Heroines Don’t Get Spanked

01 Sarah Jane

Why did this never happen?

That’s Doctor Who spanking Sarah Jane Smith, with a little help from Roy Crane, the 1940s comics artist. Sarah Jane is the longest-running, best beloved and most iconic of the Doctor’s many companions. She also happens to be, in the eyes of this beholder, the most beautiful woman who ever lived.

02a Sarah Jane02b Sarah Jane

From every angle:

03a Sarah Jane03b Sarah Jane03c Sarah Jane03d Sarah Jane03e Sarah Jane03f Sarah Jane03g Sarah Jane

Sarah, brilliantly played by the still sadly missed Elisabeth Sladen, was devised in 1973 to be a proactive character in Doctor Who, something more than the usual ‘hapless, helpless assistant’. She had her own job as an investigative journalist that would enable her to initiate and carry her own threads of action within the overall plot. But that aspiration came up against the dominant dynamic of the series, with the central character of the Doctor in charge. Elisabeth Sladen described the result in an early interview she gave about the character:

‘She thinks she can stand on her own feet and she’ll always have a bash at things believing she’s right. But somebody normally ends up telling her she’s totally wrong – and it’s usually the Doctor.’

In other words, she tends to stick her reporter’s nose into situations and ends up making them worse. In one of her stories, for example, the Doctor renders a T-Rex unconscious for study, but Sarah just can’t resist getting some photographs of the beast – whereupon the camera flashes wake it up and it escapes to wreak havoc. And the consequence of that, after the dinosaur problem has been dealt with, ought to have been a sore bottom for Sarah – but, disappointingly, wasn’t.

04 Sarah Jane

‘Doctor Who’s young companion Sarah Jane could well do with a spanking,’ wrote a 1970s correspondent to the specialist magazine Janus, and it’s something many people have fantasized about over the years. It has happened in fan art, notably in the quirky collages of Jim Scribner, such as this example showing the outcome of an investigation at stately Wayne Manor:

05 Sarah Jane

There’s a lot of spanking fan fiction on the theme, though admittedly much of it was written by me. Perhaps more significant is Kevin W. Parker’s 1990 story Sarah at the Bat, a piece of general Sarah Jane fan fiction not written for fetish reasons, in which she gets playfully spanked by a boyfriend. What will happen if she doesn’t root for his baseball team, she asks. ‘Then you get a spanking,’ comes the answer. And so she does, though only in fun, with ‘swats that weren’t even hard enough to knock the dust off her pants’.

My point is that we only get such scenes in the subsidiary literature, never in the main series itself. And this wasn’t for want of opportunity, because Sarah was always getting into trouble. One story even ends with a humorous tag scene in which she is cheeky to the Doctor, and he takes her sternly by the ear and leads her away.

06 Sarah Jane

What happens next is anyone’s guess, and while I like to think it was a good spanking, the truth is that the scene makes absolutely no reference to that as a possibility: it’s just a cute moment of friction between the series’ two regular characters, showing that one of them ultimately has the upper hand.

And that brings us back to my opening question, why the Doctor’s upper hand didn’t land across Sarah Jane’s upended (and very lovely) bottom. A lot of spanking enthusiasts attempting to answer that will start with the assumption that a spanking scene is ‘right’ and natural, effectively claiming that it should happen just because it’s something we’d enjoy seeing – the ethics of which are, at best, rather tacky. The argument will then proceed to posit an inhibiting force, which will usually have something to do with historical period and cultural change: in effect, ‘if this had been made ten or twenty years earlier, she would have been spanked’.

There are two problems with that argument. One is that it tries to use our sexual tastes to make us wish for a less progressive, less tolerant, less liberal world and push us into social conservatism, which again hits ethical difficulties. But the other is, simply, that it puts the blame on the wrong set of circumstances. It’s not about when the series was made: it’s about how all series typically work.

Comic books and television programs are often organized as series of self-contained stories linked by one or more regular characters. It’s an industrial system that makes it easier for the consumer to keep coming back for more, because they invest in those recurring characters and ongoing core situations, whether it be crime-fighting, medical procedures or traveling to strange new worlds in search of new life and new civilizations. But the key difference between series and serials, such as soaps, is that in series the regular characters don’t generate the individual stories: those come instead from the episode-specific characters who cross the regulars’ path, bringing problems with them. And if a spanking is construed, narratively, as an attempt to solve a problem, then the girl on the receiving end will be one of the guest roles, not one of the regulars.

