Doctor Who RPG: Casting the Time Lady

So in prevision for my next Doctor Who RPG series, I went on a casting binge for our resident Time Lord, a Doctor analog called the Shepherd. But I also said I'd take a look at casting Time Ladies. Why? Well, these articles are also meant to inspire other groups, who may well be using a female Time Lord. My own series used a regenerated Susan as a companion, and who knows, she might still be part of the Shepherd's adventures a couple regenerations on!

But what makes a good starring Time Lady? Our examples are the two Romanas and to a lesser extent, Susan (who never seemed very Time Lordy, except maybe in the unaired pilot). Some might look to the Rani for further evidence. Like the male of the species, she'll likely be an eccentric, but striking woman. Brilliant, obviously. Younger women are fine for Susan and Romana types, though a Time Lady analogous to the Doctor would almost have to be older. I've almost exclusively gone with the latter in my choices, but let's just allow them to speak for themselves...


Joanna LumleyI admit, despite my trotting out all the canon Time Ladies above, Lumley as the umpteenth Doctor in Moffat's Doctor Who spoof The Curse of Fatal Death is - with a touch of the Unbound audios' Arabella Weir - my idea of a female Doctor. You're going to see a lot of sexy middle aged women in this list as a result. It's all about presence, and it helps that Lumley has been pre-cast by the man currently in charge of the Doctor's adventures. Stamp of approval!

Olivia Williams
With plenty of genre credits to her name, most recently the interrupted-before-it's-time Dollhouse, Olivia Williams would be at once haunting and haunted coming out of a TARDIS. A wonderful actress with great presence and bearing. She might be what the first Romana would have become had she been able to get a couple hundred years older.

Sarah Parish
She was unrecognizable as the Racnoss Queen, so it's really in Shakespeare Retold's version of Much Ado About Nothing that I discovered her. I've always had a thing for Beatrice in Much Ado (see the next entry), and it's the sort of thing I'd like to see in a renegade Time Lady. A quick wit and wicked tongue, an inability to settle down, an incredibly strong facade shielding a vulnerable interior, and funny!

Emma Thompson
Emma Thompson was my first Beatrice, and while I wouldn't mind casting her from that time, Thompson works just as well as her contemporary self. She looks as intelligent as a Time Lord needs to be, can definitely pull off STRANGE and has given many idiosyncratic performances from which to draw from over the years. Of course, she'd probably reinvent herself and the part entirely were she given the chance.

Hermione Norris
For a different sort of Time Lady, I see Spooks' Herminone Norris as a hard, cold TARDISeer. Norris has shown that no matter how hard as nails she was on Spooks, she could still turn on the emotion when everyone's backs were turned. Time War survivor's guilt? She could definitely be the Time Lady's answer to the Eccleston Doctor.

NOT BRITS (because every planet has a roughneck former colony)

Gillian Anderson
Rumored to be a new Rani for a couple years now, the X-Files' brainy beauty hasn't yet made it to the show despite a London address, so we can poach her for our Time Lady. An obvious pick, really, and more latter-day, Mulderless Scully than the unbeliever of the early years. Though a Time Lady who acts as a ghost breaker would work too.

Frances MacDormand
The question is: The wise old soul from Fargo, or the zany loony from Burn After Reading? Or both? MacDormand has a motherly quality that would work to the TARDIS crew's advantage, but can still pour on the weird behavior when need be. And you know what this would mean: The Cohen Bros. as guest writer-directors!

Bryce Dallas Howard
And I end on a younger regeneration (my, I've out-gingered myself), but Howard can surely play an old woman in a young woman's body. Key performances include As You Like It (the sass I want from my Time Lady) and The Village (the ability to play an eccentric character). It'd be funny for her to meet Amy... the Whoniverse might implode.

Those are some of my ideas, but I'm sure you have others. Access the Matrix through the comments and let us know who you'd put on the casting couch!


Tim Knight said...

Dame Judi Dench as a Professor Yana-style Time Lady (although possibly not with the same twist!)maybe?

Or comedienne Sandi Toksvig?

Otherwise you could go to the other age extreme and have that epitome of Britishness Kiera Knightley...

Craig Oxbrow said...

I had Alex Kingston on my show before they did. On which note...

Jenny Agutter! I feel this needs no explanation.

Haydn Gwynne. Who once put a time machine in a motorbike on British kids' TV!

Celia Imrie, occasional space fighter pilot.

Fiona Shaw as something like a female Fourth Doctor?

I suppose I could also suggest some younger women too.

Emily Blunt as the Lady part of Time lady in particular.

Claire Foy by turns waiflike and devilish.

Anonymous said...

Miranda Richardson. She's good in everything.

Tim Knight said...

Or Miranda Hart if you're looking for someone a bit different and quirky.

Siskoid said...

All sorts of truly great suggestions!!

(Jenny Agutter and Kiera Knightly were actually playing other characters in my last series.)

Olivier Legrand said...

In my ongoing DWAITAS one-on-one campaign (about the odyssey of an orphan Time Lady), the player of the heroine first selected Jaime Murray as her character's likeness. Then when she went through her first regeneration, I gave her a fifteen-minutes break to make a choice for her new face, before we resumed the ongoing scenario for its final moments - and she chose Cate Blanchett. The "you've only got fifteen minutes to decide" trick actually worked very well (as opposed to the "think about it and tell me before next session" approach) to convey the odd experience of the regeneration...

Anonymous said...

Tilda Swinton.

Anonymous said...

Depends on what her role was. For a eccentric, matronly Time Lady -- in other words, a female equivalent to the Doctor -- I'd choose Emma Thompson, hands down. Although Tilda Swinton and Cate Blanchett would also be good choices. Or, if you want to add a bit of color, Alfre Woodard.

If you wanted someone younger to act as the Doctor's protege, my first choice would be Romola Garai. Emily Blunt would probably be my second choice, and Morena Baccarin a possible third.

Olivia Williams is beautiful and talented, but I can't really see her as a Time Lady -- she's not old enough to be the first type, but too old to be the second.

It's interesting that you should nominate Joanna Lumley, seeing as her character in Sapphire & Steel practially *was* a Time Lady.

- Wyvern

Siskoid said...

Baccarin is a great choice! Wish I'd thought of it.

Wyvern said...

What about Romola? Are you familiar with her work?

Siskoid said...

Not familiar with her, but I can see it.


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