September 2010

Encounters

Shane Maloney and Chris Grosz

Doctor Who & Gai Waterhouse

Words: Shane Maloney | Illustration: Chris Grosz
Words: Shane Maloney | Illustration: Chris Grosz

Sadly, only one of Australia’s 114 official National Living Treasures has ever appeared in an episode of Doctor Who.

It happened in 1978 during the incarnation of the fourth Doctor, played by Tom Baker. Instantly identifiable from his curly hair, trademark long scarf, wide-brimmed hat, penchant for jelly babies and robotic dog called K-9, Baker appeared in 172 episodes over the seven years of his tenure of the role. But in only one of his TARDIS-propelled adventures did he share the small screen with Gai Smith, a young Australian actress who subsequently became Gai Waterhouse, racehorse trainer and ongoing ornament to the antipodean track.

‘The Invasion of Time’ begins with the Vardans, a shape-changing race of green-helmeted near-humans, asking the Doctor to help them take over Gallifrey, home planet of the Time Lords. The Doctor agrees, but only as a ploy designed to outwit an invasion by the Sontarans, a bulbous-headed, green-blooded, three-fingered species of sinister, war-obsessed aliens.

Exiled to the Gallifreyan wastelands, the Doctor’s female sidekick, Leela, is captured by a band of back-to-basics proto-ferals known as the Outsiders. One of these shaggy, pelt-wearing hunters is Presta, played by 23-year-old Gai. Togged out in headband and fur cape, Presta befriends Leela and a female Time Lord named Rodan, keeper of the transduction barrier. And when, in the final episode, Doctor Who re-enters the phone booth of destiny and departs, Presta is there to wave goodbye.

The only child of prominent Randwick trainer Tommy J Smith, Gai had already graduated from the University of Sydney, taken a walk around the modelling enclosure and appeared in an episode of The Young Doctors. Encouraged in her acting career by British actor James Mason, whose interest in racing had brought him into Tommy’s ambit, she headed to London. But apart from a run in the BBC’s premium sci-fi stakes, she failed to get out of the stalls.

Returning to Sydney, she became an apprentice at her father’s Tulloch Lodge stables and married into the Waterhouse bookmaking dynasty. When husband Robbie was ‘warned off’ as a result of the 1984 Fine Cotton ring-in scandal, his spouse was included in the ban. Showing her mettle, she battled the Australian Jockey Club and won her trainer’s licence in 1992. And when Tommy Smith became ill, he passed Tulloch Lodge on to her. Since then she has shaped some of Australia’s finest horses into champions.

Doctor Who is currently in his eleventh incarnation. Tom Baker became the voice of Little Britain. Despite the best efforts of the tenth Doctor, the Sontarans continue to pose a heavy-gravity threat.

Shane Maloney and Chris Grosz

Shane Maloney is a writer and the author of the award-winning Murray Whelan series of crime novels. His 'Encounters', illustrated by Chris Grosz, have been published in a collection, Australian Encounters.

Chris Grosz is a book illustrator, painter and political cartoonist. He has illustrated newspapers and magazines such as the Age, the Bulletin and Time.

From the front page

Image of Anthony Albanese

How to be a prime minister

The task ahead for Anthony Albanese in restoring the idea that governments should seek to make the country better

Image of the Kiama Blowhole, New South Wales

The edge of their seats

Lessons from Gilmore, Australia’s most marginal electorate

Image of Peter Dutton and Sussan Ley

The future of the Liberal Party

Peter Dutton doesn’t just have a talent problem on his hands

Image of Australian Army Cadets on parade. Image via Alamy

Ghosts in the war machine

Does the military attract violent misanthropists, or are they forged in murky theatres of war?

In This Issue

Film still from Andrei Tarkovsky's 'Stalker'. © Photos 12/Alamy

The blast zone

Ginger Snap at a rally demanding legislative protection from discrimination for sex workers in Sydney, June 2010. © AFP/Greg Wood

Body politic

The cult of green

Land of the long black cloud


More in Arts & Letters

Still from ‘Men’

Fear as folk: ‘Men’

Writer/director Alex Garland’s latest film is an unsubtle but ambitious pastoral horror, mixing the Christian with the classical

Illustration by Jeff Fisher

Altona

Image of Fonofono o le nuanua: Patches of the rainbow (After Gauguin), 2020. Image courtesy of Yuki Kihara and Milford Galleries, Aotearoa New Zealand

The dream machine: The 59th Venice Biennale

Curator Cecilia Alemani’s long overdue Biennale overwhelmingly features female artists and champions indigenous voices and other minorities

Image of Daniel Boyd, ‘Untitled (TBOMB)’, 2020

Mission statement: Daniel Boyd’s ‘Treasure Island’

An AGNSW exhibition traces the development of the Indigenous artist’s idiosyncratic technique, which questions ideas of perception


More in Encounters

Words: Shane Maloney | Illustration: Chris Grosz

Rupert Murdoch & Kamahl

Mark Oliphant & J Robert Oppenheimer

John Monash & King George V

John Howard & Uri Geller


Online exclusives

Image of Australian Army Cadets on parade. Image via Alamy

Ghosts in the war machine

Does the military attract violent misanthropists, or are they forged in murky theatres of war?

Composite image showing John Hughes (image via Giramondo Publishing) and the cover of his novel The Dogs (Upswell Publishing)

A dog’s breakfast

Notes on John Hughes’s plagiarism scandal

Image of Erin Doherty as Becky Green in Chloe. Image supplied

App trap: ‘Chloe’

‘Sex Education’ writer Alice Seabright’s new psychological thriller probing social media leads this month’s streaming highlights

Pablo Picasso, Figures by the sea (Figures au bord de la mer), January 12, 1931, oil on canvas, 130.0 × 195.0 cm, Musée national Picasso-Paris. © Succession Picasso/Copyright Agency, 2022. Photo: © RMN - Grand Palais - Mathieu Rabeau

‘The Picasso Century’ at the NGV

The NGV’s exhibition offers a fascinating history of the avant-garde across the Spanish artist’s lifetime