Doctor Who once had a granddaughter called Susan : nice girl, very bright, resembled a human teenager. The British public met her back in 1963 in the first ever episode of the timeless time travel drama. Her precociousness in science so intrigued her teachers at Coal Hill School in Shoreditch that they followed her one day to a junkyard nearby and found her in a police box talking to an eccentric old man. Soon he'd whisked everyone off to the Stone Age, there to be harassed by a tribal leader called Za and the rest is TV history. And so is Susan - the first and only descendant of the Doctor his viewers have ever seen and therefore the only flesh-and-blood indication that the last of the Time Lords has ever got it on .

We need to mind our language here. Children may be present and Susan's biological link to the Doc alerts us to the fact that Time Lords reproduce - or rather used to, now that only one remains . "Who historians" have excavated little that is explicit on this subject from the small screen adventures. Spin-off media have shown more licence, notably the Dr Who novel, Lungbarrow , where I gather it is written that Time Lords multiply by means of "genetic looms" from which they emerge fully-grown rather than through heterosexual coupling. The same book apparently hints that the doctor's genesis was an exception to this rule, a possibility also raised in 1996 TV movie where the Doctor - played by Paul McGann - declares he is "half-human on my mother's side".

Yet that same piece was most notable for a far clearer and much, much greater departure from Who convention in that our two-hearted hero had a major snog with his woman companion. It caused outrage among Who purists. Before then, their hero had displayed barely a lick of libido. For them, much of the charm of the Doctor lay in his apparent asexuality and the platonic nature of his bonds with his female assistants.

Their consolation at the time was that this young, hot-lipped version of their hero was a one-off. Yet now that the TV series has been triumphantly resurrected, it is plain that those lustful stirrings cannot yet be dismissed as aberrant. Romantic chemistry was built into the tenderness between New Doctor and Billie Piper's council estate escapee Rose. It remained relatively understated, though, and even the kiss that sealed the end of Rose's tenure served a wider purpose in the plot. But with his new assistant, Martha , amorous longings are more frankly displayed. True, they have almost all been on her part so far. Yet their candour shoves to the foreground the whole question of the Doctor and desire. Does he feel it like we humans do or not? Does he feel it for Martha? And if he does, should we be pleased?

Two high-grade blogger pals, both far superior students of Doctor Who than I am, are uncertain about Martha's pursuit too. Matt Murrell tells me he finds that, in general, the "new high-emotional content works incredibly well, giving the SF concepts some grounding in everyday reality". But he found Rose vaguely annoying and sometimes "weak" compared with predecessors such as Sarah-Jane or Ace . As for Martha: "It's all very well having someone who doesn't scream at the slightest provocation, but this new independence seems wasted when the character spends most of the time moping about over a 900-year-old alien."

Soon-to-be-published novelist Marie Phillips, who blogs as Struggling Author , was more persuaded than Matt by the flutters between Piper and the two Doctors she worked with - first Christopher Eccleston then David Tennant , the present incumbent of course - but is already finding that aspect of Martha's character formulaic. "They could break the chain by giving her a decent alternative love interest," she suggests, "or even giving the Doctor a male companion next time". She doubts the latter would happen, though, for fear of losing the female audience. And she adds: "The problem really comes down to casting someone as sexy as David Tennant in the lead role - obviously all these young women are going to fancy the pants off him."

She points to a past Tennant episode in which he locked mouths with Louis XV's mistress Mme de Pompadour - as you do - establishing that New Who is up for it. Martha is young and lovely. The universe is their oyster. Is total abstinence remotely viable?

Probably not - and yet I kind of wish it was. That's partly because I find all will-they-won't-they scenarios rather tedious whatever the context - a too-obvious tease. Mostly, though, it is because I'm with the purists in enjoying the novelty of a dynamic male role who isn't an outright lady-killer too. In fact, it's more than a novelty - in an age where sexual pursuit is portrayed loudly everywhere it makes the rogue male spirit with his Tardis and his upstanding moral code an even more subversive character in a way. Whatever becomes of him and Martha, Dr Who will remain essential viewing in our house. I just can't help hoping he won't get the girl. Or even want to.

Is it strange that a 900 year old alien would travel down (and across) the generations, visiting all time and space, and only fall for a handful of women in all that time, du Pompadour on one end of the scale, and Piper on the other?

As you say, he already had a granddaughter, but maybe she was bred on one of those "genetic looms" you mention. We don't know much about Timelord life cycles, apart from the fact that their lives cycle. Perhaps there's a pattern that lies over and above the regenerations: perhaps the Doctor himself is only just reaching his sexual maturity?

Hi Bob. All very mysterious as you say. The other thing I don't get is why if it's so lonely being the last Time Lord he doesn't go back in time to before they all perished except him. But, having said that, I've a horrible feeling the scriptwriters will have already covered that and I've just shown my profound ignorance - and that swarms of Who geeks are about to descend upon this thread and blast me into infinity as a result. Doctor! Doctor! Help!

