And so I awoke to the awful news that the glorious Mary Tamm has died, aged 62. Just over a year after Elisabeth Sladen and a few weeks after Caroline John. It gets more sad for me, because each has been that bit more of a favourite of mine. Romana I (indubitably the superior of the two Romanas) was one of my absolute favourites and a very formative and notable style icon for me. Her wardrobe for her sole series as companion is an absolute triumph, and was a perfect reflection of the glamorous and slightly icy character of Romana (the first and finest Time ‘Lady’ of the series). I salute you Mary Tamm (mmmmm), beauty and talent incarnate.
One of the worst aspects of growing up watching such a long-running and old programme such as Doctor Who, is that you feel an extra-painful twinge of sadness when one of its stars dies. My first remembered experience of this was my beloved Jon Pertwee way back in 1996, and it doesn’t get any easier with time. I have already waxed lyrical on the character of Liz Shaw, way back when I did my geek-a-thon tribute to all the Who girls, but it’s worth saying again that Caroline as Liz was one of my favourite companions – despite her all-too-brief tenure by the Doctor’s side. She had the best legs in Who, was a notable exception to the screaming, helpless girl template (a condition suffered by so many in that programme) and was the most perfect foil to my favourite Doctor.
Every day (no exaggeration) I receive a steady stream of google hits involving Katy Manning and her knickers: Jo Grant knickers, Katy Manning and Daleks, Katy Manning naked… there was even one hit for ‘Jo Grant telepathic knickers’. I have no idea what telepathic knickers even are, but I’d sure like to see some. Or perhaps just sense them.
It’s partly my own fault, since this post ranks #2 on google if you search Jo Grant knickers.
Anyway, so that it’s all here, in one place (for those delightful Who-perves who are so desperate for the sight of a now-64-year-old’s knickers, bum and boobs) I’ve sought out as many images as I could for your delectation. For my usual non-perve readers, I do apologise and normal service will be resumed tomorrow.
For my American readers, and to clean it up in here a little, here is Katy Manning in some ‘pants’ as opposed to her British pants.
And here, no doubt, is Katy’s reaction were she to read this post….
One of the few recent passings which has actually left me rather embarrassingly weepy, perhaps because of the childhood significance (although Sarah Jane was long gone as a companion by the time I was born, I grew up watching her episodes on scratchy VHS…). I can’t really say any more than any of the other fans are right now, and I didn’t know her to say anything very personal. So I will do what I do best, posting some of my favourite images of Lis Sladen as Sarah Jane, Bus Stop wearer extraordinaire and one of the best Who-ladies ever….
Oh ho ho ho. How this made me smile. Once upon a time, Doctor Who companions wore mini skirts as a matter of course. It was their duty. They were ‘for the dads’. Suddenly the promotional gubbins for the new series is all about how ‘sexy’ the new companion is, and how strange and new (and, in the case of the Daily Mail, how awful) this is. Pah. This calls for a mini tribute to minis in the Tardis, featuring the best four mini-wearers in its history: Anneke Wills as Polly, Wendy Padbury as Zoe, Caroline John as Liz and Katy Manning as Jo.
dr who sarah jane knickers
lalla ward breasts
They’ll sure have a hard time finding the last one!
All google searches which have found my blog. I have apparently become the go-to blog for some very naughty Doctor Who fans…..tsk tsk!! Have you lot got nothing better to do?
Gratuitously posted because I think it’s an awesome image. See, I just look at that photo and go ‘ooh, sparkly boots!’…..I tend to forget that some guy, somewhere, might be enjoying it a bit too much.
This Mr Freedom design has become iconic over the years. It seems to have been one of their most popular and cherished designs, more usually seen with matching jacket (as seen below on Katy Manning of Dr Who fame and Olivia Newton-John).
This particular pair of knickerbockers are very unusual though in that they’re made of suede, rather than the velour or cotton you normally find them in. Such a delicious shade they are too, mainly a chocolate brown suede with damson trims and inserts. This does mean they’re a little stiffer than the usual ones, but I think they’re infinitely more fabulous because of how rare they are! When it comes to collectability and investment potential, you can’t go too far wrong with Mr Freedom.
