Tuesday, 8 January 2019

G is for... Gillyflower, Ada and Winifred

Mrs Winifred Gillyflower ran the Sweetville match factory in Yorkshire, with her unseen partner Mr Sweet. The factory was run on Utopian lines, and Mrs Gillyflower often crusaded against the slack morals of the Victorian age. She used her blind and disfigured daughter Ada in her lectures, as a symbol of what was wrong with society - claiming her drunken husband had been responsible for hurting her. Such was Sweetville's reputation that many people wanted to work there, but Mrs Gillyflower only hired young, good looking men and women. The Doctor and Clara infiltrated the factory posing as new recruits, and discovered that Mrs Gillyflower was working on a scheme to quite literally preserve only her ideal workers - dipping them in a vat of toxic red liquid. The bodies of those who did not survive the process - the rejects - were later found in the nearby river. The Doctor was rejected, but was saved from death by Ada, who saw him as a kindred spirit - a monster like herself. She kept him locked away and looked after him.

Sweetville was later investigated by Madam Vastra, Jenny and Strax - the Paternoster Gang. Jenny was able to break in and managed to rescue the Doctor, and together they freed Clara. It transpired that Mr Sweet was really a Red Leech - a prehistoric parasite which secreted the red liquid. It was attached to Mrs Gillyflower's chest. Her grand scheme was to fire a rocket full of the red toxin into the atmosphere so that it would poison the planet, with only her chosen acolytes left to repopulate the Earth - and her daughter would not be amongst them. Ada was horrified to learn that it was her mother who had disfigured her, whilst testing the red toxin. Strax managed to remove the toxin from the rocket before it was launched, and Mrs Gillyflower fell from the rocket gantry to her death. Ada then crushed Mr Sweet with her cane as it tried to crawl away. The Paternoster Gang took her to London to begin a new life.

Played by: Rachael Stirling (Ada), and Diana Rigg (Winifred). Appearances: The Crimson Horror (2013).
  • Rigg and Stirling are, of course, real life mother and daughter. This was the first time that they had ever acted alongside each other. Mark Gatiss wrote the roles specifically for the pair, after having appeared on stage with Dame Diana.

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