The Doctor Who Ratings Guide: By Fans, For Fans

Romanadvoratrelunder (Romana)

Mary Tamm, Lalla Ward


A Review by Rob Matthews 30/1/03

Here in the UK, dear non-Brit readers, our television stations have had an unfortunate habit for quite a few years now of filling the schedules up with cheap 'nostalgia' shows. These compilations, frequently presented as 'Top 10's or even 'Top 100's generally feature a bunch of clips from old television shows interspersed with asinine pieces of 'commentary' by Z-list celebrities from gardening programmes and such. And when I say asinine I do mean almost inexpressibly pointless; when Pac Man was the subject of one of these nostalgia shows, for example, one guest's sole contribution was to bunch and unbunch her fist in a sort of eaty-eaty motion. Because Pac Man, you see, used to eat things! Which we already knew, but somehow or other it's supposed to be entertaining to be reminded of it by a celebrity rent-a-gob (or in this case, I suppose, rent-a-fist).

So when Doctor Who comes up for 'discussion' in one of these shows, you can quite confidently expect no-one to say anything more intelligent than 'Exterminate! Exterminate!' while pinching their nose and talking in a stupid voice. Sadly Doctor Who comes up in these shows quite frequently - best sci-fi, best kids show, best TV character etc -, which I guess may sound like a good thing, except that these shows are always about 'celebrating' (and typically with a sizeable sneer quotient) things we can't be bothered with anymore. We can't be bothered with Doctor Who, but we love to hear for six minutes about how we used to bother with it - before completely forgetting about it again, at least until the next simulacra-reminiscence.

A segment on Doctor Who in one of these charades will usually end by asking where it all went wrong, at which point clips of villains made out of sweets will appear, and we'll be reminded that Sylvester McCoy wasn't Tom Baker. Author Kim Newman surprised me in one of these mini-crapathons, however, by saying something remotely interesting - he pinpointed the introduction of K9 as the first step on the slippery slope towards the show's extinction. His rationale? It was the first instance of the production team making creative decisions in order to please fans rather then attract audiences.

The suggestion is interesting, but also a complete load of sweaty bollocks. 'Fans', of the Ian Levine persuasion, surely didn't appreciate K9 at all. They thought he was too silly a creation for the 'serious' show they wanted Doctor Who to be.

(This in itself was a misunderstanding of 'seriousness', of course - a misapprehension that 'serious' equals po-faced and portentous, whereas now fans are on the whole more willing to accept that silliness a la Adams & Williams can be taken seriously too)

Anyhow, I thought Newman's comment odd because K9 appeared to have been introduced in a very conscious ploy to attract new viewers - primarily young kids enamoured of R2-D2. Whether or not it succeeded in this is questionable, but the robot dog certainly wasn't there for devotees. I'm sure there were plenty of fans at the time who regarded the prosthetic pooch the way most of us regard Jar Jar Binks now - included for small children, and best ignored.

No, if ever there was a companion introduced purely for the fans, then surely that companion was the noblest Time Lady of them all, Romanadvoratrelundar.

The choice of a fellow Time Lord as the Doctor's new companion broke the cardinal rule in the new assistant handbook - Thy New Companion Shalt Not Be Too Intelligent. This rule was in place because asking questions is the very function of a companion - dammit, it's the reason companions appear in the show in the first place! A Cambridge scientist by the name of Liz Shaw once broke this rule, and disappeared never to be seen again. Assistants didn't necessarily have to be thick, however - probably fairest to say that that they oughtn't to have much scientific knowledge; when the Doctor starts talking about gestalt beings or antimatter, it's necessary to have someone by his side who's going to ask what those things are (I daresay Zoe only got away with it because the show foregrounded few if any complicated sci-fi ideas during her tenure).

