My Rose Has Left Me

My Rose has left me, I’m in a mood, she went to Kenya.

We couldn’t have children, that didn’t stop us from trying, we were turned down for adoption, because of her bizarre appearance.

Oh, Rose how we loved you, but where are you now?

Alone with your salesman, you adulterous cow.

Well, that’s how Vic Reeve’s and Bob Mortimer might have put it. Their Dermot Mulligan and Dermot O’Hare song tells the tale of a man (O’Hare – played by Bob Mortimer) besotted with a girl from a faraway place who in the end left him for a completely ordinary sort.

What exactly has this got to do with our favourite chav companion then? Or even the Doctor?

Twelve months ago Rose was a fresh, interesting, lively, perky, feisty – and dare I say it, sexy – character. She helped the Doctor defeat Autons, the Slitheen, the Dalek, The Mighty Jagrafess of the Holy Hadrojassic Maxarodenfoe and of course a whole fleet of Daleks. Yet some time between the Doctor regenerating and the pair of them visiting New Earth, she’s metamorphosed into a wholly self-serving, stupid neurotic cow who seems to hit the reset button at the end of each adventure. One week she’s jealous of Sarah Jane, the next Madame du Pompadour, and a week later an unseen waitress called Lucy.

This wasn’t the same Rose that we saw even as recently as The Christmas Invasion. There, the girl took charge, believing the Doctor dead or changed for the worst. The confronted the Sycorax as best as she could, my mimicking the Ninth Doctor. Before that she had forced the TARDIS to open to save the Doctor. So what happened to her?

If there is one thing about this show that has remained constant, it’s that Doctor Who has always been about change. Occasionally it changes for the worst, such as Season 24, or the TV Movie. Usually it changes for the better. Let me assure you that I’m writing this because I have concerns about the show’s current direction as well as the direction of a once fantastic companion. Last years Doctor who was wonderful because of Christopher Eccleston and Billie Piper. This years Doctor Who has so far been good because of David Tennant, Sophia Myles, Elisabeth Sladen, Noel Clarke and Anthony Head.

Billie Piper has proved herself as a perfectly good actress, and her portrayal of Rose has been on the whole an unmitigated success. But she is being wasted this season. Her character has been sidelined and hardened. Why?

Do we at this point get into a long exploration on the meaning of grief and it’s consequences? Should I be treating Doctor Who not as the Greatest Show in the Galaxy but as a kids TV show starring a Dick van Dyke impersonator and Chris Evans’ popstar wife? I think the answer to both of these is a resounding “no”.

Billie Piper is being woefully misused this year, the character of Rose undermined. Initially I saw this to be a good thing. After all, we want Doctor Who, not Rose Who. I suppose the inspiration for this apparent outburst that I have subjected you to is the selfish behaviour of Rose in Rise of the Cybermen. It’s like Father’s Day never happened.

This isn’t character development, it’s character regression. We’ve got big name writers, big name actors and beautiful special effects. We’ve got a weekly addition to the magical tapestry that is the Doctor Who universe. We have a great Doctor and a great TARDIS – but what happened to the once-lovely companion?

Is this all to prepare us for her departure? Is it just a ruse to lull us into a false sense of security? Is it because the Doctor has other women in his life? Or has Rose just got PMT?

The companion is – it has long been stated – the most important element in Doctor Who in terms of introducing the action and the strangeness of the Doctor’s world to the audience. We are asked to view the Doctor through the companion’s eyes. There’s less question-asking and screaming in the 21st century, but the aim is the same.

By demonizing Rose the writers risk the series popularity. The companion has to be popular or else the show suffers. Unless there is a major sea-change in store for Rose before she departs the TARDIS – if indeed that is imminent – then she needs bringing back into the action, her character softening again and lots more flattering clothes! And don’t forget – more Rose doesn’t necessarily mean more Jackie and more Pete. It just means more fun with the Doctor.

However, if Rose is left untouched then we can look upon Doctor Who 2006 as a very different beast to Doctor Who 2005. There’s a distinct difference – after all the show changes – but somehow after six episodes it isn’t quite in its stride. Perhaps I’m missing the bigger picture, and I hope so – I really would like to see the payoff – but at the moment all I’m seeing is a sorry excuse for a companion clinging desperately to a unique man who she just doesn’t seem to care for anymore.

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