Before meeting the Doctor, Barbara was a history teacher at Coal Hill School in 1960s London. After leaving the Doctor, she had an adventure with his eleventh incarnation, and at the end of that adventure she married close friend and fellow companion Ian Chesterton.
Early life Edit
Barbara had a very close relationship with her mother, Joan Wright, when she was growing up. (PROSE: A Long Night) According to one account, her father was killed in the early stages of World War II when she was a child and, after, she carried a photo of him with her. (PROSE: Tell Me You Love Me, All I Want for Christmas) Another account claimed that her father was still alive after the war. (PROSE: Venusian Lullaby)
As a child, Barbara spent her summers at the Malvern Hills. (PROSE: The Edge of Destruction) Whilst sick with whooping cough at the age of ten, she read a Ladybird book about Captain Cook, sparking an interest in history. At age twelve, she was in Form 2A at Cricklewood Grammar School. In an exam, she wrote about life in Roman cities. Her answer did not impress her teacher, Mr Dolphin, whose methods of teaching history Barbara considered very dull. At age thirteen, she visited the Tower of London. (PROSE: Byzantium!)
She later attended Hampstead High School for girls. In 1952, she was in Class 5G and answered a question about the Gunpowder Plot in her second History O-levels exam paper. (PROSE: The Plotters) In her teens, Barbara dated a boy who carried a flick knife. Her mother called this her "rebellious phase". (AUDIO: 1963)
In 1954, she was a student teacher in Cricklewood, living in a rented room. (PROSE: The Witch Hunters) Her specialities included the Aztecs (TV: The Aztecs) who, according to one source, she wrote her dissertation on. (PROSE: Nothing at the End of the Lane) According to another, she wrote it on Japan's period of exclusion and isolation. (AUDIO: The Barbarians and the Samurai)
At some point in the mid-20th century, she lived in Bedfordshire. (TV: The Dalek Invasion of Earth) She met with her mother every Sunday to discuss their week over tea, (AUDIO: A Small Semblance of Home) and met with an aunt named Cecilia every year in London on her aunt's birthday, 23 November. (AUDIO: 1963)
Teaching at Coal Hill Edit
Additional citations and stories before An Unearthly Child needs to be added.
Meeting River Song Edit
Ian introduced Barbara to River Song, who had been hired at Coal Hill as a history teacher. The two got along well, with Barbara confiding in River that she would love to travel, but couldn't do it with their current salary. Barbara told Ian and River about her worries about a student, Sheila Page, who seemed to be behaving strangely. Deciding to act upon it, Barbara went to see her foster parent, but the man was very rude and refused to help. She then enlisted the help of both Ian and River to come back and insist, but when they came to the house, they found the owner dead and Sheila and her adoptive brother, Lloyd Walker, missing. Ian and Barbara came to fetch the police while River surveyed the area. When they returned, River announced she had found Lloyd. The four of them headed to the pub, where River left Ian and Barbara to take care of Lloyd as she went out looking for Sheila, turning down Ian's request to come with her. The two teachers eventually came out nonetheless, but River assured her it was all over. Before leaving Coal Hill, River said a fond goodbye to both. (AUDIO: An Unearthly Woman)
Travels with the Doctor Edit
Is this what she did or how she felt?
In 1963, Barbara taught Susan Foreman history at Coal Hill School (TV: "An Unearthly Child") in Shoreditch, London (TV: The Day of the Doctor) in classroom Class C4. (PROSE: Nothing at the End of the Lane) She had a particular interest in the Aztecs. (TV: The Aztecs) The odd gaps in Susan's knowledge and her knowledge of things she could not know intrigued Barbara. Informing her colleague Ian Chesterton of the strange girl, together they followed Susan to 76 Totter's Lane, where they heard her voice from inside a police box. They forced their way inside, discovering the massive console room of the Doctor's TARDIS. (TV: An Unearthly Child)
According to one account Barbara met Ian at a car crash on Barnes Common and had been personally tutoring Susan. (PROSE: Doctor Who in an Exciting Adventure with the Daleks)
Susan's grandfather, the First Doctor, kidnapped Ian and Barbara in the TARDIS, which travelled back in time. The TARDIS landed in Earth's Stone Age. The Doctor was taken by Kal, who had apparently seen him produce fire from his fingers (the Doctor had been lighting his pipe using matches). The others tried to rescue the Doctor, but were taken to the Cave of Skulls. The Old Mother released the Doctor and his companions because she did not want them to bring fire back to her tribe, and they escaped into a nearby forest. Ian and Barbara aided Za's injuries from an animal when he tried to chase after them, but were returned to the cave. Ian produced fire for the tribe and devised a way of scaring the cavemen by setting the skulls on fire. The group escaped to the TARDIS, which took off again. (TV: An Unearthly Child) According to another account the TARDIS travelled directly to Skaro after the group met. (PROSE: Doctor Who in an Exciting Adventure with the Daleks)
When the TARDIS landed on Skaro, the Doctor lied about the fluid link needing more mercury, when there was nothing wrong, so he could explore a nearby city. The Daleks imprisoned the Doctor and his companions inside the city, confiscating the fluid link they brought along.
