A Companion To The Doctor’s Companions: Victoria Waterfield

The current Doctor Who series has gone back to the show’s earliest habits in picking people from nowadays as companions, in order to ask the audience the question “what would you do if a man turned up in your life claiming he has a magic box which is bigger on the inside?” But for a while, during the Second Doctor’s time, he traveled with two people who were not only not from the contemporary era, but hailed from key moments in Britain’s past. Jamie, the Jacobean highlander, and Victoria Waterfield, the Victorian inventor’s daughter (played by Deborah Watling).

It’s one of the show’s better constant thoughts, that as far as the Doctor is concerned there is little difference between now and 200 years ago in Earth’s history. We are all primitives. And of course, as with all the best science fiction, the trade-off is that the humans are always called upon to remind all the aliens they encounter – the Doctor included – that technological advancement isn’t everything, there are qualities that put humankind way ahead of any race you’d care to name: tenacity, ingenuity, team sports, crumpets, you name it…

Victoria is the daughter of a scientist who is working on a (presumably steam-powered) time machine, in 1866. This has caught the eyestalk of the Daleks who wish to commandeer it for their own ends. They capture Victoria and hold her hostage, in order to force her father to help them capture the Doctor.

Here she is (about 4:20 in), being ordered not to feed the pigeons by a Dalek:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IGmX_Rbk6eE&feature=related

Unfortunately, during the course of the fight against the Daleks, Victoria’s father is killed and her home destroyed. Jamie and the Doctor take pity on her, and invite her to join them aboard their own time machine.

Of course, life aboard the TARDIS is always fraught with danger, so it’s debatable how much of a favor they’ve really done her. Victoria soon finds herself battling Yetis, Ice Warriors and Cybermen, providing the screams and sense of escalating panic, compared to the more rugged, headstrong Jamie and the capricious Doctor. This doesn’t mean she is feeble, however. As we’ve seen, she’s capable of extreme stubbornness, embarking on a hunger strike rather than give in to her Dalek captors, and she’s very good at holding back from rash decisions, and making sure she’s not being lied to.

Oh and rebuffing suggestions that she show a bit of leg, she’s good at knocking them back too:

Unfortunately for Jamie and the Doctor, and in common with other companions who trade family tragedy for a life on the TARDIS, Victoria longs to settle down somewhere. But she’s already seen too much of the future to return to her own time, and besides, there’s no one there for her now. So, having seen off a seaweed creature with the power of her screams (Fury From The Deep), she opts to stay with the Harris family in the 20th Century, rather than continue her travels. From her Victorian perspective it’s an easy win, because she gets to maintain her astonishing futuristic lifestyle, but she’s far less likely to run into trouble from alien races.

(Note: the final part of Fury From The Deep is is one of the lost Doctor Who episodes, so this clip has been made from the soundtrack, and stills taken on set. Narration is by Frazer Hines, who played Jamie)

The time spent with Victoria and Jamie must have left quite an impression on the Doctor, because he never did travel with someone from a human time period earlier than that of his audience again (unless you count Leela, and technically she was from a different world, so it’s not the same). Oh there were offers, people he took a shine to, but maybe something in his demeanor suggested that running away from the past aboard a time machine is just asking for trouble in the future. Or maybe he just likes his primitives to be from an era that understands electricity and has a proper sewage system.

Next: Zoe Heriot, futureteen.

Fraser McAlpine

Fraser has been writing and broadcasting about music and popular culture for over 15 years, first at the Top of the Pops website, and most recently for the NME, Guardian and MSN. He also wrote BBC Radio 1's Chart Blog and reviews albums for BBC Radio 2.

He is Anglophenia's current resident Brit, blogging about British slang and running around the Mall taking snaps of the crowd at the Royal Wedding, as well as reigniting a childhood passion for classic Doctor Who and cramming as much music in as he can manage.

Fraser invites you to join him on Twitter: @csi_popmusic

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