Bringing in a companion, then, who is not only academically supra-intelligent but also a member of the Doctor's own race would seem to most producers the most stupid thing you could do. For one thing, you'd expect it to undermine the Doctor as an authority figure. More dangerously, it would potentially alienate viewers - The Doctor's assistants were traditionally young human beings with whom we the audience could roughly identify and who were our entry points into the crazy world of the show - a human being who would ask those 'Doctor, why did you do that?' questions for us, in much the same capacity as the filmic Dr. Watson. Indeed, we were first introduced to the Doctor himself by two normal, average human beings who found something peculiar in a junkyard. The introduction of a Time Lady could thus be seen as destabilising the formula of the show; the focus of audience identification needs must become the Doctor himself or, worse, no-one at all. The show could thus have been seen as sealing itself into a specialised format that catered only for fans already committed to it.

Whether this turned out to be the case is hard to say. Apparently ratings slipped somewhat over the course of the Williams years, and certainly John Nathan Turner thought it was a basically misguided idea to have a TARDIS full of seemingly invulnerable know-it-alls. One of his first orders of business when he took over the show a couple of years later was to remove Romana and K9 and return very deliberately to a Doctor-companion group dynamic much like that in the very first season (right down to the inclusion of a latter-day human being swept into the Doctor's travels by accident). But I'd question whether the gob on legs, the moaning mathematical monkey and the doe-eyed semi-mute really made for more entertaining or interesting or even empathetic companions than the magnificent R's.

I think this theory, inherited from Barry Letts and Terrance Dicks, that the show ought to tiptoe around its audience was flawed in several ways. For one, it postulated Doctor-Who-as-niche-entertainment as the worst possible fate for the property, one which must be avoided at all costs. But that's what Doctor Who has become now, a cult entertainment for a specialised audience, and frankly it ain't so bad. From the New Adventures onward it has thrived creatively in ways it could never have done had it remained a Saturday teatime family show.

Qualifying this, I should add my own belief is that whatever creative decisions were made along the way, Doctor Who as television programme could never have survived the eighties and nineties and under no conceivable circumstances would it still be appearing on screens now. A rapidly increasing emphasis on superficial production values as a mark of 'quality' combined with an increasingly cost-effective attitude to programme-making by the BBC would have finished the show off no matter what the permutation of star, producer, script editor etc. And the only way the show could have got the funds for those high production values would have been to homogenise it's content, making it manageably generic and thus more easily saleable to the US. And that of course would have left us with a piece of glossy conservative unrecognisable pap with no edge whatsoever. Say, a TV movie with a nonsensical plot, a couple of car chases, Eric Roberts as the Master and a bit of Doctor-companion kissing to prove in a predicatbly anxious fashion that no matter how weirdly he dresses or how floppy his hair, the hero isin fact heterosexual.

So no, it's remarkable enough that the odd show us odd people on this site love could have garnered a mainstream audience at all. Obviously as a fan (and therefore possessing an utterly warped mind) it's difficult to comment on this objectively. Still, it's worth bearing in mind that no-one is born a 'fan' of something - we're not genetically predisposed to like Doctor Who. We like it because we watched it or read it and decided it was good. And it occurs to me that some of the most successful television television programmes have been the ones unafraid to revel in their own uniqueness and idiosyncracy, and they've been successful precisley because they haven't toned down their content; they haven't patronised the audience. Absolutely Fabulous, for example, was set in a world that very few of us know much about, or would want to know much about. But it was successful because of the complete confidence of the writing and the performing. Same goes for Seinfeld, whose scripting and performances had a rhythm so distinctive you could always tell when lesser shows were trying and failing to ape it. And by the same token, I'd guess that even an unbiased non-fan viewer would take Romana over, say, Tegan any day, because the former was presented with complete confidence both by the scripts and the performers who played the part, whereas with the latter you could see the seams in the writing and consequentially in the performance too.

