Played by: Louise Jameson
Tenure 1 January 1977–6 November 1977
First appearance The Face of Evil (regular)
Last appearance The Invasion of Time (regular)
Last appearance Dimensions in Time (guest)
Number of series 1
Appearances 10 stories
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Source TARDIS Wikia
As a child, Leela saw her mother struck down and killed by an animal on Mount Kremnon while protecting her. She stayed with her body until sunrise in order to protect her soul from evil spirits.
MEETING WITH THE DOCTOR
Leela profaned the Sevateem’s supposed god, Xoanon. Her father died undertaking the ritual test of the Horda on her behalf. She faced exile when she met the Fourth Doctor, who resembled the Sevateem’s mythic figure, the Evil One. He had earlier visited Leela’s world, repaired the Mordee expion’s computer, Xoanon, and neglected to remove his own personality from it. The conflict between Xoanon and the Doctor’s personality drove Xoanon mad, splitting it in two. It conducted a long-term eugenics experiment that resulted in two tribes: the Sevateem and their enemies, the Tesh. The Doctor restored Xoanon’s sanity. As he prepared to leave the planet, Leela asked to travel with him. He refused, but she darted into the TARDIS and they set off together after Leela triggered the TARDIS’ dematerialisation by accident. (The Face of Evil)
TRAVELS WITH THE DOCTOR
Leela was primitive but intelligent and perceptive. Despite the Doctor’s efforts to “civilise” and educate her, she kept her savage ways. She translated advanced ideas into terms she could understand. She usually dressed in animal skins and armed herself with a knife and janis thorns. She did not hesitate to use them, despite the Doctor’s disapproval. With the Doctor, she fought Taren Capel. (The Robots of Death)
As part of the Doctor’s efforts to teach Leela about her ancestors, he brought her to Victorian London. There, they encountered and defeated the 51st century villain Magnus Greel. (The Talons of Weng-Chiang)
After this, her and the Doctor were alerted by an interstellar distress signal emanating from an English manor house. Landing outside the house during a midnight thunderstorm they discover the aftermath of a pitched battle between Lord Jack Corrigan’s troops and the peaceful alien Drellerans, the last survivor of whom warns them of the dire consequences should the humans escape with the alien star ship.
From there, they chased the alien spaceship a millennium into the future, to the newly constructed Space Dock Nerva, which was orbiting around Jupiter. Lord Jack arrived on the Beacon through the spaceship, and with him he brought along a disease. Before long, almost everyone on the ship was infected. Lord Jack had planned to conquer the galaxy in the name of the British Empire, which would of radically change the future of the human race. (Destination: Nerva)
Continuing his education of Leela, the Doctor took her to the famous Morovanian Museum on Moravania Minor. But instead they found themselves landing in an English village full of academics. There they met the enigmatic collector Reginald Harcourt and his family.
After those events, the Doctor decides to bring Leela to ancient Norfolk at the height of Roman occupation in order to teach her about her ancestors. He unfortunately took her right at the time of Boudica’s rebellion. The Doctor was torn as Leela wanted to help Boudica in her rebellion, and the doctor ultimately knew he could not, as that would alter history. (The Wrath of the Iceni)
The Doctor and Leela then arrived in London in the year 2025, after the Doctor detected some unusual power readings there. There they find that a huge satellite dish has been fitted on top of the National Gallery, along with a base and giant solar panels on The Moon. The GlobeSphere Corporation was making limitless supplies of energy avaliable to the people of Britain – but at a price. Caught up in a demonstration in Trafalgar Square the Doctor and Leela were swiftly separated and, as the Doctor falled in with affable protester Jack Coulsen, Leela found herself captured and at the mercy of the Daleks. (Energy of the Daleks)
The Doctor and Leela then arrived in 1970s England again, where they are put on the trail of the White Worm. It seems that some kind of giant worm has been eating local cattle, and now itâ€™s taken a girl. The legend of the White Worm dated back to Roman times, and said that a great White Worm, as wide as a man, slithered out of the rocks of the Dark Peak Gap to take animals, sometimes even children, for its food. They both soon discover that the legend of the Worm is very much alive â€” even in 1979. It turned out that The Master was there also searching for the White Worm. (Trail of the White Worm)
The Master was working with the Kraalls, and he gave the Doctor over to them as prisoner. The Kraals then started their invasion of Earth led by Marshal Grinmal. The Kraals also eventually arrested the Master. Their plan, using the help of Colonel Spindleton, was that the Kraal army and their legions of androids would attack a small village to get UNIT to respond, then destroy them, thus leaving the way clear for them to take over. (The Oseidon Adventure)
In 5000, the Swarm brought the Doctor to the Bi-Al Foundation, which they took over. As the Doctor fell into a self-induced coma to fight off the influence of the Nucleus, he sent a shrunken clone of Leela and himself inside his brain to fight the infection. Absorbing Leela’s clone unleashed her antibodies into the Doctor’s system, saving him.
