The Doctor Who Ratings Guide: By Fans, For Fans

Rose Tyler

Billie Piper


The domestic goddess... by Steve Cassidy 24/9/06

There was a lot riding on the back of Rose Tyler.

The new series, in many ways, rested on her back just as much as it did the actor playing the Doctor. She was meant to be the audience-identification figure. She was meant to be the character that grounded the show in reality. The show was not squarely aimed at the old "intelligent 14 year old male" target figure anymore - it had to appeal to everyone. It had to be feminised so that granny and niece could relate to this as much as nephew. A wise move as the audience figues showed. And central to this was Rose Tyler of the Powell estate as played by Billie Piper.

Billie Piper was a clever bit of casting. There were howls of dismay from some section of fandom that this tweeny pop star had been picked for the plum companion job. I didn't join in as Billie Piper was a stage school actress, I had seen her in 'The Canterbury Tales' and knew she could carry a scene. In fact, she was a reluctant pop star - her ambition was to be a television actress. And she also had a tabloid history, she was a "name" - a girl who sold newspapers. Billie Piper could play the tabloid game, drumming up extra publicity for the series when appearing in Heat magazine etc. And we must remember that Who was a terrific gamble by the BBC/RTD. It could have all ended in disaster. So just like the Big Brother scenes in Bad Wolf, the casting of Billie would gain them publicity inches.

And it became obvious from the outset that she could act. This was vital as this was a character who was defined by her relationships to other people. Romana, Leela, Liz Shaw were defined by their professions/alieness - that is what they brought to the stories. But Rose Tyler was different: she was allowed to bring her background with her. Her background was those she left back on Earth. Rose Tyler was defined by her relationships with other characters. Because she didn't really have a profession; she couldnt help with the space/time continuum like Romanatrevunderlunder, give snippets of history like Barbara Wright or even bring the flash-bang wallop of Ace to the TARDIS. Her strengths were her relationships with others.

And as we saw in series one this worked very well. The emotionally damaged Eccles Doctor was still a brooding, highly-strung mess. His social graces were still struggling (the "shut it!" to Dickens in The Unquiet Dead), he needed Rose to oil the cogs of his encounters with others. She was his alter ego, smoothing and forming relationships as they travelled together. She looked at things from the bottom of the pile. She had empathy with those who suffered. She didn't have the patrician education of Romana or Nyssa, she would always talk to the serving staff/service engineers. She treated everyone the same - which of course as she gained confidence (to the point of supercilliousness) got her slapped down by the most patrician of all, Queen Victoria.

The very first adventure of all revolves around her. And quite right! Rose had an awful lot riding on it. It didn't have to just introduce a new Doctor/companion but an entirely new genre to a generation who had barely heard of the programme. Rose Tyler was going to be their ticket to adventure. Within the first few scenes her parameters are quickly defined: unemployed, overbearing mum, useless boyfriend, living on a council estate with no future. The only way she can go is up. Everything is dragging her down. The Doctor's life is a gamble but one she takes with both hands. Her smiling run into the TARDIS at the end is the perfect ending to the episode. Everything clicks into place.

The End of the World is a particular favourite of mine and the perfect second episode. Rose is stunned by this encounter with blue aliens and exploding worlds. It's beyond her comprehension but she is still witnessing it. Her taking to task Cassandra over certain unpleasant remarks is pure Rose as is her befriending of the blue service engineer. The Unquiet Dead is another good Rose adventure. 1869 means nothing to Rose really, it's just the thought of travelling back in time. Once again she forms bonds with those she thinks are repressed, ie Gwynneth. And thinks she should be impressed by Charles Dickens so tries to be although I suspect the first thing she does when Bleak House comes on the TV is reach for the remote.

Aliens of London/WWIII returns Rose home. A feature of the first two series. Her major weakness is that she never cuts the apron strings entirely. She's still enjoying her travels here and is savvy enough to join in the barnstorming sessions when they are trapped in Number 10. But it is with Dalek that we get the Rose Tyler adventure. It's her humanity and big heart that are the key to this adventure and that brings the captive Dalek to life. It her humanity mingling with its Dalek biology that eventually brings about its downfall. Rose Tyler is the good side of humanity contrasting with the damaged ninth Doctor who swings in the opposite direction (before realising his mistake). And it is also in this adventure that another Rose weakness becomes apparent: her predeliction for comely young men. Adam (Bruno Langley) is mistakenly brought aboard the TARDIS at her suggestion (the Doctor wants to keep HER happy) and unfortunately when he doesn't measure up she doesnt stick up for him. He is kicked into reality.

