Donna Who!

Donna and Who

To coin a phrase of the Doctor’s, ‘What? What!? WHAT?!’ Where did that come from? We were all settled in with a new, and very satisfactory, companion when everything seems to get turned on it’s head with the announcement that Catherine Tate is to reprieve her role from The Runaway Bride as Donna to be the new Companion for the complete 13 episodes of Doctor Who, Series Four. On top of that we are told that Freema Agyeman (Martha Jones) is to join the spin-off series of Torchwood.

Not since it was announced that Bonnie Langford was to be the new Doctor Who Companion in 1986 can I recall such an adverse reaction by fans of the program. To be fair Bonnie (who has always been very polite and considerate to the fans that she has had contact with) suffered from having played the VERY irritating character of Violet Elizabeth Bott in the TV adaptation of Just William. In addition the companion she played, Melanie (known as Mel), was a measured, intellectual character intended to counter Colin Baker’s rather excitable Doctor. When Colin Baker was sacked a short time later and Sylvester McCoy took over the role with his more subdued Doctor the mix just didn’t work.

So why has there been such an adverse reaction to Catherine Tate becoming the next companion? There are two reasons I think. Firstly Catherine Tate normally plays such irritating characters in her The Catherine Tate Show (and if you’ve seen one of her shows you’ve seen them all). Secondly, I think many fans remember how celebrities from light entertainment were used on the program in a desperate attempt to pull the classic series out of the ratings doldrums it eventually found itself in. The inclusion of celebrities such as Richard Briers, Ken Dodd and Beryl Reid did nothing to attract a new audience to the series whilst irritating a lot of stalwart fans who felt that celebrities weren’t the way to save the program. It wasn’t that these people couldn’t act, but they were being shoehorned into ill considered rolls. Beryl Reid, for example played, a hardened space freighter captain in Earthshock! As the programs original producer, Verity Lambert, put it, Doctor Who had turned into a parody of itself.

Perhaps we should be positive and ask if Russell T. Davis isn’t being very shrewd here? He has a knack of getting it right and he’s already generated a lot of publicity and debate just with this announcement. Whatever else you say about Catherine Tate she has a talent for playing different characters, which suggests that she can act. If someone else writes her lines for her she may well prove to be a first class choice. We can only hope.

My biggest fear is that an already successful Companion, Freema Agyeman, may become too tainted by the adolescent obsession with sex and swearing that passes for “adult” on Torchwood to be able to return to Doctor Who as promised.



    July 6, 2007

    I can only echo your misgivings, Pete.

    I can’t stand the horsesh*t that is the Catherine Tate Show. A kind of third rate Dick Emery, for those old enough to recall, though she did inspire Blair’s best acting performance, and there have been many of those.

    The BBC story that covered this news is replete with negative comments. In fact, looking for someone who was positive about the news, I mentioned it to a colleague at the Science Museum only to discover he is a personal friend of Ms Tate’s. Oops.

    Luckily, we still have a contract

    jean jackson

    July 6, 2007

    Well, Catherine Tate did Ok as the Bride in previous episodes of Dr Who, and maybe we’ll be saved from another series of the Catherine Tate Show. She really is better than that show…it seems dated, and reminds me of Harry Enfield…Dawn French and Jennifer Saunders did some horrendous episodes of their show but all is forgeiven now they’ve done AbFab and the Vicar of Dibley. Similarly, this could be just what Catherine Tate needs to move on.

    Frank Sable

    July 6, 2007

    I think as long as all the writers, especially RTD, resist the temptation to write them as a comedy double act it might just be okay. But I doubt that they can resist the temptation.


    July 6, 2007

    I think it’s a shame that Dr. Who is loosing such a strong female lead in Agyeman. Both series require a strong female presence but Torchwood’s fabulous Eve Myles more than suffices. Tate was fine as a one off but I don’t think Donna is going to prove to be such an inspirational character.