Having escaped, they assisted the Thals in their attack on the Dalek city. The Daleks' power supply was damaged in the attack. The Daleks died and their plans to flood the atmosphere with radiation failed. (TV: The Daleks)
With the fluid link retrieved, the Doctor left Skaro for Earth, using the fast return switch. The spring in the switch was faulty, causing it to stick. The TARDIS was sent to the beginning of a solar system and everyone was knocked out in the trip. The TARDIS tried warning the crew about the atoms forming around them when they came to, but the Doctor assumed that this was Ian and Barbara's sabotage of the ship. Once Barbara figured out what was going on, the Doctor fixed the spring, ending the fault. (TV: The Edge of Destruction)
Still heavily damaged and malfunctioning, the TARDIS found its way to Earth, but did not make it to Ian and Barbara's time, instead landing in the Plain of Pamir in 1289. There, the Doctor and his companions met Marco Polo. Polo took the TARDIS along with its keys on his caravan across Cathay, to hand it to Kublai Khan as part of a bargain for his return to Venice. Along the way, the Mongol warlord, Tegana, also part of Polo's caravan, tried to take the TARDIS for Nogai as part of his plan to assassinate the Khan. In the chaos of Tegana and Polo's duel in Peking, the Doctor and his companions escaped in his repaired TARDIS. (TV: Marco Polo)
On the spaceship Vanguard she helped to explore the surroundings. She was taken by Benya to be examined by Olivan thinking they were Shifts. She helped to rescue the Doctor and Ian from the chains Arran had put them in but she was captured. (AUDIO: The Age of Endurance)
The Doctor landed on an island on Marinus. Arbitan asked them to search for the keys to the reprogrammed Conscience of Marinus to regain control over the Voord, as all of his followers and family members had failed to retrieve them. Arbitan trapped the TARDIS in a forcefield, preventing the Doctor and his companions' escape.
Ian and Barbara found a fake key in the Screaming Jungle and, after surviving several traps, were told the proper location of the second key by Darrius. The third key was found in a mountain cave and was guarded by Ice Soldiers.
Escaping the soldiers, Ian reached Millennius, where he was knocked out and framed for the murder of Eprin. The Doctor helped discover the true culprit, and Ian was spared execution. The fourth key was found inside the mace that killed Eprin when the man sent to fetch the key was captured.
The Doctor and his companions returned to Arbitan's island, where Arbitan had been murdered. Ian handed the Voord the fake key, which destroyed the Conscience, along with the Voord. They were able to leave in the TARDIS once more. (TV: The Keys of Marinus)The Doctor and his companions arrived in an Aztec temple in Mexico. They went through a one-way passage that prevented access to the TARDIS. Barbara posed as the Aztec god, Yetaxa, with the others as her servants, to find a way back. Barbara tried and failed to change the Aztecs' history of human sacrifice for the better, which the Doctor strongly advised her against.