We can illustrate this with the case of the British sitcom Please Sir!, in which idealistic teacher Bernard Hedges (John Alderton) is put in charge of a no-hope class of teenagers sitting out their last year in high school before entering the real world of unemployment and the scrapheap. As with Doctor Who, the dynamics of the situation and character relationships are opportune for a spanking scene, and there is even a promising prospective recipient in the form of Sharon, the provocative class sexpot played in the first three series by Penny Spencer…

07 Penny Spencer

… and then by Carol Hawkins in the movie and spin-off:

08 Carol Hawkins

In fact, one episode even has a moment when the mini-skirted Sharon is horsing around, her head covered and the seat of her panties on show. Hedges tells her, by name, to behave herself. How did he know it was her, she asks, when he couldn’t see her face? He starts to reply that he recognized her by her… and manages to stop himself just before he says ‘bottom’ – though not before it’s obvious that’s what he was about to say!

09 Please Sir

Hedges might, just might, have recognized Sharon’s rear end from having had it regularly across his knee, but again that’s not a possibility we are actively invited to consider: the joke, and the moment, is smaller than that. Even so, he does administer a spanking in the first series – not to Sharon, but to a one-off character brought in for that episode only.

The title character of ‘Student Princess’, first shown on December 13, 1968, is Ann Collins, played by the fetching 25-year-old Gay Hamilton, seen on the left here:

10 Please Sir

She’s a student teacher just started at the school, and she turns out to be Hedges’ ex-girlfriend. Her arrival sparks a renewal of their relationship.

11 Please Sir

But her winning ways make her popular, and Hedges grows jealous of her success. The crisis comes over a gym lesson, for which Ann is suitably and stylishly dressed.

12 Please Sir

They have an argument about whether or not the class should have been sent off to the gym. ‘Now look, my girl,’ he tells her, ‘I’m not above tanning your backside.’

13 Please Sir

‘Just you try,’ she retorts. Which is always unwise…

14a Please Sir14b Please Sir14c Please Sir

As you can just about see there, Ann is self-prepared for the spanking she gets… which isn’t much, because it’s interrupted after the first smack when the class rush back.

All ends happily with the couple reconciled, but it’s the last we ever see of Ann Collins – and that’s the usual way of things. Think of any spanking scene in a television series, and it’ll usually involve the hero punishing a girl who has come into the series in that episode and will be going out again when the episode comes to an end. She is a character who exists to play a specific role in a specific story; in a sense, she has been created partly in order to be spanked. Afterwards, she goes on her way, a changed individual with her issues resolved, though not necessarily because of the spanking; and then the series resets itself in order to tell a new story next time.

What gets reset is, most of all, the regular characters. Their function is to help tell and resolve every story over the whole series, which means they don’t ordinarily carry major baggage across from one episode to another, nor do they undergo radical and sudden personality changes or character development – the kind of thing that a spanking is meant to inculcate, if it has any place in the story at all. And that’s why heroines don’t get spanked.

That creates a frustrating paradox. As we follow and enjoy any series, in any medium, we are likely to develop an emotional bond with the ongoing regulars, sometimes an irrationally strong and lasting one such as I have with Sarah Jane Smith. So the female characters we will most want to see being spanked are, inevitably, the regulars – who are also the very ones least likely to meet that fate. The consequence is a proliferation of fan fiction and fan art, trying to satisfy the desire for a scene that was never going to happen in the series itself.

For instance, Lieutenant Uhura was never spanked in the original series of Star Trek – but the spanking artist Endart fixed that.

15 Star Trek

Likewise, Batgirl has received the best efforts not only of David Marshall but also of that fine near-mainstream spanking cartoonist Dave Wolfe:

16 Batgirl by Wolfie

Most prolific of all are the portrayals of a scene that not only didn’t happen but literally couldn’t: a sound spanking for the invulnerable Supergirl!

17a Supergirl by Jim Scribner17b Supergirl17c Supergirl by Wolfie17d Supergirl by Wolfie

But there are exceptions to the rule, and an interesting example is the Western family saga, The Big Valley, which ran for four seasons from 1965 to 1969 and dealt with the Barkley family’s efforts to farm their California ranch in the 1870s. It’s a series with a relatively large cast of regular characters, the most glamorous of whom is Audra, the daughter of the family, played by Linda Evans.

