This browser is supported only in Windows 10 and above.
From left: Karen Gillan and Matt Smith from 'Doctor Who.' (Photo: BBC) Daniel Craig and Olga Kurylenko from 'Quantum of Solace.' (Photo by Karen Ballard/Sony Pictures)

Before we start it’s important to note that we’re comparing apples and oranges here. The role of the Bond girl is to somehow put herself in a position of some jeopardy, probably through a combination of her own wit and skill and cunning, and then somehow forget all of those things when the explosions start happening and let James do all the work. Then fall in love with him. But not too much, because he’s a bit of a rogue. Just enough for a spot of “how’s your father” while the end credits roll. That’s perfect.

The role of the Doctor’s assistant is very different. What they have to do is poke around in an alien environment, finding out what’s what, then get captured, get rescued, and leave. Under no circumstances are they to fall in love with the Doctor *cough*MarthaJones*cough*, because he doesn’t really know what to do about that. As Doctor Who‘s end credits roll, they’re all back into the TARDIS, hurtling down the time vortex and laughing about the one Cyberman who slipped on some oil.

However, there are some points of common ground between the Bond girls and the ladies of the TARDIS, the question is, who’s better? Let’s have a look, shall we?

Academic Achievement

A good proportion of the women James Bond likes to hang out with are professionals, and a lot of them are doctors. By contrast, the Doctor enjoys being the cleverest person in any room, and tends to value a good heart and a stout backbone, over booksmarts and qualifications. As a result, if there were an episode of University Challenge devoted to this issue, the Bond girls would probably win.

Bond Girls 1 – Who Girls 0

Self-Esteem

An easy win for the Whovians here. Not to get too political about it, but look at the effect each hero has on their companion of choice. The Doctor believes in the people he chooses, and he needs them in his life for as long as they wish to remain. He has the power to turn normal, everyday woman into saviours of the know universe, with all of the attendant confidence and support that this entails. James Bond works in reverse. He takes prominent experts in their field and turns them into bedtime playmates. Whatever self-esteem they managed to cobble together from a lifetime of being called Molly Warmflesh, Plenty O’Toole, Christmas Jones or Holly Goodhead is surrendered for the chance of a few stolen moments with 007, the ruiner of professional reputations.

Bond Girls 0 – Who Girls 1

Most Prone To Capture

Without meaning to suggest that either Doctor Who or the Bond franchise tends to work to a formula… there does seem to often be a point in every adventure where the female companion is captured, tied up, and eventually rescued. And to the credit of both production teams, they’ve worked hard to spin that around from time to time so the hero becomes the captive and requires a little assistance too. It would be hard to pick one side over the other in this regard, especially as the Whovians are better at making friends with their abductors, and the Bondians are sometimes already working for both sides. Let’s call this one a draw.

Bond Girls 0 – Who Girls 0

Most Loyal

The world of espionage is one that is riddled with bluff and counterbluff, and the Bond girls are in no way immune from this. They’ll use their womanly wiles to turn a secret agent’s head and then shoot him in the back as he walks off to the shower. Meanwhile, almost everyone the Doctor picks as a companion trusts him implicitly and would go to the grave to defend his life. Martha Jones even spent a year evangelizing on his behalf, in order to save the world. OK, so The Master had a gun to her family, but still, when it comes to picking true friends, the Doctor wins every time.

Bond Girls 0 – Who Girls 1

Best At Fighting

While everyone involved in the Whoniverse tends to be quite chippy, when it comes to out and out fisticuffs, the Bond girls tend to have the edge. Let’s look at each side’s armour of special weapons, to illustrate this point:

Rose Tyler; able to charm or shoot any alien away from her Doctor. Wai Lin from Tomorrow Never Dies; a veritable kickycloud of martial arts fury. River Song; deadly with her tongue (not in that way). Solitaire from Live And Let Die; has actual magical powers (kinda). Leela from the Tom Baker era; handy with a knife. Honey Rider from Dr. No, handy with a knife in a bikini. Amy Pond; very long legs. May Day from A View To A Kill; very long legs that can actually kill a man.

See?

Bond Girls 1 – Who Girls 0

Best At Arguing

Donna Noble. Just… Donna Noble.

Bond Girls 0 – Who Girls 1

Lucky In Love

A hotly contested point, this one. It’s clear that most of the women that pass through the adventures of the Doctor and 007 end up on the other side feeling a little like their lives have peaked. Sarah Jane Smith said as much when she told the Doctor she could never find a man who matched up to him, even though they were never intimate. In this regard you’d have to say the Bond girls clinch it, because if nothing else, they do get their man for a bit. Sometimes even two bits.

There again, Rose Tyler gets an actual Doctor all to herself. Forever. And we do see a lot more Whovian marriages than Bondian ones.

Bond Girls 0 – Who Girls 1

Final result: Bond Girls 2 – Who Girls 4

Yesyesyes, these are merely arbitrary categories that do not capture the full glory of either brand. But still, by investing more in the characters of the Doctor’s companions, these women become fully-rounded in our minds. Therefore their role in the overall story becomes more convoluted and integral than some of the ladies who have graced the Bond movies.

Also, the Doctor’s companions are there to represent us poor humans, whereas the Bond girls provide a different function, a more visual one, so the character empathy works in a different way.

Plus — and I really cannot overstate this point — Donna Noble.

Did we get our sums wrong? Tell us here.

Read More
Filed Under: Doctor Who, James Bond
By Fraser McAlpine