With the help of K9, Leela killed some of the Titan Base who were infected with the Swarm. She urged the Doctor to blow up the hatchling Swarm, which the Doctor finally agreed to. Leela begged him to accept Professor Marius’ offer of K9 as a gift. K9 entered the TARDIS of his own accord, joining them on their journeys. (The Invisible Enemy)
When they visited the home of the Doctor’s former companion Joshua Douglas and his family, Leela met the imprisoned emperor of the Z’nai, whom the Doctor had contained long before. He hoped to find an antidote for the plague which Douglas had released to destroy his people. Douglas’ daughter freed the emperor, sparking a resurgence of the Z’nai empire. For an unknown reason, Leela became the virus’ vector, infecting the Z’nai with it. She wiped out the Z’nai except for the emperor, whom the Doctor imprisoned again. (The Catalyst)
The Doctor, now seemingly power-mad, returned to Gallifrey and claimed his right to become Lord President of the High Council of Time Lords. Banished from the Capitol, Leela joined the Outsiders, outcast Gallifreyans led by Nesbin. She helped in the Doctor’s plan to repel invading Sontarans. She also fell in love with Andred of the Chancellory Guard. She stayed on Gallifrey with K9. The Doctor had a second K9 to take with him. (The Invasion of Time)
LIFE ON GALLIFREY
She spent the next decades in the Capitol. Andred and Leela conceived a child, the first born on Gallifrey for millennia. (Pythia had long ago made the Gallifreyans a sterile race.) (Lungbarrow) There were hints that the Doctor was really her son; this was covered up by family, politics and paradox-avoiding paranoia.
Andred vanished, and Leela served as bodyguard and confidante to President Romana, another former companion of the Doctor. (Weapon of Choice) She was drawn into Time Lord politics and conspiracies while working on Presidential missions with Celestial Intervention Agency operatives Torvald and Coordinator Narvin. (Square One, A Blind Eye) She discovered that Torvald had caused Andred’s death, but later that Torvald was really a regenerated Andred. (A Blind Eye) Leela had not forgiven Andred for his deceit when he died soon afterwards. During the troubled time that followed, Leela’s most trusted friend, K9, was destroyed in an explosion aimed at off-world students of the Time Lord Academy. Bitter at the loss of her last link with the Doctor, Leela refused a replacement.
LIFE AFTER GALLIFREY
After her sight returned, Leela survived the destruction of Gallifrey in the Last Great Time War. She ended up a prisoner of the Z’Nai, who had returned to power. While Leela lived on Gallifrey, the Time Lords had allowed her to retain her youth for a greatly extended time. This was no longer so. While the Z’nai tortured Leela for information about Gallifrey and the Time Lords, she aged physically, one year for each day.