I don't think Doctor Who is real. That box thing he walks into is definitely bigger on the inside than it looks, a bit like my Mazda, but more so. Unless it's clever photography, but I don't think even that would account for it.

Also, I've been watching this for many centuries now, and the bloke what plays the lead keeps changing, not just his clothes, but his looks, height the lot.

No, it's not real. So we're all safe. I can stop worrying about the Daleks and get back to blaming Israel, and they could always get up the stairs, they didn't have to suddenly introduce flying dustbins to cover that minor impediment to taking over the known universe, and then Ipswich, though they'll have to be careful their. Ipswichians know how to avoid lethal Dalek smokey gun type things: they step aside, throw a towel over the Dalek and kick it in roughly the area where it's gonads probably are.

Well, yes, Dave - about the time lords thing, I mean. No time travel story stands up if you think about it for even five minutes: if they've gone back to 1930s New York, how come nobody in the present day knows that nearly 80 years ago the daleks were invading New York and turning people into pig men? And in episode one of this series, the doctor says to Martha that when you travel into the past you're not allowed to change it (this in the context of why he didn't warn her that they were all about to go to the moon), and yet, there he is, going back in time and fighting the daleks. So why not go back to when the time lords were all alive and, indeed, change the outcome so that this time they win?

But as for the love interest thing - Dr Who has always had an eye for its audience. Hence the incredibly sexy assistants they used to have in the 1970s, who were clearly there for the dads. The current Dr Who is there to keep the female audience interested (they've finally noticed they have a female audience) and so the hint of love interest is there for the same reason. I can't imagine they'll take it any further - I dare say Martha will find herself a boyfriend at some point. Isn't Captain Jack coming back soon? Now that's something we can all look forward to.

Can anyone remind me what the kiss was? I remember he kissed her at the end of the previous series, but I can't remember the kiss at the end of series 2. TIA.

I am worried about interspecies sexual relations - we know Doctor Who has two hearts and he belongs to a species alien to our planet. How do we know that he appears to us in his default form? His mum might have known him as a disgusting, tentacled form oozing disgusting slime and suckled him from a tube emanating from her left side - if she had distinguishable sides. What is certain is that no offspring are possible - the ability to procreate is a rough and ready way of defining species. Anyway, a tardis is no place to bring up children and they would surely attract the attention of the local authorities.

Apart from these biological considerations, I can understand why he should fall for the charismatic Martha - ditto Rose - and I would not object. Just as long as they do not spend too much time on it and, please, no passionate pseudo-artistic sex scenes where the woman is always on top. We prefer the missionary position in this household.

A bit off subject, I do wish the various monsters and aliens could be a bit more imaginative. They don't seem to have got much further than Star Wars, all being upright primate bipeds or blobs with tentacles. The last lot of humanoid piggy-wigs really got up my nose.

Suraci: You may not think Daleks are real but I'm heading for Ipswich pronto. If I put my foot down I might be there in time to watch Doctor Who.

AlexJones: You're so right about the time travel implausibility issue. The hours I've lain awake at night worrying about it. All this suspension-of-disbelief stuff is OK for some people, but not we intellectuals, eh?

Gavin: I'm worried about you being worried about interspecies sexual relations. Get your priorities right man! There's a war on, for pity's sake!

But he isn't the "last" Time Lord, is he? Cos he was told a couple of weeks ago by the Face of Bo that "you are not alone".....cue (one assumes) the return of The Master....and one presumes that any offspring of The Doctor and a human would be a "Half-Time Lord"....a sort of cosmic Garry Lineker....sorry....

It's all to do with the transduction barrier which surrounds (surrounded) Gallifrey, isolating it from the space-time continuum and preventing any unauthorised access to the planet, even by a TARDIS. Even if the Doc did go back, there are strict rules stopping him from landing on or getting a message to the planet.

There's also no way he could prevent the destruction of the Time Lords without creating a paradox - by doing so he'd remove his reason for doing so, the war would have to both have happened (to give him a reason for going back) and not happened (because he prevents it), which is clearly impossible.

Actually, about the love interest, yes. What happened to Captain Jack? I mean in Dave's article, not in the Whoniverse. They have snogged. And Jack clearly has a thing for the Doc, keeping that hand pickled in the jar in his office and all that. And they both like musical theatre too. Martha's really gonna throw a strop when *he* returns.

I thought the Sophie Myles character in that episode as the "Girl in the Fireplace" did an amazing job and was the strongest female counterpart for the Doctor that I recall, excepting Sarah Jane's return for the new series.

The newest companion, Martha, may well be on a character path -- the writers are smart enough to have a character begin with a 'Doctor' infatuation, but things may change over the plot line.

