First Impressions: Logopolis & Dragonfire

Let’s revisit Tegan’s first appearance in 1981’s ‘Logopolis’. Brimming with self confidence and dressed impeccably, Tegan’s first day in her dream cabin crew role is rudely disrupted, firstly by a broken down car, and secondly by a murderous megalomaniac intent on holding the universe to ransom. While her Aunt is reduced to the size of an action figure, Tegan stumbles upon a blue police box and her life is never the same. A voice of reason in the madness that follows, with its entropy and block commutations – Tegan is a vital perspective character for viewers who don’t understand a word of ‘Logopolis’ either.

While Tom Baker’s swansong is likely remembered for the ‘epic’ final confrontation between the Doctor and the Master, before the ethereal Watcher arrives to ease in Peter Davison‘s Fifth Doctor, its impact is all the greater thanks to the recognisable and reassuring presence of Tegan – it’s her world and the others merely exist to interfere with it.

Doctor Who Janet Fielding as Tegan Jovanka (Credit: BBC)

Eight years later, Ace made her debut in 1987’s ‘Dragonfire’. Whisked away from her humdrum existence on Earth via the appearance of a time-storm in her bedroom, she finds herself just as unfulfilled and working once again as a waitress in the trading colony of Iceworld. That is, until she crosses paths with the Doctor, Mel, and intergalactic wide boy Sabalom Glitz. After losing her job in spectacular fashion, Ace becomes embroiled in the Doctor’s quest for a fabled treasure buried beneath the lower levels of Iceworld.

The stark contrast between Ace and the computer programmer from Pease Cottage she will replace is highlighted almost immediately. While Bonnie Langford’s Melanie screams her lungs raw on cue as the monster of the story is revealed, Ace simply stares the creature down with an incredulous look on her face. Similar bravado is displayed in a fantastic scene where Ace resists the temptations placed before her by the lead villain, before escaping with Mel and holding off their pursuers with an explosive can of deodorant.

The prospect of this young tearaway teaming up with an increasingly mysterious Seventh Doctor is too good to resist, and once Mel calls time on her travels with the Doctor, Ace seizes the opportunity to join him for a trip around the twelve galaxies and then back to Perivale in time for tea.

Tegan’s Trips in the TARDIS

It’s fair to say, during their time aboard  the TARDIS, both characters were put through the wringer by their respective incarnations of the Time Lord. As the Fifth Doctor suffers from the after-effects of his regeneration, and with Adric under the clutches of the Master, Tegan proves that if you want a job doing properly… you ask a woman to do it. Or two of them in fact, as both she and Nyssa show themselves to be adept at commandeering ambulances, escaping the creation of the universe, and lugging a post-regeneration Doctor around in a makeshift zero cabinet. Assuming her role as coordinator with great gusto, and despite the Doctor’s denial – I’d wager it was Tegan who landed the TARDIS on Castrovalva all along. 

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