    July 6, 2007

    I think this is where I disagree with the general population. I am fine with Catherine Tate becoming the new companion. She is an actress and she wouldn’t have been chosen if she couldn’t act the part.

    What I disagree with is the character: Donna.

    She is 2D ??????? which is perfect for a Christmas one-off, but not for 13 episodes. And as a 2D character, she is scream-y, afraid and weak. Unless she has radically changed from last year ??????? which would have to be explained away somehow ??????? I just don’t see how it can work.

    But then, that makes me look forward to the new series to see how it has been handled.



    July 6, 2007

    I agree with Catherine – Eve Myles is indeed, fabulous 🙂


    July 6, 2007

    One Word: Ace. << Shudders >>

    Isn’t martha coming back mid point througth the series thougth?




    July 6, 2007

    Ugh, Ace has to have been one of the worst companions ever. Then again i wasn’t that impressed by Sylvester McCoy’s Doctor either.

    pete grehan

    July 6, 2007

    ??????Ugh, Ace has to have been one of the worst companions ever. Then again i wasn??????t that impressed by Sylvester McCoy??????s Doctor either.??????

    I remember at the time thinking that Doctor Who had turned into ??????The Adventures of Ace.?????? She seemed to dominate each story, especially when set against a not quite so charismatic Doctor. I suppose it was around the time of ??????Girl Power.??????
    With the passage of time, and seeing the stories again, I think that many of them weren??????t half bad.


    July 6, 2007

    In looking at this situation, I feel that Catherine Tate is going to hamper the show wether you be a diehard Who fan or a Catherine Tate fan. It has already been explained why Catherine is the wrong choice for the show but for those who like the Catherine Tate show will be left unfulfilled because she will not be able to play the comedic characters that her fans have come to love. Either way it is a bad scene all around. I just don’t get it?….I will admit that Freema’s character was somewhat weak at the beginning of series 3 but Martha’s character really improved towards the end and her relationshipt with the Doctor finally warmed up. If Martha were allowed to continue at the start of series 4, then I think Doctor Who would really blossom into an incredible show. If David Tennant really does leave at the end of series 4, then I can see a possible cancelling of the show due to low ratings…….It’s too bad really.


    July 6, 2007

    I’m really please Catherine Tate is in Doctor Who. Donna is a brilliant companion; she’s quite sure of whom she is and what she can and can’t do; yet she can be quite vulnerable. Yes she can be cocky and mouthy but she rises to the occasion when needed and fulfils what needs to be done but without doing it a way which makes her seem like some superhero. I also think although she yells at the Doctor a lot she does care for him as he does her. It’s also nice that it’s not a romantic relationship as it was with the others come on he’s an Alien!

    As for Catherine’s performance I think she does reasonably well. We’ve all seen how funny she can be, but she can also be emotional as we see a lot in Doctor Who. Come on give her a chance could you do it better?

    Just for the record no I’m NOT a Catherine Tate fan.


    July 6, 2007

    Catherine Tate has turned out to be the best companion ever in Dr Who. Her character is kind, deep and funny. I love Rose too but Donna, as a character, has added another dimension to the series and makes it far more solid. She is an absolute genius. I was dreading her being the companion at first but now I shall be very sad when she leaves.


    July 6, 2007

    I think Donna is a brilliant character, though my favorite will always be Rose. And I agree with a previous statement that there will be a possible cancellation of the show if Tennant leaves. I know I wouldn’t watch anymore!


    July 6, 2007

    I think Catherine tate is fantastic on Doctor Who. She has turned out to be the best companion ever! I mean they make such a good pair. She can be quite cocky but in a good way. She screams athim but only to make him see things he is not seeing. Plus they do act like a married couple.The Doctor really seems to be taken by her even though he doesn’t want to admit it. I think they are bringing her back for the next season as well.


    July 6, 2007

    Great post! Just wanted to let you know you have a new subscriber- me!

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