Susan Twist in the 'Doctor Who' episode "Boom"
(BBC)

What Is ‘Doctor Who’ Planning With Susan Twist?

The same actress has appeared in every episode this season as a different character. Who is she? And what is Russell T. Davies planning?

Russell T. Davies may be a good Doctor Who showrunner, but he’s also a first-class troll.

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Cast your mind way back to 2005, if you can, the year when Davies first rebooted and ran the iconic British sci-fi series. There was something going on there that none of the marketing material had hinted at—in every episode, there was a reference to the words “Bad Wolf.” What did it mean? Was it some sort of cryptic hint as to where the story was going? Davies refused to say, and kept people guessing for months. But once you’ve seen the final episode of that season 1, you’ll have the answer.

And now we’re in another season 1 (the numbering has restarted again as of 2024) and something decidedly Bad Wolf-y is going on. In every episode, the same actress has appeared, a woman with the quite magnificent name of Susan Twist. What’s going on with that?

Susan Twist’s appearances in Doctor Who so far

At the time of this writing, Twist has made five appearances in the show. In “Wild Blue Yonder” she was Isaac Newton’s maid Mrs Merridew. Two episodes later she was an unnamed concert-goer in “The Church on Ruby Road,” and then she was another named character, Comms Officer Gina, in “Space Babies.” She had a small role as a tea lady in “The Devil’s Chord,” and then right after that came her biggest role yet, as the face and voice of the terrifying ambulances in “Boom.”

She’s also set for an appearance in next Saturday’s episode, “73 Yards,” in which she’s apparently playing an unnamed hiker. So why cast the same woman as all these different characters?

Well, chances are that Susan Twist is actually playing one character, who just so happens to take different forms. Perhaps she’s been pursuing the Doctor across time and space, waiting for something specific to happen—maybe something involving the mystery of Ruby Sunday?—before she can strike.

Who could Susan Twist be playing?

British tabloid newspaper The Sun (yeah, I know, sorry) actually reported on Susan Twist’s casting back in March, announcing that she was playing “tech businesswoman Susan Triad, head of Triad Industries.” You may have heard the name “Triad” in the David Tennant specials last year. Clearly, they’re going to be important going forward.

A source told The Sun, “Susan’s characters are going to appear through space and time following the Doctor through his new adventures but she won’t be a friendly face. She’s going to be a huge foe for the Time Lord and Ruby to face off against and the reveal will be explosive.”

Hmmm… so there are a few options here. One is that this Susan Triad could be the mysterious unseen villain who’s already been teased, The One Who Waits. (Was that her hand picking up the gold tooth at the end of “The Giggle”?) That certainly seems to fit with what the Sun’s source said.

But there is another, possibly even more interesting, option. If you rearrange the letters of the name “S. Triad” you get … TARDIS. Is Susan Triad—assuming that really is her name—actually a Time Lord?!

The Susan of it all

Even if you’re the most casual of casual Doctor Who fans, you probably know about the existence of Susan Foreman, the Doctor’s granddaughter. We met her back in the very, very first episode of Doctor Who (the original season 1!); the actress who played her, Carole Ann Ford, is now 83 years old.

Does Russell T. Davies plan to bring Susan back, and is casting an actress named Susan Twist a hint at that? It does seem like exactly the sort of thing he would do. And Susan got a pretty substantial shout-out in the episode “The Devil’s Chord”—a bigger one than she’d ever had on the show before, actually.

But it does seem unlikely that Susan Twist would be playing Susan Foreman herself, since Ford is still alive. Sure, you could say that Susan (character, not actor! Confusion like that is just part of being a Doctor Who fan) just regenerated, but fans would likely find it disrespectful if Ford wasn’t asked back. So is Twist’s presence in the show simply a meta joke signaling the long-awaited arrival of the Doctor’s grandchild?

So far, both Russell T. Davies and Susan Twist herself haven’t commented on the matter. Well, it would be very hard to do so without giving the game away … whatever game that turns out to be. Just remember, though, what the Doctor and friends sang during the closing moments of “The Devil’s Chord”: There’s always a twist at the end.


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Sarah Barrett
Sarah Barrett (she/her) is a freelance writer with The Mary Sue who has been working in journalism since 2014. She loves to write about movies, even the bad ones. (Especially the bad ones.) The Raimi Spider-Man trilogy and the Star Wars prequels changed her life in many interesting ways. She lives in one of the very, very few good parts of England.