Tuesday, April 4, 2023

#AtoZChallenge2023: Doctor Who Companions

 "When you run with the Doctor, it feels like it'll never end. But however hard you try you can't run forever. Everybody knows that everybody dies and nobody knows it like the Doctor. But I do think that all the skies of all the worlds might just turn dark if he ever for one moment, accepts it."

- River Song

More than time and space, more than aliens, more than maybe even the TARDIS and the Sonic Screwdriver, it is the Companions that define the Doctor.

The role of the companion is dramatically a simple one. They are the eyes and the ears of the audience in the Doctor's world. They stand in for us. 

Historically the job of the Companion was to scream, to get captured, and ask "What is it, Doctor?"  Certainly, we saw a lot of that in the early years and even later on. But in 60 years the companions have changed with the times. Susan knew popular music, Jo Grant was very fashionable, Sarah Jane was a go-get-them reporter, and Leela...well I have to get back to her.  There is no way I can go through all the companions here, even all the ones I liked the most, but I will do some.

Susan - Susan is the Doctor's first companion and his granddaughter. Like the Doctor she is a Time Lord, though we don't see her doing much other than having knowledge of the future. She doesn't regenerate, as far as we have seen, but the actress Carol Anne Ford is still alive and could return.

Jamie McCrimmon - A companion of the Second Doctor Jaime breaks the stereotype of companions. First off he is male. Though he is still showing off some leg, since as a Highlander he wears a kilt. He has no problem talking back to the Doctor and has been a fan favorite for years. How much of a favorite? Well this is going to get it's own post later! He also has appeared in more episodes than any other companion. 

Brigadier Sir Alistair Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart - The Brig is another stereotype-breaking companion. First seen with the Second Doctor, he was there for all the Third's Doctor exile on Earth when they both worked for U.N.I.T. (yes, you guessed it, more on that later!) The Brig was no nonsense, by the book and was already tired of the Doctor's shenanigans. They butt heads all the time but there was obvious great respect and even love between them.  As he got older (and encountered the Fourth, Fifth, and Seventh Doctors) he showed his respect more. The Seventh and Twelfth Doctors in particular expressed their respect for the Brig.  Sadly the actor, Nicholas Courtney, passed in 2011. But the Brigadier's daughter, Kate Stewart, continues her father's (and the Doctor's) work as U.N.I.T.'s scientific advisor. 

Sarah Jane Smith - Sarah Jane. She started out as a companion to the Third Doctor and then the Fourth Doctor where she became one of the most favorited companions of all time. She was a reporter looking for a story about U.N.I.T.'s mysterious scientific advisor. She was so popular that she came back in the new series with the 10th Doctor and then again in her series with the 11th Doctor.  Sarah also was the only companion to get not just one, but two spin-off shows.

Honestly, seeing her come back with the 10th Doctor is one of the highlights of the new series. 

Leela - Leela was so different as a companion to what had come before she also gets her own post.

Romana I and II - I always like Romana. She was a Time Lord sent to help the Doctor recover the Key to Time.  She was smart, funny and was more than a match for the Doctor. At the end of her first season, she regenerated and Mary Tamm became Lalla Ward. I always had huge crush on Lalla Ward. I was not alone, since she and Fourth Doctor Tom Baker got married. Though they got divorced soon after. 

Adric - Ok. Now to be fair, I never liked Adric. I thought he was whiny and a jerk. I was also not alone in this. There is a rumor that when Tom Baker was filming his last scene where he regenerates into the Fifth Doctor (Peter Davidson) he turned to Matthew Waterhouse (Adric) and said "Adric, you're a cunt and always will be."  Ok. maybe harsh.  Adric is here though for his exit. Adric was killed off. The first time I ever saw that and I was in shock! Just killed and there was nothing the Doctor could do about it. 

Perpugilliam "Peri" Brown - Peri was a new companion for the Fifth Doctor and was unique in that she an American. I always thought it might be due to Doctor Who's growing popularity in America. She is also the only companion to call the Doctor (the Sixth Doctor now) an "asshole" I was shocked. But I also admit I had a bit of a crush on Nicola Bryant (she is not American at all I learned). 

