If you haven’t heard of her, it may be because she wasn’t a companion in the TV series but instead appeared alongside Colin Baker’s 6th Doctor in a series of Audio Adventures for Big Finish Productions. A genuinely new type of companion, a feisty near-retirement professor aged 55 when she started her travels with the Doctor, she proved the perfect match for the abrasive 6th Doctor, challenging and counselling him and allowing Colin Baker to bring the full range and depth of empathy that he had planned to bring to the Doctor on television before his tenure was cut abruptly short.
I haven’t reviewed any of Big Finish’s audios on this blog (although I’ve been following them since “The Sirens Of Time” and they’re a regular fixture on my iPod when I go for a walk) and although I might do in future, there are a few I’d like to recommend now if you’re at all curious about hearing some of Maggie’s great work. I’m genuinely saddened to hear of her passing and that we won’t hear from Dr Smythe again, but thankfully she’s left us some great adventures to remember her by:
“The Marian Conspiracy” – The Doctor meets Evelyn Smythe for the first time as he tries to discover why she is disappearing by travelling back to Tudor England. An unusual story in that it’s a pure historical tale with no sci-fi elements apart from the Doctor himself.
“Project: Twilight” – A contemporary vampire story which lays the foundations for an ongoing saga that profoundly affects Evelyn and The Doctor’s relationship.
“Jubilee” – A Dalek tour de force and the basis for the Christopher Ecclestone TV episode “Dalek”.
“Doctor Who and the Pirates” – A Doctor Who musical in the style of Gilbert & Sullivan featuring Bill Oddie of “The Goodies” and a moving framing story.
“Project: Lazarus” – The Doctor and Evelyn deal with the consequences of their decisions in “Project: Twilight” which have repercussions for the Seventh Doctor too.
“Arrangements for War” – The Doctor and Evelyn become involved in a tricky political situation on the planet Vilag in this heavily Shakespeare-influenced drama.
These audios, along with many others featuring the 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th and 8th Doctors are available from www.bigfinish.com and if you’re a fan of classic Who, I definitely recommend you check them out.