Nyssa (Doctor Who)

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Nyssa in her original "fairy skirt", used from The Keeper of Traken to Castrovalva
Doctor Who character
Affiliated Fourth Doctor
Fifth Doctor
Species Trakenite
Home planet Traken
Home era 1981
First appearance The Keeper of Traken
Last appearance Terminus (regular)
Dimensions in Time (charity special)
Portrayed by Sarah Sutton

Nyssa is a fictional character in the long-running British science fiction television series Doctor Who. She is played by Sarah Sutton. Nyssa was created by writer Johnny Byrne for the Fourth Doctor serial The Keeper of Traken, but the production team subsequently decided that she should join the Doctor on his travels. She returned in the following serial Logopolis, in which the Fourth Doctor regenerated, and remained as a companion of the Fifth Doctor. She was a regular in the programme from 1981 to 1983.

Character history[edit]

Nyssa is an aristocratic native of Traken, the daughter of Tremas (a consul of the Traken Union) and stepdaughter of Kassia. She aids the Doctor and Adric when the Master wrests control of the Keepership by first manipulating and then murdering her stepmother, but is herself hypnotised and kidnapped by the Master after he takes control of her father's body. After being freed from his control, she is brought to Logopolis by the Watcher and discovers that Traken has been destroyed as a side effect of the Master's tampering with the Logopolitan's formulae. She subsequently joins Adric and Tegan Jovanka as a companion and member of the TARDIS crew, and witnesses the Fourth Doctor's regeneration into the Fifth.

During her journeys with Tegan and Adric aboard the TARDIS, Nyssa finds herself trapped in a mathematical equation by the Master – whom she hates as he is, of course, now using "that face" (her father's). She also encounters a race of androids and their insane ruler, helps foil the genocidal plans of a wounded Terileptil and incidentally start the Great Fire of London, and discovers her remarkable resemblance to Ann Talbot.

Adric's death while battling the Cybermen affects the TARDIS crew deeply. When confronted by an illusion of Adric created by the Master shortly afterwards, both Nyssa and Tegan are initially taken aback, until they see through the deception when Nyssa sees Adric is still wearing his now-destroyed badge. During this adventure, Nyssa also displays a previously unseen psychic ability when she is contacted by the Xeraphin.

Nyssa travels alone with the Doctor for an unspecified period when the Doctor leaves Tegan at Heathrow.

Nyssa and the Doctor are reunited with Tegan while battling against Omega in Amsterdam and on Gallifrey. They help Tegan battle her inner demons as personified by the Mara, and meet the Doctor's old friend and ally Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart. It is during this adventure that she and the TARDIS crew meet Turlough, posing as a typical English schoolboy. When the TARDIS crew arrive on the derelict space station Terminus, Nyssa's adventures with the Doctor come to an end, as – to Tegan's horror – she elects to stay on board the Space Station in order to help free the enslaved guards and turn the station into a real hospital. The Doctor is moved by this noble gesture and parts saying that he thinks she is very brave. Nyssa's deep affection for the Doctor is demonstrated at this point when she kisses the Doctor goodbye.

An image of Nyssa is seen during the Fifth Doctor's regeneration scene in The Caves of Androzani and the character appears in the 1993 charity special Dimensions in Time.

Nyssa is mentioned in the new series in the 2007 Children in Need episode "Time Crash" by the Tenth Doctor when he is asking his fifth incarnation where he is in his own relative timeline.

Appearances in other media[edit]

Nyssa's fate after she leaves the TARDIS is not known, although the spin-off novel Asylum, by Peter Darvill-Evans, depict that Nyssa eventually leaves Terminus and settles down as an academic in a university on an unspecified planet. In Asylum, Nyssa shares an adventure with the Fourth Doctor from a time before he met her, the Doctor having been tracking a change in history which has somehow led him to Nyssa's futuristic Home. This adventure leaves Doctor with the knowledge that he will have to be extremely careful dealing with Nyssa when they eventually meet to avoid changing history while ensuring she survives to meet him in his past.

Since then, Sutton has also voiced Nyssa in several audio plays alongside Peter Davison as the Fifth Doctor, produced by Big Finish Productions. The audio play Primeval, which is set in Traken's past, provides an explanation for Nyssa's sudden collapse at the end of Four to Doomsday and her apparent development of psychic abilities in Time-Flight. The 'Winter' segment of Circular Time, by Paul Cornell and Mike Maddox, is set some years after Asylum and shows her with a husband, Lasarti and a baby daughter, Nica. She encounters the regenerating Fifth Doctor in her dreams. She believes that this will probably be the last time she sees him, but knows that he is still traveling and having adventures somewhere. However, fifty years after leaving them, Nyssa encounters The Doctor, Tegan and Turlough (from their perspective, they just left her a few days ago) in the audio play Cobwebs. She begins travelling with them again for an unspecified amount of time. In Heroes of Sontar, Nyssa tells Tegan that she has two children named Adric and Tegan.

List of appearances[edit]


Season 18
Season 19
Season 20
Season 21
30th Anniversary Charity Special

Audio dramas[edit]

Younger Nyssa

Older Nyssa

Short Trips audios[edit]

  • The Deep
  • Seven to One
  • The Lions of Trafalgar


Virgin Missing Adventures
Past Doctor Adventures

Short stories[edit]


External links[edit]