Iris Wildthyme

Iris Wildthyme


name=Iris Wildthyme
race=Time Lord?
era=Rassilon Era
start=Old Flames
portrayed=Katy Manning (voice)

Iris Wildthyme is a fictional character best known from spin-off media based on the long-running British science fiction television series "Doctor Who", appearing mainly in short stories and novels. She is generally depicted as a renegade Time Lady and was created by writer Paul Magrs. As with other "Doctor Who" spin-offs, the canonicity of the character with relation to the television series is open to interpretation.

She made her first full-length novel appearance in "The Scarlet Empress", and went on to appear in several more short stories and novels in both the BBC Books and Big Finish Productions lines, as well as unofficial anthologies set in the "Doctor Who" universe. Her stories are in the New Wave mold, characterised by nonlinear, sometimes stream of consciousness narrative, intertextual references to the rest of "Doctor Who" and popular culture, and themes of unreliable narration. She has a playful, mischievous personality, delighting in baiting the Doctor and getting into trouble.

Character history

A character named Iris Wildthyme first appears in one of Magrs's non-genre novels, "Marked for Life". At the end of the novel, Iris Wildthyme seems to die and then become an infant in a scene reminiscent of regeneration.

Iris's first "Doctor Who"-connected appearance is in the short story "Old Flames", where she meets the Fourth Doctor and Sarah. The Doctor already knows Iris as an "old friend", and she is seen to be travelling in a 20th century London Routemaster double-decker bus (the No. 22 to Putney Common), which is, in reality, her TARDIS.

Iris regenerates at the end of "The Scarlet Empress" (into a form resembling Jane Fonda in "Barbarella"), and is known to have at least six other incarnations. One of these, Bianca (voiced by Maria McErlane), appears in the Big Finish Productions audio play "The Wormery" and is similar to the Doctor's villainous Valeyard incarnation. Iris has also apparently worked for UNIT as a Scientific Advisor, and for the Ministry of Incursions and Ontological Wonders (MIAOW).

Iris also claims she was raised by a House of Aunts (as opposed to Cousins) in the mountains of southern Gallifrey, and also that she has erased all of her records from the Matrix, explaining why the Time Lords know nothing about her. She is known to have survived the destruction of Gallifrey and the apparent retroactive wiping of the Time Lords from history that took place at the end of the novel "The Ancestor Cell".

Attempting to pin down the exact details of Iris's history is problematic because such details are not only kept deliberately vague by Magrs and other writers, but also because the accounts of her adventures may not be reliable, in whole or in part. For example, some of her claimed exploits bear a remarkable similarity to those of the Doctor's, and some have suggested that it is the Doctor's adventures that are plagiarised from Iris's life, rather than the other way around.

Iris has also argued that her adventures are more "true" than the Doctor's recollections because she writes them in her diaries while the Doctor does not, and there are hints that Iris is aware of her status as a fictional character. In the context of the "Doctor Who" universe, all this may be explained by Iris's claim in the novel "The Blue Angel" that she is from the Obverse, a surreal parallel universe with radically different physical laws. However, to accept her claim at face value or to use this as a means of making sense of her history may be to miss the point entirely.

Magrs may have created Iris as a polar opposite to the Doctor (whom she described as the love of her life), a metafictional construct to comment on the Doctor's own stories and the nature of fiction, textual or otherwise. Evidence to support this includes the fact that she is female, travels with attractive, homosexual companions whom she usually kidnaps, and in a TARDIS which is slightly smaller inside than on the outside. Also unlike the Doctor, she is willing to use weaponry — especially laser guns coloured a stylish hot pink.

Other appearances

Iris is voiced by Katy Manning in the Big Finish audio plays, and also features in the first part of the "Excelis" trilogy as well as in the connected Bernice Summerfield audio drama "The Plague Herds of Excelis". In 2005, Big Finish published a short story collection, "Wildthyme on Top", edited by Magrs, and two "Iris Wildthyme" audio plays, "Wildthyme at Large" and "The Devil in Ms Wildthyme". Four more audio plays have been announced for February 2009: "The Sound of Fear" by Mark Michalowski, "Land of Wonder" by Paul Magrs, "The Two Irises" by Simon Guerrier and "Invasion of the Pandas" by Mark Magrs. Each of these four plays is intended as a pastiche of a decade of "Doctor Who", from the 1960s through to the 1990s.

Iris also appears in the "Doctor Who" anthology "", and in several short stories (by Magrs and others) published in non-licensed, charity "Doctor Who" story anthologies. Several of these stories are archived at the "Welcome to Wildthyme" website.

There is no indication of what relationship the character has with the new television series. In the "The End of the World" (2005), the Doctor states that his homeworld had been destroyed and that he is the last of the Time Lords, which can be taken to raise questions about Iris's fate. Whether Iris was killed with the others, however, is uncertain, especially given her unique nature.

External links

* [ Welcome to Wildthyme] — a site dedicated to Iris Wildthyme and her writers
* [ Big Finish: New Worlds] — producers of the "Iris Wildthyme" audio plays

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