Monday 1 June 2020

H is for... Heriot, Zoe

Companion to the Second Doctor. Zoe was born in the late 21st Century, in a place known simply as "The City". From an early age she was subjected to enhanced learning techniques, and soon achieved the role of astrometricist first class, majoring in pure mathematics and astrophysics. She was assigned to the parapsychology unit of the space station W3. She was the youngest crew member and the other staff often mocked her for her obsession with logic and apparent lack of empathy. She possessed an eidetic memory, and was known as "the librarian". Her colleagues came to trust what she said, consulting her as they would a computer, due to her expansive knowledge of her subjects. It was on the space station - known to its crew simply as "the Wheel", that Zoe first encountered the Doctor. He and companion Jamie had found themselves trapped on a spaceship was adrift near the Wheel, after the TARDIS had developed a major fault. Whilst the concussed Doctor was looked after in the medical bay, Zoe was asked to help look after Jamie, and show him around. She was concerned about a number of spatial phenomena which might threaten the Wheel, and was suspicious about how the spaceship - the Silver Carrier - had gotten to its current location when it was reported missing millions of miles away, and would not have enough fuel to have got to the Wheel in the time available. It must have been refuelled at some point. She was fascinated by the Doctor, as he was not a slave to logic and thought in a more instinctive way.
It soon transpired that the Cybermen were at work in the area, determined to take over the Wheel and use it as a forward base for an invasion of Earth. The Doctor required a TARDIS component to enhance the Wheel's defences, and so Zoe elected to accompany Jamie on a hazardous space walk to the Silver Carrier to retrieve it. Once the Cybermen had been defeated, she realised that she could not simply go back to her old way of life. She wanted to learn more about the universe through personal experience, rather than through learning, and so decided to stow away on board the TARDIS. She was spotted straight away, but the Doctor accepted her as a travelling companion - but only after showing her the sort of dangers they might face - showing her mental images of his last encounter with the Daleks.

She was a little disappointed when her first visit to an alien planet coincided with the Doctor deciding to have a holiday. This was on the planet Dulkis, which he had visited before. Zoe became separated from the Doctor and Jamie after the planet came under attack from the warlike Dominators and their robot Quarks. She befriended a young Dulcian named Cully, rebellious son of the planet's leader, Senex, and accompanied him in a travel capsule to the capital city to warn of the alien incursion. She was later captured by the Dominators, who assumed she was a native of the planet as she had changed into Dulcian clothing. When put to work clearing a drilling site, she proved to be a lot stronger than the Dulcian captives.
The TARDIS was forced to make an emergency dematerialisation from Dulkis, taking it out of normal space / time. Some force here attempted to lure Zoe and Jamie from the ship with images of their homes - despite the Doctor warning them that they were in no place and no time. Zoe succumbed first to the lure, believing that they were back in the City. Jamie and then the Doctor were forced to exit the ship to rescue her. The ship then came under attack and apparently broken up, as the Doctor, Jamie and Zoe were flung into the bizarre Land of Fiction. Zoe became separated and found her way to an old cottage. On entering, however, she plunged down a hole and became trapped in a huge glass jar. She was rescued by the Doctor and Jamie, who she did not at first recognise as the Doctor had accidentally given him a new face. Zoe and the Doctor became trapped in a labyrinth where they were threatened by creatures from Greek mythology - the Minotaur and the Gorgon. Zoe's belief in them almost got them killed. She had been able to guide them through the maze due to her perfect memory of the route they had taken. When the Doctor was confronted by another fictional character which he did not recognise, it was Zoe who was able to save him. She fought and overpowered the Karkus, a comic book figure she remembered from the hourly telepress of her youth. Later, in the citadel of the Master of this land, her impulsiveness got them all captured, as she rushed through a door she knew to be alarmed. She and Jamie were later turned into fictionalised versions of themselves after being trapped between the pages of a giant book. It was Zoe who rescued the Doctor eventually, as she gave the Master Brain computer an overload.