I’ve actually surprised myself by how much I’ve enjoyed writing about the Eighties Doctor Who companions. Perhaps it’s because I’m on quite an Eighties trip at the moment, perhaps it’s just because I remember these ladies from the first time around, but those early Eighties gals are really doing it for me right now.
Starting with the lovely, lovely Nyssa (Sarah Sutton, 1981-83). Nyssa is a criminally underrated companion of the old school variety. Perhaps it’s because she’s an alien, perhaps because she’s clearly the sweetest person ever to have graced the Tardis or perhaps it’s because she was so very much overshadowed by her fellow companions. Indeed, for the first time in a long time, the Doctor could barely get a word in edgeways between three different personalities.
Nyssa was a noblewoman from a planet called Traken, whose father’s body was stolen by the Doctor’s fellow Timelord, The Master. Brought back to the Doctor by his future self (long story) she saw her planet destroyed and, unlike so many other companions, really had no choice but to stay with the Doctor and her new friends. Ok, well Tegan. The less said about Adric, the better. Besides, he carks it soon enough. Hurrah! Ahem…..no, it’s very tragic and weepy and…..yes…….well.
Nyssa was adorable but highly intelligent and with that slightly alien quality, subtly played by Sarah Sutton, which separates her from the usual riff-raff humans who have tramped through the Tardis over the years. She also bore the brunt of the new decision for the companions to have set ‘costumes’ in a similar way to the Doctor. So for an entire season, Nyssa was tramping around in very subtle variations on her velvet flower fairy-esque ensemble from her first story. Gradually she lost bits and pieces, gained some more practical trousers and generally adapted a lot better than her fellow Tardis residents. But still, must have been a bit whiffy in there after a while?
Eventually they saw sense though. After all, they did have two gorgeous young women on the books and what are gorgeous young women good for in Doctor Who? Yes, that’s right, dodgy fashion statements and gratuitous flesh-baring. Which Nyssa did to perfection. Her first foray into fashion is a slightly bonkers striped skirt, sailor shirt and gigantic pussy bow in Snakedance. Which I sneakingly love at the moment. You can see the crestfallen look on her face as the Doctor fails to notice her loveliness in her new get-up. Boo hiss Doctor. You’ll [probably] bonk the living daylights out of some guttersnipe like Rose Tyler but gorgeous Nyssa you ignore? Crazy fool.
Eventually she goes the way of all good companions. She randomly strips off to her underwear on Terminus and decides to stay behind to tend to the sick. To her credit, she hasn’t just fallen in love with some man she’s only just met (see Leela and…most of the others) but it’s still an abrupt end for such a good character.
The same cannot be said of Tegan Jovanka (Janet Fielding, 1981-84). Who the Doctor couldn’t bloody get rid of. Now I must confess that Tegan was my ‘first’ companion (alongside the ginger god that was Turlough….remind me to do a blog about the tasty men in Who over the years!) and therefore holds a little place in my heart. And I used to love her I’m sure. However, she doesn’t stand up to repeated viewing with the hindsight of much better companions before and since.
Tegan was an Australian air stewardess who accidentally wandered into the Tardis (Logopolis) thinking it was a real police box. The murder of her Auntie Vanessa, courtesy of The Master, and a few wrong turns on board the Tardis left Tegan unable to get back home. And didn’t she let us know it! Frankly I’m surprised he didn’t boot her out on some deserted planet, as she was clearly not the type to leave him after falling in love with a man she’s only just met [I'm not sure anyone could put up with her!].
She was also a fatality of the costume concept, and lumbered with the worst of the three. A ‘charming’ and wholly impractical purple air stewardess costume which probably never saw a spritz of febreze in its life! Eventually she got back to Heathrow to catch her flight, but realised (too late) that she really wanted to be in the Tardis instead. And that, it would seem, was that.
