As Father’s Day arrives, we take a look at the patriarchs in Doctor Who since 2005. But were they “Bad Dads” or “Dude Dads”*? Let’s find out…. (Please note, this is not an exhaustive list, some have been left out.)
Back in the crazy days of Series One when Christopher Eccleston donned a leather~jacket like a submarine mechanic, fathers were certainly not in the foreground of Doctor Who, though their shadows were. Immediately we see that Rose was part of single~parent family, with her mother Jackie forming an integral part to the opening episode (and she would continue to do so). But, we did find a dad in Rose.
Step up internet conspiracist nutjob, Clive. Hardly the paternal role model; stuck in his shed obsessing over The Doctor online all hours of the day (insert Who fan gag here). Sadly, poor Clive couldn’t even protect his loved ones and came a cropper at the hands (or hand) of an Auton whilst out shopping. Mind you, his family seemed to survive without him.
A couple of episodes later, and a few years in the past, we found another neglectful pater, Charles Dickens. The Unquiet Dead featured the author spending time away at Christmas (the cad!) to go on a jolly to Cardiff. But, in true Dickensian style, he’d realised the errors of his ways and vowed a familial return.
Another fatherly redemption would come later in the series in Paul Cornell’s brilliant Father’s Day. Pete Tyler, Rose’s daddy, gets a visit and The Doctor gets slightly more than he’d hoped for. At first, Pete is a sleazeball Delboy~esque** character; hitting on his daughter (unbeknownst to him, of course) and training to be a contestant on Dragon’s Den. But, as we know, by the end, Pete saved the world (and probably the Universe). A flawed but ultimately good man.
To finish off the first series, and rather flippantly, there was Arthur Lloyd from The Empty Child. He may well have catered well for his own family (and, inadvertently, many other children) but Art was keeping something meaty and butcher~related from his crew…
Blimey, Pete Tyler, again? Yup, but this time, in the words of Mickey Smith, “a little bit different”. Damn. Not a dad. So we can’t count him. BUT he did become all fatherly to Rose in the Series Two finale so we’ll let him have it. He traveled far and wide but his biggest journey was accepting a girl from a parallel universe as his daughter. All together now, awww. Pete, Blogtor salutes you!
No faring so well in the same series were some of the other paternal figures that cropped up. Take Eddie Connolly from The Idiot’s Lantern, for example. A little facist who bullied his household (whenever he bothered to turn up) and wasn’t too nice to his mother either. Mind you, he did supply them with a brand new spanking telly. Not bad going for 1953.
Another notable bad dad in the 2006 came in Fear Her though, ironically, we never got to see Mr Webber (that might not be his name, fact fans) in the flesh. Instead, a horrific re~imagining from his daughter, Chloe. The subtext of their relationship was deeply unsettling and, like the story previously mentioned, hinted at a very dark, but all too real facet of family life for some. Definitely not a shining example of fatherhood. Oh yeah, and we’re just gonna let The Doctor’s utterance that he, “was a dad once,” just linger there for a while…
Finishing off the Series Two daddy collection is The Runaway Bride and the wonderful Geoff Noble. Donna’s dad’s time on the show as all too brief but his generosity would give his daughter a brighter life in the future. Another heartfelt salute!
Series Three kicked off with a new companion who had a dad; though his car~loving and young blonde chasing ways did rather suggest that he, perhaps, had some mid~life issues (I know the feeling). Smith and Jones introduced us to Martha and her, how should I put it, interesting family. Clive Jones would turn up again in the finale and prove his worth as a man, trying to protect his daughter (demonstrating that shallowness doesn’t equate to integrity).
Miaow! Miaow! Miaow! It’s Gridlock and inter~species papa, Brannigan. Now there was a good, erm…, man. As it were. Helping with his “human” missus and family, or litter, through the traffic jam from hell into a better life. An upbeat and positive sort, he’s the kinda padre you want on your team. Nice one whiskers!
The Doctor? A Dad?? Again???The Family Of Blood proffered an alternative future for John Smith and we saw him doting on his new born with his wife Joan Redfern. Did The Doctor regret not being able to live out this frankly mundane and earthly existence? His appearance at the book signing of Verity Newman certainly suggested the possibility…
The Christmas Special saw a father rather horribly sacrifice himself (and many others) in Voyage of the Damned. Captain Hardaker was promised much for his family (admirable) but wouldn’t live to see it happen and the blighter turned a gun on poor old Russell Tovey! Of course, it was Geoffrey Palmer so we can pretty much forgive him anything.
Donna was back for Series Four and a pretty palate of paters were presented. The Fires of Pompeii saw Lucius Caecilius Lucundus (to give him his full title), played by the wonderfully non~swearing Peter Capaldi, who was so frightfully concerned about his daughter’s “slutty” attire but no so much with the stone arms. Typical dad. Definitely a fun father and touchingly tried to cover his family from Vesuvuis and its onslaught. Best of all, he got live. #spoilers
The Doctor? A Dad?? Again??? Hold on, didn’t I just type that? The Doctor’s Daughter, as the title suggested, made a father of The Doctor. And wasn’t he just the proper prick about it all? Took him some time but Davey T soon came round to being a pop to Jenny. Probably around the same time he started… (we’ll stop there – Ed.). Gallifrey’s finest did get a tad upset at her, *coughs*, death but he soon cheered up enough to take in an adventure with Agatha Christie.
