Of all of the unexplained enigmas in Doctor Who, original companion and family member Susan is perhaps one of the biggest.
Was she infact the Doctor’s “real” Granddaughter? Or did she just use this title for some other reason? Was it an inherited title from their Coal Hill School ruse, in An Unearthly Child?
What is clear about the young academically gifted Time Lord, was that from a character perspective; she was pretty much forgotten about from the off, with her teachers; Ian & Barbara taking centre-stage.
It was no surprise then, when actress Carol-Ann Ford called it a day in 1965, due to a lack of decent characterisation from the preceding 2 years. She was written out after the events of The Dalek Invasion Of Earth, having met and fell in love with a young freedom fighter called David.
Ford finally dished the dirt in a 2013 interview : “I was a very good dancer and had been an acrobat. They told me Susan was going to be an Avengers-type girl – with all the kapow of that – plus she would have telepathic powers. She was going to be able to fly the Tardis as well as her grandfather and have the most extraordinary wardrobe. None of that happened.”
She added : “All my differentness was cut out. They made me wear horrible little trousers, not even funky jeans. Horrible little flat shoes. I don’t know why they did this to me.”
Character Susan’s history following this point, is unclear. Due in some part, to no followup appearances (or explanations in the show, until the 20th Anniversary episode; The Five Doctors.
This seems strange considering that Susan was (apparently) the Doctor’s Granddaughter, which would have place her above all of the other companions, in importance – as close family.
It seems in some respects that some of the ideas coined during William Hartnell’s time, were then; directly or indirectly – written out of the show at later points, due to them conflicting with later accepted Who history.
Susan naming the Tardis, the Doctor building the Tardis himself, the pair being time-renegades from the 49th century – amongst others; as the accepted Gallifrey back-lore began to take shape around the end of season 7.
Maybe Susan as a family member of the Doctor was also written out, as a result. It seemed an uncomfortable back strand to the Doctor’s personality; that he had gone and left his Granddaughter in time and space somewhere and never seemed bothered in returning to retrieve – or even visit her.
And when a much older Susan did make a reappearance in The Five Doctors alongside Richard Hurndell’s First Doctor, there was no mention of Susan’s life – post Tardis. It was pretty much never mentioned.
And yet assuming if this was supposed to be an older Carol-Ann Ford playing a young Susan (rather than an older Susan), then she seemed surprised to be meeting the First Doctor again as if time had really passed between them. The First Doctor didn’t seem to concerned to ask how she had been getting on either.
Behind this, Ford later confirmed that the producers insisted that Susan should not refer to the Doctor as her grandfather. “You will not believe why. They said, ‘We don’t really want people to perceive him as having had sex with someone, to father a child.’ I just screamed with hysterical laughter and said, ‘In that case, I’m not doing it”. The script was later changed due to Ford digging her heels in.
What’s clear is that Susan, as a character in the Who universe was jinxed from the beginning. As to delve into her background too readily, would have started to unlock aspects of the Who family tree.
Aspects which for a mysterious travelling Time Lord whose real name we don’t even know, is pretty much better off left uncovered.