Susan was to be punished for denying marriage to the Perfect Victim and Ian to be executed when he was framed by the High Priest of Sacrifice, Tlotoxl, for attacking the High Priest of Knowledge, Autloc. Autloc's faith in Yetaxa was shattered, and he left for the wilderness. The Doctor, Ian and the Doctor's accidental fiancée, Cameca, distracted Ian and Susan's guard to escape. Ian prevented Tlotoxl's murder of Barbara and fought off the warrior Ixta. They worked on a wheel and pulley system to open the doorway back to the TARDIS, taking the wheel with them to avoid contaminating history (the Aztecs had never used wheels). As they departed, the sacrifice of the Perfect Victim continued as planned. (TV: The Aztecs)
The Doctor landed inside a spaceship in the 28th century, where two crewmembers were suspended in a state resembling death and another, John, had had his mind opened and turned insane, following an attack on their minds by the Sensorites. The Sense Sphere, which the ship had been trapped around, had its aqueducts' water supply poisoned with atropine by survivors of a previous human expedition whose ship had been destroyed.
The TARDIS' lock was taken by the Sensorites, leaving the Doctor and his companions trapped on the spaceship. After the Doctor and his companions resisted the Sensorites, the Doctor, Ian and Susan agreed to go down to the Sense Sphere to treat the "disease" and cure John. Barbara had to stay behind as assurance for the Sensorites, but arrived on the Sense Sphere after the Doctor had discovered a cure for the poison. The Doctor and Ian, later followed by Barbara, went to the aqueducts where Atropa belladonna had been growing. They found the human expedition and pretended to be a welcoming party for them and that the "war" against the Sensorites was won. The expedition were taken into custody on Maitland's ship. Maitland's ship was free to leave and the TARDIS crew had regained their lock. (TV: The Sensorites)
Passionate about history, Barbara could see both sides to a story. When the travellers arrived in revolutionary France, she befriended Léon Colbert. When he died, she was distraught and defended his treachery. (TV: The Reign of Terror)
When the TARDIS landed on Destination, Barbara and Ian agreed to go with the Master when he offered to take them home, although they had been hypnotised. Once they came to, they subdued him whilst in the TARDIS in the time vortex and used the fast return switch to return to the Doctor and Susan. (AUDIO: The Destination Wars)
She liked watching plays when they were in Alexandria. When she discovered that Ian was talking to Hypathia she got angry. When the Library of Alexandria was burning down she tried to save the Books. (AUDIO: The Library of Alexandria)
They later landed in a flotilla of ships on the planet Hydra where they were captured by Amyra Kaan and Pan Vexel for being stowaways. When Ian volunteered to help a rescue mission after a shipwreck, Barbara became concerned on what he would find in the wreckage of one of the ships. The Doctor ordered her to evacuate the sinking ship with Susan and the injured Jonas Kaan but she went back to get the Doctor. She was assumed to have died but was in fact imprisoned by Tarlak and maltreated for months. She also assumed the Doctor to have died. When Susan was to be converted into a Voord, Barbara was used as a bargaining chip to get Susan to comply with Tarlak's orders. (AUDIO: Domain of the Voord)
On 22nd century Earth, the travellers found the Daleks had invaded and occupied the planet. Barbara helped a small resistance group in their plotting and, with Jenny, took Dortmun through London. With the Daleks defeated, Susan left their company to marry freedom fighter David Campbell. (TV: The Dalek Invasion of Earth)
When they arrived on the planet Dido, Barbara was pushed off a cliff by Bennett, one of two surviving passengers of the crash landed Earth ship the UK-201 as part of Bennett's plan to get away with his murder of the crew and many of the Dido people. The other surviving passenger, Vicki, brought Barbara to the UK-201 after she survived her fall, but was upset when Barbara killed Vicki's pet sand beast, Sandy, thinking it to be dangerous. After Barbara offered an apology, the two got on well and, following Bennett's death and the revelation he murdered her father, Vicki joined the TARDIS to travel in time and space. (TV: The Rescue)