Anyway, to the topic. I think you're wrong Dave. What the writers and producers have done is imbue the Doctor with the eternal tragic irony of all great superheroes - if you're a superhero, you are the sexiest, most desirable creature alive. You look great, you rescue small puppies from burning buildings, you catch beautiful women as they fall out of aeroplanes - basically you're a fireman in tighter pants. But that very superheroness, that mutant factor that makes you irresistible to anyone with a pulse is the very same thing that prevents you from ever having a fulfilling love affair. If you get too close to someone you will inevitably put their life in danger, or their mortality will clash tragically with your own immortality. The awful dilemma that afflicts the Doctor over Rose and now Martha is no different to the dilemma that strikes Spiderman over MJ, Superman over Lois, Batman over Robin (I may have misinterpteted that one) - they all fervently desire what they can never have.

"The other thing I don't get is why if it's so lonely being the last Time Lord he doesn't go back in time to before they all perished except him."

I'll take my geek hat off now. I think the love interest angle is intended to open the show up to a wider audience and if I was a Time Lord I'd always try and ensure I was always accompanied on my travels by a fit bird.

Oh g'wan Dave, you know you want to. And so does the Doctor too, I'll bet ... Jack has what the Earth chicks don't - they could grow old together.

As regards the love interest....well, the Tardis is pretty big (on the inside, anyway, and we don't know exactly *how* big) - certainly it's big enough to hide the odd love nest or two....my bet is he has a few Time Ladies stashed away in suspended animation, just in case....that was obviously the point of K9, as a Gallifreyan equivalent of the Mistress's poodle companion....although, admittedly, most Mistress's poodles confine themselves to shagging one's leg, rather than saving the Universe....

Incidentally, after tonight's variation on "The Absolute End Of The Daleks Forever, Honest", I presume that the one that got away (yet another "Emergency Temporal Transport", yawn) is the one that turned up two seasons ago vs Eccleston's Who and committed Dalek Hara Kiri? If so, then that *really* should be dodo-time for the pepperpots....it's just confusing, as there was *another* Dalek that did the ETT thing at the end of the last season, and I'd thought he/she was/would be the Last Of The Daleks (TM)....at this rate, there are sufficient ultimate Daleks to have one at each Rolling Stones Farewell Concert, with enough left over to conquer a medium sized galaxy....

To see such specimens of sheer pulchritude end up in Eastenders and Brookside is a crime against loveliness. As for that pushy American floosie in the film, well no wonder ratings have undergone a Lorentz contraction.

BBC, mend your ways! And shirty letters demanding your license fee since won't do a bit of good since I'll simply move house like the last time you issued a summons.

How does Lelia end up contributing to this terribly British debate? I don't believe she's got a clue about Dr Who or any of his assistants...unless...Lelia...Leela...

You don't have to have a funny suit to be a superhero. Anyway, the good Doctor has had his fair share of dodgy outfits - remember all the ruffles he used to have on his shirts, and that bloody scarf Tom Baker used to wear?

AllyF is right. It's the "eternal tragic irony of all superheroes". Look at Harry Potter, he had to ditch Ginny Weasley at the end of the Half-Blood Prince. You have to be prepared to make personal sacrifices if you want to save the universe...

I nominate Dr Wolfowitz and his neobimbo Shaha Riza to be the next Dr Who and Assistant. He can then send the Tardis back to Iraq, March 2003, to see whether he can fuck it up even better than he did the first time.

I nominate Dr Wolfowitz and his neobimbo Shaha Riza to be the next Dr Who and Assistant. He can then send the Tardis back to Iraq, March 2003, to see whether he can fuck it up even better than he did the first time.

The Dalek in NYC episodes were dire-an especially moronic and immature script directed with the flair of a 60's public information film warning of the dangers of riding a bicycle at night with no lights .

I've seen very little of Doctor Who in recent years, but I thought Rose Tyler sounded as though she'd fallen off the set of Grange Hill and I preferred the measured buffoonery of Jon Pertwee and Tom Baker. The classic line "I don't suppose you'd care for a jelly baby", on each occasion someone pointed a particle beam weapon at him, couldn't be beaten even by 007. Sheer genius.

I remember Horror at Fang Rock when Tom Baker asked her to calm an hysterical shipwreck survivor, which she promptly did by giving her a good slap, pulling her knife out and saying 'Silence, woman, and listen to the Doctor, or I shall kill you!' upon which the poor woman fainted.

They had some classic characters. Anyway, time to move on, I really must give the new series a chance to grow, but David Tennant does remind me of a cockney version of the Wet Vet, which puts me off a bit.

I'm actually pretty disappointed with this series (to be serious for a minute). The stories are pretty predictable, lots of running down corridors and rushed explanations of whats going on. The scripts are less entertaining, the baddies predictable.. The new assistant is undoubtedly attractive and a good actress, but I dont see any of the chemistry there was between the Doctor and Billie Piper.

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