Doctor Who’s Louise Jameson on Leela’s exit: "She should have died"
Jameson has a theory as to why Leela's departure was somewhat underwhelming.
Doctor Who fans were delighted to see Louise Jameson recently reprise her role of iconic companion Leela – 46 years after she departed the television series.
A warrior of the savage Sevateem tribe, Leela travelled in the TARDIS alongside the Fourth Doctor (Tom Baker) in nine stories – 40 episodes – between January 1977 and March 1978.
The character departed in The Invasion of Time, with her sudden decision to remain on the Time Lord home planet Gallifrey and marry Andred (Christopher Tranchell), Commander of the Chancellery Guard, proving divisive amongst fans.
Leela vs the Time War, a short film released in January 2024 to promote the Doctor Who – The Collection: Season 15 Blu-ray set, revisited her in the dying days of the Time War, with writer/executive producer Pete McTighe explaining that the action-packed short was "an opportunity to right [the] wrong" of Leela's abrupt exit.
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"For such an iconic character and such an amazing actress – one of the best actresses we've ever had in the show – to be married off to a posh Gallifreyan guard she's had six words with never quite seemed right to me, as a kid. So I felt like this was an opportunity to right that wrong."
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Jameson herself agreed: "It was a c**p ending, wasn't it?"
"I think she should have died saving the Doctor's life – something really heroic. Or you travel forward and she's got a football team of children... something dramatic, anyway. I mean, it's so cliché, isn't it, that she's fallen in love, that's how we get rid of her."
There may be a good reason as to why Leela's exit was so sudden, however – Jameson explained that then-Doctor Who producer Graham Williams had hoped to convince her to go back on her previous decision and remain with the series, crafting a final scene for Leela that could easily be rewritten so that the character left Gallifrey with the Doctor.
"Literally the night before we shot my last scene, [Graham] came up to me and said, 'It's very easy to rewrite your exit... can I ask you one last time, will you please change your mind?' – very flattering.
"I was already signed to go and play Portia [in The Merchant of Venice] in Bristol, so there's no way I could have stayed, but I think it had been written with him thinking, 'I can change her mind', which is why it hadn't been a great big dramatic story."
Jameson also addressed a potential return to the Doctor Who television series following Leela vs the Time War, insisting she'd go back "in a nanosecond".
Doctor Who - The Collection: Season 15 is available for pre-order on Amazon now. Doctor Who is available to stream on BBC iPlayer.