55 years ago two English schoolteachers were confused about the behavior of one of their students, a mysterious young woman named Susan with a rather alien outlook. Seeking answers, they visited her home address, in which they found a mysterious blue police box that, impossibly, was larger on the inside.
From these modest beginnings Doctor Who has spiraled out to become a world-conquering science fiction franchise, often considered one of Britain’s most important cultural exports. 2018, in particular, is looking to be a particularly significant year for the show, with the latest season set to properly debut Jodie Whittaker’s Doctor, the first female incarnation of the character.
But what does the original Susan – aka actor Carole Ann Ford – make of this development? As one of the few surviving cast members from the earliest episodes of the show, she spoke to Doctor Who Magazine about her thoughts on Whittaker’s casting, saying the following:
“I couldn’t imagine [a female Doctor] ever happening. It would never have occurred to me unless someone had suggested it. … Jodie’s got a very strong presence, I saw the moment she arrived [in Christmas special Twice Upon A Time] and I’ve been thinking about it quite a lot. I really would like to meet her. Wouldn’t it be fun?! What would I say to her? ‘Hello Grandma!'”
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That last sentence might not make a lot of sense to those who started watching Doctor Who with the 2005 revival – but Ford’s character Susan is supposed to be the Doctor’s granddaughter. This should also mean that somewhere along the line, the Doctor had children of his own.
Granted, the show’s gone to some extreme lengths to paper over this early revelation, with various episodes explaining that they might not have been biologically related. Regardless of whether she was or not, she got treated pretty roughly by the Doctor, who forcibly locked her out of the TARDIS while arguing that she was too dependent on him.
Her eventual fate was never revealed, with the titular character explaining over the years that he assumed she was dead. Let’s hope that Jodie Whittaker’s Doctor is a little less callous about her companions when Doctor Who returns this fall.