But oh no. The Doctor wasn’t so lucky, and she managed to find him again the very next season. Just when Nyssa had got him all to herself!! She returned without the uniform and with possibly the funkiest Eighties fashions of the entire era, which means she is rather forgiven for the whining and the pouting. It was all abstract print mini dresses, leather mini skirts, stiletto heels and big brassy fur coats, which are now starting to look a lot more charming than they did when I first started to rewatch the episodes back in the 90s. To her credit, she also makes a great statement by leaving. By this point there has grown a grudging respect between Tegan, Turlough and The Doctor. But the death and destruction becomes too much and she simply has to walk away. Brave heart Tegan!
I wanted her wardrobe as a five year old, and now I’m old enough to wear it – I think I want it again! Life is kinda good like that, isn’t it?
Next up was poor Peri (Perpugilliam Brown. Played by Nicola Bryant, 1984-86). Poor in threefold ways. Firstly she had about five minutes to enjoy the gorgeousness that was Peter Davison before he regenerated into cranky old Colin Baker. Secondly she spent most of her tenure wearing leotards and formal shorts and was first seen wearing an itty bitty pink bikini. The greatest victim of the one-for-the-dads mentality. Thirdly she had her head shaved, nearly carked it in a body swap storyline [which I still, to this day, cannot watch because it freaked me out so much when I was 7] and instead ended up married to Brian Blessed. Which is possibly a fate worse than death, I couldn’t possibly comment.
As I mentioned, we first meet the American botanist in Tenerife in a pink bikini. Of course! The only positive aspect to this for us ladies is that she needs rescuing, and Turlough does his thing in a wet t-shirt and skimpy speedos. Hurrah! We can immediately see the two big reasons why Peri remains such a popular companion in the face of being really rather whiney. I still can’t understand why writers and producers think that we want a companion who doesn’t seem to actually want to be travelling with the Doctor at all. Ungrateful hussies!
Saying that, she did have the most tetchy Doctor since Hartnell which makes her behaviour slightly more forgiveable. Although I must say that the sexual tension between the two is possibly the greatest I’ve ever seen on the show. Many may not agree with me, and perhaps it was more to do with Baker and Bryant’s natural off-screen chemistry but I find myself wanting them to end each big argument with a bit of ‘make up’ hanky panky.
It had started off well enough in The Twin Dilemma, with a blousey tartan, err, blouse and a poufy mini skirt combined with black mid-calf boots. In fact, a very Autumn/Winter 2008 look which is possibly why I’m looking upon it so kindly.
Her only full season in 1985 showed us a dizzying array of leotards, stilettos and odd formal shorts. Fairly innocuous for the most part, but miserably impractical and not even that stylish for the time. I do remember wanting to wear my pink ballet leotard outside of ballet classes for the sole reason that Peri seemed to do the same thing. [Funnily enough, I do actually wear black leotards nowadays because they're really rather awesome for wearing underneath skimpy Seventies tops and blouses].
There was one extraordinary costume in The Two Doctors which involved a tie front spangly top and headband, but the less said about that one the better. Anyone who says I secretly want to wear it is lying. Honest. *cough*
Apparently Bryant insisted that they cover her up a bit for the latter stories of the season, and they responded by insisting that she wear the same outfit two stories running (with the addition of an ‘interesting’ blue coat and beret for the snow scenes). It was a more tailored, burgundy jacket and black trousers, certainly a more stylish and sensible outfit for Miss Brown.
She returned for just two stories in the next season, and the covered up theme continued with a rather dapper looking striped jacket and blousey yellow top (plus newly permed hair and a gentler, more post-coital type of relationship with The Doctor). It’s a shame we didn’t get to see more of this Peri because it certainly feels like a few years have passed and she’s grown up considerably from a girl to a woman. Buuuutttttt, aliens and Brian Blessed intervened and, as pleasure must always be balanced with pain, the next companion looked like this:
Now, now. Don’t get me wrong. I love Bonnie Langford (who played Mel from 1986-87), I really do. She seems lovely, hilarious and she’s looking pretty fab for her age now. But, she wasn’t suitable for Doctor Who. Lots of pantomime-style over-acting, nose-wrinkling and shouty delivery of her lines, not to mention feminism-obliterating thcweams, simply were not suited to the show. On the other hand, I think some of her stories are totally under-appreciated and she’s not unwatchable. She’s just…..well, Bonnie!
