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Doctor/Romana (Doctor Who)

Title: Four Hearts That Beat As Two!
Author: nostalgia
Fandom: Doctor Who
Pairing: Doctor/Romana
Spoilers: Err, the whole thing, really. Old School and New School, whee!
Note: Thanks to everyone that helped out with this. And I am really, really sorry about the title.



'I'll call you Romana.'
'I don't like Romana.'
'It's either Romana or Fred.'
'All right, call me Fred.'



Back in the day, we weren’t really encouraged to think that the Doctor was likely to be getting it on with one of his companions. Now that the Doctor is allowed to fancy people, it is a good and pertinent moment for us to consider an OTP of Doctor Who of Yore. I speak, of course, of the Doctor and Romana.

Now, explaining the series concept is... not that simple. Alien travels in time and space. In a phone box. With one or more people he’s picked up along the way. Every now and then the lead actor is replaced and we get a slightly different character who is still more or less the same man.

Yeah. But frankly you either get it or you don’t and if you don’t you probably won’t want to read this thing anyway. So, on we go!


'I save planets, mostly.'

As a character the Doctor can be quite difficult to pin down, but here’s a (hopefully) fairly uncontroversial run-down:

The Doctor is an alien, a member of a very advanced species, even if he doesn’t entirely like those people. This makes him privileged, and he couldn’t really do what he does if it wasn’t for that background. What he does is wander about in time and space, turn up where interesting stuff is happening to foil invasions and overthrow nasty regimes. He is clever and adaptable and funny and compassionate and a bit of a bitch sometimes and he causes trouble.

One thing about the Doctor is that fandom’s traditionally been a bit unsure about whether he should be allowed to have sex, to the point that it’s tended to be fairly common for people to claim that his named-as-such granddaughter isn’t actually related to him. Recent versions have tended to be a bit more open about though, and the new series is in favour of the Doctor having a sexuality, so there’s a bit of leeway in terms of reinterpreting what always came across as platonic relationships. It involves a fair bit of revisionism, yes, but that’s part of the fun!

The (main) Doctor in question for this OTP is the fourth, because he’s the one who travelled with Romana. But clearly all Doctors and all Romanas are in love.



‘You’re wonderful.'
'I suppose I am. I've never really thought about it.'


The Real World idea behind Romana is this: what if the Doctor got landed with someone who was his genuine intellectual equal? What if it was someone who wouldn’t be impressed by his fancy ways? As it progresses, there is a sense in which Romana is just the Doctor with tits, to the point where in one story they’re actually wearing near enough the same clothes.

Mostly the Doctor’s travelling companions just get sort of picked up as wanders about. They’re curious, or they’re misplaced, or they’ve just got no place else to go. Romana, however, is sent to the Doctor from Gallifrey to help him find bits of a Magic Plot Crystal. (No, really.) Romana is more sheltered than the Doctor. Younger, less rebellious-for-the-sake-of-it, rather more self-disciplined, less random. And she has better dress-sense. Initially she’s lacking in practical experience, but she soon picks it up as she goes along. Discovering that her full name is Romanadvoratrelundar (“I’m so sorry, is there anything we can do?”), the Doctor decides to shorten it to something, like maybe Fred. She is quite with Fred as a name, but he calls her Romana instead.

We actually get two Romanas. The first is the arch and somewhat haughty brunette. She knows the Doctor resents her presence, and she looks down on him a bit as being her intellectual inferior. And to be fair, he probably is. The second is the slightly less normal blonde. (At which point I should probably mention that both of our alien duo are prone to completely changing bodies if they die or in Romana’s case as some sort of fashion statement. So it's not just two aliens, it's two of the same sort of alien. They could make babies!)



“Of course we should interfere! Always do what you're best at, that's what I say.'

Tom Baker and Lalla Ward got married in Actual Real Life and it bleeds through into the characters. God, does it bleed through. This despite the stated intention of various people that both characters should be presented as asexually as possible. Not that Romana I didn't also have a whole heap of vibe going on, but generally there seems to be a tendancy to assume their love properly starts after she regenerates into Lalla Ward. (Though I totally reckon that at the very least the Doctor had a massive crush on Romana I. Bless!)

In Destiny of the Daleks (AKA The one where she ends up dressed as the Doctor) Romana, for no apparent reason, regenerates. The Doctor seems a bit put out by this. And rightly so, for she was wonderful enough already. To get him to agree to her new (and plagiarised) look, she puts on the Doctor’s clothes. Because he’s a bit of a narcissist sometimes. She only changes out of those clothes to put on a pink version instead. (Thus starting a Romana-as-the-Doctor trend that hits its peak when she basically takes over for a bit in Horns of Nimon.) This is also the one where he gets incredibly upset because he thinks she’s dead.