The Unicorn and the Wasp, fact fans will note, featured an actual father in the cast. Well, not quite the cast. An extra. And a fleeting one at that. But look carefully enough and you’ll see Sandy McDonald, Davey T’s very own pa, as a footman just after the opening credits. (Thank you Doctor Who Confidential, the daddy of all behind~the~scenes shows.)
Back to fiction and Midnight presented us with quite the character in Biff Cane, otherwise known as “Beardy”. At first, he was just the disinterested parent who could care less about his emo offspring, Merlin. I mean Jethro. But as the episode continued, his spine evaporated; becoming a man no son would want to emulate. Could’ve been worse – his wife was an absolute monster (figuratively speaking).
Ah, Jackson Lake. Not only a great would~be Doctor Who but also a wonderful father. Just check out his parenting skills in The Next Doctor. Sure he may have let his son get nabbed by the Cybermen to help build a huge effin’ robot in the middle of 19th Century London, but Lake did get him back in true heroic style. *Sniff* Is that a tear in my eye….?
What the hell was going on with Joshua and Abigail Naismith in The End of Time? I wasn’t the only one a little creeped out by them, no? All he wanted was to please his little girl and, if that meant giving life to a dead Time Lord and letting him wreak havoc on the world, the universe and everything – then so be it. Full points for a unique Christmas present, zero points for a sense of humanity.
Also, and this is perhaps highly questionable, who was that other Time Lord behind Rassilon (and beside The Doctor’s mother) that was cast as a Weeping Angel “of old”? If it was Who Snr then he didn’t do a very good job trying to help his son, letting mumsie take care of television appearances and indicating where to shoot. No wonder he had his head in his hands.
Of course, poor little Amy didn’t have parents, to begin with, so it was a while before an actual dad popped up in Series Five. Flesh and Stone introduced Father Octavian (sorry, that was lame) and Amy’s Choice gave us potential pater in Rory during the grisly antics of The Dream Lord. Finally, over half way though the series, The Hungry Earth saw the very caring book lover Mo Northover (though slightly too attracted to holes in the ground). Lots of touching scenes between he and his son, Elliot. Clearly a loving bond. Which is just as well as his mother was such a rabid cow bag.
In The Big Bang we got a glimpse of Mr Augustus Pond so we can only but dream of what he’s like (I’m sure he’s a top bloke, given how well Amy turned out… *coughs*). In the throng of wedding guests, can we assume that Rory’s pa was there? Well, probably not as Mr Williams Snr will be making an appearance or two in Series 7 later this year… (played by funnyman, Mark “also named” Williams).
Returning to bad dads though, the festive period gave us a nasty basket in the form of Elliot Sardick. A Christmas Carol revisited the theme of “dads eff you up” with a young Kazran forgoing love for the sake of his father. Thankfully, The Doctor was hand to change Kazran’s ways which, in some small way, reverses the behaviour of the baddy daddy.
Last year’s opener, The Impossible Astronaut, introduced us to another real life father and son duo in the character of Canton Delaware III. Mark and Morgan Sheppard played the same man and buddy of the Doctor and it wasn’t long before we got a real father/son double act… (Well, not real. Fictional.)
The Curse of the Black Spot featured Henry Avery and his offspring Toby. Not a great relationship, it has to be said, to kick off with. Pirate Senior got a tad annoyed at Junior for stowing away but, by the end, the two were a swashbuckling pair ready to take on the galaxy! So much so, in fact, the the Averys cameo’d in the Part 1 series finale, helping out The Doctor with something to do with eye~patches.
Sticking with A Good Man Goes To War, Rory finally got to be a dad proper. How many ovaries exploded as Rozza held Little Baby Pond for the first time. Awwwww. Uh, oh. No, hold on. He wasn’t a dad after all! GANGER BABY SHOCKER! Though, having said that, he did discover that River Sing was/is his child. Swings and roundabouts, I guess.
As the second half of the series kicked off, with new Dad Rory showing little familial concern for his somewhere-in-time-or-space baby, Night Terrors presented the audience with another strong father/son team in Alex and George. Much paternal concern was given over to the little guy (especially as his mum conveniently effed off for a “job” at night~time). The relationship between the two was integral to Gatiss’ wonderfully creepy story; and who didn’t shed a tear at the end as they both hugged. Sniff…
More loving papa goodness came shortly after in Closing Time with Craig Owen and the product of his loins, Stormaggeddon. Of course, poor Craig was a tad insecure about his parenting skills for quite some time, especially as The Doctor seemed to have expert parenting techniques. But, by the end, the new Dad’s love for his son not only kept himself alive but also managed to explode a bunch of Cybermen. Did not see that coming.
And finally, the most recent Christmas Special, The Doctor, The Widow and The Wardrobe, featured the shadow of a dead dad throughout (but for god’s sake don’t tell the kids). Reg Arwell book~ended the festive tale all cardigans and pipes (apart from when he was flying the pane, of course – that would just be silly) managing to come back into existence through the power of his wife’s love. Aww, best Crimbo ever for the kiddies!
So, there you go, Dads. Some good, some bad, some dead. Some flippin’ awful. Doctor Who has ’em all!