First seen in:
The End Of Time
“The Woman” was a Time Lady. She appeared to Wilfred Mott on several occasions before and after the resurrection of the Master.
Like all Time Lords, the Woman was taken from her family at the age of eight for the selection process in the Drylands. Staring into the Untempered Schism as part of a Time Lord initiation rite, the Woman was inspired by what she saw in the Schism. (A Brief History of Time Lords)
The Last Great Time War
During the final phases of the Last Great Time War, when the War Doctor had turned against the Time Lords, the Woman opposed Lord President Rassilon’s plan to destroy time itself, (The End Of Time) along with the Patriarch of the House of Stillhaven. (Lords and Masters) Rassilon condemned her and the patriarch to stand behind him in the Panopticon and cover their faces “as monuments of their shame, like the Weeping Angels of old” (The End Of Time) and had her name erased from time as further punishment. (A Brief History of Time Lords)
When Rassilon and his retinue came to Earth on Christmas Day 2009, the Tenth Doctor’s gaze fell on the Woman and she briefly uncovered her face and looked at him, shedding a single tear and glanced toward the White-Point Star. The Doctor then shot the diamond, severing the link in Rassilon’s plan to return to reality, sending her and the other Time Lords back into the time lock with Gallifrey. As the enraged Rassilon turned to kill the Doctor, she returned to her weeping position, just before the Doctor was saved by the Master. (The End Of Time)
Appearing to Wilfred
During the events surrounding the Master Race and the Tenth Doctor’s regeneration, the Woman frequently appeared to Wilfred Mott in conventional human clothes at the same time she was on Gallifrey during the Time War. How the Woman managed to do this is unknown, but she appeared older, with her hair getting greyer, each time she appeared to Wilf.
The Woman was first seen by Wilf in a church, where she told him that the church had been a convent that was attacked by “a demon from the skies” in the 1300s, and was saved by a “sainted physician”. She directed Wilfred’s attention to a stained glass window that contained an image of the Doctor’s TARDIS. After suggesting that the physician would appear again, she vanished.
She next appeared to Wilfred on Christmas Day, appearing on television during the Queen’s Christmas speech. Only Wilf could see her. The Woman told Wilf that he needed to take up arms and that the Tenth Doctor’s life could still be saved. Before vanishing again, she warned Wilf not to tell the Doctor anything she had said to him.
She once more appeared to Wilf on the Vinvocci’s spaceship. She told him that this was the Doctor’s final battle, and he had to take up arms. He asked her who she was, but she replied that she was lost, and vanished once more.
When Wilfred later asked the Doctor who the Woman was, the Doctor did not reply. (The End Of Time)
Behind the scenes
In the final script, the identity of the Woman is not revealed. In a March 2009 email reprinted in Doctor Who: The Writer’s Tale – The Final Chapter, on pages 622-623, Russell T Davies states that he created the character as the Doctor’s mother and that this is what actress Claire Bloom was told when she was cast. During filming, newspapers The Daily Mail and The Daily Telegraph announced that Claire Bloom would be portraying the Doctor’s mother.
However, Davies has acknowledged that the character could be interpreted as any trustworthy Time Lady like Susan Foreman, Susan’s mother (the Doctor’s daughter or daughter-in-law) or Romana.
In Davies’ script, when Wilf asks the Doctor, “That woman. Who was she?”, the stage direction reads: “The Doctor just looks. At Wilf. At Sylvia. At Donna, in the distance. Friends, mothers, brides. He’s not saying.”
The piece “The Doctor’s theme” plays in the scene where she reveals her face to the Tenth Doctor. This piece was occasionally referred to in jest by the producers as “Flavia’s theme”. Flavia was a Time Lady, and a Chancellor.
Julie Gardner was of the opinion that the Woman was the Doctor’s mother, but admitted there was enough ambiguity to allow other interpretations. Davies generally refused to be drawn in by Gardner’s comparative certainty about the Woman’s identity. (The End Of Time, Part 2)
The woman was dubbed in German by voice actor Karyn von Ostholt.
Philip Purser-Hallard recently theorised that the Woman could actually be the Doctor’s father.
Steven Moffat has said that he leaves it to Whovians to decide whether they want her to be the Woman from Hell Bent, as well as the Doctor’s mother.