Doctor Who Rogues Gallery: Madame Kovarian

Frances Barber as Madame Kovarian

So a short while ago we were talking about the Master and the Rani, and how he was a bad madman, and she was a bad scientist. There was a clear difference between the two, even though they both come across like the sort of people who’d carry a membership card to the Evil Masons. Madame Kovarian is harder to read, given that she comes across like the Master, has the scientific curiosity of the Rani, rocks a mean eyepatch, and crucially, only appears in fragments, sometimes viewed through little hatches in reality, by a version of Amy Pond that isn’t really real.

The reason we only see her through these hatches is that the actual, pregnant Amy Pond has been abducted and replaced by a ganger (or something very similar). Which we only find out about at the same time that Rory and the Doctor do, after two trips in the TARDIS, from 1969 to a pirate ship, from a pirate ship to a 22nd Century factor with rebellious gangers.

Once the Doctor realizes he’s got the wrong Amy, and sonically explodes her, the ganger’s bond with the real Amy snaps, and she wakes up, about to give birth, and with Madame Kovarian all up in her face, giving it the full wicked witch. She’s always in the middle of some plot or other, and never hangs around to explain.

It turns out Amy is trapped in the Demon’s Run space station and the Doctor has to try and get her back, and this is where we finally get to find out a little bit of what makes this one-eyed despot tick.

Here’s a summary, because some of it is a little hard to grasp:

She wants Melody Pond, we soon find out and is prepared to stoop to any amount of dirty tricks to ensure that she gets to keep her. Oh and she’s in league with the Silence, and in order to ensure that the Doctor dies, brainwashes Melody (now better known as River Song) into shooting him, by dressing her in an astronaut outfit and dumping her in a lake.

And you can hear a lot of Madame Kovarian’s voice in River Song, she’s there when River tells the Doctor off, she’s there in those nursery rhymes that pepper most of the last series, she’s lurking behind the scenes constantly, but crucially, very rarely in front of a tied-up Time Lord, monologuing, in true evil villain style. We only tend to find out what she’s done when the Doctor does, and boy does she love it:

Of course, her evil plan works, but for a few deft moves by the Doctor, involving a robot and some tiny people. He saves the day, sort of, leaving a shell-shocked Amy and Rory behind and disappearing off to the Second World War for some restorative fun in a wood, and she…doesn’t. The curious thing, apart from the delight with which Madame Kovarian plots to destroy him, is how quickly she returns to the shadows. She may have been betrayed and killed by the Silence in the alternate reality where Winston Churchill is still alive (the eyepatch is simply a way to record her meetings with the Silence, a bit like a secretary taking minutes), but once that loop has been closed, she’s still at large.

Which probably means she’ll be back, and that we won’t find out what she’s up to until it is nearly too late. At which point she’ll turn up, dressed in black, cocksure in her victory, to mock him just like the Master used to do, only with red lipstick instead of a goatee beard/dodgy blond crop.

Cue wicked cackle.

Next: The Cybermen

Fraser McAlpine

Fraser has been writing and broadcasting about music and popular culture for over 13 years, first at the Top of the Pops website, and most recently for the NME. He also wrote BBC Radio 1's Chart Blog and reviews albums for BBC Music.

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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