mistress of the magical bus

Number 22 to Putney Common

    Number 22 to Putney Common


Old Flames - Paul Magrs


The TARDIS materializes near an 18th-century manor, where the Doctor nearly drowns in a frozen lake while following giant cat footprints. He is rescued by the kindly Rector Adams, and eventually recovers and decides to go back to the TARDIS - but on his way he and Sarah see a 20th-century double-decker bus trundling through the woods and decide to remain and investigate. Adams invites them to accompany him to Lady Huntingdon's ball, where the Doctor meets an old "friend" - Iris Wildthyme, fellow renegade Time Lady.

She's brought her human companion, a young man named Turner, to the ball in the hopes that he'll marry Lady Huntingdon's granddaughter Bella and Iris will inherit the estate. The ball ends badly when Adams' body is found outside, mauled by a giant animal. The Doctor attends a dinner with Lady Huntingdon, Iris, Bella and Turner, where it is revealed that Lady Huntingdon and her daughter are shape-shifting cat aliens and that Lady Huntingdon is fully aware of Iris' plans and intends to take Iris' TARDIS, the bus which the Doctor and Sarah spotted earlier.

Bella refuses to help her grandmother, claiming that Earth is the only home she knows now, and Lady Huntingdon transforms into the cat-shape in which she killed Adams and heads into the woods to find Iris' TARDIS. The Doctor beats her to it and uses a Time Lord dimensional message capsule to trap her in a pocket dimension. The Doctor and Sarah then leave, and Iris sets off as well, leaving Turner behind with Bella.


P11 - "Sarah" - Sarah Jane Smith, investigative journalist and one time companion of the Doctor in his third and fourth incarnations. Rarely seen in modern times, following her sacking from Planet 3 News, she is believed to have aided the Doctor on occasion in his tenth incarnation.

P11 - "John Donne" - John Donne [1572-1631] has been described as the first modern English poet - his major works include Satires (1593), Songs and Sonnets (1593) and Divine Poems (1607). His Collected English Poems is an excellent collection.

P12 - "that ridiculous scarf" - The Doctor is clearly in his fourth incarnation, enormous multi-coloured scarf and all.

P12 - "duffel coat" - a long woolen coat popular in the 1970s and early 21st century on Earth.

P12 - "Police Box shell" - Like Iris, the Doctor's TARDIS has a malfunctioning chameleon circuit and is stuck in the shape of a blue Metropolitan Police Box from the 1960s.

P13 - "Cheshire Cat" - the Cheshire Cat is a character from the children's book Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll [pen name of Reverend Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, 1832-1898]. Carroll did not in fact invent the Cat, but merely based the character on the old English phrase 'to grin like a Cheshire Cat'.

P13 - "dungarees" - Ludicrous trousers cum overalls which should only be seen on small children but which were in vogue for adults (often in garish primary colours) in the 1970s and again in the 1990s (in denim that time, thankfully).

P17 - "her large, inelegant body...those feet of hers which she had once described to him as her 'very best feature'" - Iris is in what has been described as her 'Beryl Reid' body (although the quoted passage would be an unflattering description of even that stalwart actress of British stage and screen).

P18 - "plump hands" - and the description gets no more alluring on the following page.

P18 - "their paths had crossed on only a few occasions in the past" - We know that Iris met the Doctor in his first incarnation in historical France and on the planet of the Zarbi; visited the third Doctor at his home in Verdigris; bumped into the Fourth Doctor in "Old Flames"; the Fifth Doctor both in Excelis Dawns and one Christmas, when she had the Doctor and his companions for lunch; the Sixth in The Wormery (where she comments on the relative unattractiveness of that incarnation) and the Eighth Doctor in "Iris Explains", The Blue Angel, The Scarlet Empress and Horror of Glam Rock. She claims to have met the Doctor in all of his incarnations so we can assume unrecorded meetings with the second and seventh Doctors.

P18 - "cravat" - Neckwear worn in a slipknot with long ends overlapping vertically in front, somewhat similar to the ascot as worn by Fred in Scooby Doo, but not half as camp.

P18 - "some land and a beautiful house in the North" - As Iris is planning to take over the Manor house by marrying Captain Turner to the current owner's niece and heir, it would seem that Iris is not content with, as the Doctor later puts it, owning a 'house in every century'.

P19 - "She's not the one I didn't get on with" - Sight unseen, Iris is concerned that Sarah might be Jo Grant with whom she bickered throughout Verdigris.

P19 - "the freezing, benighted world of the Exxilons in a bathing costume"In Death to the Daleks the third Doctor tries to take Sarah to the planet Florana where the water is sufficiently effervescent to support a swimmer, hence she is dressed in a bathing costume and sunglasses. Instead they end up on the rather unpleasant world of the Exxilons.

P19 - "an old flame of the Doctor's" - as remarked elsewhere, Iris does claim to have 'had' the Doctor by his the time of his fifth incarnation, although he denies it (but as she visits him out of sequence, maybe the version she has 'had' is a later one.) At a guess if she has had him, it would during his exile on Earth.

P21 - "She was thinking about the first time she had ever travelled in the TARDIS" - Sarah first travelled with the Doctor as a stowaway in the Time Warrior. This line (and that beginning 'Captain Turner had the same slightly glazed, bemused expression worn by all first-time time travellers') firmly suggest that this is Captain Turner's first journey with Iris.

P21 - "guts for garters" - First mentioned in literature in The Bride of Lammermoor (1819) by Sir Walter Scott (“He that would not pledge me, I would make his guts garter his stockings”) this phrase, according to Paul Beale’s update of Eric Partridge’s A Dictionary of Catch Phrases, had been around in various forms since before even then, and was at one time Cockney low slang or the cant of racecourse toughs, and was a common reprimand or threat by NCOs in the services during World War Two and afterwards. As that book notes, it has since risen somewhat in the social scale to become a macho phrase among some idiotic middle managers.

Fonda Iris