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29 May 2014

Will Brooks’ 50 Year Diary - watching Doctor Who one episode a day from the very start... 

Day 514: The Androids of Tara, Episode Two

Dear diary,

Of all the companions so far - including Sarah Jane - I think that Romana must have the most… elaborate wardrobe. She’s had cause to change her outfit, or at leafs accessorise it, during most of the stories so far, and they’re always quite striking styles. I think that The Androids of Tara may be the most striking of them all! Mary Tamm gets to start the story off in that very flattering white dress from The Ribos Operation. I’m not much of a follower of fashion, but even I’ll concede that it’s a gorgeous outfit, and Tamm looks beautiful in it. She then gets to change into her purple… thing, and retain that for much of the last two episodes. People joke about Sarah’s ‘Andy Pandy’ look, but really, this must be the worst costume a companion ever gets forced into?

Even more than usual, this story allows Tamm to try out a few different styles, by virtue of her playing several different parts. I was oddly struck by how much of an impact was made, during the introduction of Strella, simply by giving Tamm different hairstyles for each character. It really does make a difference, and when she arrives in the throne room at the end of the story, here hair looks especially nice. As someone who was - I believe - very interested in style (I think I’m right in saying that Tamm herself had input to some of Romana’s costumes, certainly more than the actress would usually get), I’d imagine that Mary Tamm must have very much enjoyed working on this story in particular.

The thing I’ve been spending much of today trying to get my head around is the way that coronations operate on Tara. It already seems a little harsh that should the next-in-line to the throne be so much as a minute late for the coronation then they forfeit their right to the titles, but then the Powers That Be simply get to choose who will take their place on the throne? No wonder there’s some corruption going on, with a system like that! I then found myself getting gradually more and more confused by the way all of this works. I’m sure that, at some stage, Strella is described as second-in-line to the throne. So… if Prince Reynart doesn’t show up, why does the throne not pass to her?

I then considered that everyone may think she was missing, which could account for them worrying about needing to find a new monarch so quickly (lest the throne be empty for too long. Is Tara the planet, or simply this region? It could be that a lack of monarch makes the castle, and the area, look weaker to opposing forces who may be watching), but no one seems surprised when she seemingly arrived during the coronation to pledge her allegiance to the new king. On top of all this… I thought that Count Grendel planned to marry Strella simply to get himself onto the list of people who could get near the throne, but then he’s able to become king simply by being one of the nobles, anyway! It’s all a very confusing system, and I’m spending more time thinking about it than I really should! 

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