The Problem With Most Doctor Who Mrs. Flood Theories

The 2023 Doctor Who Christmas special, “The Church on Ruby Road,” introduced the character of Mrs. Flood. Originally presented as a kindly old woman, there were several hints that Mrs. Flood was more than she appeared to be. This has inspired multiple fan theories regarding her true identity. However, most of these theories ignore some key details regarding what little has been confirmed about the mysterious Mrs. Flood.

Mrs. Flood’s Introduction Outlined

Mrs. Flood and fading TARDIS
(Image Source: BBC)

Played by Anita Dobson, Mrs. Flood is introduced early on in the Doctor Who special “The Church on Ruby Road.” She is quickly established as a neighbor of Ruby Sunday (Millie Gibson), the new companion of the Doctor. She is first seen complaining about the old-fashioned police box blocking the sidewalk outside her home. This is the Doctor’s time machine, the TARDIS.

Mrs. Flood’s next appearance comes just after the Fifteenth Doctor (Ncuti Gatwa) determines that goblins have kidnapped an infant Ruby in the past. In his haste to rescue her, the Doctor doesn’t notice Mrs. Flood as the TARDIS fades away. The astonished elder drops her groceries, clearly surprised by the sudden disappearance of the police box.

Once the baby Ruby is safe, the Doctor returns to 2023 to confirm that the timeline has been restored. Mrs. Flood is waiting on her step in a lawn chair and offers him a friendly wave. She is still there smiling when the Doctor emerges a minute later, having forgotten to go back in time to save Davina McCall. When he returns from that mission, she whistles to the Doctor, greeting him and praising his “box of tricks.”

Mrs. Flood asks the Doctor who he is as he leaves. She wishes him well despite his glib answer of “No one. Just passing by.” When Ruby emerges a moment later looking for the Doctor, Mrs. Flood points her to the relocated TARDIS across the street and wishes her good luck.

“The Church on Ruby Road” ends with a mid-credits scene, in which another neighbor asks Mrs. Flood if she saw the disappearing police box. Mrs. Flood assures him it is nothing to worry about. She then breaks the fourth wall, looking at the camera, before saying, “Never seen a TARDIS before?”

Is Mrs. Flood a Time Lord?

Mrs. Flood Anita Dobson in Doctor Who
(Image Source: BBC)

The fact that Mrs. Flood recognized the Doctor’s “box of tricks” as a TARDIS teases that she is, like the Doctor, a Time Lord. Most of the theories regarding Mrs. Flood’s identity suggest that she is a regeneration of an established Doctor Who character. Popular guesses include the Doctor’s granddaughter, Susan, his archenemy, the Master, and the rogue scientist called the Rani.

The problem with these suggestions is that the first scene with Mrs. Flood confirmed that she did not recognize the police box. Most TARDIS machines blend into any time period, changing shape through a chameleon circuit. By contrast, the Doctor’s TARDIS is unique in being stuck in a 1960s police box shape. This is a flaw that the Doctor’s former companions and enemies are well aware of.

The available evidence suggests that Mrs. Flood is familiar with Time Lord technology, but has not encountered the Doctor before. One possibility is that Mrs. Flood is an exiled Time Lord, who has been living on Earth posing as a human. The classic series had several characters who did the same thing, including the monk K’anpo Rinpoche, and Professor Chronotis.

Another possibility is that Mrs. Flood is an alien that is familiar with the Time Lords. This seems the most likely prospect, given that the Doctor’s telepathic abilities normally allow him to sense other Time Lords. While other Time Lords (particularly the Master) have been able to disguise their presence, Mrs. Flood’s ignorance of the Doctor’s identity seemed genuine. As such, the theories suggesting that Mrs. Flood is various companions (like Romana or River Song) in a new incognito form seems flawed.

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