started Doctor Who she was a size 12, the average size of a woman in the UK and the biggest size she’d been since looking after herself and eating properly.  But as she began series two of the show, her disorder came back with a vengeance as she shot to stardom.

There is dialogue on the show during her era that could be considered body shaming: Rose and Mickey’s conversation about Trisha, a woman he was dating whilst she was away Rose comments on as ‘big’, and he hits back that she’s ‘lost weight’ as if that defines her as a person. In School Reunion Mickey also polices Rose’s eating, saying ‘If I were you, I’d go easy on the chips’ in reference to winning the Doctor’s romantic affection. The fact of the matter is, these tiny mentions are not needed and equate weight with beauty. This theme of Rose’s weight is reinforced in New Earth when Cassandra in Rose’s body remarks that it’s ‘like living in a bouncy castle’.

On the other hand, there is much to be said about body image and representation in Russell’s era, with Rose and Donna being curvy, normal women and the inclusion of Martha, a woman of colour. Apart from the odd comment and the whole first episode of series four dedicated to weight and bodies, Russell did quite well with representation.

Amy Pond – ‘the legs’

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Amy Pond was sexualised from the second she appeared onscreen as an adult and announces her job as a kissogram. The first shot of her is a pan up her legs, objectifying her for the male gaze from the get-go. Fair enough, a gal’s gotta do what she’s gotta do to make a living, but in a show like Doctor Who it feels very out of place. Steven Moffat himself has said that it was her beauty and tall, petite figure that contributed to Karen Gillan being cast: “I saw Karen walking on the corridor towards me and I realised she was 5’11, slim and gorgeous and I thought ‘Oh, oh that’ll probably work.'”. Her legs are consistently mentioned even after she leaves the TARDIS (she’s simply referred to by the Doctor as ‘the legs’ in Day of The Moon), which feels massively degrading considering her many great attributes and contributions to adventures.

Clara Oswald – ‘squeezed into a skirt a little bit too tight’

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Clara Oswald is a particularly recent and prominent example of sexualisation of women and how body image is perceived today. From the moment she stepped on the TARDIS, the Eleventh Doctor couldn’t help but comment on her body. Moments such as slapping her butt with a towel and commenting on how her skirt is ‘just a little bit too tight’ come to mind when thinking about the pair and make for uncomfortable viewing. These scenes are obviously written as jokes, but don’t come across particularly funny to most women watching.

Even the Twelfth Doctor, who seemingly has no sexual interest in her, makes a comment on her hips and body shames her in Into The Dalek – ‘Any remarks about my hips will not be appreciated.’ ‘Ach, your hips are fine. You’re built like a man.’. If Clara Oswald is built like a man, what kind of message does this send to anyone larger than a size 8? As well as this, the fact that Jenna was cast based somewhat on her looks as well as her acting is saddening in itself.

River Song – ‘I need to weigh myself’

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You would think, with the most well-known regeneration of River Song being the fabulous Alex Kingston, we wouldn’t have to worry about body shaming. A woman who’s confident in her own skin head to toe right? But in Let’s Kill Hitler, as Mel is about to regenerate, she shuts down Rory by saying ‘Oh shut up Dad. I’m focusing on a dress size.’ If that didn’t leave us with our jaws hanging open at how outrageous the line is, as soon as she’s in her new body the first thing she exclaims is ‘Excuse me you lot, I need to weigh myself’. Is that really the first thing we should be hearing onscreen from the first woman to regenerate ever on television? Sure, whenever the Doctor has regenerated he’s commented on his appearance, but never his weight. It’s shocking that these lines were allowed to be in the show, and to presume that a woman’s first thought is her dress size. Not. Cool.

Bill Potts – ‘I fatted her’

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The most recent case of body shaming in the show came in The Pilot when Bill talks about a character she served chips to. She specifically says ‘I fatted her’ and goes on to say that in life it is ‘beauty or chips’. Why can’t we have both? Why can’t curvy people enjoy chips and still be beautiful? Why must we shame what a person eats, or how big their body size is? The messaging is unsettling in a family show where younger girls watching may think they look wrong or what they’re eating is wrong. It is worth a mention however, that Dorothy Koomson fixes this brilliantly in her short story, Bill and the Three Jackets, all about body positivity and loving yourself for who you are! You can read this fab story in the Day She Saved The Doctor anthology book.

