Doctor Who: The 5 Most Important Women Behind the Scenes

Categories: Doctor Who
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"Pyramids of Mars"
Paddy Russell
Verity Lambert wasn't the only woman that Doctor Who turned into a production powerhouse. Paddy Russell was an assistant to the legendary Rudolph Cartier, one of the most revered British television directors of all time. Doctor Who gave Russell the chance to become the first female director in BBC history.

She started out working with Hartnell in "The Massacre of St Bartholomew's Eve" (Sadly one of the three classic adventures from which not a single second of footage survives), but more importantly was the director of some of the most revered Fourth Doctor stories of all time. "Pyramids of Mars" and "Horror of Fang Rock" regularly rank near the top of Tom Baker's outings, and both were directed by Russell. It was stellar productions like those that helped the Fourth Doctor find a big audience in the United States, and consequently one of the reasons the show exists in the huge form it does today.

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Kate Orman
Between the time the shows was cancelled in 1989 and its successful revival in 2005 were the Dark Years. Yet, even though it was off television Doctor Who survived, grew, and prospered. One of the main reasons was that the Seventh Doctor and later the Eighth Doctor after the flop of the 1996 TV movie were kept on active duties in a series of more than 100 original novels.

Those novels gave the future guiding hands of the show, people like Russell T. Davies and Gary Russell (There are an inordinate amount of Russells involved in Doctor Who a place to work themselves into the world of The Doctor. However, one of them, and sadly only one, was a woman.

Kate Orman is responsible for arguably one of the best New Adventure books, The Left-Handed Hummingbird, not to mention nine other original Doctor novels. Make no mistake, it's work like that of Orman's that kept the series on life-support long enough to resuscitate it seven years ago. Orman herself was very much aware of her status as token chick in the publishing world of The Doctor, and approaches it with a sense of humor.

Kate Orman lives in Australia. The Left-Handed Hummingbird is a triple first; Kate's first novel, the first New Adventures written by a woman, and the first written by an Antipodean.

(From the back of The Left-Handed Hummingbird, 1993)

Kate Orman reckons it's about time she wasn't the only woman and the only Antipodean writing for the New Adventures. Her first book in the series, The Left-Handed Hummingbird, is consistently voted one of the most popular by fans.

(From the back of Set Piece, 1995)

Kate Orman is (drums fingers) still the only New Adventures writer who isn't (a) male, and (b) British. Her previous books The Left-Handed Hummingbird and Set Piece, also have pyramids in them.

(From the back of Sleepy, 1996)

Julie Gardner
Russell T. Davies gets all the credit for helming the return of Doctor Who to television, but with him every step of the way was Head of Drama Julie Gardner. Actually, in terms of hours of Doctor Who material produced Gardner beats out Davies himself if you exclude The Sarah Jane Adventures. She holds more above the line credits than any woman in the entire run of the show, including Verity Lambert.

Her list of executive producer credits in the show is well over 100 adventures, and she served as the full producer for David Tennant's last hurrah, "The End of Time". The death of the Tenth Doctor was also the point in which Davies and Gardner turned the keys to the Tardis over to Moffat. By all accounts he's done a great job with it, but sometimes I wonder if things wouldn't be a little better on the show if Moffat had his own version of Gardner on hand to guide him down the path of gender portrayals.

Jef has a new story, a tale of headless strippers and The Rolling Stones, available now in Broken Mirrors, Fractured Minds. You can also connect with him on Facebook.


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