Sunday, 26 May 2013

Doctor Who at 50: The Best Companions

In a similar style to my Doctor Who's Best Monsters post a few months ago, I've picked my favourite companions. However, to have a range over the whole history of the show, I've chosen the best companion of each Doctor's era. Who is full of great companions of the Doctor on his travels - never 'assistants' and certainly never ever 'sidekicks' - but here are eleven of the best...

First Doctor: Ian Chesterton & Barbara Wright

The Doctor's original companions. The two teachers investigated an 'unearthly' schoolgirl's home to find she lived in a police box - and her grandfather was an alien time traveller! And that's how it all began...
Accompanying the Doctor until they returned to Earth using a stolen Dalek time machine, Ian and Barbara were fiercely brave, loyal and intelligent; perfect companions for the Doctor at any time of the show.

Second Doctor: Jamie McCrimmon

A young Scottish Highlander from the 17th century, Jamie was a companion of Second Doctor on nearly all his adventures. Other  companions - such as hyper-smart Zoe and super-screamer Victoria - came and went but Jamie was forever at the Doctor's side. It was only due to the intervention of the Time Lords themselves that Jamie was forced to leave the TARDIS and returned to his original time and place with his memories of the Doctor wiped. Sad.

Third Doctor: Josephine 'Jo' Grant

The lovable-but-clumsy Jo was hired as the Third Doctor's assistant - all right, in this instance, assistant is correct - when he worked as scientific advisor for UNIT. At first the Doctor disliked her but the two grew to be very close friends. One of the most stirring and understated companion leaving scenes occurred when Jo left the Doctor to marry scientist Clive Jones and travel the world. Recently, Jo returned to meet the Eleventh Doctor in the Sarah Jane Adventures episode 'The Death of the Doctor.'

Fourth Doctor: Sarah Jane Smith

One of Doctor Who's most beloved characters is journalist Sarah Jane, companion of the Third and Fourth Doctors, friend of the Tenth and Eleventh and acquaintance of the First, Second and Fifth. Sarah Jane is the classic template of a companion; young female from Earth with a keen mind who is looking for something more in life. Of course, a big reason for Sarah Jane's enduring popularity is actress Elisabeth Sladen who played the character with a spark that ensured her place in Who fans' hearts.

Fifth Doctor: Vislor Turlough

Sadly, during the Fifth Doctor's era the TARDIS was so jam-packed  with companions characterisation tended to be a bit thin. There was Mouthy Tegan. geeky Adric and, um, yes, Nyssa. However, Turlough has a unique angle as he was an alien fugitive disguised as a human schoolboy tasked to kill the Doctor. Obviously, he didn't and joined the TARDIS crew as a good guy who's enigmatic past was finally revealed in his last appearance.

Sixth Doctor: Perpugilliam 'Peri' Brown

American student Peri (don't ask about her full name) at first joined the Fifth Doctor on the TARDIS. However, shortly after he sacrificed his own life to save hers and regenerated into his arrogant, abrasive Sixth incarnation. Peri was a fine companion thanks to her tenacity and dedication to continue travelling with the Doctor despite his frankly terrible attitude - until the terrible events of the Doctor's corrupt trial at the hands of the Time Lords took place...

Seventh Doctor: Ace

Ace is perhaps the first of the 'modern' Doctor Who companions - a character with a proper character arc who makes the show just as much about them as the Doctor. Ace was a troubled teenager with a love of setting things alight and blowing things up. The Doctor found her on an alien world despite her being from 1980s London - a mystery that was solved in the penultimate story of the classic series. The relationship between the Doctor and Ace - one of mentor and student, father and daughter but also great friends is one of the best the show has produced.

Eighth Doctor: Dr  Grace Holloway

When the Doctor was shot in San Francisco he was operated on by the talented Grace who was confused by his alien physiognomy and, um, killed him. Neverless, when he regenerated the Eighth Doctor took a great liking for Grace - both doctors, they had a  respect for each other although Grace turned down the offer to travel with the Doctor at the end of their adventure. Grace has the esteem of being the first companion to snog the Doctor. Although she wasn't the last...

Ninth Doctor: Rose Tyler

One of the most important people in the Doctor's lives, Rose Tyler helped heal the war wounds of the Ninth Doctor and became the best friend of the Tenth Doctor whom he felt the loss of for the rest of his life after they were separated at the Battle of Canary Wharf. Rose got her happy(ier) ending in the end as a duplicate half-human Doctor now lives with her on a parallel world.

Tenth Doctor: Donna Noble

In her first appearance Donna was a shouty gossip but proved herself as someone better when helping the Doctor defeat the Racnoss, also growing as a person over her travels with the Tenth Doctor. Donna's exit - saving the whole of reality before the Doctor was forced to wipe her mind of their time together, ridding Donna of the confidence in herself that she had gathered - is simply the saddest exit of a Doctor Who companion ever.

Eleventh Doctor: Amy Pond & Rory Williams

For viewers of the current incarnation of Doctor Who, Amy and Rory need no introduction. Unlike nearly every other companion in the show, Amy and Rory had a life e.g. got married, had a child, had jobs while also travelling the universe with the Doctor - albeit most of those things were given a timey-wimey twist. Sure, they may have died several times each and existed in several different universes and alternate timelines (let's not get into that now) but Amy and Rory, at the heart of it, were a couple who managed to remain so despite the terrible things that happened to them. It is perhaps too early to say just yet how Clara rates next to them but she has a hard job to beat the Ponds.


  1. Great post, and a good reminder of all the different kinds of people who have travelled in the TARDIS over the years - not just the 20-something single ladies. I enjoyed the dynamics of having a married couple as companions in the last couple of years. I don't remember all of the earlier companions, but there have been some great characters over the last 50 years.

    For future companions, I'd love to see some characters from different time periods (as I'd hoped Clara would be) - or different planets.

    1. Thanks very much! Yes, I'm a big fan of Amy and Rory - but, as you say, the show has produced some fab characters. And still is, thankfully.
      It would definitely be interesting to have a past/future companion though I see why there is a reliance on Present-day Earth. What do you think of Clara, despite her 21st centuryness?


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