12 years ago today, Doctor Who exploded back onto our TV screens with a new Doctor, a new companion and a new lease of life. Its new contemporary setting, diverse characters and genius writing drew in thousands of new fans for the long running series. This is where some of us at The Time Ladies started our journey with The Doctor, so what does it mean to us?
I wasn’t lucky enough to watch Rose when it first aired, but to this day it remains one of my favorite stories. Propelling Doctor Who into the 21st century, it had everything 8 year old me could want in a show. Killer shop window dummies, a time machine and an unexpected hero to save the day! But what drew me into this story the most was the family at its heart: The Tyler’s.
Growing up on a council estate with just my mother, I related to Rose Tyler in most aspects of her life. I never fully realised the importance of having this representation, this family to look up to. They didn’t have money, a big house, or even a man to support them, but these two amazing women were the heart of the story.
Everyone in the playground could be Rose if they wanted, and everyone could relate to her. A young, single mother and a feisty shop girl could be heroes too! It showed us that even the most ordinary of people could be extraordinary. It showed us that you don’t need to be privileged to do something amazing. These characters helped shape young girls all over the world. 12 years later, I am now a 19 year old girl just like Rose once was at the beginning of this story. I work in a shop. I’ve got no A Levels. I’ve not even got the bronze in the under sevens gymnastics team. But thanks to Rose, I know I can be amazing too.
I remember watching Rose when I was eight years old. Like many people of my generation, I was unaware of the history of Doctor Who and like many things in my life back then, emulated the enthusiasm of my dad as I tuned into the first episode. I can’t tell you when or where it happened in that episode, but at some point Rose Tyler and all of her mascara managed to get into my head.
Rose felt brand new in more ways than sets that didn’t wobble and a Doctor with a northern accent. With retrospect, I realize that this was because of not the Doctor himself but because of Rose Tyler. Seeing a girl from a council estate travel the stars with the most incredible man in the universe changed me when I was eight years old and living in a council house myself. Back then of course, I didn’t understand the social connotations of living in a ‘council house’, all I knew is that when most of my friends walked one way home after school, I walked another. My house however was the fun place to be, mainly because it was near the park and my mum would spell out my friend’s names in alphabet spaghetti when they came over for tea.
I was proud of where I came from. And so was Rose.
The episode Rose for me firmly bedded Rose Tyler’s feet in the soil of planet Earth, where I would argue Russell T Davies set the tone for the rest of the series and the rest of his tenure as show runner. Often, Doctor Who gets criticized for not taking the Doctor away from Planet Earth despite having all of the universe at his disposal, but in this I would argue was the shows greatest strength. Humanity, wonder and all of time and space from the perspective of a girl that saved the galaxy in a Punk Fish hoody.
Rose as an episode will always be close to my heart, despite some of the cringe moments (PIZZA!) mainly because it introduced my favourite companion and my favourite era of the show. I can’t thank Russell enough for dreaming up Rose Tyler, and Billie for bringing her to life. The shop girl with the peroxide hair that changed my life, and the life of the Doctor, forever.