Diary of an old cheeser

Hi there! Like other blogs, this is my chance to wax lyrical (some might say talk utter cr*p) about a) what's happening in my life b) all of my pet obsessions in particular music, tv, movies, books and other generally connected things, quite often of the retro, old and "cheesy" variety. Hence the title of my blog. Feel free to leave a comment if the mood takes you. There's nothing like a good chinwag about one's favourite topics and besides I love to meet new people! Cheers, Simon

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

More Who

3. Tegan Jovanka

G'Day! As a certain Australian air stewardess might have said. More on her in a moment.

Okay so it's been a few days since I've written an entry. Hecticness of the week and all that. At the moment I'm suffering from a bit of a submerged cold - sniffly nose with a sore throat, nagging cough and aching glands - ugh, horrid - but thankfully I'm not totally out of action. Today was a rather busy day at work. I had to do a series of presentations for our Customer Relations department on some FAQs (that's Frequently Asked Questions, fact fans) that I'd helped put together, all to do with the qualifications we're responsible for in my sector. Unfortunately the laptop I'd been provided with wasn't properly networked and so I was unable to do carry out a zippy demonstration and had to take my audience through the information via a boring old handout instead (which at least I'd had the good sense to write up before, phew!) As if that wasn't dramatic enough, I then had to hotfoot it back to my department (in another building!) in time for a visit from the Director General of City & Guilds who wanted to see the FAQs as well. As you can tell, I am soooo in demand. Well actually, my managers asked me to show him them as part of his tour, but that's beside the point. Simon and his FAQs are where it's at!!

Okay, that's enough self-congratulation for one day. Onto other things. I trust all of you have been having a good week. The weather is regrettably on the turn now and Summer is well and truly over (well, ahem, it is October). We've had to turn the heating on in our flat which is a definite sign of the encroaching coldness.

Anyway on a (literally) warmer note, I shall continue with my favourite things from the world of Doctor Who. And fave thing Numero Trois is none other than companion Tegan Jovanka, played by Ms Janet Fielding. Who the devil is she, I hear you ask? Well...

As you might have guessed from the photo at the top, THAT'S Tegan. Aussie girl, air stewardess and self-confessed "mouth on legs", she burst onto the Dr Who scene in Tom Baker's final ever story, entitled "Logopolis". Despite sounding like a Greek cafe, Logopolis was actually a planet run by a group of elderly mathematicians living in rows of funny little huts, whose calculations were in fact responsible for holding the entire fabric of the universe together. Bizarre but true. Unfortunately the Dr's old foe, the Master, turns up and starts zapping the Logopolitans, so disturbing the equilibrium of the universe... Anyhow I am digressing slightly. At the beginning of the story Tegan and her wise-cracking Aunt Vanessa (looking very alluring in fur) are on their way to Heathrow Airport where Tegan is due to start her new job as air stewardess (hence the not-so alluring purple uniform above). Fate throws a spanner in the works and Tegan's sports car breaks down en route, in front of a certain police box. Thinking it to be a real phone, the hapless Tegan goes inside...and ends up getting lost in the maze of TARDIS corridors, before finally finding her way back to the control room. Unfortunately by that point the ship is in flight and Tegan's beloved Auntie V has been shrunk by the Master to doll-sized proportions, so going home isn't really an option any more...

I was about 11 years old when Tegan first appeared and at the time convinced I was in love with her. Well, I was pre-pubescent and my real sexuality was years off. All pre-homosexuals need a female icon to latch onto and Ms Jovanka was no exception. Like her predecessor Sarah-Jane Smith, Tegan was feisty, spoke her own mind and was no shrinking violet. However unlike Sarah, she was somewhat more brash and aggressive in character and had a bit of a temper (Australian stereotype, anyone?) Yet beneath the stroppy madam exterior lay a good heart and a curious mind. Though Tegan and the Dr sometimes clashed, their relationship deepened and Tegan came to enjoy her travels in the TARDIS, even forgetting her original desire to return to Heathrow. However at the end of the first Peter Davison season, she ironically ended up stranded at the aforementioned airport, the Doc leaving her behind (it was never clear if this was intentional or not). But there was no escaping Ms Jovanka. Destiny re-united her and the Dr in Amsterdam and she re-joined the TARDIS crew, staying on until the traumatic events of "Resurrection of the Daleks..."

As said, I really liked Tegan's feistiness and independent qualities as well as her often sarcastic sense of humour and wit. Although from the point of view of 2006 she isn't the subtlest of characters, she was surely a template for new series companion Rose Tyler. Tegan's mouth could often get her into trouble and she loved a bit of a rant. In one story, "The Visitation", the Dr has failed yet again to get Tegan back to Heathrow, materialising in the right location but about three hundred years too early, hence no airport, only forest:

Tegan: Is that supposed to be Heathrow?

