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April 9, 2023

Portraits of Lalla Ward as Romana II in ‘Doctor Who’

Romana, short for Romanadvoratrelundar, is a fictional character in the long-running British science fiction television series Doctor Who. A Time Lord from the planet Gallifrey, she is a companion to the Fourth Doctor.

As a Time Lord, Romana is able to regenerate, having had two on-screen incarnations with somewhat different personalities (dubbed Romana I and Romana II by fans). Romana I was played by Mary Tamm from 1978 to 1979. When Tamm chose not to sign on for a second season, the part was recast. Romana II was played by Lalla Ward from 1979 to 1981.

The introduction of Romana’s second incarnation at the start of Destiny of the Daleks — a script credited to Terry Nation, but with several additions and alterations by script editor Douglas Adams — treats the concept of regeneration humorously; Romana changes bodily forms several times, rather like someone casually trying on different outfits, before deciding to take the form of Princess Astra, who had been played by Lalla Ward in the final serial of Season 16, The Armageddon Factor. This regeneration scene is controversial with some fans, as it does not conform to the seriousness with which regeneration is presented in most other cases. It is generally presented as traumatic, even emotionally or physically agonizing.

Attempts at rationalizing Romana’s regeneration have been made in licensed spin-off media, including the Short Trips short story “The Lying Old Witch in the Wardrobe” which speculates that the TARDIS was responsible for her regeneration. It has also been theorized that Romana may have needed to regenerate after being tortured by the Shadow in the previous serial, and that the different bodies she tries were merely projections.

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