Doctor Who and Catherine Tate

// 2 April 2008


So Doctor Who starts again on Saturday, yippee! And the Doctor’s new companion will be Catherine Tate.

Now, like many other people when I first heard the news Tate would be in this series I have to admit I really wasn’t sure about it at all. In fact I did register my disgust, in the really ineffective way many people seem to do these days, by signing up to a Facebook group, this one called Get Martha Jones Back in the Tardis!.

But I was thinking yesterday: won’t it be refreshing to have a female character in Doctor Who who is a little bit older for a change? Tate is 39 – not exactly ancient obviously – but certainly a different generation from Rose (Billie Piper, 25) and Martha (Freema Agyeman, 29).

I think its a good thing to have a female character who’s a bit older (whether her character will be a good one remains to be seen). But without being an expert on the Doctor’s past “companions” (which the more I think about it seems a little bit of a creepy word to use), it seems unusual to break the mould of older Doctor, young female assistant (does anyone more geeky than me have any stats on this?).

So really, this is just to say – yay for an older woman in the Tardis for a change.

Comments From You

Alex Corwin // Posted 2 April 2008 at 11:47 pm

I’m not much of a Dr Who fan (I watch it occasionally, but I can live without it too), but I was thinking awhile ago isn’t time there was a female Dr.?

I mean really, if the Dr. can come back from the dead (or what ever it is he does… as I said I don’t watch that much), surely he could come back as a she? Or would that be far more scary then all the daleks put together!

Sarah // Posted 3 April 2008 at 12:10 am

Interesting – mind you, the first doctor’s two companions were Teachers Ian Chesterton and Barbara Wright. I don’t know how old the actress who played Barbara was, but she struck me as being competent. Towards the end of her time in the show, I believe she was taking on a more protective role towards the Doctor…

I look forward to a companion who doesn’t fall in love with the doctor! ;-)

Daege // Posted 3 April 2008 at 12:46 am

I’m looking forward to Tate as the new companion; I’ve never had anything against her. And it is brilliant to have someone older. As much as I love Martha and Rose, I’ve been thinking that young, London females have been getting a bit repetitive in the show. So Donna is still a London female, but at least she’s a little older!

Julie // Posted 3 April 2008 at 2:43 am


As a feminist Doctor Who geek, I can confirm that although many of the ‘classic’ series companions were male, almost all of the females were young, thin and attractive. Usually, their main purpose on the show was to provide an excuse for exposition by constantly asking the Doctor questions, and so their lines were limited to “what is it, Doctor?” or “Aaahhhhh!”.

There is no reason that I know of why the doctor cannot be regenerated as a woman, except that it has never happened before. The Doctor and Master have always been male on the show, and Ramana was female during both incarnations.

It is very clear to me that opposition to Catherine Tate is based on the assumption that his assistants should be young and super-attractive. To get the dads watching. Or something.

schneewittchen // Posted 3 April 2008 at 6:05 am

I think that David Tennant is so perfect as the Doctor, best one ever, but, I totally agree that it’s time for a female doc and when David goes, let’s have a woman in the role. I LOVED Captain Janeway in Voyager, a woman in charge who didn’t have to be a fake man.

I also loved Martha Jones as the Doctor’s sidekick, but I agree that Catherine Tate is great too, in several ways. Yes, she’s older, she’s also not the usual physical type AND, while both Rose and Martha were quite sassy, Catherine’s character is curmudgeonly. Perfect!

