By Owen Quinn author of the Time Warriors and Zombie Blues
We go back to the first days of new Who as we look at Mickey, the character who started as an idiot in Doctor Who mythology but finished up as so much more…
One of the most beautiful things about the new era of Doctor Who is that the characters have a real chance of evolution and we the viewer can share this journey every step of the way.
When we first meet Mickey Smith, played by Noel Clarke, he is a clumsy fool, deeply in love with Rose Tyler and he doesn’t trust the Doctor at all. To be honest I didn’t like the first Eccleston era episode especially the scene where Mickey is swallowed by an Auton wheelie bin and his duplicate is badly done.
It’s no wonder Rose legs it into the Tardis first chance she gets. The Doctor is very rude and dismissive of Mickey and when we next meet him he is a recluse having been accused of Rose’s murder especially as her mother Jackie has told the world exactly that. It’s a nice touch to see there are unpleasant consequences to those left behind when the Doctor takes someone out of their ordinary life.
Twelve months have passed and Rose and the Doctor barely seem sorry for what they have put him through nor is Jackie. However here we see the real Mickey take shape as he rescues Jackie from a Slitheen and is the only person the Doctor can rely on to fire the missiles that will destroy 10 Downing Street thus ending the Slitheen threat. The Doctor literally puts the fate of the planet in Mickey’s hands and he succeeds with flying colours. Having been separated from emotion for so long, the Doctor realises he has made a mistake in misjudging the young man and offers him a place on the Tardis which he initially refuses and asks the Doctor never to tell Rose. He is losing Rose to this alien he knows but still hopes she will return to him one day. Mickey has the foresight to see that life with the Doctor is a passing thing.
His journey continues when he travels to Cardiff in Boomtown to bring Rose her passport and ends up in a new fight with the Slitheen. He asks Rose to go to a hotel with him and pretends he is dating someone else to get a reaction. This is also the first time he meets Captain Jack and immediately christens him Captain Cheesecake. In Parting of the Ways he is the one who helps Rose return to save the Doctor from the Daleks by pulling the console apart with a yellow tow truck. He is the better man for letting her go.
Now of course Mickey decides to investigate any odd goings on and possible alien incursions. Maybe he thinks to himself that if he becomes like them he will reignite what Rose felt for him again. To that end, he becomes the eyes and ears of the Doctor and Rose in their absence. He brings them back to investigate strange happenings in the episode School Reunion. Here they team up with Sarah Jane Smith and K9 and as it progresses Mickey realizes the others see him as the tin dog. So he vows to change it by crashing into the school and rescuing the kids from the Krillitane. At the end he asks to stay aboard the Tardis as he wants to see what they see and discover what exactly Rose loves about this life. Rose’s reaction is less than pleasant.
He gets a spaceship on his first trip in the Girl in the Fireplace which delights him. He and Rose are left to fight off the clockwork robots from harvesting their body parts to fix the ship. But in the next story which saw the reintroduction of the Cybermen, we get two Mickeys for the price of one. Stranded in a parallel universe, Mickey meets his double, Ricky, Britain’s most wanted leader of a gang that knows something is wrong with the company Cybus and its leader John Lumic. They are right as he is stealing homeless people and turning them into Cybermen.
When Ricky is killed, Mickey stands up for himself when the others don’t really take any notice of him and assumes the role of leader when he leads the attack on the airship controlling the Lumic Cybermen signals. When everyone else tries to run from the exploding Cyber factory, Mickey forces the airship down to rescue Rose, the Doctor and Pete Tyler echoing the Doctor’s words in Parting of the Ways by declaring “Rose I’m coming to get you!”
One of Mickey’s greatest regrets is his grandmother dying by tripping on stair carpet and breaking her neck. In the parallel universe he finds her alive and well. He has a chance to put right something he feels guilty about. Knowing he has lost Rose to the Doctor, he decides to remain behind and fight the Cybermen alongside Pete Tyler. Mickey knows he will never see her again but he has finally moved on.
However, cracks in reality bring him back to our Earth to rescue Rose just as the Daleks escape from a sphere. He and Pete Tyler have taken over the other reality’s Torchwood and used the alien tech to help fight this new menace which threatens both worlds. Mickey is becoming more of a soldier and isn’t afraid of any alien menace shown especially when he faces Davros and the Daleks by putting him down where he sits.
He lives with the Tylers in the other universe, working for Torchwood and Rose’s steadfast friend. Alongside everyone else in Journey’s End he helps return the Earth back where it belongs before saying goodbye to Jackie. His gran lived her final days in a mansion and he has to start his life again back where he started. It is telling that he doesn’t say anything to Rose as he has said goodbye to her a long time ago. We see him walking off with Martha and Jack expecting him to turn up in Torchwood but things go differently as he ends up marrying Martha Jones. They become a two man army against alien invaders, last seen fighting a Sontaran in the End of Time.
Mickey is the epitome of being able to change for the better and being man enough to make those changes no matter what anyone thinks. Something tells me this story ain’t over yet.