One thing we know from new Doctor Who is that 'holding hands = sex', which leads us nicely to City of Death. What happens in that one? Well, apparently there’s a plot of some sort, but the truly significant bit is how much time the Doctor and Romana spend running about holding hands. There is not much reason for them to be holding hands, they just are. I mean, for true, it’s a vibe. We may not want to think too much about why Romana's dressed as a schoolgirl in this one, but we can still quite happily bask in the vibe, right? And with the happy casualness about time breaking a bit and the hand-holding and the fact that they go to a museum together? They are so totally on a date. And that date is Paris, 1979 ("more of a table wine, really"). Because they can do that. They can just go anywhere they want and run about holding hands while saving the world at the same time. People tell me that the Doctor and Romana are not in love, but I'd say that City of Death says otherwise and that those people are just plain wrong.

The unfinished Shada is another one where they... well, they just look so happy and comfortable together. They talk in ways that confuse everyone else and they spend some time together in a wee boat thing (which is the technical term, yes). Yet again, they act like they're just on a date when all this stuff starts happening around them. Because these are the sort of dates where you probably have to stop an alien invasion before you can get round to opening a bottle of wine and talking about philosophy.

The Leisure Hive has them going to the seaside and Romana’s incredibly melty/speculative look at the end when the Doctor’s holding a wee baby. The interesting thing about this one is that the leads apparently hated each other during filming, and of course the production team would never under any circumstances be suggesting that Romana would like to be making wee baby Time Lords between episodes. Which leaves us with a whole heap of The Vibe.

She leaves in Warrior's Gate, becoming one of three women who get a robot dog to remember the Doctor by. (Okay, so my show is on crack. Your point?) But she's off to free some lions from slavery, thus essentially having gone off to be the Doctor in another universe. And then soon after he dies of a broken heart... hearts... whatever falling off a radio telescope and it is all very sad.

Oh, and I didn't even mention the Australian computer ads where a 1980s home computer dispenses the advice "MARRY THE GIRL, DOCTOR." (No, you really couldn't make this stuff up, could you?) EVEN A 1980s PC CAN SEE THEIR LOVE.



'Doctor, I don't want to spend the rest of my life on Gallifrey - after all this!'

Then what happened was that Gallifrey Went Boom in the Time War. Though it's never specified, this presumably means that Romana is dead.

This does lend some extra angles to the OTP though, since the Doctor is now the only one of his species and has even more reason to be sad about his Dead Time Lord Girlfriend. And, of course, killing one half of an OTP is something you can work around. *handwaves* She might not be dead. She might be in Sheffield or something. Let us cling to the uncertainty.



"Brilliant! I wish I'd thought of that!"
"Oh, you will, Doctor, you will."


Feargal Sharkey said that a good heart these days is hard to find. Two good hearts are presumably even harder to find. With Doctor/Romana you have four good hearts, which is pretty damn impressive, no? You get to skip past a few of the things that can make Doctor/companion pairings a bit squicky - Romana's easily his intellectual equal, with a rather more disciplined mind. She's not awed by the whole 'powerful alien' thing, partly because she's one too. She doesn’t think he’s special, at least not for the reasons people usually think he’s special. Not to get too lame about it, but it’s like they’re the only two people in the ‘verse who could possibly be these two people.

And, yes, The Vibe. This is that rare beast known as 'unintentional heteroerotic subtext'. They just go together to well. Romana is clever and interesting and is very often brought out as ‘the best argument in favour of a female Doctor’. There are points at which dialogue is switched just between them and it’s not a problem because they really on the same wavelength. What would they talk about? Oh, anything. Everything. They wander about the universe, occasionally in their own little world where stuff happens and they sort the stuff out and then have a cup of tea or something. It is indeed a bit twee, but twee can be fun sometimes.

For me, it just all clicks beautifully. You have Romana, who gets sort of freed from her background and… well, she does get rather ruined for Gallifrey. (There’s a tendency in spin-off media for her to go back and be President there, but I just handwave that.) She does outgrow him over time, which was really sort of inevitable from day one. And then on the other side of it, the Doctor finally gets someone to talk to who will totally follow what he’s saying and actually get which bits of him are strange rather than just alien. Added to that you’ve got the whole thing where it’s, in a way, playing off his own rather shaky relationship with their home planet. So fandom-wise I like it because it's a pairing that gives you a lot to work with. You can write a lovely story about them having tea and scones in 18th century Dorset and being very happy together, or you can focus on the horrid trauma of her possibly-violent death. It's all good.

And they have a robot dog. You can't tell me that doesn't prove something.