The Z’nai had abandoned their ancient custom of leaving their chests bare. Just before the Z’nai interrogating her was to kill her, she gave him a choice – stop the killing or be killed. He laughed, but she infected him with the plague that had wiped out the Z’nai originally. The entire race died, leaving Leela and the other prisoners at first joyful, then terrified as they realised they were trapped and abandoned. Leela remained bound, without the strength to free herself, reminiscing about her days with the Doctor as she waited to die. (The Catalyst)
Exploring alternate realities
When Braxiatel took her to the Axis she explored alternative Gallifreys. The first she visited was a Gallifrey where the alternate version of herself searched for the Key to Time. Chancellor Dondequest wanted to install her as a puppet President of this Gallifrey so she could have ultimate power. (Reborn)
In another Gallifrey she met an alternative version of herself where she was the interrogator General of Gallifrey. She was tortured by her alternative self and forced to relive her memories. (Disassembled)
She started to age being away from the prime Gallifrey. On a Gallifrey where the Vampire war still went on, Leela’s sight and youth were restored by drinking vampire blood as part of Borusa‘s hound creation process. (Annihilation)
She then set up many townships for the freed slaves with her as the head of one and Sura another. She spoke with Allora about mining rights near her township. There was an assassination attempt on her, which was later discovered to be Valyes under Allora’s orders. (Emancipation)
A fellow outcast, Maris, led Leela to an abandoned research facility where she met Hector and Taine who were running the experimental side of Jonias’ research. (Evolution). She captured Lord Zakar to put him on trial for the murder of 237 slaves. (Arbitration)
Leela tried to defend this Gallifrey when the Daleks from the prime universe invaded. She knew all the secret passages through this Capitol which allowed, Romana, Narvin, Lukas and herself to manoeuvre around without the Daleks knowing. On returning to the Axis she killed the Dalek Overseer of the Axis. (Extermination)
Returning to Gallifrey
Leela and Narvin were held in a Chronic Hysteresis and couldn’t immediately get to Gallifrey from the Axis. After Romana agreed on a deal with her future incarnation, Leela escaped from the Hysteresis. She didn’t like her new rooms and argued with Romana about it. Leela also could see Romana’s watcher before anyone else could. Lady Tre still valued her friendship after thousands of years not seeing her. She wanted to leave Gallifrey when Romana was exiled by her future self. She could see a haze behind her. She was worried about Romana when the Eye of Harmony started to break down. (Renaissance)
When Romana mysteriously disappeared, she was anxious about what happened. She spotted Coordinator Tallan in the corridors and in the archives, and recognised he was like someone she met on one of the alternate Gallifrey. When Tallan turned out to be K9, she was excited. It turned out this Gallifrey on which she thought they were was a Matrix construct. She escaped the Matrix, but after doing so, Slyne released the Daleks from the Matrix. She tried to stop Romana from sealing herself in the Matrix with the Daleks. She watched the Data Pocket containing the artificial Gallifrey close and collapse. In fact Romana wasn’t trapped in the Matrix, and Leela was amazed at this. (Ascension)
Death and rebirth
Leela survived the destruction of Gallifrey. She ended up a prisoner of the Z’Nai, who had returned to power. While Leela lived on Gallifrey, the Time Lords had allowed her to retain her youth for a greatly extended time. This was no longer so. While the Z’nai tortured Leela for information about Gallifrey and the Time Lords, she aged physically, one year for each day.
The Z’nai had abandoned their ancient custom of leaving their chests bare. Just before the Z’nai interrogating her was to kill her, she gave him a choice — stop the killing or be killed. He laughed, but she infected him with the plague that had wiped out the Z’nai originally. The entire race died, leaving Leela and the other prisoners at first joyful, then terrified as they realised they were trapped and abandoned. Leela remained bound, without the strength to free herself, reminiscing about her days with the Doctor as she waited to die. (The Catalyst)
After the Z’nai had all died and all torture had stopped, the machines used to torture Leela and her fellow prisoners kept them alive. Leela told a fellow prisoner who was crying a story about when she saw the Doctor being afraid. (Empathy Games) Leela eventually died in the Z’nai prison. (The Time Vampire)
Leela’s soul was reborn as a young girl named Emily. Leela recounted many of her adventures with the Doctor to Emily. (>The Child)
Summoned to Gallifrey because of the Omega plots, the Fifth Doctor asked about Leela and was told by Damon that she was “well and very happy”. He was sorry to have missed her wedding. (Arc of Infinity)
The Doctor commented on the fact that Leela’s child would be half-Gallifreyan and half-human. He told Leela to name the child after him. (Lungbarrow)
At some point, Leela was taken to the Black Archive by UNIT to have her record as a companion of the Doctor taken, she met Sergeant Benton there. Leela’s memories of the visit were subsequently erased and she was sent on her way. (The Day of the Doctor)
- When a Rutan ship exploded above Fang Rock, pigmentation dispersal caused Leela’s eye colour to change permanently from brown to blue. (Horror of Fang Rock)
- Leela wrote with her left hand, but threw her knife and performed other actions with her right, suggesting some degree of ambidexterity (The Invisible Enemy).
