The advent of the modern era of “Doctor Who” not only brought new Doctors to go on adventures with, but also brought along new companions as well. For this installment of my “Character Guide” series, let’s turn our attentions to the very first “Doctor Who” companion of the modern era, Rose Tyler (Billie Piper).
Rose Tyler was a companion to both the Ninth Doctor (Christopher Eccleston), and the Tenth Doctor (David Tennant), and made recurring appearances after the character exited in Series 2, all the way until Series 4. Although she and the other companions during Russell T. Davies’ time never appeared again in the Steven Moffat era of the show (Series 5 to 10), Rose undoubtedly is fondly remembered and is still regarded as one of the most popular companions to date.
Rose, an ordinary working class shop girl from London, was only nineteen years old when she met the Ninth Doctor. After helping defeat the Nestene Consciousness who wanted to take over the Earth, the Ninth Doctor invited her to travel with him in the TARDIS. At first, she declined, but after he returned after a split second, she decided to take up his offer.
She continued traveling with the Doctor’s Tenth regeneration, and claimed that she wanted to travel with him forever, and probably would have if fate had not intervened.
Most of the Doctor’s companions during the Davies era greatly shaped the Doctor, and Rose was no exception to this rule. Being the first companion he had in a while, she became his grounding force, humanized him, and helped the Ninth Doctor learn how to love both life and himself again. This greatly shaped the persona of the Tenth Doctor, as he had become a younger, more fun and physically fit man, who could definitely be her boyfriend.
However, just like everyone, Rose had both good and bad qualities, which, I think, manifested itself more in Series , as there were moments when Ten and Rose were a little bit reckless and self-destructive, even if they didn’t realize it at the moment. Their chemistry on screen, however, was definitely off the charts, and made for really engaging television.
Rose herself changed greatly throughout her stay on the show. She began as an ordinary, young and naiive girl; but through her travels with the Doctor she learned how to defend not only the people she cares about, but how to defend the Earth as well when the Doctor isn’t around to save the day.
Most of the Doctor’s companions, especially in Nu Who, have ended up with nicknames thanks to what happens to them in the show, and Rose is also no exception to this rule. Because of the events at the end of Series 1, Rose is often called the “Bad Wolf”, a nickname which has stuck, even in canon, until today.
Piper did a great job during her tenure on the show, especially as she was a popular singer at the point in time she was cast as Rose. She captured her character’s essence right from the start, and had great moments in Series 1, with more nuanced acting in Series 2. I think, however, that some of her most memorable performances happened in “Doomsday”, and in the 50th Anniversary Special, “The Day of the Doctor”, in which a device entitled The Moment decided to take on Rose’s form as an avatar.
All in all, Rose was the perfect companion to start of the modern era of “Doctor Who”. She was an ordinary and spunky young girl whom the audience could relate to, was realistic, was a well rounded character, and greatly helped the modern era have a great start. Sure, she had her flaws, but after all, she is just human, just like the rest of us.
Now, before I get into spoiler territory, you know the drill.
As I mentioned earlier, Rose is probably one of the most iconic and popular companions in “Doctor Who”, and especially for the modern era of “Doctor Who”. Her character is easily recognizable, and she not only made a definite impact as the first modern era companion, but made a very significant impact on the Doctor himself, as she not only kept him company in the TARDIS, but humanized him, called him out on his mistakes during their earlier travels, and showed him how to love himself again.
Rose cared a lot about others, had a sense of fun and adventure in her, and was very loyal to those she held near and dear to her heart. She would do anything for her mother, Jackie Tyler (Camille Coduri), and willingly looked into the Time Vortex inside the TARDIS and became the entity known as “Bad Wolf” during the Series 1 finale in order to save the Doctor and Captain Jack Harkness (John Barrowman).
In Series 2, she and the Tenth Doctor were definitely a force to be reckoned with, and they were even closer than ever, especially after everything that happened in “Bad Wolf/Parting of the Ways”.
However, as much as Rose still had all of her good traits, together with the Tenth Doctor in Series 2, they had too much fun to the point of being smug, which indirectly led to the events of “Army of Ghosts/Doomsday”, as they were the reason that Torchwood was born (“Tooth and Claw”).
