“I wonder what he would have thought if he could see me now.”
TV Another Cyberman story, another remarkable moment which has almost nothing to do with them.
When Doctor Who was revived, much of the commentary pointed to how much of the series was refreshingly about the characters, the so-called soapier aspects, of the Doctor dealing with survivor guilt, Rose tied to her home and their romance.
This as though the first run lacked all of these things, as though everything was about the plot, the characters one-dimensional automations.
Whilst it’s true across the two and a half decades, such elements oscillated in importance, there are still many scenes in which the characters consider their relationships to one another and their unique position (as was the case then) as time travellers in the fourth dimension.
Sometimes, often, these were clustered around major events, companions joining or leaving, a regeneration.
But sometimes, they would be in the midst of an adventure, just as now, and in their own way all the more powerful because it.
Here’s a quiet moment from Tomb of the Cybermen.
It’s extraordinary for a number of reasons, not least the performances, Patrick and Deborah demonstrating that he wasn’t simply playing the clown and she the screamer.
It’s the two of them sharing their pasts with each other and the viewers and not in a glib way, not for example, the Time Lord name dropping or Jamie emphasising his Scottish heritage.
It’s them talking about their relative losses, the ancient man whose escaped his home world, the girl who watched her father die.
Her acknowledging that he could be a potential father figure, him communicating that their mission goes beyond that:
"Our lives are different to anybody else’s. That’s the exciting thing. Nobody in the universe can do what we’re doing."Arguably all of his best companions since have understood that too. Embodied it.
Then it’s time for Victoria to sleep, the Doctor to keep watch.