|Doctor Who character|
|Home era||Early 21st century|
|First appearance||"Smith and Jones" (2007)|
|Last appearance||The End of Time (2010)|
|Portrayed by||Freema Agyeman|
Martha Jones is a fictional character played by Freema Agyeman in the long-running British science fiction television series Doctor Who and its spin-off series, Torchwood. She is a companion of the Tenth Doctor in Doctor Who, replacing Rose Tyler (Billie Piper). According to the character's creator and executive producer Russell T Davies in his non-fiction book Doctor Who: The Writer's Tale, the character was developed from the beginning with the intention of appearing for a whole of the 2007 series, and to later make guest appearances in subsequent series and crossover appearances in the show's two spin-offs; Martha subsequently made guest appearances in Torchwood series two and in Doctor Who series four in 2008 and special episode The End of Time in 2010. Martha was also intended to make guest appearances in the 2009 series of Torchwood and The Sarah Jane Adventures, but could not due to the actress' other obligations.
Within the series' narrative, Martha begins as a medical student who becomes the Doctor's time travelling companion after an incident at the hospital where she works. After well over a year (from the perspective of the Doctor and herself) of service at the Doctor's side, Martha parts from the Doctor's company as she recognizes how unhealthy their relationship has become. After returning to life on Earth, becoming engaged and finishing her medical degree, Martha finds a newfound level of independence when she is recruited into the paranormal military organisations UNIT, and briefly Torchwood. Having faced the end of the world single-handedly during her time with the Doctor, Martha is recognised for her skills both in the field and in medicine.
Martha Jones is introduced in the 2007 series of Doctor Who, first appearing in the episode "Smith and Jones". When the hospital she works at is teleported to the Moon, medical student Martha helps save the day alongside an alien time traveller known only as the Doctor (David Tennant). To thank her for her help, the Doctor invites her to join him for a supposed single trip in his time machine the TARDIS, but later accepts her as his full-time "companion", admitting that she was "never just a passenger", and he even gives her the key to the TARDIS. Martha becomes frustrated because the Doctor is oblivious to her feelings for him, and she expresses concern that she is simply a rebound after the Doctor's painful loss of his previous companion, Rose (Billie Piper). When the amnesiac Doctor falls in love in the "Human Nature"/"The Family of Blood" two-parter, a pained Martha claims "You had to go and fall in love with a human... and it wasn't me". In the series finale, in which the Doctor's nemesis the Master (John Simm) takes over planet Earth, capturing both the Doctor and fellow companion Captain Jack Harkness (John Barrowman), Martha is left alone to save the world as the Doctor and Jack are captured but she manages to escape by teleporting away. On the run from the Master, she spends a year travelling the world in a plan which restores the incapacitated Doctor and reverses time, undoing the Master's actions. Able to remember the events during the Master's reign, Martha then leaves the TARDIS of her own accord, telling the Doctor that she can't waste her life pining for someone when the relationship cannot happen, but promises that she will see him again. Martha, as voiced by Freema Agyeman, also appears in the 2007 animated serial The Infinite Quest, which aired in twelve weekly segments during the run of the 2007 series.
The character reappears in the 2008 series of the Doctor Who spin-off Torchwood, which focuses on occasional Doctor Who companion Jack Harkness. First appearing in the episode "Reset" as part of a three-episode story arc, Martha has been temporarily drafted to the Torchwood organisation of alien-hunters by Captain Jack, requiring a medical expert on alien life. Through exposition, it is revealed that Martha has become a "medical officer" for international paranormal investigations agency UNIT since qualifying as a Doctor of Medicine. Martha briefly joins the Cardiff-based Torchwood Three as its medical officer following the death of Owen Harper (Burn Gorman), but later leaves the organisation in the episode "A Day in the Death" once she is satisfied that Owen is fit to return to duty following his resurrection. Later in the 2008 series, Martha returns to Doctor Who for a three-episode arc beginning with "The Sontaran Stratagem" and ending with "The Doctor's Daughter", in which she meets the Doctor's new companion Donna Noble (Catherine Tate); in the first episode, a more assertive and engaged Martha summons the Doctor to Earth to help uncover a plot by the Sontarans. Agyeman appears in the role again for the final two episodes of the series, "The Stolen Earth"/"Journey's End", where she has been promoted to a US division of UNIT and is working on a top secret teleportation project based on Sontaran technology. She rallies alongside fellow companions Jack and Sarah Jane Smith (Elisabeth Sladen) in an effort to face the threat of Davros' (Julian Bleach) plot to destroy reality. In facing Davros, Martha threatens to set off nuclear warheads which will destroy the Earth in order to spare human suffering and curtail his plans, but is stopped by the Doctor. In the episode's dénouement, Martha leaves with Jack and former companion Mickey Smith (Noel Clarke), with Jack saying to her "I'm not sure about UNIT these days... maybe there's something else you could be doing."