Leigh Woosey // Posted 3 April 2008 at 9:59 am

The objection to Catherine Tate and her character ‘Donna’ is ostensibly based on the fact that her character was pushy, unhelpful and a little shrill in her fist outing- the 2006 Christmas special. This is complicated by the fact that a younger companion who can ask questions and not feel so foolish is used as a substitute for the viewer who also has a lot of questions about the plot and setting. However, I share Julie’s suspicion that the underlying objection is based on the male scopophiliac urge- It is perceived as unnatural to have an equally mature female paired with an adult male and fans simply don’t want to look at that or confront their own assumptions. If anybody is feeling like a good read Naomi Wolf’s ‘The Beauty Myth’ has a good chapter on this and how it applies to the presentation of American news readers (try the F-Word Amazon shop or a local library). This essay shows what a perennial problem the depiction of women in Science Fiction is.

orlando // Posted 3 April 2008 at 11:36 am

I remember the actor who played Leela in the Tom Baker era (who was actually ex-RSC so, one would assume, capable of quite a performance range) commenting that “There’s only so many ways you can say ‘what is it, Doctor?'”

Betsy // Posted 3 April 2008 at 12:57 pm

Older woman, great, but she asks stupid questions all the time. Unlike Martha (a doctor), or Rose (who had more than the usual amount of common sense it seemed), Donna just seems stupid (maybe I’m being harsh). Replacing young intelligent women with a stupid older woman doesn’t seem to be much progress to me.

Also Catherine Tate really annoys me.

Juliet // Posted 3 April 2008 at 1:56 pm

Maybe Catherine Tate could play her ‘Nan’ character as the doctor’s sidekick, and keep saying ‘who is it?’ and ‘whaaaat a fucking liberty!’ Or ‘don’t take no notice of ‘im, love, he ain’t got a job’.

Seph // Posted 3 April 2008 at 6:50 pm

I wouldn’t care wether the Doctor had an older or younger female companion if he didn’t have one that was a whiny idiot (like Tate’s looking to be) or little miss “LETS GO SAVE THE PUPPIES COS IM SWEET AND INNOCENT!111” (Rose)

Didn’t catch much of the Martha series but she looked half-decent. A female Doctor might be interesting, but I have a bad feeling she’d end up turning into Yuna from FFX.

Anna // Posted 3 April 2008 at 8:03 pm

I’ve nothing in the slightest against the Doctor having an older female companion.. but Catherine Tate really, really gets on my tits. Maybe she’ll prove me wrong, I don’t know. We’ll see!

Burrow // Posted 4 April 2008 at 4:22 am

While the idea of an older female companion is one that is really wonderful to me, but I really, really hated Donna and am dreading a season of her. Perhaps they’ll prove me wrong, since I doubt they can make the season watchable if Donna continues to behave in exactly the same way she did last xmas.

I like that she questions and challenges the Doctor, but then again, Martha did and in a less annoying way. *shrug* guess we’ll find out.

Jo // Posted 4 April 2008 at 11:42 am

Yaaaay Doctor Who!!

I quite liked Donna in the Christmas special even if the episode itself was a bit rubbish. I think she’ll be a good companion. I agree it’s great to have an older companion AND especially one who doesn’t fancy the Doctor for a change. (In fairness to the old series, most of the female companions weren’t love interests even if their roles were otherwise pretty limited. It’s mostly the new series that’s hyped up the sexual tension. The fact that David Tennant is quite pretty probably contributes to it.)

I’ve actually had the conversation about Tate at work with the guy who sits next to me, and he said straight up that he doesn’t think she’ll be a good companion because she’s not “fit” like the other two. Tuh. ;) I pointed out that he’s not attracted to the Doctor yet is perfectly content to watch him. I don’t think it had any effect.

Li // Posted 4 April 2008 at 8:40 pm

I think the older female companion idea is great, but seriously, Donna? When I heard I was appalled. Especially as Martha was so awesome! I was like “we’ve only had one season of Martha, come on, we need at least 50 (yes, fifty!) more”. Yeah, I just joined that Facebook group.

But then I think the Doctor should be David Tennant and the companion should be Freema Agyeman forever and ever and ever and ever and although I’d love a female Doctor (and fantasise about it being me), that would involve the Doctor not being David Tennant anymore and that would be bad.

I’m a little obsessed, I know.

