She’s suffered some stick our Catherine has.
In the lead up to the current series of Doctor Who poor Ms Tate’s name was dragged through the mud, trampled on and urinated over worse than one of East End Gran’s hand crocheted blankets.
And I have to raise a beautifully manicured hand and say that I too was guilty of unwarranted and heinous crimes against the red headed one.
To be fair though most of us were basing our opinions on the Doctor Who Christmas Special where Catherine’s character, Donna Noble, first made her televisual appearance. It was horrific. Donna Noble was brash, screechy, snotty and LOUD. Very loud.
But you know what? None of that was her fault. I blame the script writers. It was their fault. Shoot ‘em, I say.
Because suddenly with decent scripts, decent character development and an all round softening of her character traits, Donna Noble has transformed into the saviour of the show. I honestly feel that she’s the best thing to have happened to Doctor Who (“the new generation”) since Billie Piper started wearing lower cut tops in series 2 – or did I fantasize that?
And for that I credit the script writers. Allow them to regenerate, I say (with the possible exception of Russell T Davis).
Donna Noble is a mature, self confident woman as opposed to a flighty, easily impressed twenty-something and that fact alone has injected the show with something more solid and weightily resonant than a mere lovelorn travelling companion. As pleasant as Rose Tyler and Martha Jones were their moo-cow eyes began to grate on my nerves very quickly.
Donna Noble might be in awe of the Doctor but she doesn’t think he’s perfect. Not at all. She’s aware that he’s fallible. That he needs someone to rein him in, to hold him back. To question his motives. This creates a much more equally balanced relationship. The balance of power is as close to 50 / 50 as it’s ever been. There’s 2 way respect on the Tardis and that is always going to be far healthier than the alternative: a companion constantly falling into an admiring swoon while the Doctor looks on patronizingly... aah, good human, you’re so cute!
Donna ain’t cute and I like her all the more for it. She’s intelligent and doesn’t have to be led. She can jump to her own conclusions and work things out for herself. She can contribute intellectually and meaningfully. She can challenge. And my God does Tennant’s Doctor need that. He’s a great bloke and a great Doctor but he’s needed someone strong to restrain him for a long time. Tate is at last providing that strength.
And as TimeWarden has already pointed out, Tate also provides a vulnerability that is based on a sensitive assessment of any given situation rather than a mawkish, girlish response. She’s morally sussed. Intelligence and worldly experience are definitely the keys to her character’s success.
The other bonus of course is that without the soap opera storyline of unrequited love constantly getting in the way the show can concentrate on what we, the viewers, really want to see: decent, well thought out sci-fi.
Hoo-bloody-ray I say. Saturday night’s are halfway decent again.
All they need to do now is get the costume department to lower her tops...