Adric (another companion): It is.

Tegan: Well, they've certainly let the grass grow since I was there.

(and later, to the Dr...)

Call yourself a Time Lord? A broken time keeps better time than you ! At least it's accurate twice a day...which is more than you ever are!

Ooooh miaow. In spite of her sometimes catty tendencies, Tegan had better and more likeable moments. In "Castrovalva" the first Peter Davison story, she attempts to learn how to fly the TARDIS and (she thinks) succeeds in landing the ship on an alien planet. In rather lopsided fashion admittedly. However she's disappointed when it turns out the Master has controlled the whole voyage. In "Black Orchid" she loves being back in 1930s England, chills out much more and performs a mean dance to the Charleston. And in "Earthshock" we see her most sensitive side, stricken with grief when her fellow companion Adric dies. God knows why as he was the most bratty, petulant, precocious, annoying sh*t of companion there ever was (an opinion shared by many Who fans) and getting blown up was probably the best thing that ever happened to him.

In a couple of stories, "Kinda" and "Snakedance", Janet Fielding also got the chance to play Tegan in a radically different way when her character was taken over by an alien entity known as the Mara. In its proper form the Mara looked like a crap giant rubber snake, but the scenes when Tegan is possessed by "it" are quite scarey. Even more creepy are some scenes in "Kinda" where she becomes trapped in her own mind, all bleached out and strange...

Tegan also had a variety of interesting outfits. For her first stories she stayed in the unappealing starched stewardess uniform, which was kind of stupid considering she'd decided to stay with the TARDIS crew, so why on earth would she need to keep wearing it? However the producers saw the light and shoved her into a tight-fitting corset top and shorts, much more revealing. In one story, "Terminus", Tegan gets groped by a group of lepers whilst wearing this get-up. Nice. They probably wanted to know which branch of Ann Summers she'd bought it from. Then she was stuck in some psychedelic mini-dresses, before her final crowning glory, a trendy t-shirt, leather mini skirt and heels.

Tegan's final departure was rather upsetting for me. By that stage I was 14-15 years old but still convinced that she was the woman of my dreams. Disgusted by all of the death and carnage caused by the Daleks on modern day Earth, Tegan makes the decision to stay behind. In her last scene, she watches the TARDIS dematerialise for the last time:

Tegan: Brave heart Tegan...oh Doctor, I will miss you...

However Tegan fans need grieve no longer! Firstly a brand new Tegan adventure has just come out on audio (Janet Fielding's first ever audio Dr Who adventure and possibly her last). Second, in January next year a super-duper DVD boxset is to be released, entitled "The Return of the Master" and including "Logopolis" and "Castrovalva". Ms Fielding has apparently done commentaries for these stories. Yay! The spirit of Tegan lives on!

Okay well I have wittered on for long enough so will say adieu for now. Rabbits! As Tegan would say. Till next time, nighty night!


  • At 2:01 pm , Blogger Samarcand said...

    Mind, you are just such a popular boy at work, aren't you? It's like the database all over again, isn't it?

    I don't think Tegan was ever a favourite for me. Of Peter Davison's companions, I preferred Nyssa myself. Or Turlough, of course... Actually, I thought that they all kind of lost it a bit in the eighties (but then, that was what was happening to Doctor Who in general, don't you think? And I watched them all! Even the Colin Baker episodes!)

    However, Tegan has recently made a comeback in one of the latest Big Finish audios and it's apparently really good. So, you can relive your boyhood crush on a woman (oooh! ick!) with an all new story if you wanted to!

  • At 1:47 pm , Blogger Old Cheeser said...

    The database, yes!! And let's hope the FAQs will prove more successful! And anyone else reading this won't have the foggiest what we're going on about! And probably won't even care! Mmm, I have somewhat reneged on my promise to only talk about work when it makes for an interesting topic!

    So you preferred Nyssa eh? Found her a bit wet and wimpy myself, clever girl though she was...still there's no accounting for taste. Turlough's finest hour was when he stripped to his knickers in "Planet of Fire" and then proceeded to rescue a drowing bikini-clad Peri. Sadly as this was a children's programme that was as far as things went.

    Yeah, after Peter Davison it all went pretty pear-shaped I reckon. With Colin Baker it got too obviously kiddie (although Dr Who is technically a kids' show, it always tried to "act" like a show for grown-ups). And as for Sylvester McCoy, don't get me started...

    Yes I shall be purchasing the Big Finish story methinks! The boyhood crush is long gone but my affection for the Aussie bird still remains.


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