Iris Wildthyme

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Iris Wildthyme is a fictional character created by writer Paul Magrs, who has appeared in short stories, novels and audio dramas from numerous publishers.[1][2] She is best known from spin-off media based on the long-running British science fiction television series Doctor Who, where she is sometimes depicted as a renegade Time Lady[3]

Her stories are in the New Wave mold, characterised by nonlinear, sometimes stream of consciousness narrative, intertextual references to the rest of Doctor Who and popular culture, and themes of unreliable narration. She has a playful, mischievous personality, delighting in baiting the Doctor and getting into trouble.

History[edit]

Doctor Who universe character
Iris Wildthyme
Affiliated None
Species Time Lord?
Home planet Gallifrey?
Home era Rassilon Era
First appearance Old Flames
Last appearance Ongoing
Portrayed by Katy Manning (voice)

Iris Wildthyme first appears in one of Magrs's non-genre novels, Marked for Life,[4] as a lesbian novelist who has lived for far longer than a normal lifespan.[5] At the end of the novel, Iris Wildthyme seems to die and then become a baby in a scene reminiscent of regeneration. The infant Iris appears in later books by Magrs taking place in the same Phoenix Court setting, and an apparently adult version re-appears in the story 'Hospitality', in the collection Iris: Abroad.

Iris's first Doctor Who appearance is in the short story Old Flames, where she meets the Fourth Doctor and Sarah. The Doctor already knows Iris as an "old friend", and she is seen to be travelling in a 20th-century London Routemaster double-decker bus (the No. 22 to Putney Common), which is, in reality, her TARDIS.[6][7]

The character was described as "a studied affront" to existing Doctor Who texts[8] and "an ethical challenge" to some of the series' "main inconsistencies".[9] In 2011, SFX called Iris Wildthyme one of the 'Top 5 Spinoff Companions' and said 'her adventures (with the Doctor, and in her own line of books) are a joy'.[10] Doctor Who scholar Philip Sandifer says that the keys to Iris' character are her "straight-up postmodernism" and "that she is an archetypal fag hag".[11]

Iris was featured at length in The Scarlet Empress[12] and The Blue Angel,[13] and went on to appear in several more short stories and novels in the BBC Books range, most recently Mad Dogs and Englishmen in 2002.[7][14][15]

Since then the character has been the subject of a number of short story anthologies, edited by Magrs and others, published by Obverse Books and one by Big Finish Productions,[16] and two novels published by Snowbooks.[17][18]

In 2001, Philip Purser-Hallard submitted a proposal for a novel, Iris Wildthyme in the City of the Saved, which would have seen Iris in a hedonistic artificial world at the end of time where all people are resurrected and made immortal. It was rejected as an Iris Wildthyme novel range was considered unviable at the time. Purser-Hallars reused elements of the story in 2002's The Book of the War (in which Iris appears as an unnamed traveller) and 2004's Of the City of the Saved....[19]

In 2002, the character started appearing as an occasional crossover character in audio plays by Big Finish Productions, where she is voiced by Katy Manning.[20][21] Following the casting of Manning in the role, imagery of the character used by Big Finish (and, later, Obverse Books) on packaging and covers now depicted Manning's likeness.[22]

The character has appeared as the main character in four "seasons" of audio dramas, released respectively in 2005, 2009, 2012 and 2013,[22] along with a 2009 Christmas special.[23][24] Each release of the second season is a pastiche of a decade of televised Doctor Who, from the 1960s through to the 1990s. The 2012 release Iris Rides Out is a crossover with the out-of-copyright character Carnacki the Ghost-Finder.[25]

Although in some of her early appearances including Verdigris and Wildthyme on Top Iris is accompanied by her companion Tom (played on audio by Ortis Deley), her usual foil in her Big Finish, Obverse Books and Snowbooks appearances is Panda, a 10-inch-tall sentient, stuffed toy (played on audio by David Benson).[26]

Character[edit]

Iris claims to have been raised by a House of Aunts (as opposed to Cousins) in the mountains of southern Gallifrey,[27] and also that she has erased all of her records from the Matrix, explaining why the Time Lords know nothing about her. She is known to have survived the destruction of Gallifrey and the apparent retroactive wiping of the Time Lords from history that took place at the end of the novel The Ancestor Cell.

Iris regenerates at the end of The Scarlet Empress (into a form resembling Jane Fonda in Barbarella),[6][28] and is known to have at least six other incarnations. One of these, Bianca (voiced by Maria McErlane), appears in the Big Finish Productions audio play The Wormery and is similar to the Doctor's villainous Valeyard incarnation. Iris has also apparently worked for UNIT as a Scientific Advisor, and for the Ministry of Incursions and Ontological Wonders (MIAOW).[28]

There is no indication of what relationship the character has with the new television series. In "The End of the World" (2005), the Doctor states that his homeworld had been destroyed and that he is the last of the Time Lords.

