The Greatest Moms Of ‘Doctor Who’

Madge Arwell (played by Claire Skinner)

Madge Arwell (played by Claire Skinner)

This Sunday is Mother’s Day, a fact you really should all already know if you don’t want to spend the weekend apologising. But if you HAD forgotten, or you know your mom appreciates some sci-fi examples of positive parenting, here’s a list of eleven top Whovian matriarchs. Some of them stretch the term quite a long way, and the last one is probably an offense against motherhood that will result in a thick ear, but what the hell, it’s the thought that counts.

That and tidying up your room, obv:

“The Woman”
Having spent ages stalking Donna Noble’s grandad Wilf in The End of Time, this enigmatic character, played by Claire Bloom, turns up amid the time-locked Time Lords of Gallifrey, on a return journey to the Universe. But thanks to the actions of the Doctor, they get send back from whence they came, with nothing but a meaningful look to show for it. We don’t actually know who she is. There have been suggestions that she’s the Doctor’s mum, she’s a regenerated Romana, or the mother of Susan, the Doctor’s Granddaughter. Heck, she could even be the wife he left behind to commence his inter-temporal gallivanting. The point is, that shared moment had a familial intimacy about it, as if she was the one person the Doctor most regretted trapping in the time lock.

Madge Arwell
One of the best characters in any of the single-episode Doctor Who stories, from The Doctor, The Widow and the Wardrobe. Madge is both enormously accepting of the Doctor’s eccentricities, and even helps him find the TARDIS (sort of), when he falls from the sky in a space-suit. But she’s also very, very protective of her children, and spots that having a Time Lord for a housekeeper is not a terrifically safe idea. Plus she uses her new found powers to bring her husband back from the dead. You’d hate to be the parent of a bully that has a go at her kids, is what I am saying.

Sarah Jane Smith
After admitting that she had never settled down with anyone during her lifetime – thanks largely to there being no one in humanity that could match up to a certain Time Lord – Sarah Jane wasted little time in pulling a family together. The kids may have been aliens, the dog may have been a robot and the family patriarch may have been a stay-at-home computer – tellingly named Mr Smith – but in every other respect Sarah Jane’s most nuclear of families was as traditional as a Sunday roast. And woe betide any alien that threatened her domestic bliss.

Nancy
The Empty Child is one of the most chilling Doctor Who stories ever, and one with the most heart-warming payoff. Nancy is the single mum of Jamie, a boy who was killed in an air raid during the Second World War. Nanogenes reanimate the boy, and he spends a lot of time wandering around asking strangers “are you my mummy?” in a very creepy manner. Meanwhile, Nancy channels her grief into caring for children orphaned by the blitz, and eventually, when faced with this version of Jamie, is forced to admit that yes, she is his mummy, which effectively saves the day. Now stop mucking about with that gas mask and wash your hands for tea!

Jackie Tyler

The relaunched Doctor Who has made a lot out of families. Rather than hearing about the extended backgrounds of companions, we often got to see them first hand. As the new companions would appear every week, so would their parents and brothers and sisters. In the case of Rose Tyler, this meant a dead father she got to meet by going back in time (and then meet again by traveling to an alternative dimension), and her mum Jackie.

Francine Jones
Another mum who had the Doctor marked down as trouble from the moment she saw him. But poor Francine, while trying to do the best for her daughter Martha, ended up helping the Master enslave all of humanity, herself included, and can’t ever forget it, even though time was reversed, and no one else on Earth knows it happened. And they say it’s kids that can get into trouble for hanging out with the wrong crowd.

Sylvia Noble
Sylvia had a lot of ground to cover, her sour-faced demeanor being Donna’s inspiration to get out of a rut, and she was someone who clearly thought very little of the Doctor, despite him saving her life several times. Her presence looms large over the extremely disturbing “Turn Left” too, once again being a thorn in Donna’s side, and helping to illustrate how bad things could have got for humankind had the Doctor died. She wasn’t happy about that either.

Amy Pond
Granted, Amy does not have the most conventional of parenting experiences. Her only child was kidnapped as a baby, and trained to kill her best friend, while also being her pre-best friend best friend during childhood. And it’s weird for the baby too. Very few people get to convince their own parents to start dating, after all. So if anyone deserves the monicker ‘problem child,’ it would be young Melody Pond. You have to give Amy credit for trying under extreme duress, is my point.

Donna Noble
During that whole “Silence in the Library/Forest of the Dead” malarkey, Donna becomes saved into the library’s database, and lives out a dream existence, with a husband, and two children. And when this is eventually torn apart to reinstate normal normality, her anguish at losing her children – dream children, remember – is palpable.

Sophie Owens
Mother of Stormageddon, Dark Lord of All (who also answers to Alfie) and clearly the brains of the family.

Davros
Let’s not be sexist. Davros is everything a good mother should be. He created a family in his image, and fought tooth, nail and skin-clippings to make sure they were protected from every bad thing the universe had to throw at them, even their own feelings. Thus he ensured a superior start for all of his children, nurtured their every whim, made sure there were resources available to support their disabilities and, when cornered, fought harder than a protective mother rhino to make sure they were safe. That the children have turned out to be somewhat spoiled as a result is just one of life’s bitter ironies, although he can be something of a nag, so maybe it’s a two way street. Nothing a spot of parent-child counseling can’t solve, I bet.

Who’s your favorite Mom in Doctor Who? The Racnoss? The Adiposian First Family? Tell us here:

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.

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