Another computer which fell foul of Zoe was the receptionist machine at the HQ of International Electromatics in London. When it failed to give her the information she sought, she gave it an insoluble equation to work out, which caused the machine to explode. She and Isobel Watkins, niece of a missing scientist, were then captured by the firm's sadistic security chief, Packer. They were transported to the IE compound in the country, where boss Tobias Vaughn was working with the Cybermen to invade the Earth once again. On being rescued, Zoe encouraged Isobel to take her camera into London's sewers to get evidence of the Cybermen for the Brigadier - forcing Jamie to come along as well to try to keep them out of trouble. She had a dislike for male chauvinist attitudes. Zoe's mathematical skills would prove useful in the eventual defeat of the Cybermen, as she was quickly able to work out rocket trajectories that would wipe out their entire space fleet.
Her impulsiveness once again got herself and the Doctor into trouble when she elected to take the Kroton mental tests on the planet of the Gonds, despite knowing that the Krotons were belligerent. The Doctor was forced to sit the tests as well, otherwise she would have been summoned into the Kroton teaching machine on her own. This was really the aliens' crashed spaceship - the Dynatrope. Zoe actually scored higher marks than the Doctor, as she needed fewer answers to get top marks.

Zoe's memory wasn't always 100% reliable. It could fail under stress, as happened when she got lost in the air ducts of the Moonbase which housed the T-Mat controls. The base had been taken over by the Ice Warriors, who planned to use the ravel device as part of their invasion plans. Zoe was almost captured whilst trying to raise the temperature in the base to overpower the Martians. Earlier, she had agreed to help pilot Professor Eldred's rocket to the Moon, along with the Doctor, as she had shown considerable knowledge of space flight.
Another lack of memory was when she didn't know what candles were, whilst visiting the planet Ta, despite having seen and commented on them when in the labyrinth in the Land of Fiction. This might suggest that that adventure had all been imaginary and never really happened. Zoe had calculated that the beacon fragments they were trapped on would have been heading for Ta.
Zoe's travels with the Doctor and Jamie came to an end after the TARDIS had landed on an obscure planet where a group of aliens were staging war games, using hypnotised soldiers abducted from real conflicts from throughout Earth's history. During interrogation by the alien Security Chief, Zoe was able to memorise the names of all the known rebel leaders, which proved useful later when the Doctor had to form an army to fight the aliens. The Doctor was captured by the Time Lords after the alien plans had been defeated. He was taken back to his home planet for trial. part of the sentence involved Zoe and Jamie being returned to their own time and place. They would have their memories of their travels with Doctor wiped - remembering only their initial encounter with him. Zoe was returned to the Wheel at a point just after the TARDIS had departed, this time without her.

The Second Doctor was to encounter Zoe one more time - but this proved to be only a mental projection generated by the mind of Rassilon - a form of warning to stop intruders from entering his final resting place. The Doctor knew that she was just an illusion as she recognised the Brigadier. This wasn't possible if her memory of her meeting with him had been erased.

Played by: Wendy Padbury. Appearances: The Wheel in Space (1968) to The War Games (1969), The Five Doctors (1983).
  • Padbury was invited to stay on when Patrick Troughton gave up the role as the Doctor. As Frazer Hines was leaving with Troughton, she elected to go as well, giving the production team the chance to start afresh with Spearhead from Space, with just the Brigadier as a link to previous seasons.
  • She has continued to portray Zoe in a number of Big Finish audio adventures.
  • One other Doctor Who connection is her appearance in the 1974 stage play Doctor Who and the Daleks in Seven Keys to Doomsday, where she played companion Jenny.
  • For a time she was reunited with Hines when both were appearing in the ITV soap Emmerdale Farm.
  • After giving up acting she became an agent, and had Nicholas Courtney, Mark Strickson and Colin Baker on her books. She also helped to discover Matt Smith, after seeing him in a National Youth Theatre production.

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