Father's Day is the series one adventure that really revolves around Rose. I hated it at the time, I hated the emotional armtwisting of the writing/production where you were almost beaten over the head until the tears came out. But it has aged well and I can't deny that it is a very effective character piece. Another Rose flaw, her self-centredness (expressly forbidden to rescue her father, she does so anyway) is brought to the fore. And never has a companion had such a background explored so much (not even the troubled Ace) and gone on such an emotional journey. The thing is once we have learned about her mother, dead father, boyfriend etc, once that has been explored in serious depth - just what do you do with the character?

And finally we have Rose at her height in Bad Wolf/The Parting of the Ways. She reaches her apex by looking into the heart of TARDIS and destroying the invading Dalek fleet (and the Doctor is destroyed helping her). Rose reaches her pinnacle here - a girl confident enough to do something helping the Doctor against the Daleks on the space station. Life with her mother and Mickey isn't enough and she has to empower them to help her get back to the Eccles Doctor. And you get the feeling at the end that he did it all for her. Rose Tyler in this adventure becomes a goddess..

I now want to take a break to examine the relationship between her and what I call "her" Doctor. Christopher Eccleston's Doctor was a tour de force. We had not seen the like ever before in Who. He was in pain, serious pain; bit by bit, the Time War was revealed and his role and guilt over it. He needed someone to cling to, he needed someone to assuage his pain. He was exceptionally vulnerable and, one suspects, lonely. The fact that he chose a nineteen year old shopgirl to travel with him is interesting. Under RTD the Time Lord hormones have been raging more then ever and maybe that prompted his decision. For her, he was an escape - a good man, slightly unhinged, who could show her the universe. The two worked well together. His neediness blended with her enthusiasm for what they were doing. And then the Doctor changed...

The Tenth Doctor seemed to have recovered from his angst and guilt. He seemed to bounce around the universe with his companion having "a lark". In fact, he didn't need her so much that other females seemed to vie for his attention. This and the revelation that she wasn't his only travelling companion seemed to release something rather unpleasant in Rose Tyler. Whether her confidence had turned into something else I don't know but between Tooth and Claw and The Satan Pit the character seems to go into freefall. From her bitchspat with Sarah and jealousy of Mickey during School Reunion, to not learning the lesson of keeping away from her father in Rise of the Cybermen/Age of Steel. The Rose Tyler during these adventures is catty, supercilious and borderline obnoxious.

It is all brought together in Fear Her and the old Rose Tyler returns: resourceful, pleasant and enterprising but still with that emphatic side that served her so well in series one. Her leaving was perfectly natural in Army of Ghosts/Doomsday. I wondered how they would write her out. They teased us all season with "the girl so far from home, soon to die in battle".

My problem with heris that she was always tied to her mother's apron strings, seeking to ring her up at every opportunity. She never entirely left Earth. There is also an argument that she dragged the Doctor down with her (The Christmas Invasion). Rose was OK exploring time and space but only so long as she can go back to her mother at the end of it. And the character began to deteriorate in season 2. My theory about why this is happened is that Rose's story, along with that of the ninth Doctor, was concluded in TPOTW. They were trying to do character-based drama with a character whose story has already finished. So they need to do something artificial. To do good, proper drama (as opposed to soap) you ideally want to have a character who's created specifically for the drama, rather than having been created for an earlier one.

One problem I think is this idea which seems to have become embedded in the people making the programme is that Rose is every bit the Doctor's equal. It's as if they feel that they have to put them on the same level to stop any accusations of "make a cup of tea, there's a good girl" chauvinism. As if the only way to counter one extreme is to go to the other extreme. So we have her cracking jokes in dangerous situations, lecturing complete strangers on morality, etc as if she's the Doctor too. They want her to be as witty as a Romana I or a Sarah Jane Smith but in a nineteen year old girl it comes across as rather supercillious.