Doctor Who and its contribution to a woman’s struggle (Beth):

Representation of women of all sizes and colours has not been great in the show, and consistently having astonishingly beautiful companions with unachievable body standards is not only hard for the audience to relate to, but contributes to the societal problems with how young women perceive themselves. I cannot stress enough how important it is to end body shaming comments and extreme sexualisation in a family show like Doctor Who. Going through my late teens while Clara Oswald was travelling on the TARDIS, I have distinct painful memories of over-exercising and under-eating to try and achieve a body just like hers. I would work out for hours staring at a poster of her and The Doctor on my wall, hoping that one day I would be as worthy and beautiful as her. This is not to say that we shouldn’t have beautiful companions, just that we should have representation of normal people. People of all sizes, colours, heights, abilities. People who make us feel like we are enough.

We’d love to hear your thoughts, opinions and stories on this subject. Tweet us @thetimeladies_!

This topic can be a little sensitive, and we’re always open to private messages on Twitter or an email in our inbox (thetimeladies@yahoo.com) if it is something you’re struggling with.

Companions That Never Were

Over the years there have been some incredible women to grace the world of Doctor Who, but sadly never made it as long-term companions. This week we’re taking a look at these fantastic characters and what made them that extra bit special…

Lynda

Helping the Ninth Doctor and Rose escape the TV shows of platform one,
‘Lynda with a Y’ fitted the team effortlessly and stole all of our hearts
with her adorable nature. The Doctor took a particular shine to her and
even offered her the trip of a lifetime – before she was brutally exterminated
by the dreaded Daleks. JUSTICE FOR LYNDA!

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Joan Redfern

Falling in love with The Doctor is never easy, but completely impossible when
you don’t know he’s The Doctor. Joan Redfern heart-breakingly became John Smith’s
lover only to find out he was an alien in disguise. The perfect match to the tenth doctor,
we are still hurting from the pair parting ways, especially after seeing the potential wedding scene. CRY.

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Astrid Peth

Astrid Peth brought an exciting new take on a companion role to the show,  played
by none other than actual Queen KYLIE MINOGUE. A tough lady from space, she compliments The Doctor perfectly and her adventurous side is infectious. Unfortunately, her bravery and kindness was quite literally the death of her – by saving the earth and everyone on the ship from their demise, she had to take down Max Capricorn and lost her life in the process. I mean… it’s just not fair!

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Jenny

Jenny, or more famously ‘The Doctor’s daughter’, gave us all hope that our hero
would finally have another of his kind around to keep him company. Perhaps she took on too many of his good qualities though since she sacrificed herself for him by the end of the story! Right at the end of the episode she is revived by the source energy and flies off for adventures of her own… And finally, ten years on, Big Finish are giving her the spin off she deserved!

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Lady Christina 

Lady Christina is the ultimate badass woman we need in the TARDIS. Stealing from museums, helping The Doctor save the world and then whizzing off in a flying bus? It’s been nearly 10 years and we’re still sad she didn’t stay for more fun! And, as if Big Finish couldn’t get any better, they’re also giving Lady Christina De Souza her own adventures! We can’t wait to hear more of what she got up to after Planet of The Dead.

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Rita

Rita helped The Doctor, Amy and Rory face off the Minotaur in 2011’s The God Complex. Smart, brave and kind, she would have made the perfect companion – so much so that The Doctor jokingly offered her a place on the TARDIS. After helping the trio find out what was going on, she sadly sacrificed herself and left a hole in our hearts. There’s a running theme here, isn’t there?

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Osgood

Osgood is literally ALL of us. A massive fan of The Doctor’s, she helped save the world a number of times and proved she was perfect for the TARDIS team. A scientist working for UNIT, she’d already helped save the world long before she met The Doctor. Her and her Zygon counter-part continued to live on after the events of Day of The Doctor… until Missy murdered one of them in Death in Heaven. We still don’t know which version of her perished, but it doesn’t matter as long as Osgood lives on!

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Journey Blue

After The Doctor saved Journey Blue from death, she then returned the favour when she convinced her uncle not to kill him. The team then take on the task of going inside a real Dalek, whilst they’re miniaturised and everything! After the adventure ends, she asks The Doctor to take her with him, to which he refuses because she’s a soldier. This seems totally unfair since he’s practically a solider himself! Brave, exciting and funny, we wish he had given her a chance.

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  Shona

One of the most famous ‘almost companions’ of recent times, Shona wowed audiences in Last Christmas with her hilarious personality and funky dance moves (!) She even gets a story set-up at the end of the episode, alluding to her backstory and possible future in the show. We would have loved to have seen her aboard the TARDIS, but Clara stayed on and the rest is history! BRING SHONA BACK!

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O’Donnell

An absolute highlight of Series 9, O’Donnell appeared in Under The Lake/Before The Flood, helping save the world from The Fisher King and his ghosts. Incredibly kind, sassy and most importantly, Scottish, we LOVED her. In another heartbreaking end, she proclaims her giddiness over The Doctor, the TARDIS and we get so excited for her future… till she’s murdered by the fisher king leaving us more than a little bit weepy. Her bravery helped the rest of the team survive, making her one of the best guest characters of recent years.

