The result of centuries of genetic manipulation, Romana was intended as a host by Pandora, but Braxiatel hypnotised her to forget. She was later enlisted by the White Guardian (disguised as the President of Gallifrey) to assist the Doctor in locating the segments of the Key to Time. After achieving this goal and embarking on further adventures, Romana initiated a regeneration due to Pandora's increased influence, becoming a new woman.
Romana was born in the House of Heartshaven on Gallifrey. (AUDIO: Panacea) As a Time Tot, she had a copy of the Gallifreyan nursery book Our Planet Story. (AUDIO: Shada, PROSE: Shada) Her second incarnation would later claim that her family were, in Earth terms, "bohemians". (AUDIO: Havoc) Her mother and father told her that she would be left in the Drylands if she misbehaved (AUDIO: Fractures) and her father very rarely approved of her. (AUDIO: Reborn) She was raised by robots. (PROSE: The Pirate Planet)
Like all Time Lords, Romana 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, Romana reacted by running away from what she saw in the Schism. (PROSE: A Brief History of Time Lords)
At the Academy
During her time at the Time Lord Academy, Romana recited an oath as she became a Time Lady to master her emotions. (TV: Shada) When she was sixty years old, she would swim in Lake Abydos, home of the singing fish. She gathered zinc hawthorns from the molten rushes at the water's edge with her friends Taris and Rorvan, an orphaned brother and sister. (AUDIO: Neverland) For her seventieth birthday, she was given an air car. (TV: The Pirate Planet)
Romana was taught by Irving Braxiatel at the Academy. (AUDIO: Lies) She excelled at reason, caution and quiet calculation during her training, (PROSE: The Pirate Planet) but hated her time there. Her classmates were jealous of her effortless academic superiority, nicknaming her "the Ice Maiden". While there, she was contacted by the spirit of Pandora, who told her she had manipulated Romana's genetic make-up through the centuries with the Imperiatrix Imprimatur to create the perfect vessel for her to rule Gallifrey again.
Romana told Braxiatel, who hypnotised her to forget not only Pandora, but also him. She recalled only having heard of him through his art collection before her return to Gallifrey from her travels. (AUDIO: Lies)
Travels with the Doctor
Quest for the Key to Time
Romana was working at the Bureau of Ancient Records when the White Guardian assigned her to assist the Fourth Doctor in the quest for the Key to Time, (PROSE: A Brief History of Time Lords) appearing to her as the Lord President of Gallifrey. Though she was much younger than the Doctor, she considered him an academic inferior because of his final grades. The Doctor was initially unwilling to take Romana along and was somewhat hostile to her as he believed he did not need her help.
They found the first segment on the planet Ribos in the form of a lump of jethrik. They had to recover it against the will of Graff Vynda-K. During this time the two bonded, even though Romana made the mistake of thinking the first segment was a crown rather than the jethrik. Romana came to respect the Doctor for his experience despite his academic failings although she was frustrated he didn't immediately go after the segment and was more interested in Garron and Unstoffe. (TV: The Ribos Operation)
While the Doctor and a rat searched for the Key, they were twice interrupted by chronometric radiation, disrupting the tracer's operation: a chronometric pulse caused by a breach in the higher dimensions (PROSE: Tomb of Valdemar) and a network of spatial teleportation paths created by a malfunctioning time cabinet intersected with Earth's ley lines. (PROSE: The Shadow of Weng-Chiang)
Romana and the Doctor arrived on the planet Zanak in their search for the second segment of the Key to Time. Here they met the Captain, who used Zanak to materialise around and mine other planets. They discovered that the segment they sought was the planet Calufrax, which had recently fallen victim to Zanak. They retrieved the remaining components of Calufrax, which had been shrunk by the Captain as a trophy, also disabling in the process Zanak's ability to materialise around and destroy other planets. (TV: The Pirate Planet)
