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Doctor Who For Newbies: The Companions, Part Four

After 26 seasons from 1963 to 1989, Doctor Who was cancelled. But you can’t keep a good Time Lord down: After seven years off the air, a TV movie was produced in 1996, shown on both the BBC and FOX, though a series was not in the cards. Then, after a further nine years, Russell T. Davies officially brought the series back, which you may have heard is currently filming its seventh series. I’m sure most of you will be familiar with these companions, but for the sake of completeness, I’ll talk about them. The first six years of the new series had about as many companions as there were in the original series’ first six years, so best to just tuck in.

DR. GRACE HOLLOWAY
Played by Daphne Ashbrook
1996
1 Story
Grace was the de facto companion for the TV movie. She has the strange distinction of actually being the one who triggers the Doctor’s regeneration. The Seventh Doctor is shot by Chinese gangsters immediately upon landing in San Francisco and Grace was the opera-loving cardiologist who didn’t listen to the Doctor about not using anesthesia, which kills the Doctor and holds off the regeneration until much later. The Eighth Doctor is a bit amnesiac when he awakens in the morgue and finds Grace for help. Talk about Stockholm Syndrome. For only having one adventure, Grace certainly made it a doozy, helping the Doctor prevent the Master from opening the Eye of Harmony and destroying the Earth. Grace also shares the Doctor’s first on-screen romantic kiss, something which caused more than a little bit of a stir in the fandom community.  The Doctor asked Grace to come with him but she declined. It’s just as well; we wouldn’t have gotten to see any of their further adventures anyway.

ROSE TYLER
Played by Billie Piper
2005-2008
30 Episodes (ish)
Rose Tyler was a 19 year old shop girl who ran into some Autons whilst looking for her boss after hours. Luckily, she was saved at the last minute by the Ninth Doctor. The Doctor was damaged, having destroyed his entire race in order to destroy the Daleks (didn’t take, sadly), and it was Rose who softened him and made him see that being alone wasn’t the best. Rose’s family gets a much larger story than any companion had to date. Her mother, father, and boyfriend all featured prominently in the storylines and it’s Rose’s desire to travel with the Doctor and the way her family reacts to it that create much of the drama in Series 1.  In order to save the Doctor from the Daleks, Rose absorbs the heart of the TARDIS and obliterates the shrill, metal bastards (not to mention giving Capt. Jack his little death allergy). The Doctor is forced to absorb the energy into himself through kissery in order to save her and this causes his regeneration. Rose develops romantic feelings for the Doctor that only get compounded when he becomes the Tenth Doctor. Eventually, Rose is pulled and sealed into a parallel dimension during a run-in with the Cybermen and Daleks and she seems never to return. Fortunately, she finds a way back through in order to help the Doctor fight the Daleks yet again, and even gets a human version of the Doctor to take home for herself. All in all, a pretty good parting gift.

ADAM MITCHELL
Played by Bruno Langley
2005
2 Episodes
Russell T. Davies made some amazing decisions in his 2005 reboot, but combining the irritating know-it-allness of Adric with the superfluocity of Kamelion wasn’t one of them. Working for greedy American billionaire Van Staten, Adam was one of a small number of employees not to get exterminated. He and Rose made googly eyes at each other and she convinces the Doctor to take Adam with them. In the next story, he defies the Doctor’s explicit instructions and gets his brain upgraded so he can take in heaps and gobs of information through a big hole in his skull. The Doctor, of course, kicks him to the curb immediately, taken back home to terrify his mom, and he’s never seen again. Good use of screen time, Russell.

CAPTAIN JACK HARKNESS
Played by John Barrowman
2005-2008
10 Episodes
“Captain” Jack Harkness is a 51st Century omnisexual former time agent and con artist who met the Doctor and Rose in 1941 during the London Blitz when he tried to sell them a Chula ambulance full of stupid nanogenes (“The Empty Child/The Doctor Dances”). He comes along with them to finish out the series and is eventually exterminated by the Daleks, only to come back to life all kinds of immortal thanks to Bad Wolf Rose. He gets his own spinoff series, Torchwood, where we find out all kinds of crazy and kinky stuff about his life and past, like being buried for hundreds of years and having been brutally murdered a whole heap. He eventually returns to join the Doctor and his new companion (Martha) when they come to Cardiff to refuel and he sends them to the very end of the universe, where they meet a kindly old man who happens to be the Master in human form. Jack is captured and of course tortured a bunch, but eventually everything works out and he’s free to rejoin his Torchwood cronies. It’s implied that Jack may eventually get so old that he becomes the Face of Boe and lives in a jar. Jack eventually returns again to help the Doctor and every companion ever (except Adam) destroy the Daleks yet again, but with Davros this time. Whether Jack returns to Doctor Who is uncertain, but he’s got plenty of time now that it looks like Torchwood won’t be back any time soon.

