The Companion Departures - #4: Romana
Although she is depicted here, Mary Tamm’s incarnation is not the departure we are referring to here which earns in a Top 4 placing in our countdown. That is of course because the character did not depart in between The Armageddon Factor and Destiny of the Daleks, it was the actress that did. And before she passed away, Mary Tamm was able to record a new string of post-Key to Time season adventures with the 4th Doctor which means that, if you count the Big Finish audios as canon, The Armageddon Factor isn’t even the final chronological story for Mary Tamm’s incarnation. If you were to separate the two Romana’s and base this list purely on actress departures, the first incarnation of Romana’s departure would be way down the list, particularly since Mary Tamm wasn’t even involved in her departure scenes.
But the actual departure of Romana as a character is one of the best. It has the advantage of taking place at the end of a fantastic, mind-blowing Doctor Who story, but even if that story is not to your tastes, Romana’s departure still must be considered one of the best because not only is it unique and true to her character, it is arguably the first time in the show’s history that a companion’s departure is set up stories in advance, rather than merely being set up in the departure story itself, which tended to be the norm in the classic series days (if the departure was “set-up” at all, that is). It is often suggested that Ace’s character arc was the one in the classic series that most similar to what would come in the new (or should we call it “current”?) series, however there is certainly a case to be made for Romana. Like many the new series companions, she doesn’t want to return to her home and give up her new lifestyle seeing the universe in the TARDIS and having adventures - only this sentiment is most overtly expressed in Full Circle, in an episode broadcast about 12 weeks before her actual departure at the end of Warriors’ Gate. And like many of the new series companions, she develops to the point where she becomes an equal partner to or almost an equivalent of the Doctor. This can clearly be seen in Warriors Gate, where she takes on a very “Doctor-like” role in the narrative, even to the point where Adric is pretty much her own companion rather than the Doctor’s. This leads of course to Romana deciding to go her own way and with K9 (yes, his departure counts at #4 too) and have adventures of her own helping those in need. It is not only a logical character progression but also the departure fits in with her need to keep the time and space traveling lifestyle.
In short, Romana’s departure was not just alright - it was superb.
Posted by Luca on Wednesday, March 2 at 6:32 pm