On her first visit to the planet Earth in 1978, while looking for the third segment, Romana befriended Professor Amelia Rumford and Vivian Fay. Vivian was really Cessair of Diplos. She kidnapped Romana, taking her to a ship in hyperspace. They met the Megara and she attended the Doctor's trial. Upon their escape, the Doctor and Romana found the segment was the Great Seal of Diplos. (TV: The Stones of Blood)
The search for the fourth segment brought them back to Earth, specifically Norfolk in 2011. They faced Millicent Ferril, a woman with the ability to control ferrous metal. The segment was disguised as a meteoroid which Romana destroyed to stop Ferril's plan. It eventually reformed as a statue on Tara. (AUDIO: Ferril's Folly)
On Tara, Romana immediately found the segment was a statue after leaving the Doctor. However, while fleeing a Taran wood beast, she met Count Grendel, who decided to take Romana prisoner. He introduced her to Princess Strella, whose appearance was identical to Romana's. Taking advantage of this likeness, the Count decided Prince Reynart would marry Romana, pretending she was a dancer from Gallifrey. Reynart would be killed and the Count would marry his widow. He would then rule as King. However, the Doctor interrupted the wedding and defeated the Count. (TV: The Androids of Tara)
It was during this time she was interviewed by UNIT. Ruth Matheson wanted to know the Doctor's involvement in a mysterious painting that foretold the death of the beholder. She was annoyed at going to Kensington instead of searching for the fifth piece of the Key to Time. (AUDIO: Tales from the Vault)
On Delta III, Romana was captured by Swampies and offered as a sacrifice to Kroll. The Doctor freed her, but they were quickly recaptured. This time both the Doctor and Romana were offered in sacrifice in the last of the Seven Holy Rituals of the Swampies. This involved them being stretched by vines, known as creepers, until their backbones broke. The Doctor freed them by resonating his voice and breaking a window so rain water loosened the creepers. The segment was within Kroll himself and the Doctor recovered it. (TV: The Power of Kroll)
When seeking the Sixth Segment they landed on Earth, again, and by this time Romana was starting to think the Doctor was deliberately landing them there. This time they landed in Rome. She explored the temple of Luna whilst leaving the Doctor to watch the play Luna Romana. Inside the temple she encountered Stoyn and felt pity for him and wanted to help him become whole again. She found that the segment in Rome was in fact the fifth segment not the sixth segment. Stoyn had tricked her and used the TARDIS to fulfil his aims. (AUDIO: Luna Romana)
The Doctor and Romana assembled the Key in the TARDIS, then disassembled it to escape the wrath of the White Guardian's foe, the Black Guardian. The Doctor fitted a randomiser to the TARDIS' controls to prevent the Black Guardian from hunting them down. During the adventure she met the Second Drax, one of the Doctor's peers from his own time on Gallifrey. (TV: The Armageddon Factor)
Time in 1929
After the completion of the Key to Time mission, Romana chose not to return immediately to Gallifrey; she and the Fourth Doctor shared a few more adventures. She thought that she should finish her thesis on the Doctor and continued to observe him. When the Doctor took her to Antibes she used it as a chance to start an Annex on his favourite species. Near the hotel there was a cave which contained paintings of creatures from another world, which the Doctor found fascinating. On going to visit the cave she encountered a psychovore who attacked people, which also stole peoples' possessions and later possessed them. She discovered that the Saiph was trying to breed in the Mediterranean Sea. (AUDIO: The Stealers from Saiph)
During the first of these adventures, Romana and the Doctor lived as Lady and Lord in London in 1929 while K9 led the Black Guardian on a wild goose chase. She was a bit worried that they could be detected by the Black Guardian in the interim. She considered Earth in the 1920s to be "harmless, if a bit primitive" considering that humans had only recently discovered the theory of relativity. The Doctor told her to enjoy herself in this era, so she went searching for scientific and mathematical developments. In a book shop, she met Reginald "Reggie" Bassett who invited her to see his aunt Lady Florence Bassett in Hampshire. He then proposed to her. Florence wanted Romana to be possessed by the alien entity that controlled her, as Romana had centuries to live. She then went searching for the spaceship, not knowing that the Doctor had deactivated them. Mabel Dobbs took her to the spaceship. She manipulated the controls on the spaceship so that its defence system attacked Grenville and then used his power cells to destroy the ship. She then returned to London before the Doctor knew she was missing. (AUDIO: The Auntie Matter)