Jonathan Bryant // Posted 13 April 2008 at 9:55 am

Oh please…

“The objection to Catherine Tate and her character ‘Donna’ is ostensibly based on the fact that her character was pushy, unhelpful and a little shrill in her fist (sic) outing”.

I think you’ll find the objection to Catherine Tate is ostensibly based on the fact that she can’t act – which is why she has to keeping slipping into Lauren from her comedy show.

She’s just wrong for the part (in much the same way that Trigger was wrong for lord of the cybermen).

Serian // Posted 13 April 2008 at 6:51 pm

I’m completely unqualified on this note, watching Dr Who only when I remember but personally I think Catherine Tate is brilliant.

Judging by the most recent episode (the only one of this series that I’ve seen) she’s wonderful. Older, and (unlike the other 2) she’s not completely skinny and that’s great. Having maddeningly big boobs, it’s really nice to see natural big boobs on TV.

And on a more important note, she doesn’t seem brainless. Most of the episode showed her showing him things he’d never seen before (the whole Celtic/Latin thing) and her relieving his guilt.

dialecto // Posted 15 April 2008 at 7:44 pm

“It is very clear to me that opposition to Catherine Tate is based on the assumption that his assistants should be young and super-attractive.”

Well, good for you, that that’s so clear to you. There is, of course, also the possibility that one could dislike Catherine Tate on the grounds that she is an even worse actress than she ever was a comic (and that’s really saying something) and just downright one of the most annoying people on television today. As a result, there is absolutely no chemistry (and no, I do not mean physical – I can very well do without that) between Donna and the Doctor. I would take a well-written, well-performed female 11th doctor any day (mind you, I really do like Tenant for the role, too) and/or a male or even multiple companions. I just downright despise Catherine Tate.

dialecto // Posted 15 April 2008 at 11:47 pm

Here’s a thought: If everyone seems to be so hung-up on the supposed ‘ageism’ of the recent series, and is calling for an older female companion, the producers could have simply asked Elisabeth Sladen to re-join the Doctor as Sarah Jane Smith full-time. I would have loved that move. But Catherine Tate is simply unwatchable.

Ken // Posted 29 April 2008 at 8:07 pm

An American male just coming up to speed on Catherine Tate. Wow…

Anyone who says she isn’t a good comedian or actor is grinding their own axe inside their own head. I haven’t laughed more or felt a more ‘human’ multidimensional pairing between the doctor and an ‘assistant/companion’ in years. She also gets to the doctor in unpredictable ways. I hope this partnership goes on for a while…

Lemon Girl // Posted 20 August 2008 at 12:16 am

Can i just say- and i realise that this discussion is probably long forgotten- donna noble is a fantastic companion who is most definitely the best of the three in the new series. She strikes a blow for women everywhere, I think, and it’s so refreshing to see a companion who doesn’t take what the doctor has to say lying down- she isn’t standing for any of his nonsense! I hope no one who has watched the series now thinks catherine is a bad actor because she’s clearly very skilled; I too was annoyed when I heard of her casting and now I love her to bits. She will be missed, especially with her heartbreaking goodbye.

Andy // Posted 1 June 2009 at 8:17 pm

I’m not opposed to an older female companion, in fact we’ve already had one in the shape of Evelyn Smythe. Not only was she a more mature lady (like Donna Noble) she was a Professor intellectually close to the Doctor (like Martha Jones). What she wasn’t was a shouty, mentally stunted, immature teenage chav (like Lauren off The Catherine Tate Show) which Donna Noble often strayed into.

Plus here’s a 37 yr old woman who’s set to walk down the isle. Holds down a regular job and still lives with her mother? How emotionally stunted can you get. I know the second I get some money behind me i’m moving out again cos i’m thirty and have been trying to leave ‘home’ since 16.

dominic // Posted 19 September 2010 at 9:36 am

I think catherine tate did a very good job as donna. she is not very funny in her tv show ,but few women are funny. i think she is gorgeous, i would love to get that red hair …oh forget it you would just censor it. however catherine i mean it, beautiful.

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