MICKEY SMITH
Played by Noel Clarke
2005-2008
5 Episodes (as Companion)
Mickey was Rose’s boyfriend and could be modestly described as “clingy.” He’s jealous of the Rose’s relationship with the Doctor and the fact that she’s gone for long stretches of time. When she initially leaves, she doesn’t return for a year and Mickey is suspected of murdering her. Eventually, after meeting past companions Sarah Jane Smith and K-9, Mickey decides he wants to be part of the team officially. In only his second adventure with the Tenth Doctor and Rose, they go to a parallel dimension where they fight the Cybermen. He sees that in this universe, his grandmother isn’t dead and his counterpart, called “Ricky” here for some reason, is a resistance fighter helping to liberate the world from the control of Cybus Industries and their mind controlling ear piece things. When Ricky dies, Mickey decides to stay in the alternate universe and take up his fallen self’s mantle. He returns to this universe to help stop the Cybermen and Daleks and seal the tear in the universe forever… at least, until he, Rose, and Jackie Tyler come back to again stop the Daleks. Instead of going back to the alternate universe this time, he goes off with Martha and Captain Jack and in one of the billion denouements in “The End of Time,” it’s revealed that Mickey and Martha have gotten married and fight Sontarans with big guns together.

DONNA NOBLE
Played by Catherine Tate
2006 Special, 2008-2009
16 Episodes
Donna initially appeared suddenly in the TARDIS on Christmas, which was also her wedding day. Turns out her no-good fiancé was working for a giant spider monster. Happens to the best of us, Donna. She initially turns down the Doctor’s offer to join the TARDIS, but spends the next year looking for him. Eventually, they find each other again and they have grand adventures as friends. Donna keeps the Doctor morally in check and convinces him to save one family from the volcano of Pompeii, a thing he could not prevent. Donna is very brassy and loud and can come across as abrasive, but she’s one of the most kindhearted and compassionate companions ever. While she never thinks much of herself, Donna eventually becomes one of the most important people in the universe, as she joins with the Doctor’s hand-full-of-regeneration to create “The Doctor-Donna,” and she alone basically saves the entire universe from Davros’ Reality Bomb. A major downside of this is that the Doctor is forced to wipe her mind of every memory of her time with him in order that her brain doesn’t explode from all the knowledge.  Not since Jamie and Zoe has a companion’s ending been as sad. She eventually gets married to a good man and the Doctor goes back in time to get her now-deceased father to buy her a winning lottery ticket as a wedding gift.

MARTHA JONES
Played by Freema Agyeman
2007-2008
18 Episodes
Martha is a young medical student who meets the Doctor when the Judoon send the hospital they’re both in to the moon to retrieve a fugitive. The Doctor initially doesn’t want a new fulltime companion, despite them working quite well together, but he does allow her one trip in the TARDIS, though it becomes three. She immediately fancies the Doctor, but because he is who he is, and he’s still hung up on Rose, he treats her rather poorly in this department. She perhaps spends the most non-televised time with the Doctor, traveling with him to 1913 and becoming a maid while the Doctor turns himself human to avoid being detected by “The Family of Blood,” then getting trapped in the 1960s and forced to get another job thanks to the Weeping Angels. She also spends a year forming an underground resistance against the Master in what eventually becomes an aborted timeline. After leaving the Doctor, Martha becomes a doctor herself and joins UNIT as their scientific advisor. She joins the Doctor and Donna in adventures against the Sontarans and even sees the creation of the Doctor’s clone-daughter, Jenny. Martha also has a few adventures with Torchwood, a couple of which are even watchable.  She marries Mickey, for no reason other than it’s the least credible pairing since Leela and Andred. Yes, that was an Invasion of Time reference.

RIVER SONG
Played by Alex Kingston
2008-present
11 Episodes (as companion, it’s unclear)
One of the strangest companions ever, River Song still has yet to be seen as a fulltime companion, if ever she will be. Meeting the Doctor almost routinely out of order, usually in reverse order, the Doctor first meets her on her final adventure with him. She knows all about him, the TARDIS, has a sonic screwdriver, and even knows his real name. She gets killed by the Vashta Nerada; However, the Doctor is able to upload her mind into the Library Planet’s databanks.  We eventually discover that she is the offspring of the Doctor’s future companions, Amy Pond and Rory Williams, who, having been conceived aboard the TARDIS, gained the ability to regenerate, though she donated all of her remaining lives to save the Doctor. She has been programmed, since birth, by the fanatical group called The Silence, to kill the Doctor, though she no longer wishes to. She marries the Doctor in an aborted timeline. She is involved in some of the Eleventh Doctor’s most dangerous and world-shattering adventures, including the Weeping Angels, the Pandorica, the TARDIS exploding, the Silence, etc. We don’t know if and when she’ll be back, but it’s pretty clear her history with the Doctor has not all been uncovered.

