Jesus H Bidmead! We thought that the junking of old Doctor Who episodes was harsh on the fans. We had no idea how much harsher it was on Nicola Bryant (a.k.a. Peri). For years, Nicola has suffered under the mantle of the whiniest companion ever. If only we’d known the full horror that was Victoria Waterfield.
Even Susan, whose repertoire as a companion ran the entire histrionic gamut from “Grandfather, I’m so cold” to “Barbara, I’ve got a headache” via “Ian, I’ve hurt my ankle” would have been more use in an emergency than the Victoria who is now emerging from forty years of obscurity.
She provides us with the opposite of the punch the air moment. The punch the screen moment.
Not that Deborah Watling is in any way to blame. The writers give her zero to say and even less to do. The easy answer would be that the writers in the Sixties wrote female characters as mere ciphers. But that doesn’t seem supported by the discovery of “Enemy of the World” and “Web of Fear” which feature both Anne Travers, who is almost written as a precursor to Liz Shaw, and the eye-opening performance of Fariah (Salamander’s food taster), who is given lines and motivations of real subtlety. So, if the writers of the time could write half-decent female roles, what on Earth happened with Victoria?
Could this be why the Troughton era suffered so disproportionately from the wiping of tapes? Perhaps the woman whom Ian Levine notoriously found in a BBC vault junking old tapes was actually not a cultural vandal at all but some kind of feminist activist determined to rid British culture of Miss Waterfield? I think we should be told.