It seems to me that when John Nathan Turner started producing, he harboured a neurotic assumption that the audience didn't really want to be there, and so introduced a companion who didn't want to be there either. Which was entirely wrong - Doctor Who was primarily an escapist show. Thus the Doctor is a literally escapist character - he escaped from a dull world, and he continually wants to be somewhere else. If you don't like that idea, you're not going to like the show anyway. And we don't want the Doc accompanied by some old moaner dragging her heels because it's against that very impetus. Maybe that's why I'm not all that enamoured of Anji either.

Romana worked because she was a character who wanted very much to be travelling with the Doctor, and this was thanks mostly to the performers. Originally conceived of as an 'ice goddess' type, it was not the character's coldness but rather her warmth that has endeared her to me. A lot of fans will tell you that she only became likeable when Lalla Ward took over the role from Mary Tamm (hello Joe!), but I don't think that's true at all. Even in her first story, after some verbal sparring with the Doctor that is actually very refreshing, I get the sense of someone who's interested in seeing the universe and out to have a good time. Her agreement that the Doctor can indeed refer to her as 'Fred' might have been in the script to put her across as obtuse, but Tamm doesn't play it that way. Instead she seems almost to be genuinely looking forward to being referred to that way - by implication she's happy, like the Doctor, to be away from Gallifrey, and quite willing to throw off the name that links her to that place (also much like the Doctor). She's initially scared by what she sees on Ribos with the Doctor, but at no point does she suggest she wants to give up and go home.

How can I put this - she's up for it. Her eagerness to get out and about in the universe is demonstrated again when she searches for just the right outfit to blend in on Tara. Her warmth, and indeed friendliness, is demonstrated by a few simple actions , like remembering to say goodbye to Garron and Unstoffe, and kissing Professor Rumford on the cheek as she and the Doctor leave. Simple, but these little touches make all the difference to my perception of the character. Joe refers to her as behaving like a 'stuck-up bitch' but I can't imagine how he developed that impression. She's occasionally aloof, but usually in a fashion that's either comic or where the aloofness is quite appropriate - best demonstrated, I think, by 'Ah, now don't tell me. Doctors are forbidden too' in The Pirate Planet, which is really no different to what the Doctor would say in the same circumstances, because she's mocking the stupidity of oppression. Another of my favourite Romana lines comes in, of all things, The Power of Kroll -

Doctor: I know a rogue when I see a rogue, and I have no desire to die in the company of a rogue. Have you any desire to die in the company of a rogue, Romana?
Romana: I'd rather not die at all.

Very much a Robert Holmes line, and Romana's pragmatism is easier to identify with here than the Doc's errant romanticism.

Perhaps her best performance comes in The Armageddon Factor, because that's where her rapport with Tom Baker is at its best and they come across most as equals. Particularly enjoyable is their mutual reaction of slightly embarrassed puzzlement when that wet fish character announces he's in love with the princess. The Doctor's later announcement to the Shadow that Romana 'is a Time Lord and can take care of herself!' is heartening, even though she's captured and locked up only minutes later. But ironically this is where this 'stuck-up bitch' really gets my respect, because by being willing to sacrifice herself rather than let the Shadow and the Black Guardian win, she proves herself just as brave and heroic as the Doctor. And she proves herself just as moral and compassionate as him too, in that scene where, having learned the truth about Princess Astra, they walk into the console room and Romana's angry first words are 'We're murderers'. She's willing to sacrifice herself but no-one else, and she's ready to challenge the Doctor where he appears (at this point) to be making a questionable choice. And yet she accepts her own responsibility by saying 'we' rather than 'You're a murderer'.

Graham Williams claimed that he had to 'soften the part because of Mary Tamm wanting to be liked', and that in replacing her it didn't make sense to go down the 'ice goddess' route again. But Tamm was entirely right to make the character likeable, to humanise the stereotype, since no-one roots for a character they don't like, and by dispensing with any (most of) R's residual snootiness in Lalla Ward's version of the character, the makers of the show - and Ward herself - in fact completed the work that Tamm had started. So I'll say it again - Mary Tamm: underrated.