Rose Tyler has sharp edges, but I get the sense that the Doctor doesn't see them because the writers don't want the viewers to. She really is incredibly manipulative at times, and very selfish in some ways. It makes her real, but she's presented so positively that it feels like they've stacked the deck to make me like her, which distances me somewhat. I can care about her, but not more than I cared about any of the others, and while I know it's unfair to compare like that, she's never going to measure up to the ones who didn't have the entire thing telling me how much I should love them. The new series deliberately draws attention to how the Doctor feels about her, and most of the time I can't actually see why he'd hold her in more esteem than anyone else other than "because he just does". Because the story says that he does.

I find that Rose for me is terribly uninteresting because of this positioning. If the Doctor thinks she's that spectacular beyond anyone before, then I'm looking at her harder than anyone else and I can't see what it is that he finds so interesting. In fact Rose is really quite a selfish self-absorbed person who takes the people around her for granted. I don't really see how the Doctor finds that fascinating compared to all the other companions who were quite frankly better people.

But she was a success for the new series. She will never be one of my favourite companions but there is no doubt she has a lot of fans. New viewers will look on her in a few years time as us oldies look on Leela or Jo Grant - and there is no doubt that Billie Piper was rock solid in the role. Well deserving of her BAFTA nomination. Rose Tyler was the kickstart to get the series going. The audience identification figure...

A good character, yes - but I would have hated to see her mobile phone bill.

Rose Tyler, I... by Nathan Mullins 27/10/08

Doctor Who's revival was one of the most anticipated by myself and on first viewing the pilot episode, I was indeed grateful by its most welcome return to the TV screen. I must say that the charcter of Rose has expanded a great deal since we first met her in the episode Rose. I felt that Rose was someone the audience could relate to when we were introduced to her background, where she lived and why she wanted to travel - because the life she led wasn't remotely interesting before the Doctor picked her up to go travelling alongside him.

She lived with her mother, Jackie; her father, Pete Tyler, was killed after being hit by a hit-and-run driver. She lived on the Powell Estate in South London where she worked in the better parts of the city. I felt the audience could relate to her, because naturally any teenager would give up a dull life for a life of wonder and delight. During her run as companion, I felt she was at first filled with awe with the wonders she experienced with the 9th Doctor but that was before he regenerated into the 10th and that's when I felt that her character had changed slightly. I felt that the writers had wanted to make Rose feel as comfy and cosy in the TARDIS without making her feel the emotions a teenage girl would be feeling traveling the universe with an alien.

I knew early on that there was some sort of chemistry between Rose and the Doctor but the scripts weren't at first letting on. However, during the two parter, The Impossible Planet/The Satan Pit, it was hinted that, because there was no escape for them due to the TARDIS being surposedly sucked into the planet, both her and the Doctor would have to share a home and possibly live together which I didn't like the sound of. Though, when she left the Doctor in Doomsday, she told him how she felt and the Doctor understood by trying to tell her how he felt about her but he was silenced due to him fading out of existence.

Though she doesn't stand out as a favorite of mine anymore, she's still one of the most honourable to the Doctor.

Who's afraid of the big bad Rose? by Luke Hewitt 8/6/12

In Bad Wolf/The Parting of the Ways, it's revealed that Rose Tyler, after absorbing the time vortex, plastered the words "bad wolf" all over space and time to alert the Doctor and her past self to the crisis in the 51st century aboard the games station. Whatever she did to the time vortex though, that's nothing to her ongoing legacy in the minds of writers and fans of Doctor Who. For many it seems, Rose Tyler has become the quintessential companion. A girl with no education, an irritatingly dysfunctional ordinary family and dead-end prospects who gets to wander time and space beside the last of the Time Lords - and despite being, as Cassandra so kindly puts it, "a chav" - can rise to the occasion and show courage, empathy and insight when needed.

I am, generally speaking, a big Rose Tyler fan. As is stated in reviews of her, she managed to pull in a new audience to Doctor Who and do it extremely well. Indeed, I'd argue that up against the dull, grumpy, angst-ridden and downright dire ninth Doctor, she was the thing that held the series together and made it worth watching, having the charisma, empathy and brightness that Ecleston lacked. (In many ways, she was more the Doctor than that particular Doctor was.)

