With New-Who seemingly having been bent on making romantic leads of the Ninth, Tenth & Eleventh Doctors, it can be all too easy to forget there's an alien involved. Nonetheless in amongst all the lovey-dovey stuff there are reminders that the Doctor doesn't entirely understand this most human of emotions - a trait perhaps best embodied during a period of his life when it appeared to be furthest from his mind, despite travelling with a fair few lady companions.
Something of a shift in dynamic occurred when the Doctor's Fourth incarnation emerged as a by-product of the man he had been's struggles on Metebelis Three, in that his relationship with companion Sarah-Jane Smith changed irreversibly. Where he had been a sort of protective uncle figure, he now took on something of the artisan, finding himself free once more to wander the universe. And what self respecting bohemian doesn't take a young lady on such a trip? Even if he does later end up dropping her at Aberdeen by way of Croydon. The bounder!
Following on from that, there's the lovely Leela of the Sevateem, an Eliza Doolittle to his Henry Higgins. Not until Romana, or at least her second incarnation, comes along do we begin to see the merest hint of romance, & his complete obliviousness to its presence!
DOCTOR: Hmm? Oh, other times, other places. Well, come on, old girl. There's quite a few millennia left in you yet.
ROMANA: Thank you, Doctor.
DOCTOR: Not you, the TARDIS.
One of the old girl's earlier stopovers, in Paris, had given him the chance to cast his eye over Countess Scarlioni, unwittingly wed to the last of the Jagaroth.
"Ah. Well, you're a beautiful woman, probably."
That "probably" says it all, doesn't it?
A slight jump forward & a few regenerations will show that no matter how much he's changed there's still something missing in his dealings with the fairer sex.
JACKIE: I'm in my dressing gown.
DOCTOR: Yes, you are.
JACKIE: There's a strange man in my bedroom.
DOCTOR: Yes, there is.
JACKIE: Well, anything could happen.
Of course, Russell T Davis, the man who wrote Rose & the Ninth Doctor's quick rejection of the older Ms Tyler's proposal, would indeed be the man responsible for introducing a certain subtext between Doctor & companion. It may have begun with the Ninth, but it was with the Tenth Doctor that romance truly blossomed.
Remember the debate over the last words spoken between the younger Ms Tyler & her pseudo-boyfriend in Doomsday? General consensus suggests they'd affirmed their love for each other, and David Tennant himself pretty much confirmed the bond between the pair while speaking before a panel at Comic-Con....
"Rose was [the Doctor's] girlfriend, even if they didn't say it."But romance was brief as Rose's successor, Martha Jones, didn't get a look in as the Doctor was back to his old purely platonic ways. It was Gareth Roberts who hammered the nail into the coffin in The Shakespeare Code.
MARTHA: Budge up a bit, then. Sorry, there's not much room. Us two here, same bed. Tongues will wag.
DOCTOR: There's such a thing as psychic energy, but a human couldn't channel it like that. Not without a generator the size of Taunton and I think we'd have spotted that. No, there's something I'm missing, Martha. Something really close, staring me right in the face and I can't see it. Rose'd know. A friend of mine, Rose. Right now, she'd say exactly the right thing. Still, can't be helped. You're a novice, never mind. I'll take you back home tomorrow.
Another change of face brings with it rather more of a frisson, as kissogram Amy Pond attempts to plant a smacker & maybe a little more besides when the recently regenerated Doctor materialises in her bedroom.
Little does the Doctor realise then that it's his future mother in law looking to get her claws into him, her daughter going on to become his wife following a chain of events she virtually has to spell out for him!
DOCTOR: But, but that means...Oo err missus.
RIVER: I'm afraid it does.
DOCTOR: Ooo. But you and I, we, we, we, er (kiss kiss)
Somewhere underneath all this the man he had been is still there, grinning that manic boggle-eyed grin & taking no notice of any inferences, however subtle. Just to complicate matters, where the Doctor is quick to bat off any attempts by companions to make things more than just friendly, Tom himself did no such thing & would eventually briefly marry Romana II, Lalla Ward!
"I can't remember the exact moment we went beyond friendship, but I recall my feelings being reciprocated by her. And for a short time we were happy."
Such a gent, eh? No wonder he's such a hit with the ladies.