Liz Shaw's Best Bits: What happened next? No, not that next, this next

Posted on November 8, 2010 | comments | Bookmark and Share

Liz Shaw at the wheel of Bessie 

When I did "Liz Shaw's Best Bits", an in-depth look at the highlights of best Doctor Who companion ever Liz Shaw's reign on the show (and beyond), I thought I was done. Five parts, four on her season seven stories, one on what happened after that, and that was Liz done, I thought. A shame, but that's all there was.

But you can't keep a good companion down, particularly when fanboy Russell T Davies is in town and he's pissed off with all those New Adventures writers who gave companions unhappy endings. As you may recall from part five of Liz Shaw's Best Bits, David McIntee Jim Mortimore was the man who decided to kill off Liz Shaw in the novel, Eternity Weeps, having her die in 2003 from a virus she contracted on the moon.  

However, Russell T Davies, who recently returned Liz Shaw's successor, Jo Grant, to the world of Doctor Who in the The Sarah Jane Adventures story The Death of the Doctor, also took time out in the story to let us know what happened to Liz Shaw:

Yes, boys and girls, Liz Shaw is alive and well and helping to save the world from aliens from up on UNIT's base on the moon. It can't be mere coincide that Rusty chose to tell us she was up there: that was a man saying "No! Enough is enough!" to Eternity Weeps. So Liz probably took a Lemsip and got over McIntee's Mortimore's virus, before going back to work the next day.

That's Liz for you.

UPDATE: Thanks to @thejimsmith for pointing out I can't even read book covers right and it was actually Jim Mortimore who wrote Eternity Weeps. Will I never be free of this name-mixing affliction?

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  • SK

    See, I was going to say that what was annoying was Davies's inability to do tragedy with any companions, especially the ones he created, despite explicitly foreshadowing their deaths again and again. And no, Livejournal-dwelling fangirls, Donna being unable to remember her time with the Doctor is not 'worse than dying', it's what we in the trade call a 'cop-out'. Also, you are not secretly a dragon.

    One of the most annoying bits of that episode (so you finally watched it all, did you?) was the speech at the end which goes through a bunch of companions showing how they have turned into woolly liberal Apostles, sent out by the Doctor with a Great Commission to make the world a better place (at least according to the Guardian) -- this despite how unlikely it is given their characters. I mean, I can see Ace the anti-racist teenage rebel growing up to do some kind of social or campaigning work, but when did she ever show the slightest skill or inclination to run a corporation?

    But the worst has to be Tegan. Oh, yeah, Tegan's really going to be a sandle-wearing dreadlocked hippy, isn't she? But no, in Davies's world meeting the Doctor is basically a test of character: either you pass, in which case you inevitably become a Better Person, or you fail, in which case nasty things happen to you.

    (These two annoyances are independent of each other, I should point out: it's not that Davies can't do tragedy with characters who do become Better People as a result of meeting the Doctor, at least. It's just that he -- and he admits as much in The Writer's Tale -- just can't bear to kill companions he has come to like.)

  • stu-n

    "Rusty basically told him that was crap and not where her ending in the Green Death is suggesting she's going to end up (miserable single parentdom)."

    Oh, what bollocks. What we saw in the Green Death was the starry-eyed start of a relationship. How does that preclude the relationship ending in divorce? We've already had divorced parents in SJA, why is he so scared of it? And if it comes to that, why is he so scared of letting characters grow up?

    I liked Death of the Doctor, but Rusty's vision of former companions sitting around mourning the end of their association with the Doctor is vaguely annoying. Even Jo, with her (retconned) happy and productive marriage, politically engaged life and sheer joie de vivre felt like she was 'always running away'? Are Ian and Barbara, who literally haven't got old, still mooning about the First Doctor?

  • Ultimately the creative team behind the scenes is in charge of a character's fate, and sometimes the actor gets to give some input. Obviously that wasn't the case here, since I know Katy Manning herself wanted Jo to be divorced from that guy she met in "The Green Death". She stated as much at some convention; the video is floating around - I think I saw it on YouTube....

    Anyway, you know where I stand - as much as I enjoy some of the ancillary stuff, I can only accept what's on the screen as canon. So I'm all for Liz Shaw still being alive and up on the Moon!

  • MediumRob

    "Slow night at work, so I've been giving this some thought.....Has RTD publicly stated that he's got a problem with the tie-in writers re: the way they handle former companions?"

    There is an interview in the current issue of DWM (I'm told) in which Rusty explains that Gary Russell told him about Jo Grant's fate in the New Adventures (and fan circles), in which she's generally considered divorced, and Rusty basically told him that was crap and not where her ending in the Green Death is suggesting she's going to end up (miserable single parentdom).

  • Slow night at work, so I've been giving this some thought.....

    Has RTD publicly stated that he's got a problem with the tie-in writers re: the way they handle former companions? Because your view is one way (and the preferable one) to look at the situation. Another would be that RTD is laying the groundwork for a future SJA story that is an adaptation of "Eternity Weeps". Maybe he wanted to establish that Liz is on the moon now so it won't seem like it came out of nowhere later on when they deal with this virus storyline.

    As for the book taking place back in 2003, that's no detriment. The novel that was later adapted into "Family of Blood"/"Human Nature" was originally a 7th Doctor story. Changing the timeline for "Eternity Weeps" would be small potatoes.....

  • That comment also helps out the Toobworld concept which claims that Moonbase Alpha is still up there (as well as the moon itself) despite 'Space: 1999'. Even 'Get Smart' used the secret moonbase storyline.

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