Despite the set up at the end of Doctor Who series four, Martha does not appear in Torchwood series three (2009). Martha's absence is explained when the characters interact with UNIT officers in Children of Earth; she is on her honeymoon. In lieu of Martha, the character of Lois Habiba (Cush Jumbo) was created. A scene in The End of Time (2010) shows Martha fighting aliens with Mickey Smith and married to him, rather than her previous fiancé. The Doctor appears to the pair shortly before his pending regeneration to save them from a Sontaran sniper. Agyeman is credited as portraying Martha Smith-Jones.
Aside from television appearances, the character of Martha also appears in Doctor Who novels and comic books, some of which are ambiguous in terms of their canonicity in relationship to the television series. In books, Martha appears in the "New Series Adventures" series of Doctor Who novels, published by BBC Books. The first book published was a "Quick Reads" novel, Made of Steel by Terrance Dicks (published prior to her first television appearance), and the character subsequently appeared in all novels in the series, starting with Sting of the Zygons by Stephen Cole and most recently in The Many Hands by Dale Smith. Freema Agyeman physically represents the character on the cover of every novel. In late 2008 The Story of Martha, a collection of stories focusing on Martha's adventures between "The Sound of Drums" and "Last of the Time Lords" was published.
In terms of comic book appearances, Martha has appeared in the Doctor Who Magazine strips from #381 onwards and the Doctor Who Adventures comics from #28 onwards. The character also appears in the Battles in Time series of comic books periodically. In 2007, American comic book publisher IDW Publishing (publisher of various Angel, Star Trek and The Transformers comic titles) announced their plans to do a devoted series of Tenth Doctor and Martha comics for an American audience. When asked about canonicity, IDW executive editor Chris Ryall dodged the issue by saying all the comics are "blessed" by Russell T Davies but it is up to the individual how canonical each story is.
Martha also appears in a BBC Radio 4 Torchwood drama, "Lost Souls" which aired in Summer 2008 as an Afternoon Play featuring the voices of the Torchwood cast and Freema Agyeman. Set between the events of the 2008 series of Torchwood but prior to the Doctor Who finale that year, Martha recruits Jack, Ianto (Gareth David-Lloyd) and Gwen (Eve Myles) on Torchwood's first international adventure, as part of Radio 4's special celebration of the Large Hadron Collider being switched on at CERN in Geneva. The special radio episode's plot focuses on the Large Hadron Collider's activation and the doomsday scenario some predicted it might incite, as well as the Torchwood team's mourning of Toshiko (Naoko Mori) and Owen's recent deaths in the Torchwood second series finale.
The introduction of Martha as the next companion after Billie Piper's Rose Tyler was announced by the BBC in a 5 July 2006 press release. The character is a 23-year-old medical student from 2008, although earlier in the conception process she had been meant to come from the year 1914. Like Rose, Martha has family members who are seen in the programme: Adjoa Andoh plays her mother Francine, with Trevor Laird as her father Clive (divorced from Francine), Gugu Mbatha-Raw as her sister Tish, and Reggie Yates as her brother Leo. Nevertheless, Agyeman notes that Martha is "very independent"; living alone and having almost completed her medical qualifications. She does not have an ex-boyfriend, but writer Russell T Davies has stated that she is not a lesbian, as had been rumoured in some quarters. An article in The Times speculated that, since Agyeman has martial arts skills, she may have "a more physical approach" to the role. As with her predecessor Rose, Martha is from London; Brett Mills from the University of East Anglia presumes this is because characters from the capital of the country are "therefore relatable to all British people" because they are seen as "neutral".
