By Owen Quinn author of the Time Warriors and Zombie Blues
Once again we look back through Doctor Who’s long history and look at one of the characters who shaped the Timelord we know and love so well…
Having left Victoria behind in modern day England with her new adopted family, the second Doctor and Jamie encounter young scientist Zoe Herriot, played by Wendy Padbury, on a space station being targeted by the Cybermen. In the Wheel in Space, they came to see the genius of Zoe’s intellect and she quickly boarded the Tardis to find out more about the strange men that had saved them.
She is the first companion ever to be cautioned by the Doctor about the dangerous life they faced in the Tardis. To this end, he showed her their adventure Evil of the Daleks as a warning. This was really done to lead into a repeat for the BBC but it showed that the Tardis recorded every landing it had ever made, forming them into a chronicle of sorts.
Zoe also showed, even in the future comic strip, that heroes existed when she conjured one up in the Mind Robber where they when trapped in the Land of Fiction where they encounter various characters from books and stories while avoiding the white robots. She was also the first companion ever to be caught in the most bizarre cliffhanger at the start of this story when the Tardis exploded, leaving her clinging to the console in space screaming her lungs out. Even today it remains a powerful image where not even the Tardis is safe.
Her intellect matched the Doctor’s as in the Krotons they are both subjected to the Krotons’ mental tests to see if they are worthy of serving the crystalline creatures. The Doctor fails but Zoe saves him from death by correctly solving the puzzle.
She teamed up with UNIT in the Invasion where the Cybermen attacked the Earth. She refused to be the quiet little woman along with photographer Isabelle and threw herself headlong into danger.
She and Jamie became best buddies and neither he nor the Doctor realised how much Zoe was relied on to save the day. Even in The Mind Robber, she takes the lead and solves many of the traps set by the Master of the Land of Fiction.
But none of them saw what was coming when they landed in a series of war zones where soldiers from Earth’s history were fighting in a battle created by the War Lords to fill their armies with the best fighters. From Roman centurions and World War II soldiers to Mexican bandits, Zoe faced them all with strength and determination. However, unable to stop them all, the Doctor is forced to call the Time Lords, the people he has been hiding from all these years, resulting in his being put on trial and exiled to Earth for interfering in the universe. Zoe and Jamie are returned to their own times, their memories wiped of all their adventures in the Tardis bar the first one.
She did make a reappearance in the twentieth anniversary story the Five Doctors as a Tomb of Rassilon phantom designed to scare the Doctor away but the fact they remembered who the Brigadier was alerted the Doctor that his friends weren’t real.
Zoe has returned time and again in the Missing Adventures range of books as well as the BBC range and the audio stories from Big Finish.
Indeed her mind wipe is the focus of a Companion Chronicle when an alien race discovers she is a time traveller but she is indignant as she has no memory of it. As they piece together what happened, it is quite an adult exploration of the ramifications of life with the Doctor so don’t think it’s just about the past, it’s so much deeper than that…