Miriam Margolyes is known for her role as Professor Pomona Sprout in the Harry Potter films, as well as for her theater and dubbing roles. It was recently reported that she has been cast in the Doctor Who 60th Anniversary specials. But who could she be playing and why might it be so important to the Doctor Who universe? I have some thoughts to share on that below.
Could she be another incarnation of The Doctor’s mother?
When I say the Doctor’s mother, I don’t mean their adoptive mother Tecteun (Barbara Flynn), but rather the person the Doctor thought was their mother. The Eighth Doctor (Paul McGann) indicated in Doctor Who: The Movie that he is part human, and that part comes from his mother. In the Doctor Who novels, we learn her name is Penelope Gate and she created the first time machine. This led to meeting the Gallifreyan Time Lord Ulysses, whom she marries and has a hybrid child, The Doctor.
Because of what Tecteun told the Thirteenth Doctor (Jodie Whittaker) during the Flux event, she believed her parents and the rest of her family were dead. The Doctor was transported from another universe to the main Doctor Who universe and ripped out of their lives. Tecteun took the Doctor’s memories of their parents and manipulated them. Therefore, it’s possible that the Doctor’s family is still alive in another universe, and a lot of the things that Tecteun said were lies.
There’s also a mysterious woman with many faces in the Doctor Who universe who’s somehow connected to the Doctor. In David Tennant’s last story in his initial run as The Doctor, “The End of Time”, Claire Bloom played a mysterious woman who had her face covered throughout most of the episode, revealing it only to the Doctor. His reaction when he saw her was confusing and vivid, which made fans question who she was. A similar woman (Linda Broughton) appeared in “Hell Bent”, where she enters the Gallifreyan barn where we saw the Doctor’s (Peter Capaldi) younger self sleeping in one of the previous episodes. She was both confused and surprised at the sight of him, but the story was dropped when the Time Lords came to kill the Doctor.
In Doctor Who: The Writer’s Tale – The Final Chapter (2009, pages 622-623), Russell T. Davies wrote that the woman was written as the Doctor’s mother. It’s possible she could also be their father, as Time Lords do not define themselves by gender.
The status of the Doctor’s mother is currently unknown, but with Doctor Who, anything is possible. The Doctor’s interference through time and space can easily reshape the course of history, bringing back those who have been gone for a while. Thus, the Doctor’s mother could appear in the upcoming 60th Anniversary possibly when the Doctor’s (David Tennant) memories are unlocked thanks to the interference of Neil Patrick Harris’ character.
Return of Miriam Margolyes to the Doctor Who universe
Despite this recent casting, Miriam Margolyes has appeared in the Doctor Who universe before. She was Slitheen in The Sarah Jane Adventures with the late Elisabeth Sladen. Margolyes also provided the voice of Frau Tod in Big Finish’s Doctor Who story The Beast of Orlok.
On Miriam Margolyes’ casting for Doctor Who’s 60th Anniversary, The Sun stated,
“With an acting career almost as old as Doctor Who itself, it’s a surprise to think she hasn’t already featured in an episode over the past six decades. But that only makes her even more of a prestige addition to a cast which already features Neil Patrick Harris and Catherine Tate, who returns to play the Doctor’s assistant Donna Noble.”
This statement makes one wonder how big a role Miriam Margolyes has in the special. Many Harry Potter actors have been cast in Doctor Who roles that weren’t important to the lore of the sci-fi series. For example, last time Russell T. Davies was the showrunner, Zoë Wanamaker, who played Madame Hooch in the Harry Potter series, was cast as Lady Cassandra O’Brien. While Lady Cassandra was a hilarious role, it wasn’t integral to Who’s lore.
Another quote from The Sun article suggests that Margoyles plays an important role in the 60th Anniversary episodes
“The show’s creators felt that she was such a great character in real life that she was a natural choice to play the character she will have on the sci-fi show, which the BBC is keeping a closely guarded secret. And at the grand age of 81, her career is enjoying something of a renaissance at the moment.”
It’s not often that actors and actresses with such expansive careers experience a career renaissance playing in Doctor Who. More questions are popping up each day about the 60th Anniversary plot and the characters appearing in the specials. Miriam Margoyles could appear as the Doctor’s mother’s first face, another incarnation, or maybe just the face the Doctor thinks belongs to his mother. The role of the Doctor’s mother would be guarded as a big secret, it doesn’t matter if it’s a large part of the story or just a minor easter egg.
Mysteries of 60th Anniversary episodes
There are many unknowns with the three 60th Anniversary specials, with David Tennant returning as the next Doctor (A rumor we initially reported on back in January). However, we know that they’ll be some of the most important episodes of Doctor Who, just as the 50th Anniversary episode was. We’ll have the opportunity to learn more of the Doctor’s secrets, perhaps even a glimpse of the Doctor’s future, with Ncuti Gatwa introduced as the Fifteenth Doctor at some point during the specials.
Russell T. Davies likes to make big creative decisions, and give fans lots of easter eggs and things they’ll be talking about for the next ten years. In this way, we might see some of the Doctor’s past memories, and in them, Miriam Margolyes is the mysterious woman the Doctor calls Mother.
I think the chances of Miriam Margolyes playing the Doctor’s Mother are high, but with such an important part, if it is her role, it won’t be revealed until her episode airs. Or maybe she’s once again playing the same Slitheen from The Sarah Jane Adventures, but it sounds like she’s got a bigger role this time around.
Doctor Who returns in November 2023 with three specials for its 60th Anniversary. Who do you think Miriam Margolyes could play? Let us know on our Discord or other social media. And if you haven’t already, check out Brian Kitson’s review of “The Power of the Doctor”, Jodie Whittaker’s final Doctor Who episode!