Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Leela (Doctor Who)
Leela is a fictional character played by Louise Jameson in the long-running British science fiction television series Doctor Who. She was a warrior of the savage Sevateem tribe, who were the descendants of the crew of an Earth ship that crash landed on an unnamed planet somewhere in the far future. She was a companion of the Fourth Doctor and a regular in the programme from 1977 to 1978. Writer Chris Boucher named Leela for the terrorist Leila Khaled, although this fact was not publicised at the time for obvious reasons.
Leela first appeared in the 1977 serial, The Face of Evil , where she aided the Doctor against the mad god Xoanaon. The god turned out to be the ship's computer, which had become both sentient and schizophrenic due to the Doctor's tampering with it in the past. Although the Doctor at this point was content to travel alone, Leela forced her way into the TARDIS and continued to accompany the Doctor on his journeys.
Although Leela was a primitive, she was also highly intelligent, grasping advanced concepts easily and translating them into terms she could cope with. Despite the Doctor's attempts at "civilizing" her, however, Leela was strong-willed enough to continue in her savage ways. She usually dressed in animal skins and went around armed with a knife or a set of poisonous Janis thorns which she did not hesitate to use on people who threatened her, much to the Doctor's disapproval.
Although Jameson's eyes are naturally blue, as Leela she initially wore red contact lenses to make them brown. However, the contact lenses severely limited her vision, and producer Graham Williams promised her she could stop wearing them. To explain the change in-story, writer Terrance Dicks wrote a scene in the 1977 serial Horror of Fang Rock where Leela's eyes suffered "pigment dispersal" and turned blue after viewing the explosion of the Rutan ship.
In her travels with the Doctor, Leela faced, among others, killer robots, murderous homunculi, the Rutan Host, and the Sontaran invasion of the Doctor's home planet of Gallifrey. It was in that last adventure, The Invasion of Time, that she met and fell in love with Andred, a native Gallifreyan, and decided to stay behind to be with him. The first K-9 also remained with her.
Leela's subsequent life on Gallifrey was not explored by the television series, although the spin-off media have done so to an extent. In the Virgin New Adventures novel Lungbarrow, by Marc Platt, Leela and Andred were expecting a child, the first naturally conceived baby on Gallifrey for millennia. Louise Jameson reprised the role of Leela for the 1993 charity special Dimensions in Time, and has voiced the character in a series of audio plays for Big Finish Productions taking place on Gallifrey, alongside Lalla Ward as Romana.
- Travelled from: The Face of Evil to The Invasion of Time
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