Freema Agyeman told the school publication The Newspaper that Martha is older and more secure than Rose. Agyeman speculated that Martha, by contrast, travels with the Doctor for the adventure, rather than because of a need for guidance or education (Agyeman also told The Newspaper that Martha hopes to eventually go back to Earth and finish her medical education). In addition, Martha's family appears to be of a higher social class than Rose; whereas Rose's family was fairly typically working class, Martha's family appears to be wealthier (her father owns what appears to be a late model Mercedes-Benz convertible, and the clothes worn by her family are substantially more in line with fashion), probably middle to upper middle class.
Drawing from her creator's pool of recurring names, Martha and her family share the last name "Jones" with many other Russell T Davies-penned characters. Foremost among them are Harriet Jones in Doctor Who, Ianto Jones and Eugene Jones in Torchwood, Yanto Jones in Mine All Mine and Stuart Allen Jones in Queer as Folk. Davies states that reusing names (such as Tyler, Smith, Harper, Harkness and Jones) allows him to get a grip of the character on the blank page. In casting Martha, the actress Freema Agyeman was reused from her minor role as Adeola Oshodi, in the Series 2 episode "Army of Ghosts". Acknowledging this, the resemblance of the two characters was touched upon in "Smith and Jones" when Martha makes reference to her deceased cousin, also serving to connect Martha to the larger Doctor Who universe.
Throughout Doctor Who series three, Martha pined for the Doctor's affection. In its final story — "Last of the Time Lords", Martha was separated from the Doctor for a year, and after saving the world she decided to return to Earth to allow herself to qualify as a medical doctor, look after her devastated family, and get over the Doctor's inability to reciprocate her feelings.
Following the airdate of "Last of the Time Lords", the BBC announced that the character would return to screens in three episodes of Torchwood Series 2, before rejoining David Tennant's Tenth Doctor alongside new companion Donna Noble (Catherine Tate) for five episodes in the fourth series of Doctor Who. Appearing in Torchwood, it is explained through exposition that Martha is a medical specialist for UNIT, a qualified doctor and bona fide expert on alien life. First appearing on the spin-off series in Torchwood episode "Reset", fellow companion Jack Harkness establishes Martha's credibility to her new peers, slyly commenting upon her vast experience. John Barrowman noted that in many ways Martha entered Torchwood as their superior as being employed with UNIT placed her in a higher authority. In the same episode, Martha notes that an "impeccable source" recommended her employment to UNIT, implying the Doctor holds the highest level of faith in Martha's capability. Her Torchwood outfit was specifically designed to reflect her development, with Costume designer Ray Holman stating: "We wanted to give her that air of authority, with some professional-looking and quite classy fitted suits".
Martha is first seen in action with UNIT in "The Sontaran Stratagem", where Donna Noble, the Doctor's current companion, reacts with shock asking derisively if the Doctor turns all of his companions into "soldiers". The Doctor also appears to disapprove over the situation until Martha defends her intentions, reminding the Doctor that she herself does not carry a gun, and stating that she is trying to make UNIT "better" from the inside. Agyeman herself states that she was never in any worry about Martha becoming too gun-toting:
"I never felt any danger of that happening. At the end of Series Three, she'd struggled for a year, and travelled alone, and saw all this hardship, her family tortured... that's going to have affected her. At the same time, she's continued in her studies to become a doctor, so obviously she still has this caring side to her".
Martha tells Owen in the Torchwood episode "Reset", that she has a boyfriend, who is revealed to be paediatric doctor Thomas Milligan in "The Sontaran Stratagem", by which time the two are engaged — indicating that Martha has gotten over her love for the Doctor. In "The Poison Sky" she cites her relationship with Thomas Milligan as a reason to stay on Earth, rather than join Donna and Doctor in the TARDIS - saying that she's now got a great big adventure of her own to enjoy. Agyeman feels that Martha's relationship with Tom has "helped cement where she is in life". Agyeman also feels that it was important for Martha's mother Francine to re-appear in "The Stolen Earth"/"Journey's End", as closure for what happened to the Jones family in Series Three: "It's great for the audience to know that all this talk of Martha wanting to stay on earth because of her family is for real. It's great to see Adjoa there, representing the Jones clan, even though it's a fleeting appearance. She's still very much in Martha's life".
