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“Are you my mummy?” 10 Marvellous Mothers in Doctor Who

By Steve Coats-Dennis

With Mother’s Day fast approaching in the UK, what better time to celebrate ten marvellous mothers through the history of Doctor Who.

Old Mother

An Unearthly Child (1963)

Who is she? “Old Mother” was an elder member of the Tribe of Gum, back in 100,000 B.C and had the distinction of being the first mother to appear in Doctor Who! Believing that fire was divine and too dangerous to possess, in her own way, she was protective of her caveman son, Za, and their tribe’s quest to make fire.

A Marvellous Mother? Well, we do have “Old Mother” to thank for going against the will of the Gum tribe and freeing the First Doctor and his companions from their imprisonment in the Cave of Skulls.

Sarah Jane Smith

The Time Warrior (1973) – The End of Time (2010)

Who is she? Having bid farewell to the Fourth Doctor, fearless investigative journalist Sarah Jane continued to be a tireless defender of Earth from her home in Bannerman Road. Helping her in this mission, the Smith family grew after Sarah Jane adopted a son, Luke, a human boy artificially created by Bane technology, and a daughter, Sky, a member of the Fleshkind race, as learnt in the Doctor Who spin-off, The Sarah Jane Adventures.

A Marvellous Mother? Perhaps because she had been orphaned at an early age, Sarah Jane’s protective, maternal instinct towards the gang of children who lived in and around Bannerman Road was incredibly strong. As mother figures go, they don’t come more inspiring than Sarah Jane!

Audrey Dudman

The Curse of Fenric (1989)

Who is she? Audrey Dudman and her daughter Ace certainly seem to have shared a difficult relationship. The opinion of the Seventh Doctor’s companion was crystal clear: “My name's Ace, I come from a dysfunctional family, and I cope by blowing things up.” What caused the trouble in the Perivale family remains a mystery!

A Marvellous Mother? Given Ace’s unexplained animosity towards Audrey, the jury is still out. However, we can still celebrate her mother for providing a very early example of ‘timey-wimeyness’: when Ace travelled back to a secret naval base in 1943, she found herself admiring the baby of a young woman working there as a radio operator. It was later that Ace realised the child would grow up to be her own mother!

Jackie Tyler

Rose (2005) to The End of Time (2010)

Who is she? A single mother, Jackie was fiercely protective of her only child, Rose. After the Ninth Doctor took Rose away for 12 months rather than the planned 12 hours, she was quick to challenge the Doctor on whether her daughter was safe with him!

A Marvellous Mother? Without a doubt. Perhaps Jackie’s finest maternal moment came when she ran across the beach of Bad Wolf Bay to comfort her heartbroken daughter, after she found herself separated forever from the Doctor she loved so much. Jackie gave good hugs.


The Empty Child (2005) to The Doctor Dances (2005)

Who is she? Nancy was a young teenager living in London during the Blitz. She had become pregnant when she was sixteen. To avoid the stigma of being an unwed mother prevalent at the time, Nancy pretended Jamie was her younger brother rather than her son. She took it upon herself to become “mother” to stray homeless children by stealing food for them from homes while their owners hid in air raid shelters.**A Marvellous Mother?** Yes. When she told the terrifying “Empty Child” that she was in fact, his mummy, alien nanogenes restored her dead son Jamie back to life. Now, that is definitely a case of a mother’s love (and DNA) making everything better!

Empress of the Racnoss

The Runaway Bride (2006)

Who is she? The last of the ancient race from the Dark Times called the Racnoss hid themselves in the core of a fledgling planet. Bad news for us - that planet was Earth. After billions of years in hibernation at the edge of the universe, the Empress of the Racnoss arrived to give the arachnid kids a wake-up call!

A Marvellous Mother? As mothers go, there is no doubting the Empress certainly loved her “children”, as witnessed by her pain when the Doctor flooded them with water from the river Thames.

Sylvia Noble

The Runaway Bride (2006) – The End of Time (2010)

Who is she? The widowed mother of Donna Noble worried that her daughter was drifting, wasting her life in dead-end jobs. Sylvia pushed a very traditional life of settling down, getting married and having children as a way of Donna finding happiness. Little did she know of Donna’s adventures across the universe in the TARDIS with the Tenth Doctor!

A Marvellous Mother? In the end, when Donna had saved the universe but was returned home with her mind wiped, Sylvia truly realised quite how special her daughter Donna was, both to the universe and to her.

Amy Pond

The Eleventh Hour (2010) to The Angels Take Manhattan (2012)

Who is she? The companion of the Eleventh Doctor became pregnant while travelling in the TARDIS through the time vortex. Her baby, named Melody, was stolen away at birth by the nefarious Madame Kovarian.

A Marvellous Mother? In many ways, Amy Pond is the mother who got away. It’s an intriguing thought what kind of mother that fearless Amy would have made if her baby hadn’t been kidnapped! Since the baby eventually became River Song, we can safely say those maternal Pond genes were strong!

Grace O’Brien

The Woman Who Fell to Earth (2018) - It Takes You Away (2018)

Who is she? Grace was grandmother to the Thirteenth Doctor’s friend, Ryan Sinclair. She took over raising the boy when he was thirteen after his mother died and his father abandoned him. Among her parental duties, Grace began patiently teaching Ryan, who suffered from a coordination disorder, to ride a bike, encouraging him not to give up!

A Marvellous Mother? For sure! When Grace tragically died, the impact on Ryan was profound. On his YouTube channel he left this touching tribute: “I want to talk about the greatest woman I ever met. Smart, funny, caring. Proper special.”

The Doctor’s Mother?

Who is she? Who knows? The Eighth Doctor once claimed to be half-human “on my mother’s side”, though nothing of his Time Lord anatomy seems to bear that comment out. Maybe the mysterious Time Lady who appeared to Wilf Mott several times might have been the Doctor’s mother? We may never know.

A Marvellous Mother? Even if her identity is elusive, her legacy is not. The Thirteenth Doctor admitted she still carries her family with her: “What they would've thought and said and done. I make them a part of who I am.”

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