When we last see Peri her mind and body are taken over by the villainous Kiv. King Yrcanos (played by the amazing and always over the top Brian Blessed) had fallen in love with Peri and ended killing her, Kiv and Sil, and everyone else.  I understand that this ending was her idea.  We later see Peri in 2022. She married Yrcanos and became known as the Warrior Queen.

Dorothy "Ace" Gale McShane - was a chemistry student bored with her life on Earth. She managed to whip up a Time Storm and was transported in time and space where she encounters the Seventh Doctor. Her story becomes central to the Seventh Doctor's as he investigates her past. She is more akin to modern companions really. Plus she liked to blow things up.

Rose Tyler - Rose was the first new companion of the rebooted series in 2005/6 and she was the perfect point of view character for new viewers. They can discover the Doctor's universe as she does. She was quite popular and I have to say I was very, very pleased she was not killed off. I talk more about her in my Bad Wolf post.

Capt. Jack Harkness - Capt. Jack almost got his own post. He brought many firsts to Doctor Who. He was an American played by an American (ok American-Scottish), he was openly pan-sexual, he may not have been all he seemed and was certainly not a "good guy" when he started. But he was changed (in a lot of ways) with his time with the Doctor and Rose and became a well loved character. So well loved he got his own spin-off Torchwood.

River Song - Ah. River. So much to say about her. So much, in fact, she is getting her own post.

Amy and Rory - The first married couple on the TARDIS and the best friends of the Doctor.  The chemistry between the three actors was amazing. Amy and Rory would leave the Doctor in a tragic way (no, they did not die). But their legacy lives on in the form of River Song and Rory "The Last Centurion" Williams.  Rory made every other husband in the universe look second-rate.

Clara Oswald - The Impossible Girl. She met the Doctor on the Dalek homeworld, where she died. Then she met him again in Victorian England...where she died.  And then again in London in modern times where...she didn't die, and traveled with the Doctor. When the Doctor was forced to go to his own grave and see the rip in time his death caused. Clara jumped in to save him but got lost in his own timestream. It was here we find the Doctor's darkest secret. That in between his 8th and 9th regeneration there was another Doctor...the War Doctor and it was he that destroyed the Daleks and Galifrey.

Bill Potts - Bill didn't walk the Earth, or absorb the heart of the TARDIS, she was just a girl that kept the Doctor grounded. She was also the first openly lesbian companion.  In the end, she was converted to a cyberman thanks to the Master, but she was rescued by a girl she had fallen in love with who had merged with a synthetic living fuel. She rescued Bill and then they traveled the universe together.  To give you an idea of the respect the writers gave these characters they were named Bill and Heather, named after William Hartnell (the First Doctor) and his wife Heather.

A to Z of Doctor Who

All images are used with permission from the BBC and are copyrighted 2023 by the BBC.


Laura F. said...

This is amazing! You truly must be *the* expert on Doctor Who. I'm impressed by the depth of your knowledge and by your witty analyses/evaluations of the various Companions.

Laura F.

Laura F. said...

This is amazing! I'm impressed by your knowledge *and* by your witty analyses/evaluations of the various Companions.

PT Dilloway said...

I suppose these companions are a good idea to provide a secondary focal character. It's probably better when it's someone who can play off the Doctor or represent the audience, like how comic book sidekicks were supposed to represent the reader, who at that time were mostly kids, to help the reader feel more a part of things.

Zulu Delta said...

Clara was my favorite! Amy was Awesome! Bad Wolf was very cool. Sara Jane always seemed whiney......I will have to go back and investigate more.

Zulu Delta

L. Diane Wolfe said...

You know a lot about Doctor Who!

I saw your Alignable invitation. I am on there as Dancing Lemur Press - https://www.alignable.com/pikeville-nc/dancing-lemur-press-l-l-c

John Holton said...

The story I heard about Peri was that interest in the show was waning and they wanted to add a little T&A to draw a few more viewers. I'm not sure it worked...

Here are a few you've left out: Nyssa (whose father's body was taken over by The Master) and Tegan (an Australian flight attendant), both of whom were present when Tom Baker morphed into Peter Davison; Liz Shaw (not a companion per se, but they worked together at UNIT); and I'm sure you'll get around to K-9 eventually...

A Tarkabarka Hölgy said...

That is quite the lineup of companions of all kinds :) I always loved this whole concept.

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