Romana Returns? Time Lords and Ladies Who Probably Won’t Come Back

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Mary Tamm as Romana
Mary Tamm as Romana

The Doctor’s old friend and former companion, Romanadvoratrelunda, Romana for short (also known as Fred) was a fan favourite and there had been calls for her return for some time. She was a companion to the Fourth Doctor and was considerably cleverer than he was. She graduated from the academy with a Triple First and spent time with the Bureau of Ancient Records on Gallifrey. The White Guardian (a character of infinite power and mystery) sent her to work with the Doctor and help him find the Key to Time.

She regenerated on a whim, adopting the likeness of Princess Astra of Atrios and continued to travel with the Fourth Doctor until the 1981 story Warrior’s Gate. She elected to remain in E-Space (aka Exo Space, a smaller parallel universe that looked a bit green) with K-9 and help an enslaved people gain their freedom. Her travels with the Doctor certainly changed her and she grew from a slightly snooty, bookish character, to a true heroine willing to give up attempts to return to her home planet in order to save people.

As I said, people have been calling for her return for some time and she has been a common feature of the Big Finish Audio Adventures, as well as providing the voice for the Museum of Gallifrey at the Doctor Who Experience. But as for the TV show,  she has not been seen since 1981.

Lalla Ward as Romana
Lalla Ward as Romana

Meanwhile the audio and book series have shown her becoming Lord President of Gallifrey, leading the charge against the Daleks and generally kicking ass across the cosmos. Indeed, Romana has even regenerated and had a few different incarnations in the audio adventures.

In an incarnation known as Trey (voiced by Juliet Landau), Romana led Gallifrey through some of its darkest hours. She could be ruthless and daring, making difficult decisions and political maneuvers. Her character has flitted across time and space, facing perils and enemies almost as often as the Doctor.

With Gallifrey gone, what role would the there be for Romana? She could take up her role as a companion once again, but with many Big Finish fans having enjoyed her flying solo, will it be odd to see her playing second fiddle to the Doctor again?

The numerous stories and character arcs she has gone through in other mediums show that Romana is a

Juliet Landau as Trey / Romana
Juliet Landau as Trey / Romana

versatile asset to the drama and her history with the Doctor could well be used for some decent pathos and teasing. However, the same could be said of the Eighth Doctor, who, in his audio adventures, has delved deep into his psyche and found his inner demons, has fought with them and changed dramatically.

There is a worry that, given the way the show is written at the moment, if she did return, it would probably include some unnecessary romantic angle or undertones. Not sure how many people would want to see that. With the audio adventures the writers are not stuck appealing to a mainstream, casual audience, but an audience of fans who are more interested in the characters and the lore. It’s hard to say how many people would care if Romana returned, and whether it would be considered a big enough draw for a usual Saturday night audience.

However, in the hands of a good writer, with a good production team, anything is possible. I would love to see Romana back, personally, but I shan’t get my hopes up any time soon.

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Joel Cornah
Joel Cornah is an author, journalist, and blogger. He is the author of a number of novels and novellas including; The Sea-Stone Sword, The Spire of Frozen Fire and The Silent Helm, with the upcoming novel The Sky Slayer, expected some time in 2016. He is an editor for The Science-Fiction and Fantasy Network, head of the Doctor Who department, and member of the Tolkien Society. He is a frequent blogger for the Pack of Aces blog, focussing on issues of Asexuality in media, specialising in sci-fi and fantasy.