Attempting to pin down the exact details of Iris's history is problematic because such details are not only kept deliberately vague by Magrs and other writers, but also because the accounts of her adventures may not be reliable, in whole or in part.[28][29] For example, some of her claimed exploits bear a remarkable similarity to those of the Doctor's, and some have suggested that it is the Doctor's adventures that are plagiarised from Iris's life, rather than the other way around.[28]

Her TARDIS is a double-decker red London bus, the number 22 to Putney Common.[6] In contrast with other TARDISes, hers is slightly smaller on the inside, a fact attributed to the fact that her TARDIS was dying when she found it. She also claims to have stolen the TARDIS, and to be on the run from her "mysterious superiors".

Iris has also argued that her adventures are more "true" than the Doctor's recollections because she writes them in her diaries while the Doctor does not. Magrs has explicitly stated that Iris "knows — of course she knows — that she's a very deliberate parody of Doctor Who. That's why she loves him so."[28] In postmodernist style, Iris is portrayed as playfully aware that she is a character in a television programme (or a series of books and audio dramas spun off from a television programme).[11] Even more so than the Doctor's TARDIS, Iris's bus is a device for moving her between fictional genres and even texts. In the context of the Doctor Who universe, all this may be explained by Iris's claim in the novel The Blue Angel that she is from the Obverse, a surreal parallel universe with radically different physical laws.[27][29] More recently in both Big Finish audios and Obverse Books short stories, she has claimed to come from The Clockworks, a planet in the Obverse, ruled over by a race not unlike the Time Lords.[27]

List of appearances[edit]

Phoenix Court novels by Paul Magrs[edit]

  • Marked for Life (Vintage Books 1995)
  • Does It Show? (Vintage Books 1997)
  • Could It Be Magic? (Vintage Books 1998)

BBC Doctor Who novels[edit]

Other novels[edit]

Short stories by Paul Magrs[edit]

Short story anthologies[edit]

Novelette anthologies[edit]

Big Finish audio plays[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Book News, Starburst, March 2012
  2. ^ The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction, eds John Clute, David Langford, Peter Nicholls and Graham Sleight
  3. ^ "Canonicity Matters" in Time and Relative Dissertations in Space: Critical Perspectives on Doctor Who, Lance Parkin, pp.246, 257, Manchester University Press, 2007
  4. ^ Wildthyme at Large
  5. ^ "Hypothetical Hills", in Territories of Desire in Queer Culture: Refiguring Contemporary Boundaries, James Knowles, pp.133, 140
  6. ^ a b c Pearson, Lars (1999). I, Who: The Unauthorized Guide to Doctor Who Novels (1st ed.). Des Moines, Iowa: Mad Norwegian Press. ISBN 0-9673746-0-X. 
  7. ^ a b Parkin, Lance; with additional material by Lars Pearson (2007). AHistory: An Unauthorized History of the Doctor Who universe (2nd ed.). Des Moines, Iowa: Mad Norwegian Press. ISBN 978-0-9759446-6-0. 
  8. ^ Britton, Piers, TARDISbound: Navigating the Universes of Doctor Who, IB Tauris, p.200
  9. ^ Britton, Piers, TARDISbound: Navigating the Universes of Doctor Who, IB Tauris p.201
  10. ^ SFX - The Ultimate Dr Who Top Fives, SFX, November 2011
  11. ^ a b Sandifer, Philip (2013). TARDIS Eruditorum: An Unofficial Critical History of Doctor Who, Volume 3: Jon Pertwee. Danbury, Connecticut: Eruditorum Press. pp. 218–225. ISBN 9781484030233. 
  12. ^ "Shelf Life", Dave Owen, Doctor Who Magazine No. 269, August 1998
  13. ^ "Shelf Life", Dave Owen, Doctor Who Magazine No. 282, August 1999
  14. ^ "Preview: Mad Dogs and Englishmen", Paul Magrs, Doctor Who Magazine No. 312, January 2002
  15. ^ "The DWM Review", Doctor Who Magazine No. 314, February 2002
  16. ^ Big Finish - Wildthyme on Top
  17. ^ Snowbooks - Enter Wildthyme!
  18. ^ Snowbooks - Wildthyme Beyond!
  19. ^ Purser-Hallard, Philip (2001). "Iris Wildthyme in the City of the Saved - Rejected Novel Proposal". infinitarian.pwp.blueyonder.co.uk. Retrieved 26 November 2014. 
  20. ^ Katy Manning CV
  21. ^ Sandifer, pp. 274–275
  22. ^ a b Big Finish - Iris Wildthyme
  23. ^ The Claws of Santa
  24. ^ Katy Manning News and Event
  25. ^ "Series 3 Box Set". Big Finish Productions. August 2012. Retrieved 31 May 2013. 
  26. ^ "Soho Stories", Clayton Littlewood, Polarimagazine, Feb 2010
  27. ^ a b c Parkin, Lance; Pearson, Lars (2012). AHistory: An Unauthorized History of the Doctor Who Universe (3rd ed.). Des Moines, IA: Mad Norwegian Press. pp. 710–711. ISBN 978-193523411-1. 
  28. ^ a b c d e f Magrs, Paul (5 April 2000). "Bafflement and devotion". Doctor Who Magazine (Panini) (289): 26–29. 
  29. ^ a b Pearson, Lars (2001). I, Who 2: The Unauthorized Guide to Doctor Who novels and audios. New Orleans: Mad Norwegian Press. pp. 117–120. ISBN 1-57032-900-1. 

External links[edit]