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Mary Poppins is a Time Lord: Query the Theory

VO: Ashley Bowman
Written by Sean Harris Hello, and welcome to “Query the Theory”, the show where we pick apart prominent pop culture ideas and hypotheses to deliver you a definitive decision on the possible, improbable, feasible and far-fetched. Caught in our speculative sights today, the TARDIS-tripping notion that Mary Poppins is a Time Lord. We’ve lined up five important aspects of this fan theory, to debate its pros and cons, and to make some sense of its implications. Every aspect will be awarded a maximum of three up or down votes on our Scale of Plausibility, until a final score is achieved – and the theory’s credibility is calculated.
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Mary Poppins is a Time Lord: Query the Theory


Hello, and welcome to “Query the Theory”, the show where we pick apart prominent pop culture ideas and hypotheses to deliver you a definitive decision on the possible, improbable, feasible and far-fetched. Caught in our speculative sights today, the TARDIS-tripping notion that Mary Poppins is a Time Lord.

We’ve lined up five important aspects of this fan theory, to debate its pros and cons, and to make some sense of its implications. Every aspect will be awarded a maximum of three up or down votes on our Scale of Plausibility, until a final score is achieved – and the theory’s credibility is calculated.

So, let’s do as the Doctor does, and get right to it. Allons-y!

#5: Appearances

First impressions aren’t always everything, but they could be crucial here. If Time Lords have a dress code, or any sort of fashion sense, then Mary’s clearly on board with it. Arriving with a long scarf and sweeping trench coat, she looks like Four and Twelve combined. Any change in costume carries a distinctly Doctor-ish tone, and even Emily Blunt’s version still has a soft spot for bowties, too. In her massively popular musical, the nanny prefers shoes of the ‘sensible kind’; the Doctor kicks about in ultra-comfy Converse. Mary’s hat is Matt Smith’s fez, the floral flourishes are a stick of celery. Sharing a style that’s just slightly unconventional, they’re peas from the same proverbial pod – tapped into the same or similar fads, fashions and trends.

Judging books by covers is never advisable, but the crossovers are clear to see. It’s up votes all the way here.

#4: Abilities & Accessories

On the surface, “Mary Poppins” packs plenty of TARDIS-type tech. Her handbag’s bigger on the inside, artworks are easy to enter into, and she wields an all-purpose umbrella that could be compared to the sonic screwdriver. Then there’s the whole ‘she can talk to animals’ thing, which is a definite clincher for fans who believe she’s got a Gallifreyan backstory – even if the internet’s fascination with this line; is mostly unfounded. The characters also share a tendency to just turn up whenever (and wherever) they’re needed, although we’re usually given some inclination as to why the Doctor’s destination is what it is. Not that Time Lord explanations always make massive amounts of sense. But, has there ever been a better example of technobabble than this?

The silly-sounding languages are too great a link to overlook. More up votes, please.

#3: Shared Universe

With all of time and space to work in, and infinite possibilities to contend with, it’s not exactly surprising that The Doctor and the nanny have never actually crossed paths. But it is a little weird if they’ve never even heard of each other. Even in the Doctor’s timey wimey world, a London-based, magically-imbued, serial do-gooder who floats in via a wayward gust of wind isn’t likely to have skipped his attention. And Mary’s story unfolds in a significant era of Edwardian England, alongside the lives and careers of figures like Rudyard Kipling and Arthur Conan Doyle, and amidst the rise of the Suffragette movement – so there’s no real reason why the history-hoarding Doctor would stay away. Maybe the Doctor doesn’t go there because Poppins already has it covered, but then why the long history of thinking he’s the last of his kind?

Parallel universes might be at play here, but it’s hard to believe that both would be none-the-wiser. Points lost, on this occasion.

#2: Other Characters

Of course, if Mary Poppins is a Time lord, she’s not necessarily the Time Lord. Fans have been quick to draw comparisons between Mary and Missy – not least because they really do dress identically – and there’s some speculation that Poppins is actually the Doctor’s Daughter, featuring somewhere on Jenny’s unknown (and as yet, untapped) timeline. Or could Mary even be Clara, who faced the raven but vowed to take her time en route to her own death. Stranger things have probably happened, but that last one seems a stretch too far. The ‘Mary/Missy’ theory might be something we can get behind though, even if it does smell strongly of the writers on a wind-up.

Take a spoonful of sugar, and it doesn’t seem so tenuous. Plus points, again.

#1: Alien Interference

Here’s where Mary might be lacking. The Doctor’s an alien creature who deals in alien tech, to best battle a barrage of typically alien enemies. Poppins is pretty obviously magical, but she’s otherwise lacking in serious sci-fi substance. Showing up at the Banks’ residence to reinstall some family values by way of a cheeky chappie chimney sweep and some animated penguins, if she is a Time Lord then she supposedly survived the Time War too… But, a Disney-fied Dalek is just too difficult to picture. As much as we’d like to see Davros realising the error of his ways just in time to fly a kite through the streets of London, it’s probably not going to happen.

The not-so-common enemies cause a few too many problems here. Exterminate at will.

So, there you have it. Tipping the scale just slightly toward what’s probable or possible, it’s a tiny bit plausible that Mary Poppins is in fact a Time Lord. The striking similarities between the characters are just too many to totally ignore, even if neither has actually acknowledged them yet.

Which theory should we query next? Let us know in the comments, and hit subscribe for more film, TV and pop culture questions, put to the test!
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