Whilst doing some repairs in the bowels of the TARDIS, she started to hear some voices which turned out to be a parrot. When time phasing occurred, she tried to follow the manual by letter and use the helmic regulator which didn't work. Shortly afterwards, the Laan made contact with her. When they landed in the Sahara Desert, she was dragged in the sand by one of the Laan, but when the Earth's security forces arrived the Laan disappeared. She was taken to be interrogated by General Vincent about the Laan invasion. Vincent wanted to use her as an interpreter to find out what the Laan wanted. She grew concerned when the humans attacked the Laan without provocation. She could feel the Time Phasing. She was involved in a helicopter crash and was buried underneath the sand. (AUDIO: The Sands of Life)
She tried to get the Laan to understand that they didn't mean any harm. She was then transported to see President Sheridan Moorkurk. When Tallister started his vivisection of the eldest Laan, Romana felt her pain. She wanted to get the Laan away from the Conglomerate. Before the death of a Laan, she tried to get to the laboratory in time to stop it. The Doctor asked Romana to try and negotiate with the Laan. She recognised that the second eldest Laan was going to give birth and warned the humans to get away. She told the Laan that it was Cuthbert who was the cause of the attacks on their people. She warned the Doctor that the Laan were on their way to him. She overheard that Cuthbert was going to use a pathogen to destroy the Laan. She tried to convince Sheridan not to allow the Conglomerate ship to release the pathogen. (AUDIO: War Against the Laan)
Soon afterwards, Romana was taken to London in 1899, where she met Henry Gordon Jago and George Litefoot. While the Doctor believed that the aroma of Victorian London was "bracing", she considered it "rancid". They came in search of a source of ion emissions. She thought that Henry's manner of speaking was off-putting thinking that the TARDIS' telepathic circuits were malfunctioning. She was nearly mugged by Johnny Stone, but "the Pugilist" arrived before she was killed. She worked out that the figure was the cab driver Bobby Stamford. She tracked him to a church on the end of a marsh. The Pugilist sentenced her to death for trespassing, but the Doctor arrived in time to stop the execution. Harvey Marsh kidnapped her and wanted to use her as his maid. She psychoanalysed Harvey whilst she was on the way to his pub. She managed to escape just at the time the Doctor arrived. The Doctor got her to take Mary away before the Pugilist killed her. (AUDIO: The Justice of Jalxar)
She thought that it was because the Doctor built K9 that he was breaking down. She got annoyed that the Randomiser was always taking them to Earth. She thought that the submarine that they came aboard was magnificent given the technology level of the Earth in 2040. By this time, she intended to write a thesis on the Doctor. When Terri McCulloch said that she heard something different to Romana on Chris Fleming's message, she became concerned. She couldn't see the creatures which both Chris and Terri saw. Romana was placed in an airlock and the water from the trench was let in before K9 opened the outer door intending to make her drown. She didn't drown and was taken to a submersed spaceship. She worked out that the spaceship was making people super intelligent and telepathic. She helped to create a telepathic gestalt to destroy the goblins. Back on the submarine, she had to order K9 to obey her again when he came under the influence of the goblins. She had to revive the Doctor when he was stranded in the trench with the pressure increasing. (AUDIO: Phantoms of the Deep)