To get back to the sexuality thing, yes, we were not generally encouraged to see love in old school DW. Random companions might leave to marry people they'd only just met, but the Doctor was held to be 'above that sort of thing'. So when you start extrapolating from the bits of canon that contain the Doctor/Romana love relationship, there's this whole fun angle of Alien Sexuality to play with. Huzzah! While it is believed that there are at least three people in the fandom who are not on some level in love with Romana, most people would not be too shocked by the idea that if the Doctor's ever played console-hockey with someone he's travelled with she'd be a likely candidate. Because, well, you would. Unless you were totally asexual, which is no longer an option when the title character starts flirting with trees and Rose Tyler. In a way this makes it useful for Doctor/Rose or whatever, because I've seen this one creep into that pairing as a sort of contextal background on occasion. It's interesting, that is (although how much of this is pure fannish osmosis is really something to go into elsewhere rather than here). For all that fandom is given to teh concept of One True Love, nine hundred years is rather a long time in which to have loved only one person. And I like my OTP for that, as well - for the way it makes other things fit slightly better in my head. (That's a bit odd, maybe, but it's still true.) Attempting to tie the old series to the new in one's head does involve a certain amount of looking back at what was intended as 'innocent' and asking yourself whether that much hand-holding is really necessary.



'Will Romana be all right?'
'All right? She'll be superb!'


Now, this used to be a very gen fandom, and most of the shipping we have now is Doctor/Rose. But I'd say that Doctor/Romana manages to do rather well all things considered. Here's a couple of links that should see you right:

otp_probably is the LJ community dedicated to the pairing, which is open to things like fic and icons and so forth.

Over at who_otp you can find this delightful list of what fic the fandom's producing for various pairings, including of course Doctor/Romana which is by far the best of them all, yes.

A Teaspoon and and Open Mind is your one-stop shop for Doctor Who fanfic in general.

It's not much, I know, but we're a niche 'ship and we can live with that. Or hold hands with it while running around European capital cities.

Comments

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Yay, it's up!
This is thorough and concise and really, really *sweet*. I loved it.
*latches* omg it was rly hrdz.
'Console-hockey'. Oh yes. I think this is really rather excellent and obviously TRUE.

the Doctor finally gets someone to talk to who will totally follow what he’s saying and actually get which bits of him are strange rather than just alien

I adore you for that bit alone, because that's the thing that sells it as an OTP. She really is the only one who could possibly have a clue about that, which is why she will always terrify him very slightly. And I don't think he could really properly have Teh Love with someone he wasn't scared of, just a little bit. Possibly that is not a universal opinion. Um.

Hooray!
And I don't think he could really properly have Teh Love with someone he wasn't scared of, just a little bit. Possibly that is not a universal opinion. Um.

Romana is a bit intimidating, almost certainly. I mean, people who are awed by the universe are all very well, but sometimes you just want to sit back with a glass of red wine and talk about things that contain very long words than end in 'ism'. And she is so probably cleverererer than him yo.
Shiny shiny essay even though I have only a vague idea of the characters, shhh. :D
and it is all trueness
Great essay!
Theirloveissocanonbutlikenot.
SQUUUEEE! hehe
BTW I love the cut title "hand-holding=love"
Curses. Now I have to buy more DW because I've never seen any Romana.

Or just go up north to stalk Doyle again.
Very nice essay!

Although I've only seen five old school stories so far (and one of them was the TV movie thing, which apparently doesn't count anyway) and just two of them featured Romana II, I can certainly see the shippiness when I look at this pair. And yes, they're awfully twee, but in such a humourous, endearing way.

*adds to memories*
That is for they are in LOVE. *ships*
Yay! My favorite Doctor and the closest thing I have to an OTP from Doctor Who! Very nicely done and very funny. I love it. :D

And, of course, killing one half of an OTP is something you can work around. *handwaves* She might not be dead. She might be in Sheffield or something. Let us cling to the uncertainty.

Best rationalization ever.
Romana *is* alive and well and living in Sheffield.
OMG I NEED TO SEE THESE EPISODES OMG.
Oh yes, she speaketh the truth, yea verily.
DUDE! IT IS PERFECTLY WORD EXPLAINED LOVE, YES.

*dances a bit*
*CLING*
*hart*
You WIN at Doctor Who pairings! Yay!
::applauds:: (And yay, you posted it on my birthday!)

Yet again, they act like they're just on a date when all this stuff starts happening around them.

They are! They are!

the Doctor finally gets someone to talk to who will totally follow what he’s saying and actually get which bits of him are strange rather than just alien

Exactly!

Yay!
(And yay, you posted it on my birthday!)

