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In Doctor Who - Season 2 Episode 12 a character who looks identical to Martha is turned into a pseudo-cyber woman when a couple of ear pieces are fused to her brain. Later in the episode the ear piece is pulled out and a piece of what looks like her brain is clearly visible. It's stated that they can't be pulled out or that she'll die.

Then, just a few episodes later, she's a hospital worker and becomes the doctor's companion!

Is there any explanation for this?

We've already heard the doctor state that once someone dies it becomes a fixed event.

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2 Answers 2

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The same actress played two roles.

It's happened before, repeatedly (the Sixth Doctor's actor had a fairly major role as a secondary character in Five's time well before he was ever cast as the Doctor), and it will continue to happen (the Twelfth Doctor's actor played a Pompeiian during Ten's run).

Sometimes they make meta jokes about it, like Ten's observation that a major modern-era character in Torchwood looks exactly like the totally different 1800s-era character her actress played during Nine's run--or with Martha's reference to her cousin at Canary Wharf.

When a Time Lord companion of the Doctor was re-cast as an actress who'd previously played a character that the Time Lord had already met while being played the original actress, they called it out and had the character deliberately choose to regenerate into a form that mimicked the person she'd met. Similarly Twelve subconsciously modelled his new body on someone from his past.

Sometimes they ignore it entirely, as in the case of Colin Baker's stint as Commander Maxill or the fact that Amy Pond looks exactly like a Pompeiian soothsayer.

It's just an artifact of casting a long-running show that may demand dozens of extras for any given story. You double up, on purpose or by accident, because you liked the actor or because they're the best for the parts or because you can't find anyone else.

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  • The first case of this seems to have been Peter Purves playing Morton Dill in "The Chase" and then introduced as Steven Taylor later on (there being no obvious connection between the two characters), As well, Jackie Lane, played Anne Chaplet in the serial "The Massacre of St Bartholomew's Eve" and then as Dodo Chaplet (who may have been a descendant) at the end when the TARDIS crew reach 1960's London.
    – jim
    Sep 22, 2021 at 12:51
  • Owen Teale played a witness to acts of cannibalism in Doctor Who: Vengeance on Varos, and graduated to playing a cannibal in Torchwood: Countrycide; although I suppose it's not entirely out of the question that the two might be the same character. Sep 22, 2021 at 17:35
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Freema Agyemen portrayed the character in Army of Ghosts, then in the series 3 episode Smith and Jones, she portrays Martha Jones and explains that she had a cousin who worked at Canary Wharf and disappeared.

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    I've heard of identical twins, but never of identical cousins. Aug 16, 2013 at 3:48
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    According to the actress's wikipedia article, the producers were impressed with her performance and wanted to use her as the new companion. Apparently they created a plausible explanation. Aug 16, 2013 at 3:51
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    @OperationNewDay - Dude.. I must just be old.. But even as you make that comment, I hear the theme from The Patty Duke Show running thru my head.. Although I'm sure it's technically 'The Patty Duke Show Theme', due to the lyrics, I always assumed it was titled 'Identical Cousins'
    – K-H-W
    Aug 16, 2013 at 3:58
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    Thanks for the laugh. Now I have to figure out how to get that song out of my head. I wonder if identical twins (dudes) married a pair of identical twins (ladies) if their kids could be identical cousins? Aug 16, 2013 at 6:20
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    @OperationNewDay - Technically, identical twins who married identical twins would have kids that would genetically be siblings. Doesn't mean it would actually be evident, but in an ideal case, it's genetically sound. That said, the odds of them being identical cousins (identical meaning same DNA like identical twins), one from each set, is still statistically absurdly unlikely. Now, just LOOKING a lot alike, with different DNA.. that could happen.. but the odds are about the same as with a regular set of siblings.
    – K-H-W
    Jan 7, 2016 at 2:12

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