It was therefore unsurprising that the tenth Doctor fell for her, becoming first a friend, then something more, and while I severely disliked the whole clone version of the Doctor plot resolution in Journey's End, which just felt like a blatant attempt by Davies to keep the shippers and fanfic writers happy, I still can't deny that, throughout her tenure with the Doctor, Rose really did come off as something special.

The problem, however, is that ever since Rose left, instead of moving on and trying something new, the vast majority of the Doctor's companions have all been very much from a similar mould, in what seems to be an effort to recapture the glory days of new series seasons 1 and 2. I would argue this effort has been less than successful.

To illustrate let's take a look at the next few companions and their similarities to Rose.

First off there is the companion immediately following Rose, Martha Jones.

This was for me the most blatant Rose knockoff, and very badly timed at that, being the Doctor's next companion. Also a young Londoner in her 20s, also with an annoying and slightly petty family, also with a crush on the Doctor and lots of blatant shipping which, frankly seemed out of place given the fact they'd barely got to know each other.

Okay, she was a medical student, but in terms of knowledge she seemed hardly more educated than Rose not seeming to know basic physics, chemistry or about the middle ages, and her "medical" knowledge was usually reduced to the occasional line of medical jargon (as in Human Nature), and a bit of CPR that anyone who has been on a day's first-aid course could probably do.

If a person is educated, we expect them to act like an educated person, drawing logical conclusions and thinking analytically, as indeed Romana, Liz or even Mel managed in the past. Martha, however, seems to have no actual mental skill from her education at all, just the capacity to spout long words from time to time. Nor does she even show an applied knowledge of medicine, diagnosing injuries or suggesting treatment (it's usually the Doctor who says how a certain person was killed as in The Shakespeare Code, not Martha).

As for other differences, oh yes, her skin is dark, but other than Shakespeare?s admittedly rather comical references to her being a "blackamore lady" Martha's skin colour has little to no bearing on her story. Quite a shame since there was far more potential to play with this in historical context such as 1930's New York or 1913 England. Yes, having a New Yorker use racial epithets would be far from politically correct now, but since the Doctor is in the past, this shouldn't matter, and certainly other issues such as gender or class do not receive the same historical ignorance (it's very odd that more is made of Martha being a maid in 1913 England than of her skin colour).

Thankfully, Davies and the other writers seem to have realized Martha's less than stellar performance as a sub-standard Rose, and gave her a far more interesting personality and background in both the 4th series and Torchwood, where she became the tough, experienced unit officer - and actually got to show off some of that medical knowledge properly for once. Still, it can't be denied that in the bulk of her travels with the Doctor Martha left me feeling more than a little disappointed.

Next we have Donna Noble. I remember when first seeing Donna in The Runaway Bride, my brothers' comment was "oooh God, she makes Rose look refined!" This is true. Seemingly in that episode all she was was a louder, angrier, and if possible more common and comical version of Rose.

Entertaining for a one-off bit of weirdness, but when I heard she was going to be a full time companion, I wasn't too pleased.

Yet, despite a whole bunch of similarities to Rose, even down to the less than stellar relationship with her mum, Donna did manage to expand things very nicely. Less competent but more confident, sometimes even opposing the Doctor directly just as in Fires of Pompeii. Not the Doctor's equal as Rose got to be, but a fantastic foil for him, someone who would perhaps not absorb the time vortex to stop the Daleks, but wouldn't be intimidated by them either.

Best of all (and uniquely for a New Who female companion), absolutely zero possibility of romance with the Doctor. As someone myself who has far more female friends than male, some of whom I'd consider as close as sisters, I absolutely applaud the realism, humanity and decency of this choice. Donna is purely and simply the Doctor's friend, just as Leela, Romana, Ace, Mel and innumerable other companions have been before her. The Rose-Doctor romance was nice at the time because it was (other than Charley Pollard) absolutely unique. Now, however, it seems the standard thing and indeed is feeling a little cheap because of that.

Finally, Donna actually dispenses with the Rose archetype by having a member of her family she actually likes: her fantastic and very decent grandfather, who might even be considered a companion in his own right given his role in The End of Time. Donna's success may almost be measured in how far she distances herself from the stereotypical companion role as laid out by Rose, and I was extremely sorry she left the TARDIS crew after only one series.

