Leela (Doctor Who)

Leela (Doctor Who)


Leela of the Sevateem
affiliation=Fourth Doctor
era=Far future
start= The Face of Evil
finish= The Invasion of Time
portrayed= Louise Jameson

Leela is a fictional character played by Louise Jameson in the long-running British science fiction television series "Doctor Who". Leela was a companion of the Fourth Doctor and a regular in the programme from 1977 to 1978. Writer Chris Boucher named her after the Palestinian militant Leila Khaled.cite web|url=http://www.shannonsullivan.com/drwho/serials/4q.html|title=The Face Of Evil|last=Sullivan|first=Shannon Patrick|date=2008-04-13|work=A Brief History of Time (Travel)|accessdate=2008-07-27]

Conceptual history

The character of Leela was first conceived by producer Philip Hinchcliffe and script editor Robert Holmes. They wanted a companion in the mould of George Bernard Shaw's Eliza Doolittle: a bright but unsophisticated primitive who would learn from the Doctor. Writer Chris Boucher had submitted a story proposal titled "The Mentor Conspiracy" which featured a character named Leela which fit Hinchcliffe and Holmes's ideas.

Although "The Mentor Conspiracy" was not produced, Boucher reused the character of Leela for "The Day God Went Mad" (later renamed to "The Face of Evil"), seeing her as a mixture of Emma Peel from "The Avengers" and Leila Khaled. [cite news |first=Katharine |last=Viner |title='I made the ring from a bullet and the pin of a hand grenade' |url=http://www.guardian.co.uk/g2/story/0,,428510,00.html |work=The Guardian |date=2001-10-26 |accessdate=2007-03-18 ] Boucher was asked to write two endings to "Face", one in which Leela left with the Doctor, and one in which she stayed behind. The decision to have Leela become a companion was made soon after. An oft-repeated story (also stated in the DVD commentary to "The Robots of Death") is that Leela's skimpy leather outfits were very popular with the "Dads", which kept them watching the programme.

Character history

Leela first appears in the 1977 serial, "The Face of Evil", where she was a warrior of the savage Sevateem tribe, who were the descendants of the crew of an Earth ship that crash landed on an unnamed planet in the far future. The name of her tribe, "Sevateem", was a corruption of "survey team". Although the Doctor at this point was content to travel alone, Leela forces her way into the TARDIS and continues to accompany the Doctor on his journeys.

Although Leela is a primitive, she was also highly intelligent, grasping advanced concepts easily and translating them into terms she could cope with. Despite the Doctor's attempts at "civilizing" her, however, Leela is strong-willed enough to continue in her savage ways. She usually dresses in animal skins, armed with a knife or a set of poisonous Janis thorns which she does not hesitate to use on people who threatened her, much to the Doctor's disapproval.

Although Jameson's eyes are naturally blue, as Leela she initially wore red contact lenses to make them brown. However, the contact lenses severely limited her vision, and producer Graham Williams promised her she could stop wearing them. To explain the change in-story, writer Terrance Dicks wrote a scene in the 1977 serial "Horror of Fang Rock" where Leela's eyes suffer "pigment dispersal" and turn blue after viewing the explosion of the Rutan ship.

In her travels with the Doctor, Leela faces killer robots, murderous homunculi, the Rutan Host, and the Sontaran invasion of the Doctor's home planet of Gallifrey. It is during this final adventure, "The Invasion of Time", that she meets and falls in love with Andred, a native Gallifreyan, and decides to stay behind to be with him. The first K-9 remains with her.

Tom Baker disliked Leela's character concept because he felt that she was too violent.cite book|last=Rigelsford|first=Adrian|title=The Doctors: 30 Years of Time Travel|publisher=Boxtree|location=London|date=1994|pages=p. 111|chapter=The Vortex of Immensity|isbn=0-7522-0959-0|accessdate=2008-07-27] Jameson reports that he was cold to her for the first several stories they did together.cite video| people = Jameson, Louise (Episode commentary)| title = Horror of Fang Rock| medium = DVD| publisher = BBC DVD| year2 = 2005] Eventually, during the filming of "Horror of Fang Rock", she insisted on multiple takes of a scene in which he repeatedly entered the scene early, thereby upstaging her. After this incident, their working relationship substantially improved, because it increased his respect for her.

