It was announced this morning that Maggie Stables had died. In the years when Doctor Who was not on TV, it lived on through the audios and BBC webcasts. Evelyn Smythe was the first new companion for the Doctor, and she travelled with Colin Baker’s Sixth Doctor.
I remember listening to The Marian Conspiracy for the first time in a B&B in Aberlour many years ago, uncertain what to make of this unlikely pairing, but eager to hear more.
She was unlike any other companion the Doctor had travelled with on TV. An elderly, sharp-tongued history professor with a kind heart and a deep love of chocolate cake, she was the perfect foil for Colin Baker’s Doctor, able perfectly to puncture his pomposity and help to mellow his character.
Some of the very best stories were written for Evelyn, and Maggie Stables gave wonderful performances that absolutely made the most of them. Her character was, thankfully, given a very complete treatment, from joining the Doctor to her departure and beyond (I can’t be too specific about story titles, since her appearance might be considered a spoiler, and her tale becomes interwoven with another’s).
Perhaps the very best is the funny, tragic and musical Doctor Who and the Pirates.
Despite all the Doctor Who we’ve had since Maggie first inhabited the role, there has been no other companion even remotely comparable to Evelyn since.