ONE-OFFS
Played by Various People
During the specials, the Doctor had a different companion each time. Donna started as a one-off companion in “The Runaway Bride,” but eventually became a fulltimer. Some of the Doctor’s other one-offs include the ill-fated Astrid Peth (Kylie Minogue) in “Voyage of the Damned”, Jackson Lake (David Morrissey) in “The Next Doctor”, Lady Christina de Souza (Michelle Ryan) in “Planet of the Dead,” and the also-ill-fated Adelaide Brooke (Lindsay Duncan) in “Waters of Mars.” The Tenth Doctor’s final companion is Donna’s grandfather Wilfred Mott (played by the brilliant Bernard Cribbins) in the two-part “The End of Time,” though he’d appeared in several episodes already. As with any of the one-offs, their official companiondom is in question, though they serve the function of the companion in terms of the story. It could be argued that both Kazran Sardick and Abigail from “A Christmas Carol” are companions, as they both spend a lot of time with the Doctor even though that only spans one onscreen adventure. Similarly, the members of the Arwell family could be argued as companions in “The Doctor, the Widow, and the Wardrobe.” Splitting hairs, really. Still, of any of these one-offs, Wilfred has the most right to be called a companion.

AMELIA “AMY” POND
Played by Karen Gillan and Caitlin Blackwood (young Pond)
2010-present
28 episodes (though it’ll end up being 32 after series 7)
Amelia was a little girl when the newly regenerated Eleventh Doctor crash-landed in her garden. She had been praying to Santa to send someone to help with the crack in her wall (that ended up being the crack in time and space). The Doctor agrees to take the little girl with him, but because the TARDIS is all haywire, he is forced to leave for five minutes, which ends up being twelve years. The Doctor returns to find Amy, as she is now called, a grown up with a lot of psychiatrists in her past. She, as the Doctor puts it, makes no sense as she lives in a huge house all alone. She also has no memory of the Daleks invading or of anything that she should have seen from being alive in the UK for the last several years. After two more years of waiting, she becomes an official companion, neglecting to tell the Doctor that she’s getting married in the morning. Amy is one of the most erratic companions, being clever and competent in some episodes and flighty and disinterested in others. She nevertheless is compassionate and loyal, though she doesn’t always treat Rory very well. She finally marries Rory after remembering the Doctor back to existence and is at some point replaced by a Flesh duplicate after getting pregnant with Melody-Mels-River. She stops traveling with the Doctor after he’s forced to shake her faith in him and goes off to live with Rory. Amy is set to depart the show in the first five episodes of series 7.

RORY WILLIAMS
Played by Arthur Darvill
2010-present
20 episodes (though it’ll end up being 25 after series 7)
Initially appearing as Amy’s doofusy nurse boyfriend, and then fiancé, Rory has had one of the best arcs of a companion in a while. While his devotion for Amy is unflinching, he has come into his own as a brave and noble companion. He also is one of the few companions who doesn’t really want to be one. If given the choice, he’d gladly go back to living a normal, peaceful life with Amy, but he goes along with to be with her.  And he’s paid for it. He’s been disintegrated in a dream world, shot by a reptile lady, erased from existence, made to kill the woman he loved as an Auton, chose to guard a prison box for 2000 years, been healed to death by an alien Doctor, had his wife and child turn out to be Flesh, and been forced to erase an alternate version of his wife from existence; dude deserves a break. He’s also one of the few who has dared call the Doctor on his shit, especially in “The Girl Who Waited,” in which he accused the Doctor of trying to make Rory like him. Rory is set to leave the show during series 7 along with Amy. One can hope for a happy ending for these two, but that doesn’t usually make for good drama. We’ll have to see.

All right, phew… that is all of the companions from televised Doctor Who up to this point.  We know that in this year’s Christmas special, Jenna Louise Coleman will join Matt Smith in the TARDIS, but we do not know who she’ll be playing. Odds are she’ll have an interesting story. For the show to have lasted as long as it has there needed to have been some new blood once in awhile; that’s the beauty of the show. Let’s hope Ms. Coleman’s character will be more Sarah Jane and less Adric.

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26 comments

  • Ooh, Sally Sparrow was fantastic, but I just loved Bernard Cribbins. He has been in every Doctor Who episode that has driven me to tears and/or the brink of madness. The way he and David Tennant would just play together in their scenes was magic.

  • What about James Corden as Craig Owens? He’s a bit more than a one-off (since he was a co-star in both The Lodger and Closing Time) but he never traveled in the TARSUS… Yet.
    I guess I’m outing myself as a Who-nerd with all of these comments.

