Has a New God in Doctor Who’s Pantheon Been Here All Along?

The evidence is piling up.

Anita Dobson as Mrs. Flood in Doctor Who Christmas Special: The Church on Ruby Road
Photo: BBC/Disney+

Warning: contains spoilers for Doctor Who series 14.

In the roll-call of deities listed by Harriet Arbinger in “The Legend of Ruby Sunday”, half were pre-existing characters in the Doctor Who universe, and half were brand new additions that the show is yet to unveil.

Sutekh featured in classic Who serial “Pyramids of Mars”, The Toymaker was in “The Celestial Toymaker”, and The Mara was in “Kinda” and “Snakedance”, while Trickster was introduced in Doctor Who spinoff The Sarah Jane Adventures, and we met Maestro in series 14 episode “The Devil’s Chord”.

Five of the gods H. Arbinger mentioned by name though, are still to be introduced. Reprobate, Incensor, the threefold deity of Malice, Mischief and Misery, and her children Doubt and Dread are all brand new additions to Doctor Who. Perhaps one or more of them will appear in Ncuti Gatwa’s second series as the Doctor, or in a tie-in comic or spinoff novel. And perhaps one of them is already on the show…

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Ever since Ruby’s neighbour Mrs Flood (Anita Dobson) looked down the camera lens in the 2023 Christmas special and asked “Never seen a TARDIS before?”, her identity has been a matter of fan debate. Her words have been analysed, her garden ornaments (a stone hare) have been researched, and the colour of her front door (TARDIS-blue) has been pondered. Is Mrs F a Time Lord, the Master in disguise, the Doctor’s granddaughter or any one of several tricksy characters poised to return from a classic-era story?

Then, in “The Legend of Ruby Sunday”, Mrs Flood did the same as The Meep from “The Star Beast” by switching from harmless-looking to malevolent and sharp-toothed. Drafted in to care for Ruby’s grandmother Cherry while Carla and Ruby went to “Nitwit Tower”, Mrs Flood dropped the sweet cockney old lady act and began to speak in RP English. As a storm gathered to mark Sutekh’s imminent arrival, she turned to camera to announce, “He waits no more.”

Now there’s a new possibility that Mrs Flood isn’t an old character in disguise, but a brand new one – specifically, she’s one of the new gods listed in the drumroll announcing Sutekh’s entrance.

But which one?

An argument could be made for Reprobate, the god of Spite. After all, there was a kind of spiteful malice in her comment about Ruby’s height next to statuesque beauty Rose Noble. Incensor, the god of Disaster, would also make a kind of sense, seeing as a flood is a natural disaster. Après her, le déluge? Flood could equally be part of the threefold deity of Malice, Mystery and Mischief, or her children Doubt and Dread. When Ruby went through her alternate-timeline torture in “73 Yards“, Mrs Flood appeared only to shrug and declare the situation “Nothing to do with [her]”, as if she could have been responsible, but wasn’t this time. They’re all plausible options at this point.

What’s more pressing is the question of what Mrs Flood wants with Ruby Sunday. Was it in more than neighbourly kindness that she noted the date of Ruby’s birthday in “The Church on Ruby Road”? What lies behind her having pointed Ruby in the direction of the TARDIS (a vessel we now know to be possessed by Sutekh the Destroyer) and its open door in that episode, and nodding her inside? What did it mean when Mrs Flood wished both the Doctor and Ruby “good luck”?

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Whatever it meant, by the looks of the series 14 finale trailer, luck is exactly what they’re going to need.

Doctor Who series 14 concludes on Friday 21/Saturday 22 on BBC iPlayer, BBC One and Disney+.