By the end of Series 2, Rose had become more confident in her abilities as a good companion and possible lover for the Doctor, as they did love each other very much. So, one could understand why it took quite some time for the Doctor to get over Rose after she got trapped in a parallel universe for forever.
However, not having her really appear that much until her recurring bits in Series 4 happened was actually a welcome break, as by the end of Series 2, I felt that the character development for Rose had reached its end, and that she might have overextended her stay if she had stayed on for another series. It also made the reuniting scenes during that time more poignant, and we also saw how much she had grown as well while being part of Torchwood in the parallel Earth that she lived on.
Many criticize her reappearance in “The Stolen Earth/Journey’s End”, as she came off as being jealous and clingy, but upon second watch, I understood her frustration as she was the only one who couldn’t seem to communicate with the Doctor because Wilfred “Wilf” Mott’s (Bernard Cribbins) didn’t have a webcam on his laptop, especially as she had literally crossed an entire dimension just to see him again.
Her ending however, was one of the better ones, because even though she and any incarnation of the Doctor can never see each other again, she has her own version of the Doctor, the meta human crisis Doctor, that she can live with and grow old with. Of course, the original ending in “Doomsday” still makes me sad until this very day, but at least she got her very own Doctor in the end.
Piper, as I mentioned earlier, did a phenomenal job as Rose, and some of her best work include my favorite episodes that showcased both Piper’s acting and Rose as a character. These include “Rose”, “The Unquiet Dead”, “Dalek”, “Father’s Day”, “Bad Wolf/Parting of the Ways”, “School Reunion”, “Girl in the Fireplace”, and “Army of Ghosts/Doomsday”.
Piper later on appeared in the 50th Anniversary Special as the avatar for the doomsday device known as the Moment, who appeared to one particular version of the Doctor.
“Doctor Who” composer Murray Gold, for the reboot of the series, actually came up with different themes for each of the Doctor’s companions, from Rose all the way, so far, to Clara Oswald (Jenna Coleman), who was the last full time companion before the Twelfth Doctor (Peter Capaldi) took Nardole (Matt Lucas) and Bill Potts (Pearl Mackie) as companions. And each of their themes, and the music that is associated with each companion and character, just like he does with the music for each particular Doctor, says a lot about them.
“Rose’s Theme”, which is her main musical theme, is characterized by stringed instruments, a piano, and I think some flutes; and is sweet, tender, and has some strains of melancoly and whimsy in it. It is the perfect theme for a companion like Rose. (If you are interested in making individual playlists based on the soundtrack per companion, here is how I did mine for Rose. It begins with “Rose’s Theme”; then “Song for Ten” for all the fun times she had with the Doctor; then “Rose in Peril” and “Rose Defeats the Daleks” for her role as the “Bad Wolf”; followed by “Doomsday” which was one of the worst days of her life; and finally, I concluded it with “Hologram”, because Nine’s regeneration theme was also a joyous celebration of life and everything that she had taught him.)
As of the time that I’m writing this, it has just been announced that Big Finish, which just came out with a set of new adventures for the Tenth Doctor and Donna Noble (Catherine Tate), will be reuniting Rose and Ten for a set of brand new adventures as well (set, of course, during Series 2). I am really excited for this, because I did, honestly, miss Rose and Ten together. (Plus, it’s been several years now, so it was high time that they reunited).
Rose Tyler is not my favorite among the Doctor’s companions or in Nu Who, but she was a great companion who not only helped contribute to the current success and popularity that “Doctor Who” now enjoys, helped the Doctor evolve in character, and definitely is a companion whom I look back upon with a lot of fondness. Rose Tyler is someone that audiences and the Doctor alike will not forget any time soon.
What did you think of Rose Tyler and Billie Piper’s performance? If you were to have Rose meet and team up with any Doctor aside from Nine and Ten, and other companions aside from Donna Noble, Mickey Smith and Captain Jack Harkness, who would you pair her up with, and what do you think the dynamic would be? Let me know in the comments below, and remember to be civil and respectful to everyone!