Appearances in other media

Leela's subsequent life on Gallifrey is not explored by the television series, although the spin-off media have done so to an extent. In the Virgin New Adventures novel "Lungbarrow", by Marc Platt, Leela and Andred are expecting a child, the first naturally conceived baby on Gallifrey for millennia. Louise Jameson reprised the role of Leela for the 1993 charity special "Dimensions in Time", and has voiced the character in three series of audio plays for Big Finish Productions taking place on Gallifrey, alongside Lalla Ward as Romana and John Leeson as K-9. In the "Gallifrey" audio series, Leela acts as Romana's bodyguard, advisor and friend. During the course of the series, Andred is killed and Leela is blinded during a Gallifreyan civil war. She is still blind at the end of the third and final series of "Gallifrey" plays.

Leela also appears in the Companion Chronicles audio The Catalyst. This story, which is primarily a flashback to an adventure before Horror of Fang Rock, features Leela as an old woman being interrogated by the warrior Z'Nai (a race encountered by an earlier Doctor),and aging a year per day as the powers of the Time Lords no longer keep her from death. This story strongly implies that, for Leela, this is not only after the third series of Gallifrey but after the Time War of the New Series, as Leela reveals that her adopted homeworld is gone. It is also almost certain that Leela's sight has returned, as she can describe her interrogator's armour. Whether or not Leela survives this story is unknown, but this adventure may be seen as Leela's final moments, both from age and injury, as she is poised to destroy the Z'Nai for good. How Leela ends up in the custody of the Z'Nai from her condition at the end of Gallifrey series 3, remains to be seen.

Leela does not appear in any of the Virgin Missing Adventures, but has appeared in several of the Past Doctor Adventures including four novels by Chris Boucher pairing her with the Fourth Doctor.

List of appearances


;Season 14
*"The Face of Evil"
*"The Robots of Death"
*"The Talons of Weng-Chiang";Season 15
*"Horror of Fang Rock"
*"The Invisible Enemy"
*"Image of the Fendahl"
*"The Sun Makers"
*"The Invasion of Time";30th anniversary special
*"Dimensions in Time"


;Virgin New Adventures
*"Lungbarrow" by Marc Platt

;Past Doctor Adventures
*"Eye of Heaven" by Jim Mortimore
*"Last Man Running" by Chris Boucher
*"Corpse Marker" by Chris Boucher
*"Psi-ence Fiction" by Chris Boucher
*"Drift" by Simon A. Forward
*"Match of the Day" by Chris Boucher

hort stories

*"Crimson Dawn" by Tim Robins ("")
*"People of the Trees" by Pam Baddeley ("Decalog 2: Lost Property")
*"One Bad Apple" by Simon A. Forward ("More Short Trips")
*"The Brain of Socrates" by Gareth Roberts ("")
*"The Destroyers" by Steve Lyons ("")
*"The Bushranger's Story" by Sarah Groenewegen ("")
*"It’s a Lovely Day Tomorrow" by Martin Day ("")
*"The Sooner the Better" by Ian Farrington (")
*"The Prodigal Sun" by Matthew Griffiths ("")
*"Dear Great Uncle Peter" by Neil Corry ("")
*"Stanley" by Lizzie Hopley ("")


*"The Orb" by John Canning ("Mighty TV Comic 1334-1340")
*"The Mutants" by John Canning ("Mighty TV Comic 1341-1347")
*"The Devil's Mouth" by John Canning ("Mighty TV Comic 1348-1352")
*"The Aqua-City" by John Canning ("TV Comic 1353-1360")
*"The Power" by Paul Crompton ("Doctor Who Annual 1979")
*"Emsone's Castle" by Paul Crompton ("Doctor Who Annual 1979")
*"Doctor Who and the Fangs of Time" by Sean Longcroft ("Doctor Who Magazine 243")
*"Rest and Re-Creation" by Warwick Gray and Charlie Adlard ("Doctor Who Magazine Yearbook 1994")

Audio dramas

*"The Catalyst"
*"Empathy Games"


External links

* [http://tardis.wikia.com/wiki/Leela Leela] at [http://tardis.wikia.com/wiki/ "The TARDIS Index File" website]
* [http://www.bbc.co.uk/doctorwho/classic/episodeguide/companions/page20.shtml Leela on the BBC's "Doctor Who" website]

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