Next we come to by far my least favourite of all the new who companions. Amy Pond, a girl who takes everything good about the Rose archetype, makes it awful, and adds a healthy serving of selfishness, deceit, faithlessness and arrogance to the mix.

Like Rose, she seems to care nothing at all about her boyfriend, though where Mickey was a rather dim, selfish and fairly unpleasant individual, Rory is actually a nice, compassionate and decent everyday bloke, making Amy's lack of faith and caring for him seem less than admirable. For the same reason, all the sideline stuff about Amy and the Doctor seems just plain wrong; after all she actually married Rory!

Like Rose, Amy is represented as the Doctor's equal, able to hold her own and be extraordinary on occasion as in The Beast Below, but where Matt Smith is a more retiring Doctor, Amy is if anything even more brash and confident, in fact to the point of arrogance. Even when Rose was at her most outgoing, at her most on the warpath, there was a sense that (like the Doctor) she was doing it for the good of those around her. With Amy though, it seems she's usually just being self-obsessed and loud because she liked being the centre of attention. She even does this around the Doctor and Rory as in Amy's Choice (a story that showcases everything bad about Amy) and Vincent and the Doctor.

Also like Rose, she likes her young men, but whereas with Rose it seemed a fairly harmless interest - indeed often with a tinge of sympathy or compassion, as with Adam's explanation that he's never seen the stars, or her gentleness towards Toby in The Satan Pit - Amy just seems to like being admired and showing off for its own sake. Once again, her constant flirting is less than fair on Rory; though then again under Moffat every female character seems to feel the need to constantly flirt with anyone and anything, which is treated as absolutely fine by everyone in the series.

Suffice it to say that anything good Rose did, Amy is rapidly turning to the bad, and the sooner she leaves the TARDIS the better; indeed, as far as the show is concerned, the Daleks and the Cybermen seem to have the right idea of what to do with Amy, namely "exterminate" or "delete!" (I'd personally go for both, and as quickly and efficiently as possible.)

It's not just in the TV series however that Rose Tyler's legacy lives on, since two out of the three most recent companions to be written in for the Doctor in the Big Finish series have been blatant Rose clones. (I'm not sure about the novels or comics, since I don't have access to those.)

The first is Lucy bleedin' Miller, who can best be described as Rose with a Yorkshire accent. Uninspired family and home life, no education, yet an ability to be confident and angry at any alien aggressor as well as suddenly rise intuitively to needed occasions. Her introduction, being suddenly catapulted into the Eighth Doctor's TARDIS (presumably after he dramatically leaves Charley in The Girl Who Never Was) also feels a carbon copy of how the tenth Doctor met Donna Noble in The Runaway Bride.

I must admit, Lucy Miller is my least favourite of all the new audio companions. Erimem, Hex, Evelyn Smythe,Thomas Brewster... each has had very much their own individual style and personality and has brought something new to the TARDIS, even when (as is the case with Hex and Evelyn) they are an ordinary Joe or Jane from the 21st century. Even those companions who seemed to have been less successful, such as C'rizz, Amy the Tracer and Elizabeth Klein, have at least brought interesting background and story elements with them, though their characters and personalities may not have gelled as well with the Doctor and other companions.

With Lucy, however, I just felt I wasn't getting anything I hadn't seen before. Frankly, she just feels dull and stale, especially after the very unique companions the eighth Doctor has had in the past. Yet we as listeners are expected, just as with the other Rose Tyler knockoffs, to think there is something special about her. The Doctor invites her for Christmas, shows her unique bits of the TARDIS, implies that she's good enough to take on the Daleks alone, talks about how special she is to time and space and generally makes a massive fuss of her.

While thankfully (this being Big Finish), she does indeed get some interesting back-story and plot, and has one of the best exit moments of any companion I've seen, Lucy herself I find just simply uninspired, since there is nothing that can be said about Lucy's personality that really can't be said of Rose, and her reactions and behaviour are almost predictable because of it. Not the least because of the similarities in character betwene the tenth and eighth Doctors. While I like the plots Big Finish created for Lucy, I really think they could've been done with a far more unique character, particularly one who resembled Rose slightly less.