The travellers stayed in a villa in Assisium near Rome for several weeks in the year 64. Ian and Barbara were taken as slaves by the slave traders Sevcheria and Didius, with Barbara sold into Nero's palace to serve Nero's wife, the Empress Poppaea. While at the palace, Barbara received a bracelet from Nero as a present. After believing Barbara had ambitions to become Empress, Poppaea tried poisoning Barbara, but she was unwittingly saved by Vicki, who didn't know Barbara was in the palace. With the help of Ian, Tavius and Delos, Barbara escaped, and Ian and Barbara returned to the villa before the Doctor and Vicki returned from their own adventures in Rome. (TV: The Romans)
The Doctor, Ian, Barbara, Vicki and Jospa had to escape from laser fire after rescuing some slaves. She found her former pursuers technology disgusting. She observed that the birds who were eating the fruits looked like they were getting intoxicated. When one of the birds attacked Vicki she realised this was because Vicki smelled like fruit. She helped Vicki back to the TARDIS, but when Jospa's device was connected to the console she experienced some pain. She then forgot who Jospa was. She devised a plan to attack the Jospa controlled Arunde using the fruit and the birds who had already attacked her earlier. (AUDIO: The Fifth Traveller)
The Doctor, Ian, Barbara, and Vicki then travelled to 1868, where they attended a lecture by Thomas Huxley. The four of them travelled into the London Underground to investigate a group of missing students and discovered that the Zarbi had populated themselves in the there. Travelling further into the sewers, they found the Animus, who had reformed itself and had moved to Earth to take revenge on the human race. Ian was able to kill it by driving a train into it. The Doctor and his companions prepared to leave, but the Doctor discovered that his companions were missing, having been pulled out of time by Adam Mitchell. (COMIC: Unnatural Selection)
When Vicki told Barbara that the siesta machines that were being used on Hisk were like her teaching machines, Barbara got annoyed at the fact that her job was replaced by a machine. When she realised a local was severely depressed she helped to try and overcome the feeling by helping to bake some cakes. (AUDIO: The Sleeping City)
On one place they landed on, she became a food preparation worker but took a leave day to research the planet they were on. She was later arrested for unauthorised research. (AUDIO: The Unwinding World)
When Barbara and her friends landed near Sonning Palace, the Doctor asked her to use her historical expertise to guess where they were. She was slightly disappointed at being in the reign of Henry IV. She spent her time making some clothing for the Doctor. She later went on a pilgrimage with the Doctor to Canterbury. (AUDIO: The Doctor's Tale)
She was the first to realise that she and Ian might be able to return home in the Dalek time machine. Determined to get home, she was willing to risk her life in the Dalek ship. On returning home, Barbara and Ian were thrilled to have safely arrived. Once they had left the Dalek ship, and it had self-destructed, the two friends realised that they had some explaining to do, as they had arrived home in 1965 — two years after they had left. (TV: The Chase) Barbara and Ian claimed to have been missionaries in Africa to account for the time gap. (PROSE: Who Killed Kennedy)
Life after the Doctor Edit
In 1965, Ian and Barbara were pulled into an illusory world, and made to believe they were in Coal Hill. They encountered the Eleventh Doctor, who helped them overcome the illusion. Ian was sceptical when the strange young man proclaimed himself to be the Doctor, brushing off his intimate knowledge of their adventures as being a result of him being some sort of mind-reading alien. Barbara, on the other hand, was more willing to believe him, citing all the strange things the Doctor had done during their travels. They went with the Doctor to Cornucopia, where they discovered the place in ruins.
When the attackers (known as "the Hunters of the Burning Stone") attacked, the Doctor got their attention by claiming to possess the item they sought, allowing Ian to attack their leader from behind (and finally convincing him that he really was the same man he once knew). Barbara was then kidnapped by Miss Ghost, and transported to her ship. There, Barbara learned that Miss Ghost was actually Annabel Lake, an acquaintance of the Doctor's from 20th century Prague.
Using Annabel's ship, they flew to the Prometheans' ship, narrowly escaping the Hunters (who were revealed to be the Tribe of Gum) and saved the Doctor, Ian and Annabel's father, Patrick Lake. Unfortunately, they could not prevent the Prometheans from using their "Neural Extractor" to regress humanity to a neanderthal mindset. On Annabel's ship, Ian and Barbara encouraged the Doctor to think of a plan, and he finally hit upon one, taking the TARDIS to the past.
