Doctor Who: Companion Pieces - VICKI

Christopher Morley looks back at the First Doctor's young travelling companion, Vicki.

After Susan's departure from travelling in time & space alongside her dear grandfather, you could forgive the First Doctor for wanting someone of a similar age to fill the gap at his side. Luckily for him there wasn't too much of a wait- having landed on the planet Dido in the far future, he would soon find her. Her name was Vicki Pallister, & from The Rescue to a journey into the heart of the Trojan War she would fill the role admirably.

Like many of those before & indeed after her to travel with the Doctor, she expressed wonderment at the sheer scope of the TARDIS itself- ''But its huge! And, well, the outside is just, well...''. Seeing no future on Dido she accepts the offer to see the universe in all its splendour. ''Oh, I, I’d like to. Yes, if you’ll have me. ''. And with that she's welcomed aboard, her first full trip with the young old man & his two teacher friends Ian & Barbara taking them to Nero's Rome. A spirit of exploration fills her & she's soon eager to be off on an adventure. Luckily the Doctor is only too happy to act as her guide........

VICKI: Where are you going, Doctor?
DOCTOR: To Rome, my child.
VICKI: Oh, can I come with you? I won't be any trouble, I promise. Can I?
DOCTOR: Well, I...
VICKI: Please?
DOCTOR: Hmm. Very well, then, very well.
And he's confident she'll enjoy her first hands-on encounter with the past. '' You know, I think you'll like Rome. Rome is fascinating, most interesting.'' And so it proves it be, as it all goes a bit Carry On with the Emperor pursuing romantic interest in Barbara & the Doctor accidentally giving him the idea to burn down Rome in order to rebuild it. Oh, & a dead lyre player, too- whom the grandad from Gallifrey ends up impersonating. Quite a farce, exactly what producer Verity Lambert told writer Dennis Spooner to aim for!

After leaving Rome, its on to The Web Planet & a first meeting with an Old One in the form of the Animus! Next comes a trip into the heat of battle during the Third Crusade between the Christian forces of King Richard the Lionheart & their Muslim/Saracen opponents under the command of the Sultan Saladin during which she's forced to dress as a boy, adopting ''Victor'' as an alias- which she'll do once more in the novel The Plotters. She appears in only one more such Virgin Missing Adventure, The Empire Of Glass, with another two Past Doctor Adventures appearances in Byzantium! & The Eleventh Tiger.

No doubt happy to go back to being plain Vicki again, we jump ahead to The Chase, which was according to legend initially to feature an appearance by the Beatles themselves, aged by make-up to resemble their older selves, performing live. Their manager Brian Epstein is said to have vetoed the plan, & so we see the Doctor & Vicki watching footage taken from a Top of the Pops performance of Ticket To Ride alongside Ian & Barbara instead.
HOST [on monitor]: Here singing their latest number one hit it's the fabulous wait for it. It's the fabulous Beatles!
VICKI: Yes! Fabulous!
BEATLES: ''I think I'm gonna be sad, I think it's today, yeah! The girl that's driving me mad, Is going away-She's got a ticket to ride, She's gotta ticket to ride. She's got a ticket to ride, and she don't care. My baby don't care...........''
IAN: Oh, Barbara.
DOCTOR: Now you've squashed my favourite Beatles!
IAN: Vicki, I had no idea you knew about the Beatles.
VICKI: Of course I know about them. I've been to their Memorial Theatre in Liverpool.
BARBARA: Well, what do you think of them, Vicki?
VICKI: Well, they're marvellous, but I didn't know they played classical music!
BARBARA: Classical music?
IAN: Get with it, Barbara. Get with it. Styles change, styles change.
And the Doctor himself must have been making notes for his next incarnation! Before his McCartney inspired makeover, though, he must bid farewell to Vicki in The Myth Makers after she decides to stay behind & marry Troilus, taking the name of Cressida & probably delighting William Shakespeare, whom they'd also seen on the Space-Time Visualiser in The Chase in the process.

Vicki left for love, and in a roundabout way that was how Maureen O'Brien ended up accepting the part of Vicki on Doctor Who. She was initially reluctant, not wanting to leave her native Liverpool, but ended up taking the role partly to be closer to her then London based boyfriend (later her husband).

Doctor Who was O'Brien's first role outside the theatre, and although she liked the rest of the cast, she did not enjoy the job or the publicity that came with it - choosing to leave as soon as she could. After that she worked as a supply teacher at a girl's school in Kennington, then returned to the theatre, appearing occasionally as supporting characters on a variety of television programmes - most notably a stint on Casualty in 1987, playing Elizabeth Straker.

More recently O'Brien returned to her Doctor Who role as Vicki, adding her voice to several Big Finish audio adventures. We discovered just how life had turned out for Vicki and Troilus - the pair had two children, who lived with them in Carthage.

In the short story Apocrypha Bipedium, the Eighth Doctor catches up with Vicki, and he's got William Shakespeare with him! Best keep them apart so as not to inspire 'Wilf' to write the play Troilus and Cressida. Much to Eight's embarrassment, Vicki enlightens him that although Shakespeare wrote the play Troilus and Cressida, it was Geoffrey Chaucer who came up with their story. Vicki also tells the Doctor that, in Shakespeare's play, Cressida actually ends up with Diomede. The Doctor is then forced to admit he'd never actually read the play. 

Of course the Tenth Doctor met the Bard, proclaiming him a ''Genius. He's a genius. The genius. The most human human there's ever been. Now we're going to hear him speak. Always he chooses the best words. New, beautiful, brilliant words.''.....

We can assume he'd brushed up on his Shakespeare since Vicki put him straight.
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