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For the love of Dodo!

 DOCTOR WHO AT 50 

EVERYONE HAS their own favourite Doctor Who companion: perky Jo, eccentric Romana, bolshy Ace, busty Peri, stroppy Tegan... Even Vicki has her admirers, thanks to Maureen O'Brien's subsequent career as an actress of some repute.

Then there's Dodo Chaplet. Poor, unloved Dodo, the Cockney bird who stumbled into the TARDIS on Wimbledon Common, and stepped out onto the Ark in the far future speaking perfect RP. No one, it seems, likes Dodo.

I do. I just love her to bits.

Dodo is at the heart of Doctor Who's brilliant, maverick third season, taking centre stage in stories like the ambitious, futuristic The Ark; the bonkers, surreal The Celestial Toymaker; the goddamn laugh riot that's The Gunfighters; and the thoughtful The Savages. She's also in the first half of The War Machines (a story that set the alien-menace-in-contemporary-London template for Doctor Who that's still followed today) before being given a hasty off-screen exit in favour of the monstrous toff Polly, a character who's basically, well, a cunt. Here's some lovely GIFs of Dodo arriving for that adventure.

It's tempting to imagine an alternative universe in which Dodo had stayed on, travelling with the Doctor and cute sailor boy Ben to the Cornish coast for adventures with pirates, the Antarctic to be menaced by the first Cybermen, and The Power of the Daleks. But no, instead we get posh Polly lambasting the Celtic Kirsty in The Highlanders as "a stupid peasant". Dodo wouldn't have said something so vile, but then Dodo wasn't up her own arse.

She was saddled with a pretty awful name, our Dodo, but she was warm and cheerful, a bouncy little ray of sunshine in a TARDIS where the Doctor perpetually glowered, and a frustrated Steven strutted. For evidence of her awesomeness look no further than The Gunfighters, in which she makes a brassy but ham-fisted attempt at threatening Doc Holliday with a pistol (at 13:23).

One reason Dodo might be unloved is the fact she's played by Jackie Lane, who was told she wasn't going to be continuing as a series regular as her first episodes were aired. She was the unfortunate victim of a behind-the-scenes reshuffle that would shortly see the departure of all three series regulars. Dodo was as dead as a...

A reclusive actress, Lane hasn't welcomed the embrace of Doctor Who fandom. She doesn't do interviews, or convention appearances, or DVD commentaries, unlike her successor, who's milked it for all it's worth. There's something kind of cool about that, a real element of mystery.

I like that. But I love Dodo.

Dodo can only but grin and bear it as Posh Polly steals her job.


2 comments:

John G said...

Lovely that you love Dodo, but I think you're a bit hard on 'posh totty' Polly, who was, in her way, just as classically 60s as Dodo would have been had BBC snobbery not disallowed her from being Cockney. I think Dodo gets rather forgotten as she was paired with somewhat bland Steven, had a poor & unmemorable writing-out (not even a scene), & doesn't feature in any classic yarns (except, arguably, the Celestial Toymaker, most of which is lost, & the existing episode of which is fairly deadly-dull) - & of course had to shed her novel aspect - her accent.

kaos said...

I've recently developed a strong dislike for Polly - and the actress who plays her. She's a horrible cow!

 
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