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So there we have it… there’s definitely a recurring theme here, right? All the best characters die… and that RTD and the Moff are evil.

These are just some of the amazing guest companions from recent years, but who would you love to have seen more of? Let us know by tweeting us @thetimeladies_!

Women Of Christmas Who

IT’S CHRISTMAAAAS tomorrow, and as per tradition, there will be a new special episode of Doctor Who! Every year since 2005 we’ve been treated to a festive story with our favourite Time Lord, and this year is no exception. To get you all in the festive mood we’ve picked our favourite bad ass ladies and their best moments from every Christmas episode so far!

The Christmas Invasion – Rose Tyler (Beth)

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After watching her best friend change his face and turn into a completely different man, Rose Tyler has to deal with an alien invasion back home while he sleeps his regeneration off. Bravely, she attempts to stop the Sycorax all by herself and constantly proves her bravery and courage throughout the story. Never giving up on The Doctor, she protects him, her family and boards the alien spaceship to confront them. Standing up against a whole ship full of ugly aliens? That’s gotta take some guts. The first Doctor Who Christmas special is a template for the rest, featuring a strong, brave woman to help The Doctor save the day…

The Runaway Bride – Donna Noble (Kez)

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We all know a Donna don’t we? A little bit gobby, lives for drama (a new flavour of Pringle? We’re with you Donna), but not forgetting funny, loyal and above all, loving. In The Runaway Bride she’s literally up the aisle when she’s transported onto the TARDIS… now as amazing as that is, I think I’d be a bit peeved too. What takes place after this scene is pure Christmas farcical brilliance; running up and down Chiswick High Road in her wedding dress:

“They think I’m in fancy dress… They think I’m drunk… They think I’m in drag!”

But as well as being such wonderful comic relief, Donna proves to be so much more. Even after watching the supposed love of her life turn her over to be dinner time for aliens, she looks out for the Doctor: “Doctor, you can stop now”  is one of the most poignant scenes from the tenth Doctor’s era and paints such a picture of who he is at that point. But really. the whole story is about Donna. And we love Miss Noble so much, because she’s everywhere – sitting next to us on the bus, our next door neighbour, our best friend. Donna is so very real, and is a quiet hero to us all.

Voyage Of The Damned – Astrid Peth (Kez)

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“Astrid deserved better!!” is basically what I shouted at the television as my beloved Kylie sacrificed herself to save the Doctor. And I still feel as strongly about her to this day; and not just because Spinning Around is one of the best pop songs of all time. Astrid is hungry for adventure: to see new worlds, new stars, meet new people. She’s working in a dead-end job (we’ve all been there gal) as a means to an end because she’s working on Titanic – in space! But sadly, she gets to watch all the passengers alight to each passing planet whilst she carries on serving champagne in her adorbs waitressing outfit. And then the Doctor comes along. It’s so wonderful at this point in Doctor Who to have a companion who has never seen earth before, it actually made me appreciate our planet and our odd little traditions. But of course, with it being Doctor Who AND the Titanic, it all goes horribly wrong. And who’s behind it but basically a tory? No surprises there. Astrid is kind and compassionate, making friends with all the wonderful individuals no one else cares about. She’s brave and wonderful, inspires the Doctor to embrace the unknown again and deserved better. I really hope we get to meet her again one day.

The Next Doctor – Rosita (Kez)

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Rosita was saved by the supposed Doctor from the Cybermen in 1851. What we particularly love about her is that she absolutely believes this man is the Doctor (but of course) and runs as hard and fast as any companion would. Her best moment has to be when she punches Miss Hartigan square in the face “One last thing.” *thwack* cue us punching the air .The kindness and braveness she shows tends to be in the sidelines of the story as a giant cyberman takes over Victorian London. But we see how she cares for her Doctor and for the children in the workhouse. It’s her who frees the children and her who defends London, she’s a damn sight better than Jackson Lake when he realises he isn’t a Time Lord, we just wish we’d seen more of her.

The End Of Time – Lucy Saxon (Kez)

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Writing about Lucy Saxon is strange because we hardly got to know her. She was in the most manipulative and abusive relationship imaginable. She thought she’d married the love of her life; had a few years of wedded bliss and then ‘the year that never was’ happened and she realised she was nothing at all. Of course she was naive and a tad ruthless having seen the lengths he would go to for power, but seeing the light, her bravery is admirable. Not only shooting him in Last of The Time Lords, which then confined her to a life time in prison, she knew the Master would come back by any means possible. She asked her father to work with scientists and create a potion that would reverse any way of Harold Saxon living again. By throwing this on the Master in The End of Time, she not only stunted his powers and nearly finished him for good, but sacrificed herself in the process. We thank you, Lucy Saxon!