18 Audra Barkley

Part of the trick of writing for a large cast is making sure that everybody has something to do in each episode. In the middle of the first season, scriptwriter William Norton contributed ‘The Brawlers’, a story about a group of Irish settlers who have been sold, fraudulently, some land that actually belongs to the ranch and are trying to set up a farm there. The episode, which first aired on December 15, 1965, mainly shows the menfolk’s efforts to deal, in different ways and with varying degrees of success, with the conflicts that inevitably arise from this unsatisfactory situation. The role that falls to Audra is the initial discovery of the trespassers, in the pre-titles teaser sequence…

Riding around the perimeter of the ranch, she encounters the Irish family, who have pulled down the fence and are putting up the name of their prospective farm. She has words with their leader, Jim Callahan, played by Claude Akins, ordering him off the land. He won’t take her seriously, and insists, ‘We bought this land and we intend to occupy it.’ She asserts herself by lashing out at him with a horsewhip… whereupon he pulls her off her horse, spanks her and then sends her riding home backwards.

19a Big Valley19b Big Valley19c Big Valley

Callahan gets congratulated by his extended family. Audra goes home to fetch a gun.

20 Big Valley

She explains the situation to her elder brother Nick, who reasonably says there has obviously been some kind of a mistake, that it’s not Audra’s job to sort it out and that they didn’t harm her. On the contrary, says Audra: ‘That big ape, he s…,’ then stops herself before any more of the word ‘spanked’ comes out. Nick prompts her, and she finishes, ‘He hit me.’ Cue some piquantly coy dialog about how and where he hit her.

21 Big Valley

‘I don’t see any marks,’ says big brother. ‘You won’t,’ replies Audra. It’s only later in the episode, after Audra has come round to the cause of moderation, that we get any plain speaking about what happened: Nick rebuffs her with ‘You’re the one that came screaming for action when you got your backside paddled!’, something she clearly doesn’t care to be reminded of, for her response is to pout and walk silently from the room. But much earlier on she does get an apology from Callahan, along with an offer to show Nick the documents that prove his ownership of the land, both of which are refused – and so the story then gets going because neither side is willing to sit down and talk graciously to the other.

Now, this is the very opposite of the way spanking scenes usually occur in series episodes: this time, a male guest character comes into the series and spanks a female regular. Moreover, the spanking isn’t a part of the progressive working out of the story, but the event that starts it off in the first place: if headstrong Audra hadn’t assaulted Callahan, and if he hadn’t taken reprisals, everyone might have gone into the dispute in a better temper and worked out sooner that the trouble was caused by a third party, the crooked land company. And because it is an initiating event, part of the problem rather than part of the solution, Audra getting over it contributes to the process of resetting the overall series scenario so that she, and everyone else, can start afresh in the next episode.

So from time to time, heroines do get spanked, and some of them are much more iconic characters than Audra Barkley; you can probably think of one or two examples without much effort. I plan to write about them in an occasional series on this site, because they’re often interesting in themselves and sometimes led to further spankings too. But, of course, that will never assuage my eternal regret that this item from a British TV listings magazine…

22 Sarah Jane

… just isn’t real!

5 thoughts on “Heroines Don’t Get Spanked

  1. Another excellent article, thank you. I particularly enjoyed the section on Sarah Jane. I always found her very spankable. Going further back to the previous Doctor (Patrick Troughton), the companion I most wanted to see spanked was Zoe (Wendy Padbury). She came closest to breaking your principle of the heroine never being spanked in the lost episode “The Prison in Space” (http://www.spankingtalesandtoons.com/Dr%20Who/Zoes%20Spanking.htm)


  2. jimc says:

    I love your pictures for this article and the conclusions. I had never thought of them in that way (I just wanted to see spankings) and while I did think the major actress needed to be spanked it did rarely happen. The only other episode that I remember about one of the main actresses getting a spanking was Gidget with Sally Field. Of course this does not include the many series where spanking was in store for the main character (I LOVE LUCY; I MARRIED JOAN, several telenovellas and others) but it is always nice to think about any spanking to the heroine and that is why spanking fan-fiction exists. Thanks for the great articles and photos. Have a great day.


  3. Thank you, Harry, a fine tribute to our Sarah Jane and to other heroines who almost never wind up OTK! I did like Elisabeth Sladen a lot, and was thrilled when she showed up for the “School Reunion” with the Doctor! I never got to see any of “The Sarah Jane Adventures” for one reason and another, but maybe I can catch up!
    I suppose it’s a natural result of our joyful proclivities to want to see our favorite heroines having their hineys heated up, and I’m glad you enjoyed my cartoons in that line and were able to use a couple here!