The character also had zilch backstory, appeared before she became his companion in some weird timey-wimey paradox and then left the Tardis to travel with a bit of rough called Sabalom Glitz. No hanky panky, just decided she wanted to reform him or something equally daft. Thus she really rather challenges Dodo for the most pointless companion with the most illogical departure.
She also had some truly, truly insane clothes. I’m not going to say they’re awful, they’re just very…..Eighties. Late Eighties. Not terribly good Eighties. But entertaining and cute in an odd sort of way. I’m not even sure where to begin and where to end. There were bows, lemon leisure suits, polka dots, studded denim and, my favourite, the biggest puffed sleeves known to the universe (left). I’ll admit it was precisely the kind of stuff I was ‘designing’ at the time, but then I was a child. And children do tend to think that polka dots and puffed sleeves are ceaselessly stylish. Which makes me wonder how old the costume designer was…..
To analyse it takes about 2 seconds, [t-shirts and leggings slowly gave way to slightly tighter off-the-shoulder tops and fitted jeans to show transition from girl to woman....that's about it!] so unfortunately I must end my history of Doctor Who companion fashion with something quite lacklustre. Which I suppose is an appropriate metaphor for the way the show ended. Ace’s fate is unknown, she was last seen walking off into the sunset with Sylvester McCoy’s Doctor in 1989…..still wearing that bloody bomber jacket! So, that’s it for now. Only time will tell how history will view companion fashion in the Noughties, but I’m going to hazard a guess at…..badly. Not because they’re bad clothes, they’re just dull. Not representative of the era at all. Far too practical because, for all my comments about practicality, practicality is dull. We couldn’t have had bonkers Biba Jo Grant or the trip-tripping of Tegan’s stilettos running away from the Daleks without total impracticality. And I wouldn’t be the person I am today without having had those ladies in my life for inspiration as an impressionable child and teenager.
The departure of Lis Sladen in 1976 saw the first ‘Who foray into the notion of a ‘themed’ companion, which would prove to be a popular move by the production team and influenced the show until it went off-air in 1989. Leela (1977-78) was a warrior woman, human but from another planet where society had devolved into tribal rule. Yeah yeah. Mainly just an excuse for a sexy woman, Louise Jameson, to run around wearing a scanty leather bikini. However, we will forgive this rather sexist development because, quite frankly dear reader, Leela kicked serious ass.
She was also not the most conventional looking of women, and you can just visualise a modern version of Leela would involve silicone breasts, big capped teeth (*cough* Billie Piper *cough*) and perfectly coiffed hair and make-up. Leela was authentically a bit grubby, skinny and tribal in her movement and expressions. The outfits as well, are sexy in a mid-70s porn kind of way. Revealing, but not particularly enhancing and I spend most of my time watching her wondering if she’s feeling a bit chilly. I mean, Sarah Jane goes scampering back to the Tardis in her bikini in Death to the Daleks (The Doctor promised her a beach holiday, the swine!) but Leela just ploughs on through every situation in her teeny tiny leathers. Atta girl! Occasionally she relented, usually only on Earth though, and picked up some more appropriate clothes for the adventure.
Sadly by the end of her story, the writers dumped on her character from a great height. Her departure involved rapidly falling in love with some guy she’s only just met on the Doctor’s home planet of Gallifrey, shacking up with him and K9 the dog. What? Leela, Warrior Princess does housewife duties? Where did that come from? Thankfully Gallifrey gets destroyed in the Time War just pre the new series, so hopefully Leela went into battle all leathers blazing and redeemed the character we all knew and loved.
Once more, The Doctor was companion-less. But this time, for the first time ever, he would not choose his travelling partner. It would be chosen for him by his own people. Yes, finally the Doctor travels with another Timelord. Well, a lady. Romana (short for Romanadvoratrelundar – cos you would wouldn’t you?) was more of an equal intellectually but, rather like those fresh out of university 1st class honours type people who think they know everything there is to know about the world, was very green when it came to anything out of her comfort zone of education. So we still saw the Universe from the perspective of one like ourselves, which is clearly an important aspect of the show’s success.