Still, that's not to denigrate Lalla Ward, who plays an equal role in making Romana one of my faves. Her first appearance in Destiny of the Daleks is slightly unsatisfactory since she appears to have been deliberately made more 'vulnerable' and has to deliver clunkers like 'Oh, seismic. I thought you said psychic'. But in City of Death she's given perhaps one of the best Romana stories, holding her own with the count and so forth. There's a lingering sense particularly here but also throughout the rest of her time in the series that the Doctor and Romana are not only equals but maybe... you know, just a bit more, and it's the only time in the show this has ever seemed plausible. And of course in retrospect we also tend to project Tom and Lalla's real-life affair and brief marriage into those stories too - which is just possibly another reason why she's the favoured Romana among fans. This is counterbalanced amusingly by Baker's increased emphasis of the Doc's asexuality - that scene I mentioned from The Armageddon Factor, and the immortal 'You're a beautiful woman probably'. But the rapport between the pair teasingly overrides that.

(mind you, it seems Baker was keen on Tamm too - he recently claimed not to remember anything about the stories they appeared in together because he was too preoccupied with her tits)

The main thing to mention about City of Death is that Romana is now more overtly out to enjoy herself in her travels with the Doc. Ward's face is, for one thing, more prone to those dazzling grins, but her enthusiasm is reflected even on the production level, with the 'schoolgirl' costume she's given - itself designed to tie in with the 'bohemian undergraduate' thing the Doctor has going at this point. Always a fun partner in the Doctor's exploits she does indeed become a sort of 'Mrs Who' in the season that follows. Indeed, the shot season 17 closes with as Horns of Nimon ends is a closeup of Ward laughing - echoing the way season 16 ended with a similar shot of the Doctor's gleeful face.

Ward's other best performance is, for me, in her final story Warrior's Gate, in which - right up to her beautifully upbeat departure scene where she decides to not to go back to Gallifrey and takes her life into her own hands - she simply shines. And overall, hers becomes a story of liberation. Which is in fact not something you can say about many of the Doctor's companions - generally they either pick up their lives where they left off or go off with some contrived bloke. Pethaps it's a shame that of all the TV companions, only a Time Lady could be shown going on to bigger and better things. Something similar was planned for Ace, I gather, but we never got there. Still, I think Romana remains a more inspirational companion than most.

As a fan favourite, she's one of few TV characters whose exploits have continued in the 'present' of the novels (rather than just in missing adventures). Oddly, in both novels and audios, she's been returned to Gallifrey and elected president. This seems a bit of a betrayal of who she was when last seen on TV, though we can reason that as president she hasn't exactly gone back to the lifestyle of a rank-and-file Time Lord, and that she's still doing some good, just as she promised to when the Doctor proudly announced she'd 'be superb'. I haven't read all the books that feature her, but by The Ancestor Cell her presidency has taken a heavy toll on her - as well as having regenerated into her third body, she's become cynical and callous. In this case, I guess, a much-loved character has been sacrificed to the demands of story. The story is a tragedy (albeit a muddled one), and the fact that one of the most wonderful characters in Who has been coarsened and corrupted is an important factor in evoking that. But I did feel the authors of that book cheapened her too, by making too many leering references to her physical attractiveness (the description made it hard not to see her as modelled on Mary Tamm - personally I decided to picture her as Catherine Zeta-Jones).

Still, softie that I am, I'd still like to see Romana come good again in the end. I'm hoping she's survived the death of Gallifrey and that her story isn't done yet.

Student, Partner, Doctor by Terrence Keenan 23/9/03

At first, she was a young naive Gallifreyan with a triple first from the Academy who was not all that impressed with our hero. From there, she became his partner, possible lover (if art imitated life) and finally evolved into a female version of the Doctor, ready to carry on her own crusades.

Talk about your character development.

