What did the woman say in Doctor Who?

Every time someone got close to the woman in Doctor Who, she said something that made them abandon Ruby. What did she say to everyone, and why did she need Ruby alone?
Doctor Who. Credit: BBC Studios
Doctor Who. Credit: BBC Studios /

There are always various mysteries in Doctor Who that aren’t always explained. It looks like the mystery of what the Old Woman said to people in “73 Yards” is going to be one of those mysteries.

At the start of the episode, The Doctor and Ruby landed on the Welsh cliffs. As they walked, The Doctor accidentally stepped into a fairy circle, leading to The Doctor disappearing and an old woman showing up at a distance from Ruby. As Ruby tried to get closer, the woman kept her distance.

Ruby realized that it was always at a distance of 73 yards. Kate Stewart confirmed that. Everyone else could go up to the woman, though. Everyone who did, heard something that made them run away from Ruby and stay away. That included her mom and Kate.

What would make a mom abandon her daughter in Doctor Who?

Carla wouldn’t just abandon her daughter. We know that based on what we’ve seen, and the fact that Carla chose to bring Ruby into her family by adopting her. She was excited to see Ruby back from her travels with The Doctor.

However, things changed. Carla walked over to the woman while on the phone to Ruby. The plan was for Ruby to be able to hear what the woman was saying, but that never happened. Instead, Carla did exactly what others had done.

Russell T. Davis says that we won’t get to know what the woman said to anyone. It’s up to use to decide what would be enough to have Carla abandon her daughter.

""You could look at yourself and think, 'What would make me do that?' And once you start to do that, you enter the real horror story. The dreadful things that are being said there, terrible things.""

Then we have Kate Stewart. Kate is the head of UNIT and she’s seen everything. This woman was able to get through psychic barriers and even she changed her opinion of Ruby after hearing whatever the old woman was saying. It certainly seemed odd for Kate to do that, and now we’ll be left wondering what was so bad for Kate to tell everyone to “disengage.”

We do know what the woman said to Ruby, though. After learning that the woman is Old Ruby, we heard her say “don’t step” to Young Ruby and The Doctor. Young Ruby was able to hold The Doctor back, preventing him from stepping into the fairy circle.

Why did the woman want Ruby alone in Doctor Who?

What was the point is having Ruby abandoned by everyone? It all came down to the need to change history a little. Ruby needed to stop Roger ap Gwilliam from becoming the monstrous Prime Minister The Doctor described him as. He was willing to bring in some chilling policies, and he was a monster to the staff, especially women.

Ruby was able to use the older version of herself to get Gwilliam to resign. However, the woman stuck around. Ruby came to accept this woman in her life, feeling abandoned but never alone.

This time loop had to happen. It allowed the woman to come to Old Ruby and then go back in time to prevent The Doctor from stepping into the fairy circle. This has reset the timeline, which begs the question of what it means about Gwilliam’s run for Prime Minister.

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Doctor Who airs Fridays on Disney+.