Finally, there is the sixth Doctor's new companion Flip introduced in The Curse of Davros. Like Martha, she is a cockney student (though we've not been told of what), but also like Martha she comes across as extremely uneducated, clueless and indeed rather chav-like in her references to pop culture and materialism. First introduced as a side line character in The Crimes of Thomas Brewster, why Big Finish decided to bring her back as a companion I'll never know, since in that story she was at best incidental. For me, there was little interesting about her, nothing I wanted to find out and no intriguing quirks of personality or chemistry with the Doctor that I would like to see explored further. Indeed, when the Sixth Doctor mentioned where he met her before I had to go and reread the synopsis of the previous story to remind myself who exactly she was. If I were feeling cynical, I might argue that the only reason she's back is to appeal to fans of the TV series who expect a Rose archetype companion with the Doctor.

Of course, Flip hasn't been a member of the TARDIS crew for that long yet, and we've not really seen any interesting long term plot with her. Though I've enjoyed both of her adventures with the Sixth doctor, flip didn't really do anything unique in either of them and my enjoyment was far more based on what the Doctor was doing (helped by the fact that number six is a personal favourite) and what the situation was than what his companion was doing (largely not much). Unless Big Finish pull something really staggering, she'll be at best for me another Lucy Miller, a companion with no distinguishing features who just happens to be involved in some interesting plots.

It is indeed sad that I can still say "a companion with no distinguishing features at all" and also evidence of the prevalence of the Rose Tyler archetype. Even those Classic Series companions who I am personally less fond of - such as Tegan, Mel and Romana - did have their own manner and personality to distinguish them, and though I myself might not find them interesting or appealing as characters, I'd never claim they don't have something unique about them. With the current crop though, "unique" is becoming a more and more difficult term to apply, which is an incredibly dismal state for a series which pretty much lives or dies on the nature of its principle cast, i.e., the TARDIS crew.

Myself, I'd love to see someone like the competent, tough, and highly unflappable Detective Inspector Menzies first introduced in The Condemned join the Doctor for a spell in the TARDIS, since a hard-bitten, experienced police officer is about as different from the uneducated, inexperienced companions we've seen recently as you could get and still would be a very ordinary character who the audience could relate to. Indeed, when Amy Pond first appeared in The Eleventh Hour with the policewoman's outfit, I was hoping we'd get a police officer companion on screen too, though sadly this was yet another moment of adolescent flirting as it turns out Amy is a kissogram who seemingly really enjoys her job, even more evidence of the shallowness of the Pond.

Rose Tyler was a great companion and rebooted Doctor who for the 21st century. But it's now definitely and absolutely time to move on. There are more types of ordinary people around who could show their extraordinary qualities by travelling in the TARDIS than just chavs with no education and a crush on the Doctor. Indeed, some of my favourite companions such as Evelyn Smythe and Hex have been just that. Even in the past, companions ran from the educated if obsessive Mel to the enquiring Sarah Jane to the streetwise but insecure Ace. If we must have a companion from the 21st century to travel with the Doctor, please, for the love of continuity, pick another person in society with a different history, and finally let Rose Tyler have some peace before all the good she achieved as the first companion of the new series and the Doctor's first on-screen romance is cliched and parodied to death.

"Last Year's Girl" by Thomas Cookson 12/7/13

Tat Wood highlighted Doctor Who's long overlap with music culture. Troughton's Doctor was of the Beatles era, Jon Pertwee and Tom Baker are of the glam era, and Peter Davison is of the Howard Jones era. In fact, had Mission to Magnus been televised, we'd have likely seen a Sisterhood of Magnus modelled on Strawberry Switchblade. So Billie Piper's casting as the new companion seemed meant to be.

However, Rose's character began having a detrimental effect of overpowering the show, and having a reverse Pygmalion effect on the Doctor. Terrance Dicks says the only time in Classic Who that a supporting character threatened to overshadow the Doctor as the show's icon was with Roger Delgado's Master.

It's seems that RTD was so worried that an audience wouldn't take to an alien intellectual character like the Doctor that not only did he remove everything alien and intellectual about him, but made him the supporting character in Rose Tyler's show.

The show degenerated into a banal soap opera centring around Rose's domestic everyday life. Whilst some claim it was time the show addressed the consequences of the companions' disappearance on their families, this is barely done justice once Aliens of London passes its 10 minute mark, and the domestics carry on as normal.