That was totally deliberate. *lies*
Wonderful essay! I want to add something, but all I can think to do would be quote everything back and say, "Ditto!"
Fantastic:)
Very nicely done, and oh so convincing. Must watch the eps with Romana II now!
Yay! I've been so looking forward to you posting this, and you really didn't disappoint. Great explanation and look at them. Wonderful job.
Oh, brilliant. Utterly, completely, meltingly brilliant. Of course, I'm the converted and have been since the moment I first saw City of Death, so hey, but I'm so going to pimp it out to try and tell people that there are other possibilities to Doctor/Rose. But brilliant. I love it and am now going onto my Doctor/Romana kick. Again.
And there I go flailing again.

*flails*

(Why is it this OTP that leaves me in an incoherent mess of squee?)

Many, many good things, and has the fandom wanked about whether the Prime Computer ads are canon yet? Or are they just canon in Australia? Why the hell wasn't I allowed to watch commercial television as a wee child? Er, beyond the fact that they aired a year before I was born. Presumably having been made in that five minutes when Lalla Ward and Tom Baker could stand being in the same room.

She might not be dead. She might be in Sheffield or something. Let us cling to the uncertainty.

I honestly find it hard to believe that she's actually and irrevocably dead. RTD is all about women who are matches for the Doctor, and Romana was the prototype. There's also a lot of potential drama in her return, aside from the obvious Rose angst. (Which I personally can't be bothered with.) He alluded to Romana being president in the 2006 annual, although he's apparently also spoken of Flavia as the president. I just take it for granted that the story of the Time War varies depending on how much he's had to drink.

(I still don't get that whole presidency thing. Not that I follow the books or audios closely, but I kind of tracked Romana through both. I like the idea of her coming back to Gallifrey to start a little revolution there, but man, the whole Gallifrey series seems mostly like an extended lesson on Why Time Ladies Shouldn't Bother Their Little Heads With Politics And Should Stick To Buying Hats And Randomly Regenerating, Else All Gallifrey Will Implode.

In short: I don't want to say Romana has sold out to the man, but man, has she sold out. *stares*)
Many, many good things, and has the fandom wanked about whether the Prime Computer ads are canon yet?

They are totally canon in ShipWorld.

I honestly find it hard to believe that she's actually and irrevocably dead. RTD is all about women who are matches for the Doctor, and Romana was the prototype.

I want Romana back. :( It's not even like they'd need to get Lalla Ward cos, y'know, regeneration.

In short: I don't want to say Romana has sold out to the man, but man, has she sold out. *stares*

She was 4REAL and now she's dead</> a sell-out! *cries* I find President!Romana a bit difficult to get my head round, really.


Four/Romana started my love of fandom. Really. I'd never gotten it before that, despite knowing there were people out there who dressed up like characters or aliens or the Enterprise from Star Trek but I squirreled my way into falling in love with a silly old Time Lord and his rather lovely equal. And their robot dog.

Because, really, what's traveling through Time and Space without a robot dog?

Anyway, I love this. Love love love. And am sinking into memories so I can come back and giggle again and again as time allows...because, sadly, I lost my TARDIS key and Detective Dugan won't help me find it. *pouts*

...though I used to cosplay as Romana II in the pink outfit...such fun....
Awesome manifesto nos. I know absolutely nothing about Four and less than that about Romana, but I'm totally ready to ship them now. And also rent City of Death.
"Oh, and I didn't even mention the Australian computer ads where a 1980s home computer dispenses the advice "MARRY THE GIRL, DOCTOR." (No, you really couldn't make this stuff up, could you?) EVEN A 1980s PC CAN SEE THEIR LOVE.
"

[COUGH] [SPLUTTER] PC?!?!? You *dare* compare the glorious Pr1me minicomputer series to a sodding PC?!?!?!?!?!?!?

Ahem.

I used to use Pr1mes at university and at school. They were minicomputers, intended for companies that didn't have the space for all the huge air-conditionig systems that mainframes needed in those days, but were efinitely not "home computers". (The closest they got was a 4550, which was small enough to sit in a corner of a normal office provided the office was air-conditioned and de-static-ised to normal US office standards. We had to a built a special room for ours, 'cos UK government offices didn't discover the concept of air conditioning until last Thursday, and as for the carpets... {SHUDDER].)

And they had Doc 4 and Romana advertising them down in Oz. How cool is that? =:o>

Pr1mos was a wonderful OS. Beat Windows *AND* all forms of UNIX into a cocked hat. Alas, 'tis ded now of teh woeful neglect. =:o{ [SOBS] Whena get a free decade I'd love to create an emulator for it, so I can run my old CPL scripts on my PC... [WANDERS AWAY TO BE SAD AND TECHNO-GEEKY IN A CORNER]

PS Loved the manifesto, apart from that. =:o}
nothing constructive to say because this is mosts fantastic ship manifesto i´ve read. well, the otp really deserves it.

what do you mean there was plot in City of Death? i just saw the dating and running and handholding and me wishing Godard would have made a movie about these two.

really, this is funny, sweet and totally true.
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