I always find it a bit insulting when fans come along and say Ace was the only companion who ever got any real character development. Season 16 does a great job of slowly, but surely bringing Romana along to the point where she falls into line with the Doctor's bluffs and con jobs. She may be a bit stuffy at the beginning, but her gung ho earnestness shows a capacity to learn. She is also learning how to bluff her way into situations and control the people she meets along the way. Not all too successful, but by Nimon, she gives the pilot of the Skonnon ship an earful for abandoning the Doctor.

Season 16 is Romana's crash course on the universe and fighting evil the 4th Dcotor way. And by The Armageddon Factor, the Doctor acknowledges this with dialogue, telling the Shadow, that "Romana is a Time Lord, full of sterner stuff than those poor souls you've been playing with." Romana also takes a moral stance in regards to the 6th segment -- "We're Murderers." -- that the Doctor would take. By having Romana say it, and the Doctor agree, shows how far this character has come.

Romana is definitely an equal, from Armageddon going forward. The Doctor introduces them as "travellers", from this point on. Romana takes on a Doctorish role, with Duggan in City of Death and also in The Horns of Nimon. This culminates with her decision to leave to help the Tharils in Warriors' Gate. But you see her take a Doctor-ish position in how she relates to Adric as well -- specifically in episodes 2 & 4 of Warriors' Gate (the scene where Rorvik and crew show up outside of the TARDIS, and her demand that Adric dematerialize the TARDIS in 13 minutes no matter what).

All that happened to Ace is she faced a couple of fears and cried, when not spouting lingo and blowing shit up. Big Whoop.

Both Mary Tamm and Lalla Ward deserve huge amount of credit for their portrayals. In fact, Lalla leans heavily on Mary's base for her own portrayal. I used to heavily favor Lalla over Mary, but now I'd be hard pressed to choose one over the other as the better Romana.

Student, Partner, Doctor. True character development.

Note -- Um, this piece took me a long time to write, because Rob Matthews's article is so damn good. If you haven't checked his out, do so immediately.

Absolutely marvellous! by Joe Ford 1/8/04

It is quite shocking to think that a character who appeared in several different guises was not the longest serving companion to travel with the Doctor. Indeed the cute metal dog he carted around time and space served more TARDIS time than this illustrious Time Lady. What cannot be denied however is that whatever guise she appears in (be it the aloof brunette, the funny blue midget with the bizarre hat, the extremely tall thick lipped temptress, the Viking warrior maid or the sumptuous blond) Romana made a distinct impression on both the regular viewers and the Doctor. Attitude was her middle name, unlike many of the Doctor's friends she refused to be pushed around or condescended and as such she came across as one of the iciest and certainly the coolest of them all.

Romana rocks no matter what body she decides to wear!

Something my pal Matt said to me the other day really stuck in my head. Before Romana, Leela was the lady of the TARDIS, a noble savage with a heart of gold and despite her strengths as a companion (She fights! She kills! She flashes her tits! She's played by the extremely talented Louise Jameson) there was one nagging problem that marred her time on the show. Tom Baker did not like her and as such he made no real effort to gel with her and their chemistry was sorely lacking in season fifteen. It worked in some stories (especially the foul mood Tom is in in The Horror of Fang Rock which offers an appropriately grumpy Doctor snapping at Leela) but more often than not the stories lacked the spark that an electric Doctor/companion team could provide.

Enter Romana.

Ooooooh boy! What a bitch she was too! Thrust into his arms by the White Guardian to help find the six segments of the Key to Time here was a woman who epitomises everything that rubs the Doctor up the wrong way. She was an officious, rule bound snob who looked down her nose at everybody who she considered lower than her. And she was the perfect counterpoint to Tom Baker's increasingly insane fourth Doctor, she was the chalk to his cheese and the arguments that ensued provided some of the fine entertainment.