  • author

    While great characters, none of those characters are true companions. There’s an argument to be made for Craig, but I think he’s more of an ally than a companion.

  • I’ve always liked the old caveat that a companion had to travel with the Doctor (the only exceptions being his exile years).

    Sally Sparrow (whilst being a great character) and Elton (whilst being a terrible one) mever travelled with the Doctor. In fact, they each barely met him. Jackie Tyler has more claim than either.

  • Adam Mitchell is not a waste of screen time. He’s supposed to be terrible. The point of the character is to show that though the Doctor is amazing, his companions must be amazing too. Not just anyone can travel with the Doctor, and Adam is the example.

  • Re: Mickey Smith & Martha Jones as a married couple.

    ***Think about it for a moment.***

    “Smith and Jones”

    Get it now? Bit of a wordplay going on there.

    Otherwise, he was clearly not in her league as she was way more w/ it than he was shown to be.

  • Point of pedantry: Amy gets married, and *then* remembers the Doctor back into existence.
    Point of stupid pedantry: I don’t think it’s actually mentioned that the lottery ticket for Donna is a winning one (pretty heavily implied though).
    Candidate for one-off companion: Vincent van Gogh (and he did travel)

  • The Doctor-Donna. You got it right man, so sad. I was very possessive of Rose and could not handle Martha at all. I wasn’t really healed until Donna came along and was not romantically entangled with the Doctor at all, only a voice of reason and hilariousness.

  • What is a “true companion”, anyway? I don’t agree with the idea that someone who travels with the Doctor is more of a companion than someone that doesn’t. If that’s true, than Richard Nixon outranks Craig, as he did a bit of off-screen TARDIS-ing in “Day of the Moon”. Not cool. It’s almost as bad as him getting ranked below Adam.

    Not to mention, Astrid, Jackson, Lady Christina, and Adelaide didn’t travel in the TARDIS (except for a quick trip home in Adelaide’s case).

    I think a true companion is simply someone the audience can connect with who is willing to put their necks on the line for the Doctor. Whether or not they’ve fulfilled some requirement in the number of episodes or how many hours they’ve put in the TARDIS shouldn’t matter.

  • usually the criteria for companionship is if the actor is listed in the opening credits after the doctor.

    Corden would be in, Cribbins is in
    all of the companions from the last year of Tennent’s specials, too

  • This definitely reminds me of my never-ending anger over the show’s treatment of Adam. Sure, he perhaps didn’t have the best personality and maybe he makes the mistake of getting alien tech in his head (after the Doctor told him to ‘do as the Romans do’, of course) and wants to send future information back to the past (in theory to help cure his father, though that bit was cut in the final draft — still, he isn’t the first person to travel with the Doctor to have such an idea, its just that USUALLY the Doctor is there to explain why its wrong to do so). Oh, and he *accidentally* gets the Doctor and Rose captured. But I really don’t think he deserved his ending, especially when in the VERY NEXT EPISODE ROSE NEARLY DESTROYS THE MULTIVERSE AND ALL SHE GETS IS A LITTLE SLAP ON THE WRIST AND A HUG. WTF?? ‘I only take the best’, my arse… *CAPSLOCK RAEG*

  • I’ve noticed that Jonah and Matt have not been both on guested episodes recently. What going on there? Is it new way to go on the format? Or GASP, did Monah break up??

  • Excellent work Kanderson! Thanks for all the Doctor Who info over the years. You helped me get over my “THERE’S SO MUCH STUFF THERE” fear and plunge into the world of Who. I’m moderately obsessed now, and love it. THANK YOU!

  • in my village one posren died after eating rice also . I’m not stopped eating rice.It’s the easiest thing in the world to comment others of course i’m also doing this easy thing now .However, the doctor suggests that old people having diabetes and other problems may go for bottle gourd juice removing the bitter part of the vegetable. Because higher levels of cucurbitacins compound causes harm to health due to either improper storage of vegetables or high temperature.However, the doctor suggests that old people having diabetes and other problems may go for bottle gourd juice removing the bitter part of the vegetable. Because higher levels of cucurbitacins compound causes harm to health due to either improper storage of vegetables or high temperature.Because higher levels of cucurbitacins compound causes harm to health due to either improper storage of vegetables or high temperature.

  • Sorry that this is mostly irrelevant to this post; I just wanted to comment on the most recent Doctor Who for Newbies post.
    I’d like to see a list of the best Big Finish audio adventures featuring Doctor #8. He is woefully under-represented in the Who-niverse, and I really liked Paul McGann’s take on the Doctor in spite of the frankly awful movie in which he starred. Can I hope for such a list?