There are two key instances of actually showing her as more in the right than the Doctor, in dirt-stupid ways.

The story Dalek seems to build to a climax that never happens. I think the story needed to be a two parter, with part two actually taking place in Salt Lake City with the Dalek massacring civilians. We needed a point where after seeing the Dalek get its revenge on those who abused it, the story then twists our allegiances. Where Rose's sympathies for the Dalek were proved wrong and the Doctor was proved right. Instead, Rose tells the Doctor he's completely wrong, and the Doctor acts in ways that prove her right, for no good reason. Given the option of evacuating and sealing the vaults, I'm baffled why this was the Doctor's last resort when it should have been his first.

Secondly was in Parting of the Ways, where the Doctor is shown to be almost a bigger liability than he was in Warriors of the Deep (which, like Russell's writing, lacked any understanding of the Doctor's character beyond reactionary fan taboos about him). Having sent the station personnel to fight the Daleks and give their lives to buy him time to finish his superweapon, he betrays their sacrifices by refusing to press it. Thus condemning the whole human empire to extermination by the Daleks. Only the return of Rose saves him and humanity.

Some said it was daring and even morally educational to show the central hero be so fallible, like it was a missing piece of the Colin Baker era. The lesson being taught how a more belligerent, ruthless Doctor isn't necessarily a more successful one, given his habit of forcing his enemy's hand and accelerating predicaments, not to mention alienating the trust of others. I think a lot of fans forget that, in Revelation of the Daleks, Eric Saward seemed to finally be getting a handle on the Doctor. Namely that his role isn't to use weapons of mass destruction, nor to procrastinate and abstain from any violence at all, but instead to be subtle and deflective, and in a very Zen way to do 'the right kind of a little'. Of course, subtlety and RTD long parted ways. And given the content-free ambition of many RTD stories, I'm forced to conclude that the whole business of a more reckless Doctor was a contrived necessity to force drama and action to move more quickly within the 45 minute format. This reaches its nadir in The Sontaran Stratagem and The Doctor's Daughter, where the Doctor, for all his tiresome preachings of anti-violence, offers no solution to the enemy except to completely antagonise them, leaving the military with a far more volatile mess to deal with.

I remember back on Planet Skaro forum, one poster suggesting that the sooner Billie Piper leaves, the better, given the danger that if she stayed too long, new fans would associate the show with her, so when she did leave it might kill the show. He was tarred for this in ways that made it clear this chill-out zone of trendy neoliberals was becoming an increasingly sinister, creepy cult.

Then came Series 2. New Earth was a false start, but the run from Tooth and Claw to The Age of Steel was pretty solid (actually no, The Age of Steel was a let down). Then things got beyond silly and beyond smug in The Idiot's Lantern. Smug enough to suddenly make me consider giving up watching. The Impossible Planet was a brilliant set-up, but followed up by an indescribable letdown, leaving it less than the sum of its parts. Love & Monsters added a sudden dose of unsightly ghastliness of a kind not seen since Season 24. Fear Her managed to be everything wrong with the RTD era: schmaltzy, childish and too prone to tell-don't-show, whilst lacking any of the exhilaration or fun that usually won over the viewer. And Doomsday should have been great but somehow descended into the kind of excessive, out of control fanwank that usually results in an oversaturated mess, becoming ridiculously contrived to unbelievable degrees.

So what was overall wrong with the season despite a fairly good hit rate? Was it just the highs and lows were lower? Was Love & Monsters really that much a fly in the ointment? No. I think the problem was the same problem with the RTD era in general. One could get caught up in the exhilarating manicness of the stories, but there were icky, irritating, downright unpleasant moments that gradually became accumulative until by the end they reached toxic levels.

I don't really think casual viewers could relate to a character who was as vile to Sarah Jane as Rose was. This was a sore point for me. I was already lamenting how 45 minutes shouldn't be enough to do justice to Sarah Jane's character, and knowing how much of its runtime would be devoted to that petty unpleasantness was almost heartbreaking. Incidentally, the old Sarah would have torn Rose to shreds.

The Tennant and Rose love story, and Rose's character development in general had a way of just leaving the audience cold. I felt there was a lot of heart in the goodbye scene in Doomsday, but elsewhere it just felt manipulative, forced and even kind of mechanistic. For an example of what I mean, there's Rise of the Cybermen. Rose's determination to connect with her alternate family makes sense to a point. Up until she oversteps the mark and gets a right scolding for it from the alternate Jackie.