Director Euros Lyn comments that the production team had intended for Agyeman and Clarke to join Torchwood for its third series, but their careers led them elsewhere. When the characters interact with UNIT officers in Children of Earth, Martha's absence is explained by her being on honeymoon. Head writer and executive producer Russell T Davies explains that Agyeman was cast in Law & Order: UK before Children of Earth had been officially commissioned. Because Law & Order offered her 13 episodes a year, she went with that over Torchwood which had been reduced to 5. In response, Davies created the character of Lois Habiba, played by Cush Jumbo, to be a "kind of a Martha figure", one with added innocence who is out of her depth. Agyeman does not rule out returning to the show at a later date, however. Davies reveals in his non-fiction book Doctor Who: The Writer's Tale that Martha was also intended to appear in The Sarah Jane Adventures series two finale Enemy of the Bane in December 2008, but the character had to be replaced with classic series character Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart (Nicholas Courtney) "at the last minute" due to Agyeman's role in Law & Order: UK; had Martha appeared, the character would have appeared in all three programmes in the franchise.
Academic analyses of the character typically focus on the character's ethnicity, her social class (middle), and her status as a role model to young viewers. Martha has been described in newspaper reports as the "first ethnic-minority companion in the 43-year television history of Doctor Who" or the Doctor's "first black assistant" (Agyeman herself was born to Ghanaian and Iranian parents.) Martha's status as "first black companion" is "thrown into dispute" by consideration of Mickey Smith (Noel Clarke) and his companion role in the 2006 series. In her introduction, Martha is represented as being 'normal' in ways previous Doctor Who companions were not. For example, she becomes the first character to use (light) swear words when she exclaims "We're on the bloody moon!" Davies felt that this level of swearing was both normal and appropriate, citing a Harry Potter film in which the young audience reacted with laughter rather than shock when a young character cursed "Bloody hell". In some instances, Martha's status as a middle-class woman distinguish her from earlier black companion Mickey Smith, who is male and, like Rose Tyler, working-class. Articles which focus on Martha's race normally attempt to make distinctions between Martha's social status and that of Mickey, and to what extent race or class do or do not play a part.
In contrast to Rose and Mickey, Martha is middle-class and university-educated; for Michael and Margaret Rustin of the University of East London, Mickey's constant struggle for respect and recognition from the Doctor in the first two series was a "subtle exploration ... of the dynamics of multi-ethnic life in contemporary Britain". The Rustins argue that in introducing Martha the series "catches hold" of the fact "that black women have in general been more successful educationally and professionally than black men in contemporary Britain." As a black time traveller, the series' writers have used the character's presence as a means of injecting social commentary, tackling social issues such as racism in both bygone eras as well as the present day.
As a black time traveller, the character of Martha allows Doctor Who to explore historical issues concerning race. In the episode "The Shakespeare Code", Martha wonders if she is safe in an era before emancipation, but the Doctor is blasé. The Doctor points out to Martha (also the audience surrogate) that England in 1599 is "not so different from your time"; black women are seen walking amongst the crowd at home and safe, and Martha identifies several cross-dressing actors. Martha soon reacts with surprise and possible offence to William Shakespeare's use of Elizabethan terms for black people such as "blackamoor" and "ethiop". For a moment, she thinks these terms could be racist (the Doctor quips that it is "political correctness gone mad"), but realises Shakespeare is actually enamoured of her. At the end of the episode, he calls her his "Dark Lady", the name given to the woman the real Shakespeare referred to in a number of Shakespeare's sonnets;[nb 1] by implication, Martha is the Dark Lady. Lindy A. Orthia opines that such Tenth Doctor era representations of "Earth’s past as a place of happy and benign diversity" may be anti-racist in intention, but ultimately trivialise the racism that has infested Western society for centuries. Such representations include visions of "Depression-era New York [containing] mixed-race shanty towns led by a black man ("Daleks in Manhattan"), while black women populate the streets and royal courts of Victorian England and Enlightenment France".
