Warning: contains spoilers for Doctor Who episode “Empire of Death”

Let’s hope that UNIT’s HR department has been duly notified and the correct forms have been filed, because if this Doctor Who romance turns sour, the resulting paperwork could get in the way of saving the world…

What with all the people-turning-to-dust and moped action going on in Doctor Who series 14 finale “Empire of Death”, it was easy to miss tiny details. (And slightly bigger details that even showrunner Russell T Davies admits don’t stand up to narrative scrutiny.) One such small moment took place at UNIT Tower just after the Doctor had dragged Sutekh backwards through the Time Vortex to revive the universe, and it revealed a romance that has until now, been kept secret.

Roughly 36 minutes into the episode, the staff of UNIT is waking up from their reversed oblivion and Colonel Ibrahim (Alexander Devrient) of UNIT Squad Five helps his boss Kate Lethbridge-Stewart (Jemma Redgrave) to her feet.

“Look how caring he is!” notes Davies on the BBC iPlayer in-episode commentary. “They’re my favourite thing in the whole world,” agrees Doctor Who series producer Vicki Delow.

A few minutes later in the sequence, everybody at UNIT walks out to the landing area to look out on the newly alive London skyline, and, without the others noticing, Colonel Ibrahim reaches for Kate and the two hold hands. They look at each other in the light of this second-chance world, and it’s clear that there’s more to this workplace relationship than following orders and Friday night drinks at the local Slug & Lettuce.

“These two. I just love them,” continues Delow on the commentary. Asked by Davies to explain to the viewer what she means – are they friends? Delow says: “I think they’re more than friends, I think there’s a little relationship” and goes on to call Kate L-S and Col. Ibrahim “the greatest romance”.

That’s pretty unassailable then – UNIT head Kate and her top colonel are an item. It’s a bit of much-needed character development for Redgrave’s character, whose personal life has largely been kept off screen throughout her appearances in Doctor Who. If the much-rumoured UNIT spinoff comes to fruition, a romance is just the kind of thing needed to bring the character to life.

The daughter of classic-era Doctor Who character The Brigadier, Alistair Lethbridge-Stewart (Nicholas Courtney), Kate’s first screen appearance in Doctor Who was during the Steven Moffat/Matt Smith era, in 2012 episode “The Power of Three”. In 2014 two-part finale “Death in Heaven”, she introduced herself to a horde of Cybermen as:

“Kate Stewart. Divorcee, mother of two, keen gardener, outstanding bridge player. Also chief scientific officer, Unified Intelligence Taskforce – who currently have you surrounded.”

When Jemma Redgrave was asked at a panel about her character’s backstory after “Death in Heaven”, she told fans: “There are tantalising glimpses of who she is and her life. When I started, I thought, in my head she was married to a woman.”

This 2024 romance wouldn’t necessarily have to overwrite Redgrave’s head-canon, depending on Kate’s definition of marriage, and how closely Doctor Who lore has to follow the UK legal system (i.e. not at all, it’s a sci-fi fantasy that can do what it wants). Same-sex marriage was legalised in the UK in 2013 and the first marriages between same-sex couples took place in 2014, but Civil Partnerships including same-sex couples started in the UK in 2005.

Both Jemma Redgrave and Alexander Devrient are expected to return in Doctor Who series 15, so keep your eyes peeled for any scenes of those two emerging flustered from a UNIT HQ stationery cupboard or gazing lovingly at one another over a freshly destroyed Dalek.

Doctor Who series 14 is available to stream on BBC iPlayer in the UK and on Disney+ around the world.

The post Did You Spot This Secret Romance in the Doctor Who Finale? appeared first on Den of Geek.

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