Any rational person at this point would have taken the hint, realised they'd made a mistake coming here and there was no connection to be found here. Rose doesn't. The plot mechanics dictate she has to keep sucking up to and stalking her dad, for the sake of the ending with her getting another heartache rejection, which she should have seen coming. At that point, I think a good section of the audience would be unable to be on the same page as her and would begin to wonder if Rose is entirely all there, or even entirely safe, as her obsessive emotional behaviour begins to seem downright unhinged. It might have made sense if Rose were estranged from her real family and was naturally imprinting on a new one, but she visits her mother and home every other episode. And as in Titanic, with its own English Rose Mary Sue, the script has to resort to dirty manipulation tactics and forced, premature emotional orgasms to keep the audience on side. That was the accumulative nastiness of Series 2 that unconsciously put many of the viewers off.

The thing is, Rose is a character who never had much, and resultantly has come to idolise the Doctor. When I see that goodbye in Doomsday, it's moving, but I just see infatuation and nothing more. They're not in love. This attraction, and the heartache that goes with it is temporary, not 'forever'. The fact that the Doctor had a fling with Madame Du Pompadour should make it equally obvious he's not in love with Rose.

As awful as The Runaway Bride was, it was refreshing to not have to suffer Rose's presence, or indeed Rose and Ten being the terrible two, giggling at everyone else's expense as though sharing some private joke. But Rose was brought up as some heartbreaking tragedy for the Doctor, again and again. Frankly it just came across like Russell was so proud of that goodbye scene that he had his characters themselves bragging about how moving and devastating it was.

But Rose's departure did affect the series in negative ways. Something about Series 3 felt depressing and defeated in a way the previous two weren't. There wasn't quite the mad manic hope that there once was running through New Who. Frankly, the Doctor became almost lethargic, and rather miserable to be around.

Then finally in Series 4 the series seemed to get back in the right mood. Sure, on a hit ratio, Series 4 was a weak season. But unlike seasons prior, it felt relaxed, settled and comfortable with what it was as a bit of light entertainment, rather than trying desperately to prove what it wasn't. And frankly had RTD's era started like this I'd probably have been very happy with the show. The trouble is of course that by this point we've largely seen it all before. But the stories felt tasteful and good-natured and mostly free of anything contentious or vitriolic, in such a way that I really can't even stay mad at The Doctor's Daughter or Journey's End for long. There's even bits of sci-fi lite in the Shadow Proclamation scenes of The Stolen Earth where I'm thinking 'maybe Russell's actually getting better at this'.

However, one part of Series 4 that did feel desperate was Rose's return. And yet, maybe it gave the season a boost of hope too. Perhaps it happened too soon to be an event, especially when overshadowed by the Daleks' return. However, Russell did wisely ensure Donna's prominence and that Rose was merely part of the ensemble.

But her return causes many plotting issues with Journey's End. It's the need to involve her in the story that necessitates the threat to all universes. Leading to the question of how the potential existence and use of the Reality Bomb hasn't already destroyed the multiverse, given that in every universe, every possibility and eventuality plays out. In fact, Turn Left actually shows one timeline where Davros succeeded in using the device. The clone Doctor is introduced for no other reason than to be palmed off with Rose for her happy ending. The need to show him as a false Doctor requires turning the real Doctor's pacifist moralising up to levels of extreme lunacy. So that when the clone Doctor quite sensibly destroys all the Daleks, he shows himself up as an imposter, conveniently making him a disposable pariah to be Rose's consolation prize. Even though Resurrection of the Daleks shows how even Davison's impotently pacifist Doctor would have acted no differently.

The kiss Rose delivers to him feels contrived and puppeteered. Which raises the question of whether Russell's heart was even in the character. I'm not sure Russell even liked the character, given how The End of the World and New Earth delighted in her humiliation of being sprayed or spat on. But he couldn't bear to present her in a critical light or acknowledge her worst qualities, or have the Doctor be anything other than in awe of her, in case the audience ceased liking her. He told us repeatedly how awesome she was, but I'm unconvinced he believed it himself.