The Doctor will see you now

It's not often I'll diverge from books and publishing business on the blog to talk about other things. And I rarely rave about TV or other books - I usually don't have the time to read much other than submissions and the only TV I watch is on catch-up!

However, as a long-time Doctor Who fan I have been watching the progression and re-coming-of-age of the Doctor with great interest and, having watched the last episode of series nine, 'Hell Bent' written by Steven Moffat a few nights ago - I must say that I've been impressed with how much enjoyment I got from watching the new series. 

As a girl, Doctor Who seemed to be the remit of boys. I don't remember any of my female friends watching it. And while all their first crushes were on boy band members - my first teen crush was on Peter Davison's Doctor.

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Copyright BBC

However, while I enjoyed most of the programme, I did find many of the companions a little . . . well disappointing. They either seemed to run around screaming a lot and needing to be rescued - or were only there to highlight just how brilliant the Doctor was. The only companions I identified with were the two versions of the Time Lady Romana, until she got all DiD and Sarah Jane Smith

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Copyright BBC

With the reinvention, I really enjoyed both David Tennant and Matt Smith's versions of the Doctor although I hated the romantic feelings they stirred in the majority of their companions. It seemed for a long time as if the Doctor was going to be equated to the teen pop poster boys I'd dismissed as a teen.

Then along comes Peter Capaldi. Now this was more like it. Back more to the Hartnell days when the Doctor was still madcap genius, but also dark, unpredictable and - at times - rather terrifying. A fabulous actor he has bought a sense of fun mixed with gravitas to the role that hasn't been seen for a long time - and no  one can do that cold, piercing gimlet gaze with precision-controlled eyebrows like Capaldi can. 

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But while the Doctor played his part, it's the other characters who have really made the series for me. It's been inundated with brilliantly, strong, female characters. From the sociopathic Missy, Cass in Toby Whithouse's 'Under the Lake', Osgood, Ashildr (I wonder if it's any co-incidence that the Muslim meaning for Ashil is Good Descendant of . . . then you add the Dr?) and of course, the brilliant Jenna Coleman who really seemed to blossom without being weighed down by any romantic interest in the new Doctor. Witty, clever, just as madcap, courageous and brave as the Doctor - she felt like a genuine travelling equal. Just as capable as rescuing herself - and everyone else - and able to make the same sacrifices that the Doctor always seemed to take on for himself. She is going to be a hard act to follow! 

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Copyright BBC

There were also two great episodes written by Catherine Tregenna 'The Woman Who Lived' and Sarah Dollard's fabulously emotional 'Face the Raven'. Let's hear it for the girls!!

Then came the finale in 'Hell Bent' - and while I know some were disappointed by the supposed 'saved by the bell' nature of Clara's living between one heartbeat and the next. I was relieved that, while the nature of her sacrifice in 'Face the Raven' wasn't undermined (after all she still has to go back there at some stage to face her fate), we kept one of the strongest companions of the entire lifespan of the Doctor continuing her own adventure. We saw what the Doctor was willing to do to get her back, showing a very un-Timelord weakness and darkness to him that even Clara, for the first time, seemed rather in awe of. 

So off she and Ashildr (forever now known in my mind as descendant of the doctor) go on their own adventures.  And I have to say, seeing two, strong, capable women, flying off in a Douglas Adam's style 'Restaurant at the End of the Universe' stolen Tardis just made the girl inside me cheer. 

After all the Doctor may be brilliant - but he's only as good as his next companion. So I, for one, am not cheering for a male companion. Give us another strong female lead. Someone capable of bringing the Doctor down a peg or two when needed, and let's try inspiring a new generation of young woman that they don't have to play second-fiddle to the boys.