When the Doctor travelled to the Proxima System, Romana got irate knowing that the Doctor had bypassed the Randomiser again. Learning that there was a potentially deadly amount of Zukadom's Haze, she agreed that this was a good reason to switch off the randomiser. When a missile was aimed at the TARDIS she hoped that her modifications of the TARDIS' shell would protect them, unaware that the Doctor and cancelled them. She became concerned that the Daleks were on Proxima Major. She was captured as a Dalek prisoner and was supposed to be taken to see Cuthbert and Mr Dorrick. Instead she was interrogated by the Daleks using their truth assessment techniques. (AUDIO: The Dalek Contract) She was used as a bargaining chip to get the Doctor's location. Cuthbert wanted to know why she and the Doctor were in the Proxima system. She tried to convince Cuthbert that what he was doing was dangerous. She worked out that the Daleks made Mr Dorrick nervous. Romana didn't know that K9 had a stealth mode. When Cuthbert showed her the Quantum Gateway she realised that it was originally a natural occurrence. He then revealed to her that he wanted to use it to travel through time. Mr Dorrick wanted to use her knowledge to help in their work. Romana revealed to Cuthbert that the Daleks wanted his Gateway. When the Doctor's Dalek ship was destroyed, she realised that the Doctor and her had become friends and was disheartened when the Doctor apparently died. She then helped to devise a plan to stop the Daleks. She was delighted when the Doctor wasn't dead. When the Daleks invaded the platform she piloted the TARDIS to the Gateway antechamber. She stayed in the TARDIS to activate the Relative Dimensional Stabiliser to stop the particles destroying the universe. On the Doctor's orders she shut down the stabiliser which released the particles but the Doctor had changed the settings on the gateway so they destroyed the Daleks. The Gateway then imploded. After this ordeal she decided that she no longer wanted to go back to Gallifrey in the foreseeable future. (AUDIO: The Final Phase)
The Doctor, Romana and K9 encountered a frog-like being named Bolog, who had a fleet of ships at his command hidden on the far side of the moon. The Doctor was able to stop him by sending his ships into orbit around the sun with a banana. (COMIC: Death to the Doctor!)
Various accounts gave different reasons for Romana's first regeneration, in which she tried various genetic configurations before settling on one. (PROSE: Original Sin) Romana seemed carefree as she tried on these various bodies, (TV: Destiny of the Daleks) and one account claimed that she had regenerated purely "for the fun of it". (PROSE: City of Death) This cavalier attitude to regeneration was not uncommon among children of Newblood houses. (PROSE: The Book of the War)
However, other accounts, while agreeing that she voluntarily chose to regenerate, ascribed it a more utilitarian motive: to purge the malicious influence of Pandora, which had begun to resurface after her ordeal with the Shadow. (AUDIO: Lies) Yet another account claimed that the strain of the Key to Time was absorbed into her after leaving Princess Astra of Atrios, prompting her regeneration; (AUDIO: The Chaos Pool) Romana's second incarnation was unaware of the exact details of her regeneration for most of her life. (AUDIO: The Chaos Pool, Lies)
Yet another account claimed the transformation itself was facilitated by the TARDIS and took place inside a force field in the ship; the metamorphoses witnessed by the Doctor were not Romana at all, but the TARDIS itself adopting Romana's form and trying to replace her as the Doctor's companion in a fit of jealousy. Realising her mistake after one adventure, the ship helped the real Romana complete her regeneration (sans interim bodies) and freed her. (PROSE: The Lying Old Witch in the Wardrobe)
The first Romana's form would later be used by the Pandora entity when she confronted Romana's second incarnation and Leela, and again when Pandora became corporeal after Romana declared herself Imperiatrix, letting it take control of part of Gallifrey to begin a civil war. (AUDIO: Imperiatrix)
At some point, Romana 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)
Before leaving Gallifrey, Romana was sophisticated, spoilt, overconfident (AUDIO: The Skin of Sleek, The Thief Who Stole Time) and naïve. (AUDIO: Luna Romana) She was exceptionally bright, very good at puzzles, (TV: The Stones of Blood) and considered to be one of the greatest minds on Gallifrey, (AUDIO: Ferril's Folly) making her a favourite of her tutors at the Academy, (AUDIO: The Skin of the Sleek) but she lacked experience outside of academia. (TV: The Ribos Operation) She was able to properly and smoothly land the TARDIS simply by reading the Instruction Manual. (TV: The Pirate Planet) Her demeanour led to her being nicknamed the Icemaiden by her peers, who were jealous of her abilities. (AUDIO: Lies)