  4. Petruchio says:

    All this is wonderfully researched. And where did you get that wonderful last drawing from? I am a bit miffed because I forked out quite a bit for a second-hand copy of a slim volume of Frank Bellamy’s Doctor Who illustrations for Radio Times – and that one certainly isn’t there! Censored, maybe – or was the previous owner a spanko who quietly removed the page? I suppose I will never know. I wonder if Bellamy ever slipped a spanking picture into Dan Dare or Garth ….?

    Anyway, Doctor Who has had an odd spanking reference in it, from Wiliam Hartnell telling his granddaughter (the actress was then in her 20s) she needed “a jolly good spanking” to Matt Smith landing a good wallop on Clara’s behind in his final episode.

    And you’d never guess which characters are closet spankos… the Daleks. This may seem a little strange because they can’t put someone over their knees because they haven’t any knees to put someone over. However the evidence is clear. In Doctor Who Magazine 308, Deborah Watling, who played Victoria, described her first day on set: “I remember meeting Frazer [Hines, who played Jamie] on the very first day with the Daleks. I was slightly nervous, but the Daleks broke the ice. The guys inside would erm… well, you can imagine what they did with their plungers. Ouch! You couldn’t hear them creeping up behind you, so they would … well, it hurt!”

    I think we get the idea. Positively disgraceful really and they’d never get away with it today. I wonder though how many female companions they initiated in that way?

    By the way, if the Pertwee Doctor wasn’t taking Sarah-Jane away by the ear to spank her, what was he going to do? Send her to bed without any supper?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Harry says:

      Thank you for taking the trouble to make such detailed remarks. I’m going to pay you the compliment of a serious reply.

      It will hopefully not be news to anyone that Doctor Who and Sarah Jane are not real people, and the series is not a selective documentary record of their lives. What they do after the final scene of any story is, therefore, a non-subject unless the scene itself gives you some indication that there is some ongoing or future action to follow. In the last scene of ‘The Monster of Peladon’, Sarah Jane is teasing the Doctor about the possibility that he might stay on the planet and become a member of the government. His response is to take charge and steer her into the TARDIS: in effect, ‘We’re leaving.’ So the action of the scene is complete in itself: there is no need to suppose that there is anything to follow inside the TARDIS, whether it be a spanking or a supperless bedtime. The one is as irrelevant as the other.

      Now, of course I really want there to be a Sarah Jane spanking scene, so I tend to fantasize about the onscreen moment differently. Spankos are often prone to interpret things maximally in the direction of spanking, so that minor details like the ear-tweaking of Sarah Jane get a significance way beyond what they actually have. That’s quite harmless when it’s a matter of private fantasy, either in your own head or within a likeminded group. It’s a little less harmless when the consequence is that we misrepresent reality.

      A minor example. I would find it exciting if, in ‘The Dalek Invasion of Earth’, the Doctor had indeed told his granddaughter that she needed a ‘spanking’, using that word. But your quotation is actually a misquotation: what he actually threatens her with is a ‘smacked bottom’, which has its own distinct appeal as a reference but isn’t quite as good. (I have written elsewhere on this site about the important distinction between smacking and spanking.) I shall have more to say another time on the subject of this character and spanking, but my point here is that the reference is being made more exciting by inadvertent misquotation.

      Another example, which also bears on the difference between spanking and other forms of bottom-contact. I don’t think it’s right to describe what the Daleks did to Deborah Watling as ‘spanking’. You can’t spank or even smack with a Dalek plunger, because the smacking motion is lateral to the bottom, whereas the business end of the plunger is only equipped to move in one dimension relative to the target. What the Daleks did is better described as ‘goosing’, which (for the uninitiated) means poking or pinching a lady’s bottom, and which was often done to actresses in film and television studios; Louise Jameson, who played Leela, once told me how she was regularly goosed in Doctor Who. One companion actress was also spanked, yes, spanked, but that’s again for another time.

      I’ll say it again: I don’t mind the fantasy, but I do mind how the fantasy overlays itself on reality and produces misrepresentation. The world is what it is. It’s not something we can or should manipulate to suit our sexual preferences. That is, in a way, the whole point of this site.

      Something that’s doing its best to avoid misrepresentation, but seems to have been misunderstood anyway, is the final picture in the article. I recommend that you read the sentence around it again, more carefully. And if that isn’t enough, have a closer look at the Bellamy signature on the picture and stop feeling gypped over that copy of Timeview you bought.


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