Friday, April 14, 2023

#AtoZChallenge2023: Doctor Who Leela

Doctor Who Leela
"Empty threats, Rutan. Enjoy your death as I enjoyed killing you."

Leela to a Rutan, Horror of Fang Rock

I mentioned that the role of the Companions in Doctor Who was largely one of screaming, getting captured, and going, "what Doctor?" every so often. 

That is not true for Leela. 

If Tom Baker's Fourth Doctor was my first Doctor, then Leela was my first Companion. And what an impression she made! She was from a savage tribe descended from human space travelers that crash-landed on her planet. Her tribe, The Seevtem, aka "Survey Team," had reverted back to savagery and superstition. Leela herself when first meet her is on trail for disobeying the will of her elders. So she was head strong, and intelligent from the very start.  And actress Louise Jamison played the character with undisguised gusto.  Louise Jamison rather famously talked about getting scripts and seeing "Leela screams" with her crossing it out and writing in "No she does not!"

Leela didn't scream, at least not typically, and she usually ran into danger than from it. She had a knife and a bag full of Janis thorns that would paralyze and then kill.  Unlike other companions before (and since really), Leela had a body count. Though in her mind, the world, and then the universe was a savage kill-or-be-killed place.  

She was unlearned but obviously very bright and she picked up on concepts the doctor threw at her quickly, although sometimes in her own way.

For reasons unknown the production team made Jamison wear these red contact to turn her normally blue eyes brown.

Leela Brown

Leela Blue

She hated them and they were uncomfortable. So in the episodes of "Horror of Fang Rock" and exploding Rutan spaceship blinds her temporarily (and in typical Leela fashion she asks the Doctor to kill her because she is no use to him) and her eyes heal and turn blue.  A bit I used, somewhat unconsciously, for my witch Larina

Leela is the prototype companion that would later give us Ace and the modern companions but in particular River Song.


A to Z of Doctor Who

All images are used with permission from the BBC and are copyrighted 2023 by the BBC.


PT Dilloway said...

Kind of wonder if Leela in Futurama was named for her because she is also a fierce warrior who doesn't take a lot of guff.

As for the eye thing, maybe one of the producers had a thing for brown eyes? But now I'm thinking of that song that says, "don't it turn my brown eyes blue?"

John Holton said...

She was great in this part.

Brizzy Mays Books And Bruschetta said...

Great fun. Might have to watch some more Dr Who.

J.S. Pailly said...

I read somewhere that Jamison and Baker really hated each other. If true, they did a remarkable job setting that aside. The characters seem to get along so well.

Timothy S. Brannan said...

@James Pally, Yes that is true. But they get along great now.

Jennifer Jones said...

I know very little about Doctor Who but found your post really interesting to read. It's a great theme.