Her potential was immediate. As with most drama it is the polar opposites and their friction that causes the best character drama and these two winding each other up revealed more about themselves than they realised. The Doctor likes to think he is in control of his life, the TARDIS and the universe but with Romana around to constantly remind him where he is going wrong you realise just how much he improvises his life. With Romana about to call the TARDIS a "capsule" we get to see how much the Doctor cares for his "dear old thing". But what impresses even more is their different methods of world saving where he dives in head first causing a whirlwind of trouble and cleverly ties it all up at the end and Romana carefully considers the problem and tries her best to solve the issue with a minimum of fuss (look at how she immediately catches the attention of a citizen of Zanak where the Doctor's bulldog methods fail, her sudden retrieval of the fourth segment on Tara is far more efficient than anything the Doctor would have done). With Romana around it is clear the Doctor is off his head and with her level-headedness and intelligence it is clear he trusts her to get on do all the serious stuff so he can have a laugh. When these two are together sparks fly (and that's despite those that are springing from the console). "I don't suppose you can make tea?" is one of the first things he asks Romana. "Tea?" she replies, uncomprehending. "Yes tea! They don't teach you anything useful at the Academy these days do they?" I love how he is always trying to assert himself with her and more often than not is hilariously upstaged. It makes him far more sympathetic when he is making these silly mistake under her piercing glare, you feel for him all the more because she is smugly satisfied. Watch the Doctor's glee as he notices that Romana's "perfect" materialisation on Calufrax has gone strikingly awry: "You have made an ENORMOUS mistake! You've probably materialised a couple of million parsecs of course!" and yet even further amusement can be found when it appears that she hit the bullseye and it is the planet that is in the wrong place!

As you progress through season sixteen you can see a certain respect developing between the two of them, Romana impressed with his last minute hair brain schemes ("Okay its FANTASTIC!") and the Doctor loving her quick wits ("BRILLIANT! Well, yes, it's quite ingenious!") and the tension between them mellowing slightly. Romana begins to mellow as she gets a glimpse of the real universe, people in peril and the sort of everyday villainy the Doctor is always up against. Over time she realise he is far more professional than he appears.

Unfortunately there is a slight dip in the quality of writing for Romana at the end of the season. The Power of Kroll sees her tied up to a stake and screaming her head off, the sixties companion making a comeback which jars even more because of Romana's usually sassy attitude. And The Armageddon Factor pushes the poor cow to the sidelines and despite some fun scenes bouncing quick lines back and forth with Tom Baker, Mary Tamm gets a rather disappointing closing story. One thing that does emerge from her last tale is just how close she has become with the Doctor and more in tune with his way of thinking, the bickering reduced to a bare minimum.

Mary Tamm had a pretty good year in all, but six stories playing second fiddle to the overpowering Tom Baker was enough for her and she decided to leave. Fair enough but why oh why oh why did producer Graham Williams skip on the huge potential of climaxing the season with Romana's death and regeneration??? This could have been huge, a chance to see how much she has grown by sacrificing her life for the reckless Doctor but alas it was not meant to be. Instead we get the grafted on comedy regeneration sequence in Destiny of the Daleks which is only rivalled in the controversy stakes by the announcement that Bille ("Why d'you want to invade the galaxy?" "Be-cause we want to!") Piper will be getting loads of close ups on her cleavage in the new series! Get over it you great woofters (and the regeneration thing too!). Yes there could have been better ways to introduce Romana II but Rob Matthews' outstanding explanation of how she manages to "try on" several bodies before selecting someone she has already met (which I slanderously stole for my own Destiny review... apologies) works a treat. It seems only fair that the companion who had the most costume changes should be allowed to explore her vanity and slip into a few bodies before being satisfied. Plus nobody has a whinge when the 2nd Doctor was given the choice in The War Games... Doctor Who fans have fabulous selective memories don't they?

Enter the lickably perfect Lalla Ward. What is it about Romanas and their ability to get poofters all hot and bothered? Robbie loves Mary Tamm and I adore Lalla! I mean she is just GORGEOUS isn't she? Easily the most bootylicious (copyright Terrance Keenan) babe to ever grace the series (even when she isn't wearing a school uniform!). Thick blond hair, gorgeous sensuous lips, piercing eyes... and loads of attitude... she tears through stories like a hurricane, turning heads, solving problems and wearing totally fabulous dresses (and sailors' uniforms).

