With Jodie Whittaker now announced as the Thirteenth Doctor, you might be using the expression “Time Lady” a lot more now.
Over the years. there have been a number of Time Ladies gracing our television screens, both in the ‘classic’ and ‘new’ eras.
Fact fans will be delighted to learn that it wasn’t until 1979’s City of Death that the expression “Time Lady” was first used. On that occasion it was by the Fourth Doctor, Tom Baker, in reference to his TARDIS traveling chum, Romana.
Here’s our guide to the Ladies of Time…
The original Time Lady, you might say. For those who don’t know, Susan was the Doctor’s granddaughter and traveled with him from the very first episode, An Unearthly Child. The Doctor would end up leaving her on Earth in the 22nd Century at the denouement of The Dalek Invasion of Earth (1964).
The youngster returned in 1983’s The Five Doctors, played again by Carole Ann Ford, and then some 30 years later in The Name of the Doctor (sort of). In Series 10’s The Pilot, Whovians were delighted to see that the Twelfth Doctor had a picture of Susan on his desk at St. Luke’s University.
Nice to know she was still on his mind, over 1,000 years later.
It wasn’t until 1978’s Gallifrey-based The Invasion of Time when we would meet another Time Lady. The Fourth Doctor, Leela and K-9 were up against an invasion of the Vardans and then Sontarans when technician Rodan assisted with her useful knowledge of Quasitronics.
She was also a fan of the phrase “transduction barrier”, not heard much in Doctor Who these days.
Much to his disgust, the Fourth Doctor, played by Tom Baker, was given an “assistant” by the White Guardian in a quest for The Key To Time. Romanadvoratrelundar to give her her full name (or Fred), was originally played by Mary Tamm for the whole of the season arc (a whopping 26 episodes!).
But, just like the Doctor, Romana could regenerate; and did so in the following season opener, Destiny of the Daleks. The Time Lady went through a number of “bodies” before her final choice – that of Princess Astra, who appeared in the Key To Time finale, The Armageddon Factor. At the denouement of Warrior’s Gate (1981), Romana chose to leave with K-9 in E-Space, a universe outside our own. Behind the scenes, “Romana II” actress Lalla Ward was briefly married to Tom Baker.
“In theory, movement between dimensions is possible. In practice, less so. But the same was said about time travel, and that has long been a reality.” Classic stuff from Thalia here, who was present on Gallifrey for Omega’s revenge in 1983’s Arc of Infinity.
Sadly, she didn’t return for the 20th Anniversary special and was replaced by the similar-sounding…
Being the generous type, the Fifth Doctor appointed her Acting President of the High Council on Gallifrey in The Five Doctors.
Mainly because he didn’t want the job, the cad!
Eighties sensation the Rani was a female version of the Master – another Gallifreyan renegade. Played by the superb Kate O’Mara, now, regrettably, no longer with us, the Rani could still be out there somewhere.
Back to the 80s with some deliciously camp fun in The Trial of a Time Lord. The sadly-departed Lynda Bellingham was the woman who presided over the Sixth Doctor’s season-long titular trial.
Did a neat line in scathing looks.
Hmm, a lightly contentious entry here. Jenny was made from the Tenth Doctor’s DNA, and thusly named his ‘daughter’. The poor thing died at the end of her episode, The Doctor’s Daughter, but managed to use some regenerative powers to come back to life - though not regenerate. In real life, Georgia Moffett, who played Jenny, is the daughter of Fifth Doctor, Peter Davison, and the wife of Tenth Doctor, David Tennant.
What a timey-wimey, family-wamily!
Half-human, half-Time Lord, Catherine Tate became the most important person in the universe in 2008’s Journey’s End. Does that make her a Time Lady?
Let’s move on…
David Tennant’s finale, The End of Time, saw a mysterious lady, credited as ‘The Woman’, follow Rassilon around with her head in her hands. She also appeared to Wilf a few times before finally revealing herself to the Tenth Doctor, hinting at a solution which would send the Time Lords back into the never-ending Time War.
The Woman was played by screen legend, Claire Bloom.
Speaking of Rassilon, during The End of Time in the final days of the Time War, The Visionary foresaw that Gallifrey would fall.
Also keen on finger and face tattoos.
This poor Time Lady faced the might of Rassilon when the two differed in opinion during the opening minutes of The End of Time Part II. Just after she informed the council that the Doctor possessed The Moment (which we would see in person during 2013’s The Day of the Doctor), Rassilon thanked The Partisan for her opinion, and then blasted her with his gauntlet.
Tough one. Born of Earthlings, Amy and Rory, River Song should really be human. Yet, when she was young she managed to regenerate (at the end of 2011’s Day of the Moon) and then again in 2011’s Let’s Kill Hitler. Played by Alex Kingston, River gave her regenerative powers to the Eleventh Doctor to save him.
Her Time Lady-ness was caused by being conceived in the TARDIS.
As mentioned in 2011’s The Doctor’s Wife, Matt Smith’s Eleventh Doctor revealed that this Time Lord had actually changed sex during one of his/hers regenerations.
Not the last Time Person to do this, as we will discover.
The Day of the Doctor
The 50th Anniversary special gives us three Time Ladies, although only one actually speaks. Sophie Morgan-Price (picture above, central), curiously listed as ‘Time Lord’ in the credits, gets a line or two but her fellow Gallifreyan ladies aren’t as lucky.
Fact fans will note that actress Rosie Jane – who played Bill Pott’s mum in Series 10 – is one the three actresses (see pic above on right from her Instagram).
The Master was such a renegade that he changed sex. Or was a he lady first? Hard to know with the Doctor’s memory. The character first appeared alongside the Third Doctor in 1971’s Terror of the Autons. First portrayed by Roger Delgado, men would play The Master up until Series 8, when Michelle Gomez came along in the guise of Missy.
The General first appeared as a man in the 50th Anniversary episode, The Day of the Doctor, and returned for 2015’s Hell Bent. Due to being shot by the Doctor, the General regenerated into a woman, upon which she commented, “Oh, back to normal, am I? The only time I've been a man, that last body.”
Gallifreyan High Council
Sticking with Hell Bent, the Series 9 finale gave us a classic showdown between the High Council and the Twelfth Doctor and, as you can see, there’s a couple of Time Ladies in there too.
The Thirteenth Doctor
And here we are, bang up to date! As revealed just days ago, Jodie Whittaker will be playing the Doctor. Following in the footsteps of The Corsair, The Master, and The General, this is a new gender for the Time Lord. Or Lady, rather.
We will meet the new Doctor properly in this year’s 2017 Doctor Who Christmas Special.