Due to her inexperience, Romana was wont to panic in life-endangering situations during her early adventures with the Fourth Doctor. (TV: The Ribos Operation) Initially sharing an adversarial relationship with the Doctor, the two gradually become good friends without noticing, (AUDIO: The Final Phase) with Romana willing to concede that a plan of his was "fantastic". (TV: The Pirate Planet) Whilst she could be arrogant and patronising, (TV: The Ribos Operation, etc.) she became less aloof as a result of her travels (AUDIO: The Armageddon Factor) and showed friendship and affection to some that she met. (TV: The Stones of Blood) She also became more resourceful and competent as an adventurer. (TV: The Androids of Tara) Like the Doctor, she preferred to think her way out of situations, but was not opposed to force when necessary, although she was saddened after shooting a guard. (TV: The Pirate Planet)
Romana preferred the charming and interesting conversation of the elderly to the immaturity of youth. (AUDIO: The Stealers from Saiph) She found Earth to be "harmless, if a bit primitive" (AUDIO: The Auntie Matter) and humans to be aggressive (AUDIO: The Sands of Life) and, having only recently discovered the theory of relativity in 1929, only one step above banging each other on the head with rocks. (AUDIO: The Auntie Matter) Despite this, she stood up for humanity and spoke in their defence against the Laan. (AUDIO: War Against the Laan)
The Doctor often told Romana that she was a spoilsport. (AUDIO: The Justice of Jalxar) She became willing to admit that the Doctor was sometimes more knowledgeable than her in some areas and his wisdom could be worth seeking out, although was uncomfortable confessing this. When the Doctor said that he might be able to return her to Gallifrey, she told him that she did not think that she should let him out of her sight, demonstrating her fondness for travelling with him. (AUDIO: The Final Phase)
Romana was a tall, aristocratic woman with dark hair parted in the centre. She had a finely-chiselled, almost Grecian face with arched eyebrows, pale eyes and delicately curved lashes. (PROSE: Doctor Who and the Ribos Operation) She was elegantly beautiful, (PROSE: Doctor Who and the Androids of Tara) with Henry Gordon Jago describing her as "an exquisite exemplification of elegance" and "a superior example of the feminine gender". (AUDIO: The Justice of Jalxar) Tommy Creighton and Reggie Bassett too found her extremely attractive. (AUDIO: The Stealers from Saiph, The Auntie Matter)
This incarnation of Romana was particularly fashion conscious. She had access to a large variety of clothing in the TARDIS wardrobe and changed her clothing frequently. (TV: The Ribos Operation, etc.) While on Tara, Romana took special care in choosing her clothes. She eventually came across a specific dress for Tara, or at least in that style. (TV: The Androids of Tara)
Romana told the Doctor that she was nearly one hundred and forty when they met, (TV: The Ribos Operation) although her second incarnation later gave her age as one hundred and twenty-five. (TV: City of Death)
Behind the scenes
- For a long time, it was only assumed that this is Romana's first incarnation. There was nothing in any televised episode to indicate this to be so. She was never actually called "Romana I" in any story, televised or otherwise. The nomenclature comes from repetition across several non-fictional reference books, such as The Companions of Doctor Who, that have been written throughout the years. The Gallifrey audio story Warfare finally established that this incarnation attended the Academy, and explicitly stated in-narrative that she was the first Romana.
- Mary Tamm agreed to play Romana after being convinced she wouldn't just be a "damsel in distress". However, by the end of Season 16, Tamm felt her character had fallen into that category. This, along with the fact her character had no room to grow in such a small format, left Tamm unwilling to carry on.
- Auditioning for the role of Romana along with Mary Tamm was Belinda Mayne. (TCH 28) The two actresses had previously appeared together in an episode of Whodunnit?, the game show hosted by Jon Pertwee.
- The first episode filmed with Tamm's successor, Lalla Ward, was The Creature from the Pit. Ward complained at the way her character was scripted to be like Tamm's version, even wearing the same style of clothing. (TV: The Creature from the Pit)