- The Doctor commented on the fact that Leela’s child would be half-Gallifreyan and half-human. He told Leela to name the child after him. (Lungbarrow)
- This raises the possibility that Leela’s child actually became the Other (although it is not known the Other was half-human), making Leela, in a way, the Doctor’s mother.
- Leela never used contractions when speaking â€” for example, she always said “do not” instead of “don’t”.
- After she stopped travelling with the Doctor, one of her skins remained in the TARDIS wardrobe. The Fifth Doctor‘s companion Peri considered wearing it on one occasion. (No Place Like Home)
- In an alternative timeline in which it was standard policy for the Time Lords to sell their temporal technology in the highest bidder and regenerations could be extracted and sold, Leela and K9 Mark I accompanied the Doctor on his search for the Key to Time. She was the only human to hold the Key to Time in her hands. Consequently, when her counterpart from the proper timeline visited this alternative Gallifrey, she was appointed Lady President. (Reborn)
- In another timeline in which the Time Lords regularly altered history through the Temporal Intervention Agency, Leela was brought to Gallifrey to amuse the then Lord President. She subsequently murdered Interrogator General Narvin and assumed his position under Lady President Romana. When her blind counterpart from the proper timeline visited this alternative Gallifrey, she took great pleasure in torturing her. (Disassembled)
BEHIND THE SCENES
CREATION OF THE CHARACTER
Leela was first conceived by producer Philip Hinchcliffe and script or Robert Holmes. They wanted someone in the mould of Eliza Doolittle from George Bernard Shaw’s play Pygmalion: a bright but unsophisticated primitive who would learn from the Doctor. Writer Chris Boucher had submitted a story proposal entitled The Mentor Conspiracy. It featured a character named Leela which fit Hinchcliffe and Holmes’s ideas.
Although The Mentor Conspiracy was not produced, Boucher reused the character of Leela for The Day God Went Mad (later renamed The Face of Evil), seeing her as a mixture of Emma Peel from The Avengers and Leila Khaled. Boucher was asked to write two endings to the story, in one, Leela left with the Doctor and in the other she stayed behind. The decision to have Leela become a companion was made soon after.
Initially, Leela was to have only appeared in three stories. It was decided later she would stay for the remainder of Season 15. One consequence of this decision was a plot contrivance added to Horror of Fang Rock to allow the character’s eye colour to change, so actress Louise Jameson would not have to wear uncomfortable coloured contact lenses.
Jameson felt that Doctor Who‘s writers sometimes neglected to write for Leela as an individual, instead writing her as a stereotypical “Doctor Who girl.” For example, in Underworld, the script originally had Leela screaming when overwhelmed by poisonous gas. Jameson declined to do this, pointing out that it was not in character for the warrior Leela. (Underworld) In fact, Leela screamed in only one television story, The Talons of Weng-Chiang, when her leg was being gnawed by the giant rat â€” a scream which Jameson felt was justified. (The Talons of Weng-Chiang)
Leela ranks as one of the most violent companions, regularly threatening or using deadly force against other humanoids (often to the Doctor’s disgust as in The Invisible Enemy, but occasionally not as in Underworld). Although other companions sometimes killed (for example, Romana I shot a guard in The Pirate Planet), others have killed in spin-off productions (most notably Jack Harkness in Torchwood) and Ace racked up body counts in the New Adventures novels, Leela remains, to date, the only companion to be shown killing on a frequent basis.
Along with Irving Braxiatel, she is one of only two characters to play a major role in two audio spin-off series: Gallifrey and Jago and Litefoot. Leela and Braxiatel have both also appeared in the main range of Big Finish Doctor Who audio stories as a result of their guest roles in Zagreus.
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