After a slighty shaky start in Destiny of the Daleks and Creature from the Pit where Lalla is finding her feet in scripts clearly designed for Mary's Romana she settles down comfortably into the role of the Doctor's minder and best friend. Season seventeen is the only season where the companion is every bit as important as the Doctor storytelling wise (not even Ace with her trilogy in season twenty-six could match Romana's overwhelming presence in these stories) where Romana does most of the Doctor bits whilst he goofs about and has a holiday. She's dealing with Lady Adastra whilst the Doctor is off exploring the Pit (Creature from the Pit), she calms Della, discovers Stot and handles the deranged Rigg (Nightmare of the Eden), she commands The Horns of Nimon, discovering the Nimon secrets and invasion plans, protecting the children and brings Soldeed to an abrupt end. The year might be on shakier ground production wise but as far as Romana is concerned she leaps from strength to strength, Lalla improving with every story and clearly having a whale of a time with it.

What is clear is the Doctor has met his equal and for everybody hanging on a female Doctor to appear look no further. There is a playful twinge to their relationship that lights up the screen helped no doubt that Lalla and Tom were desperately in love at the time. It seems so right to see them holding hands as they run around the streets of Paris. Without dispelling the romance of the situation this is probably as close as the Doctor has ever been with anybody on an intellectual level and their intimacy is clear on screen in how they appear almost as Gods, whipping into a crisis and sorting it all out in time for tea. They are a real couple.

Season Eighteen heightens this feeling of closeness, going on holiday together, domestic bedroom scenes (not hanky panky you dirty pervs!), gaining a "child" (in the form of Adric, the ultimate brat) and finally splitting up as she realises she has outgrown him. These five stories see Romana at her very best, the script editor ensuring she is a powerful and intelligent woman throughout. State of Decay deliciously sees the Doctor and Romana locked up for an entire episode and delightfully sees them swapping stories, flirting like mad and high on each other's company. Full Circle has the wonderful scene where Romana is possessed and manages to break that control by her strong emotional links to K.9. and the TARDIS, her home. Warriors' Gate is a perfect point for her to leave, early scenes seeing sweet power struggles between Romana and the Doctor as she finally realises she has to be "her own Romana" and stand on her own. Her impromptu departure is only the way it could have been, if either of them had time to really think about it I doubt they could have gone through with it. The Doctor's lost look in the TARDIS and her parting riposte ("She'll be superb") is very touching. The thought of Romana setting up as the Doctor in another universe is perfect; E-Space is clearly in good hands.

Highlights? Too many to count but my personal favourites: 5) "Your name!" "What about my name?" "It's too long... by the time I've called out "Look out Romanadv... what's your name again?" "Romanadvoratrelundar!" "By the time I've called that out you could be dead! I'll call you Romana" "I don't like Romana!" "It's either Romana or Fred!" "All right call me Fred!" "Good! Come along Romana!"

4) "D'you know what... you are wonderful!" "Am I?" "Yes" "I suppose I am... I hadn't really thought about it..."

3) "Well how do you like it?" "Ravishing!" "That's not what I meant... I mean will this do?" "Oh yes perfectly suitable I should think... except those shoes!" "Oh I rather like them "Well you please yourself I'm no fashion expert!" "No..."

2) "I'm not going with you Doctor" "INSIDE. THAT'S AN ORDER!" "No more orders Doctor" "Well what a time to choose!" "But it is though... the time to choose. I have to be my own Romana" "You were the noblest Romana of them all!"

1) "The Time Lords want me back" "Yes, well, you only came to help with the Key to Time" "Doctor I don't want to spend the rest of my life on Gallifrey! After all this!"

Smart, sassy, resourceful and gorgeous, Romana was possibly the perfect companion. She had a hell of ride and experienced extraordinary character growth and best of all she enriched the stories she appeared in. She's pretty fabulous all told.