Romana (Mark I, 1978-79) was aloof, frosty but a perfect foil for the exuberant, worn-around-the-edges Tom Baker Doctor and remains possibly the most glamorous companion the Doctor ever had. She initially appears in a breathtakingly beautiful white goddess dress and also dons a luxurious feather coat, which I’m almost 100% sure is one of Servalan’s old cast-offs from Series 1 of Blakes 7. That’s a fan fiction I’d like to read.
Frankly her entire season is a masterclass in late Seventies glamour, from the stunning white dress and boots in The Armageddon Factor to the purple velvet ensemble (with covetable jaunty hat) in The Androids of Tara. Not necessarily to everyone’s taste but Mary Tamm looks incredible in everything. Then, she’d look amazing in a used bin liner quite frankly.
When Tamm regenerated into Lalla Ward as Romana (Mark II, 1979-81), she also lost the assured glamour of her predecessor, as well as her haughty demeanour and frosty relationship with The Doctor. Her first costume is a pink version of The Doctor’s. Which is either a stroke of genius or the most unthinkably twee and patronising thing to ever happen to a companion. I still can’t decide which.
Poor Lalla seemed to get the bum end of the deal when it came to her wardrobe throughout her entire tenure in the show. From maternity smocks to Victorian bathing costume to pseudo-riding gear, even a school uniform.
Ah yes. The school uniform. If ever you need an explanation for why Romana Mark II is such a popular companion in the face of her being….how you say…a bit crap, then the heady combination of school uniform and formative male minds and hormones should give you a bit of a clue. By way of explanation of my previous comment about her crapness, I find Lalla Ward’s acting to be atrocious. Dodo was positively Shakespearean compared to her. I’m sure she’s a lovely person, and she was terribly engaging with Tom Baker (mainly because they were bonking by this point) but I just can’t warm to her. And I like all companions. But then, her target audience really was the male of the species. All flicky fine blonde hair, big teeth and kinky outfits – but nothing substantial enough to capture my attention.
Her one saving sartorial grace is the stunningly beautiful dress she wears in Creature from the Pit. But rumour has it the dress was intended for Mary Tamm before pregnancy meant she had to leave, which is why it doesn’t really suit her shape very well. But it is a lovely dress, so she gets one single gold star for that.
And that, dear readers, brings us to the end of the Seventies companions. Lalla borders into the Eighties, but I really don’t want to have to touch on her again, so I will return with: a noble native of Traken, the Mouth on Legs, a fake American, the most unbelievable teenager portrayal in the known universe and……Bonnie Langford.
Oh yes. You have been warned. We’ve already kinda hit the peak. It’s just downhill from now on. But I’ve started now, so I have to finish. Dear god, do I? Really? Yes…..my OCD tells me I must…..*sigh*
Caroline John as Liz Shaw (1970). Possibly the best pins in Who History, Caroline John was the natural successor to Wendy Padbury’s brainbox character of Zoe. Except Liz (great name, non?) was a modern day woman who just happened to be a brilliant scientist in her own right.
Brought in as UNIT’s replacement for The Doctor initially, she would end up ‘assisting’ him (in his exile on Earth) for four stories in Jon Pertwee’s debut season as The Doctor. She was the perfect foil for his slightly pompous, dandy Doctor, being as she was rather down-to-earth and of a relatively equal intellect (for an earthling anyway).
She also ran around in some seriously scanty skirts, fabulous knee high boots and even a floppy hat in The Ambassadors of (ping!) Death. Thus showing that the length of a gal’s skirt is not relative to the size of her brain. And also, yet again, proving that Doctor Who was no place for maxi skirts.
Overshadowed by her successors, and sidelined somewhat by her brief tenure by The Doctor’s side (she never even got a jaunt in the Tardis, poor love!) Liz Shaw is one of my favourite companions – for she was an intelligent, independent woman who neither needed, nor fell in love with, The Doctor.