As the Tribe of Gum instructed the primitive humans to worship the Prometheans, the Doctor returned, having planted the image of the TARDIS throughout human history, and using that image to alter the neural platform, reversing the effect, destroying the platform, and "locking" the minds of the human race from being altered again. Incensed, the Tribe of Gum, at the Prometheans' urging, attacked the Doctor. Barbara and Ian landed their ship on a fragment of the neural platform, and convinced the Tribe to stop by telling them of love and sacrifice, and how the Doctor protected the people of Earth for years. When the Tribe of Gum ceased their assault, the Prometheans attacked Barbara and Ian. The Tribe of Gum then turned on the Prometheans. Both sides were destroyed in the ensuing struggle. Barbara and Ian returned to their own time, and married, with the Doctor attending their wedding. (COMIC: Hunters of the Burning Stone)
At some point, Barbara was taken to the Black Archive by UNIT to have her record as a companion of the Doctor taken. Her memories of the visit were subsequently erased and she was sent on her way. (TV: The Day of the Doctor)
She began a career as a university lecturer, specialising in Aztec history. (PROSE: Who Killed Kennedy) Her and Ian had a child, John Alydon Ganatus Chesterton, who grew up to be a famous musician under the name Johnny Chess. (PROSE: Timewyrm: Revelation, Byzantium!) The Seventh Doctor's companion Ace was a fan of Johnny Chess. (AUDIO: Maker of Dreams)
According to a rumour Sarah Jane Smith shared with Clyde Langer and Rani Chandra, Barbara and Ian had become professors at the University of Cambridge by at least the 2010s and had not aged since the 1960s. (TV: Death of the Doctor)
In 1985, Barbara wrote a GCSE textbook called Journeys Through History: A Sourcebook for GCSE for the Associated Exam Board with Ian Martin in which Lady Jane Grey's nine day reign from 10 to 19 July 1553 was covered. She, the Doctor and Ian had met Lady Jane shortly after she was deposed by Queen Mary I. (PROSE: The Nine-Day Queen)
An oak tree was planted at the Coal Hill quad in memory of Ian and Barbara. Surviving two Dalek invasions, it remained to at least the end of the 22nd century when it was found by Susan, who lived in the block of flats which Coal Hill had been converted to over a hundred years prior. Realising that the commemorative plaque had since been replaced more than once, Susan found it did not say when they ultimately died. (AUDIO: All Hands on Deck)
Barbara was keen to see the good in all things. She was frequently protected by Ian. (TV: The Keys of Marinus) She believed in the innate goodness of people and saw that sometimes there was more to a situation than met the eye. (TV: The Romans)
Barbara was also capable of great endurance and feats of bravery. She killed Sandy with a flare gun in shock, after which she was keen to make it up with Vicki. (TV: The Rescue) While a prisoner, Barbara looked after her fellow captives at risk to herself. (TV: The Romans) Barbara would take her aggression out on the Daleks. Despite her initial fear, she overcame it and fought them to save her group and the Thals. (TV: The Daleks) In her second encounter with them, Barbara drove a truck through a roadblock of Daleks, crushing at least one of them. (TV: The Dalek Invasion of Earth) The next time she met the Daleks, Barbara was eager to violently attack them as soon as the Doctor gained the weaponry they needed. (TV: The Chase)
Barbara once described travelling in the TARDIS as "the most adventurous, terrifying, exhilarating thing" that she had ever done. She admitted to Ian that she would find it hard to say goodbye to it. (PROSE: The Mother Road)
Behind the scenes Edit
- Heather Hartnell's cousin, Mildred Wright, passed away in 1959. Mildred's widower married Barbara Wright, his second wife, in 1961. (This may, of course, be a coincidence.)
- The roles of Barbara and Ian as, respectively, history and science teachers were part of the series' original plan to alternate between science-fiction and historical stories. The character was originally described (in a document written by Cecil Webber on 19 March 1963) as a not-yet-named "handsome well-dressed heroine." In a revised series proposal (which Webber produced around April 1963), she was characterised as a timid but brave twenty-four-year-old school mistress called "Lola McGovern". (DWMSE 7, p. 11)
- Barbara Wright has the distinction of being the first regular Doctor Who character to appear on screen. She also spoke the first line of dialogue ever heard in the series, "Wait in here please, Susan. I won't be long." She was the first character to meet a Dalek on screen.
- As Jacqueline Hill died six years prior to the first Doctor Who audio production by Big Finish Productions, the role of Barbara in the company's plays has been portrayed by Carole Ann Ford, Maureen O'Brien and, most recently, by Jemma Powell.
- Russell T Davies has stated that he sees Tenth Doctor companion Donna Noble as how Barbara would be presented today: