RIP One of Doctor Who's Best Companions You Never Heard of

Maggie Stables passed away last weekend, in her sleep, after a long illness. My heart feels swollen. I enjoyed her work a great deal and still estimate her one of Doctor Who's best companions ever.

Many fans will not have heard of Maggie, or her character Evelyn Smythe, but if you're ever going to get into the Doctor Who audios by Big Finish, you could do a lot worse than to start with the 6th Doctor adventures where he's paired up with Evelyn. Evelyn is unique, you see, standing alone as the one Doctor Who companion who started traveling in the TARDIS at the age of retirement. Obviously, the Doctor is far older than she is, but the dynamic an "elderly" companion creates is completely original, perhaps coming closest, in the oddest of ways, to the current Clara-Capaldi relationship. Evelyn doesn't always have the stamina for running, but she's wise and unimpressed by the Doctor's shenanigans, an equal, and in Maggie's performance we hear the youthful twinkle in her eye as much as the tragic tiredness she'll eventually feel after too much travel.

Maggie's been with Big Finish since the very beginning, cast in some other part by voice of the Daleks Nick Briggs in the very first release, The Sirens of Time. By the next year (2000), she had been cast as Evelyn (in The Marian Conspiracy), the first of Big Finish's original companions, and one of their most enduring. Evelyn would appear in 22 audio stories, and Maggie herself in a few more besides in other roles. While there is a "last" Evelyn story - Thicker Than Water - but she was too popular to remain benched for long, and several more stories set before her departure were released through 2011 (Industrial Evolution). I have sadly heard them all, no new Evelyn Smythe for me, but would gladly listen to her audios again. One favorite is the musical comedy Doctor Who and the Pirates, she and Colin Baker are particularly great in that. Her first appearance, as well as The Spectre of Lanyon Moor (with the Brig) and Jubilee are also highly-rated with fans.

As a tribute, I've posted my old Unauthorized Doctor Who CCG card of her character, even if I was never very happy with the blurry Photoshop. The more lasting tribute is the collection of fine audio work she produced for Big Finish, many among my very favorites. Goodbye Maggie Stables and Evelyn Smythe. I won't be alone in missing you.


Martin Gray said...

I've never heard any audio adventures. I think I'm going to now.

Siskoid said...

I can definitely steer you towards some of the best ones, if you want to take it slowly.

Anonymous said...

The early stuff is pretty cheap. The first 50 main range releases are each $3 for download (including lots of Evelyn).

I'm making my way through them in order - up to 22 with some side trips to other ranges as they go on sale - and enjoying it very much.

- Jason


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