Dear, lovely intelligent Liz Shaw. So of course the producers decided to continue in their inspirationally modern slant on the screaming companion character in the newly liberated Seventies. Right? Wrong. Say hello to Jo Grant (1971-73), and her knickers.
I’ve already blogged about Miss Grant as a Fashion Icon, thanks to her prediliction for dressing in head to toe Biba. Jo was wonderfully ditzy, seemingly rather dim and considerably younger than her predecessor. The implication was made that her promotion into UNIT was thanks to some healthy nepotism, but she was certainly a bright spark when it was needed. Although always with a giggle and a flutter of those spidery Biba eyelashes.
The Doctor certainly seemed to enjoy her company, although I would dispute that he preferred his companions to be a little bit screamy and stupid. He was certainly frustrated by her silliness, and charmed by her hidden depths, which would imply that he really does prefer a bit of spunk and spark in his companions. Jo was rather too much the adoring girl though, which often brought out the most patronising aspects of her mentor’s character.
All this aside, and I’m not even sure where I stand on Miss Grant – except that I would happily stand on and squish her in an attempt to get into her wardrobe and steal most of her gear, she was certainly adorable, always fabulously attired and occasionally quite brilliant. I won’t go into specific episodes because each and every one is a gem where Jo’s clothes are concerned, and each and every one is a Biba gem at that!
They returned to a slightly more sophisticated young woman for the next occupant of the Tardis wardrobe. This time dressed in Biba rivals Lee Bender for Bus Stop, Sarah-Jane Smith (1973-76 and beyond) was a fiesty reporter/journalist type who would stride headfirst into situations and enjoyed an occasionally snippy dialogue with her first Doctor. This first generation Sarah-Jane was my favourite and, unlike most people, I truly loved (and never questioned) that she was paired with Pertwee in The Five Doctors in 1984. Alas though, it eventually went horribly wrong with The Doctor’s regeneration and the introduction of a certain Mr Harry Sullivan.
Originally, the replacement for Jon Pertwee had been intended to be an older actor in the same vein as William Hartnell’s interpretation of the character. So producers had hired Ian Marter to play a new male companion (the first since Jamie left in 1969), because they felt they needed a virile young man to do….well, virile young man things. Nevermind that they already had Elisabeth Sladen as a strong female character, of course they needed a chap for chap things. In the end, as we now all know, they hired a young Tom Baker for the role who was perfectly capable of running around and in no need of a Harry Sullivan. So with effectively a ‘spare’ companion, they had to relegate poor Sarah Jane to mere screaming, girly companion character to give Harry enough to do (and provide enough of a contrast to the two male leads).
Harry: I say Doctor, steady on now old chap….I mean…..golly…..gosh…..that’s really rather beastly….
Sarah Jane: *wibble* *scream*
Doctor: There’s just no debate is there?
Now I love Harry and his excessive poshness. But thankfully he was let go by the end of this debut Fourth Doctor series, and Sarah Jane was finally able to regain her place as The Doctor’s main squeeze. Although she never did quite recover from this volte face in her characterisation, and remained perhaps a little too girly and screamy for my liking. Luckily, Sladen has had another chance (or three) at the role (most recently in her own series spin-off from ‘Nu-Who’) and has returned to the stronger character I so adored in her first series with Pertwee.
Style-wise, she must be applauded for never wearing a mini skirt and thus breaking with classic Who tradition that, regardless of how long skirts may be outside the Tardis, the companion always deems a mini skirt to be suitable quarry-sprinting attire. She donned a very cutesy print maxi dress in The Masque of Mandragora, one of Victoria’s alleged cast-offs (peculiarily Edwardian for Miss Waterfield but we’ll let that go) in The Pyramids of Mars and who on earth could forget the Andy Pandy striped dungarees from her departure story, The Hand of Death?
Let’s just pretend her rescue from a little tumble down a slight incline in The Five Doctors never happened shall we?
Part II coming soon (where we see the true meaning of the phrase “One for the Dads”, see where Servalan’s cast-offs ended up and try to work out why on earth a fully grown woman in a school uniform would be such a popular companion?).