Other episodes such as "Human Nature"/"The Family of Blood", set in 1913, depict the racism of an earlier era (Edwardian era). For Orthia, the few Doctor Who serials that explicitly depict racism "are remarkable by their presence: they carry rhetorical power because they are so rare in Doctor Who." In "Human Nature", in addition to the racist jibes of private school boys, "we bear witness to how things have changed, when a white nurse refuses to believe that Martha is a medical student in the future, saying, "Women might train to be doctors, but hardly a skivvy and hardly one of your colour."" When the TARDIS crew are nationally branded as terrorists in "The Sound of Drums", the Master (Simm) says that the Doctor's current companions "tick every demographic box" – referring to Martha's gender and ethnicity and Jack's sexual orientation. He later refers to Jack (Barrowman) and Martha as "the girlie and the freak", adding to the insult by claiming he is not sure which is which. Episodes set in the future, Orthia notes, are more often than not inclusive and "cosmopolitan" projections of societies which are as multi-racial (though not multi-ethnic) and sexually liberal as the present, if not more so. In 2009, Martha was listed among the top 20 Black Sci-Fi Icons by Entertainment Weekly.
Female role model
As a young medical professional, Martha has been the focus of studies which discuss young girls' perceptions of "gendered representations of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM)". Through questionnaires, researchers for The UK Resource Centre for Women in Science, Engineering Technology asked Key Stage 3, KS4 and KS5-age students to "identify three of their favourite television programmes and to try and recall, and describe, a television programme they had watched that was about science or included a scientist." The researchers narrowed down these selections to just two programmes which "feature within the favourite programmes for both boys and girls... The Simpsons (Channel 4) and Doctor Who (BBC)." The research was further analysed "the representation of STEM-related topics" through the programme's two prominent, respective, female characters: Lisa Simpson (Yeardley Smith) and Martha Jones; these characters were selected in light of Steinke. et al.'s suggestion that "presenting positive televised images of women scientists may be a particularly effective strategy for providing role models to promote girls’ interest in science, particularly when direct interaction with human role models is not possible". The article points out that Martha and Lisa are quite different: primarily, "Lisa is represented as being different from many of her peers... a ‘child genius’... considered to be ‘extraordinary’", whereas Martha "is represented as being a comparatively ‘normal’ young woman", who unlike Lisa invites self-identification. Martha's attempts to diagnose a patient in her debut episode is criticised as faulty; it is her "responses to the extraordinary situations that she later finds herself in, rather than her everyday life" which distinguish Martha. Her "normal" status is also highlighted when she becomes the first character "to be heard swearing" in Doctor Who. In spite of their differences, however, many commonalities were brought to light by the research.
Importantly, Lisa and Martha are both represented as characters who, rather than lack social skills, play "a central role within their families’ relationships" (David X. Cohen describes Lisa as "the heart of the family", Davies describes Martha as a "sort of peace-maker within her family"); "Martha’s family," the article says, "and her relationships with them, are part of the narrative that runs throughout the series", who are her constant despite the time travel aspect of the series. "[H]owever fantastic and ‘unreal’ the experiences of Martha and Lisa might be, their characters are always situated within a set of family relationships that most viewers would recognise as being fairly commonplace." Whereas in The Simpsons, Lisa is the character most identified with knowledge and worldliness, in Doctor Who that character is the Doctor. The power relationship this affords the Doctor and Martha is challenged, in Martha's favour, for the first time in "42", when an alien possession leaves the Doctor "scared"; according to Agyeman, Martha "has to take control". This independence is continued in "Human Nature"/"The Family of Blood", of which Davies says "Martha is left facing the monsters alone. The whole story wouldn’t work if the Doctor didn’t trust Martha". Martha also is asked to save the world singlehandedly in "The Sound of Drums"/"Last of the Time Lords". When Martha next appears in Torchwood, as a UNIT officer and qualified M.D., "the audience has been able to follow Martha’s career and watch her gain in both expertise and confidence." In their summary, the researchers concluded: "In discussing our analysis of [Lisa Simpson and Martha Jones] we have highlighted ways in which they could be viewed both as characters with which young people can identify, but also as characters that provide positive role models in terms of their relationship to STEM.
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