For Billie Piper’s birthday, the Radio Times counted down Rose’s best moments from her time on Doctor Who. As any regular reader knows, Rose is my gal: my #1 companion, the one I want most to be, the one I’d want along if I were the Doctor – one of my favorite fictional characters of all time. An ordinary person with an ordinary life, she found in herself courage, compassion, a drive to do the right thing, a zest for the opportunity of life in the TARDIS. At the same time, she’s a flawed, authentic human being, with petty jealousies, unkind words, selfish moments. Like the best of us she strives to overcome these things, and it’s her struggle that makes her real.
Taking advantage of the Radio Times’ hard work, I’m going to comment on their entries one by one.
#10: Rose meets Sarah Jane Smith
At first blush this is not one of Rose’s better moments. The Doctor’s old companion puts her instantly on the defensive, and she skilfully shreds the older woman with her scorn. However, after a brief Mean Girls-style skirmish, Rose stops herself. She pushes her jealousy aside and opens herself up to friendship. Having more in common with one another than almost anyone else on Earth, the two women form a fast bond. The scene is a great example of Rose overcoming her faults, a model for us all to live up to.
#9: The Moment
This isn’t really Rose Tyler, though the Moment finds her face in the Doctor’s timeline and recognizes her significance. It’s a wonderful opportunity for Billie to expand as an actor and have a little fun. It’s also an acknowledgement of Rose and Billie’s impact on the success of the show. So while not a Rose Tyler moment, it’s a great Moment, and I understand why they chose to include it.
#8: The Reunion
In the closing seconds of ‘The Stolen Earth,’ Rose and the Doctor finally find each other – only to be torn apart again by a Dalek blast. This is one of those overhyped, melodramatic moments that I normally despise, but because I love these characters so much, I wasn’t bothered. I also saw it coming eight miles away – but somehow, Tennant’s era is full of things I saw coming and loved anyway. Anticipation isn’t always a bad thing.
#7: Captain Jack
I think Rose embodied most people’s first reaction to Captain Jack in this scene. Flirting is such an ingrained part of the show now, but here it’s still new and fresh: an interested woman and an interested man having a bit of safe, consensual fun. I kind of miss the relative innocence of their interaction; no one since has had John Barrowman’s charm.
#6: Father’s Day
This one is an absolute winner. She begins with a mistake, she defends her decision, she brushes off the Doctor’s rage. Then, as she realizes the impact of what she’s done, she experiences all the horror and remorse that go with that. Most of us won’t endanger the universe with our errors, but everyone knows the pain of unintended consequences.
On the plus side, she gets to know her dad, and to see him as the hero she always believed he could be. Rose matures a lot in this story, and takes her relationships – with herself, her family, the Doctor – to a new level.
#5: Making a stand
In ‘The Parting of the Ways,’ the Doctor sends his friend home for her own safety. However, she’s no longer willing to stay home safe while he gives his life for her people. She makes a stand; she says no. She has the guts to do what’s right when everyone else just runs away. Even when she doesn’t know what to do.
This episode showcases Rose’s compassion like no other. The Doctor sees only a killing machine: Rose sees a creature in pain, that only wants a chance to feel the sunlight.
#3: The Sycorax
Here, Rose’s courage takes center stage. The Doctor lies sleeping, out of reach. The Earth is under attack. Her home, her family, everything she knows is in danger. She wants to hide – she tries to hide – but when circumstances require a hero, she steps up. She overcomes her fear and acts anyway. She doesn’t know what to do, she knows she’ll probably be killed, and she doesn’t let it stop her.
#2: Bad Wolf
As the Doctor says later, “Everything she did was so human.” Gaining godlike powers from the Vortex, she uses them to save her friends and the Earth below, with no thought for her own safety.
Rose’s first goodbye is everyone’s favorite moment. It’s melodrama, but decently executed, and the acting is beyond compare. (A later reviewer of a stage play of Billie’s commented that “no one can cry more convincingly” than she can.) I wouldn’t have ranked it #1 – I’d give that spot to ‘Father’s Day’ or ‘Dalek’ – but for Rose Tyler, it’s a pretty definitive scene.
I can understand why the Radio Times left this one out, as it’s more the Doctor’s moment than Rose’s. However, it so beautifully embodies who she is – for him and for herself – that the list feels incomplete without it.
Happy Birthday, Billie Piper, and thank you for Rose Tyler.