A Christmas Carol – Abigail Pettigrew (Beth)

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Stuck in a frozen chamber to pay off her family’s debt, Abigail made the ultimate sacrifice. Suffering a terminal illness, she was let out of the chamber every Christmas eve to celebrate with The Doctor and Kazran, her days numbered. Her beautiful singing voice meant she could resonate with the deadly fog crystals and calm the sky.  With Amy, Rory and a ship full of passengers crashing down to Sardicks world, its up to her to use her last day to sing the sky clear and save everyone. Her bravery and kindness makes her one of the ultimate Christmas companions!

The Doctor, The Widow And The Wardrobe – Madge Arwell (Beth)

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Madge Arwell has a secret. Her husband is lost at war, and doesn’t want to ruin Christmas forever by telling her children. She just wants to give them the best festive period ever, which should be easy, right? Um.. not when The Doctor gets involved. Innocently trying to help, he transforms their uncle’s mansion into a Christmas paradise. Except…he hasn’t quite checked ahead. The children discover a present that is a portal to a tree harvest planet, with dangerous consequences. Acid rain begins to fall and theres only one way out. Madge has to keep it all together through her grief when only a strong woman can fly the ship to safety. A real, strong, beautiful lady, her character resonates with the mother in all of us and warms the hearts of the nation. Can we adopt her, please?!

The Snowmen – Clara Oswald (Victorian) (Kez)

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Oompa-pa, oompa-pa that’s how it goes! Cor blimey guvnor, it’s only Clara aka Nancy! We meet Clara at the beginning of this episode in one of the most Christmassy places – the pub. She’s pulling pints and probably singing merry tunes with her customers when the Doctor turns up and throws everything into question. Switching jobs to nanny Clara, we’re a tad confused to who she is, but it’s so Christmassy we’ll forget that for now. Chuck in the ice ghost of a governess, The Great Intelligence and Richard E Grant and we’re SOLD on The Snowmen. Clara is brave, loyal and protective of the children she looks after to her last word. As Victorian Clara passes away, we wonder what that companion could have been. It would have been fab to have had a companion from another time, even if we’re not too sure about the cockney, Dick Van-Dyke esque accent…

Time Of The Doctor – Clara Oswald (Beth)

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Clara Oswald was born to save The Doctor, and Time Of The Doctor is no exception. She sticks by her best friend, Her courage and determination once again saving his life AND securing his future! After a little convincing, she manages to get The Doctor a whole extra regeneration cycle, which IS what friends are for, right? This episode is a perfect example of why strong, female characters are needed, especially in The Doctor’s world. She painfully has to say goodbye to the 11th Doctor after being pushed from pillar to post throughout the story, being sent back to earth even when she tried to help. Well Doctor, aren’t you glad she didn’t listen, eh?…

Last Christmas – Shona McCullough (Kez)

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Another companion that could have been! Funny, ballsy and brilliant, Shona is one of the first characters we meet in Last Christmas. And what’s she doing? She’s facing terrifying monsters whilst dancing her best moves to Merry Xmas Everybody, what a legend. Shona proves her worth throughout the episode, questioning and challenging everything whilst being hilarious, and we lurrrrve her. When the gang are on the sleigh and she wants to keep in touch we stick our hands up and shout “us too, us too!”, but she wakes up alone in a grimy flat. We just hope whoever Dave is, he deserves her forgiveness.

The Husbands Of River Song – River Song (Beth)

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A particularly heart-breaking story, The Husbands Of River Song gives us something we’ve waited for ever since her first appearance in Silence Of The Library; The last time River sees The Doctor before her fateful death. Having been told about their last meeting in her very first appearance, it has been a long, timey-wimey few years catching up with their adventures and this episode wraps them all up into a neat, tear jerking package. One of the best performances from Alex Kingston to date gives us a raw, real River like we’ve never seen her before. We also get the chance to have a 12th Doctor/River adventure, which is beautiful, festive and heart warming. Us? Crying? No, we just have the singing towers of derilum in our eyes…

The Return Of Doctor Mysterio – Lucy Fletcher (Kez)

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Lucy is a single working mum, and don’t we admire her simply for that. Killin’ it writing for the Daily Chronicle, she often calls on her best friend Grant to look after her daughter. Not knowing that the story she’s chasing is in fact the nanny to her daughter, she becomes obsessed with The Ghost and very obviously finds him pretty damn dreamy. But at the end of the day, who is her hero? Grant, natch. And it’s a lovely happily ever after ending for both the badass journalist and her superhero boyfriend.

And with that, we wish you a very merry timey wimey Christmas. Watch out for our very special post on Boxing Day which will cover our first reactions to the 13th Doctor’s very first moments.