47 Days of Doctor Who–Day #9: Favorite One-Time Guest Character

Welcome to a 47-day series of articles about the revival version of Doctor Who (2005-present).  I’ve come up with  47 topics / questions to answer, all of them basically positive and upbeat about the program.  Each day (or as often as I can actually write these–so far so good!) I’ll pick one of them at random (using this convenient random number generator) and then write up an answer.

Why 47?  It’s my favorite number.
Why Doctor Who?  It’s my favorite show.
Why the modern day Doctor Who only?  Simply because I remember it better.
Why only positive stuff?  Because really, I write enough snark.

Today is Day #8, and around and around goes the Random Number Generator, revealing that today’s number is 9, which means the topic of the day is this:

“Favorite One-Time Guest Character”

Doctor Who has had lots of recurring characters (more on that some other day) but also some great guest stars who have only appeared a single time.  Some of the ones I’ve enjoyed have included Idris (The Doctor’s Wife), Jackson Lake (The Next Doctor), Jenny (The Doctor’s Daughter), and Reinette from The Girl in the Fireplace (hey!  I forgot about her when I was doing the Best Historical Character piece).

A serious contender for this pick is Joan Redfern, from Human Nature / The Family of Blood (I’m counting two-parters as a “single” appearance).  I wasn’t sure at first because actress Jessica Hynes also played Joan’s descendant in a completely different episode, but I eventually decided that wouldn’t disqualify her.  Joan is an amazing character, one of the best realized in the whole of the series.  But after consideration, she’s not my pick for this category.  Instead, I’ve selected…

Sally Sparrow from Blink

Sally is nearly unique in the history of Doctor Who:  a first time character taking the role of the main protagonist in her one and only appearance.  Of course, Eldon Pope from Love and Monsters was the same thing, but he’s not going to be my pick for favorite anything.  These stories, in which the main cast have reduced roles, were produced as a logistical solution for the fact that the production team apparently didn’t have the time to do the full season of stories as well as the year’s Christmas episode.  Later, they figured out other ways to achieve the same thing.

Blink is a gripping science fiction mystery with a fantastic script by Steven Moffat that actually changed the show in a number of ways, by pushing the limits of time-travel mechanics that the series was capable of and introducing one of the series’ most memorable threats (the Weeping Angels).  But it’s actually the strong performance by Carey Mulligan as Sally Sparrow that anchors the whole story.  She’s so good as our story’s viewpoint character that we barely miss the Doctor at all.

The only disappointment about Sally Sparrow is that she qualifies for this category at all:  it was too bad that she never made a return appearance.  She would have been an obvious candidate for the parade of characters who made cameos before David Tennant’s regeneration.  Presumably, the actress was too successful?  It’s hard to believe that the production team wouldn’t have wanted her.

Agree?  Disagree?  Any big fans of of Tom Riley’s Robin Hood from Robot of Sherwood?   Let me know!

Click here for a master list for this series.


2 thoughts on “47 Days of Doctor Who–Day #9: Favorite One-Time Guest Character

  1. I think Sally would be my choice, too. She was so fantastic in that episode it’s such a shame she was never seen again. Shona McCullough (I think that’s her surname…) and Jenny were also great one-off characters I’d like to see return.

  2. I’d forgotten about Shona. Jenny and Joan Redfern were the only other serious contenders for me for this category. “Guest Character I’d Like to See Return,” or something like that, is another category coming up.

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