The If Only Companions Of Doctor Who

The Who companions that should have been...

 

 

"I only take the best," the Doctor tells whizzkid, Adam Mitchell, at the end of The Long Game. It would be harder to screw up your companion audition more comprehensively than young Adam, but over the course of the show there's been a number of one-off characters who could have made the grade… Your mileage may vary, of course – feel free to agree, disagree or post your own suggestions in the comments section below. Okay? Okay.

 

Samantha Briggs, The Faceless Ones

Sam Briggs in The Faceless Ones

Cheeky Scouse saucepot, Sam Briggs, is quite literally a companion audition – towards the end of this story, where Ben & Polly return to London 1966, the production team offered Pauline Collins (for it is she) an extended stay on the TARDIS, only she declined the invite. An intriguing "what if" as Collins makes a great impression here. She's spunky and resourceful and flirting with Jamie like a woman on a mission, while managing to avoid being upstaged by a hat that deserved its own spin-off series.

 

Sally Sparrow, Blink

Sally Sparrow in Blink

In much the same way that it's said that some mega-villains (Davros, Omega) should have been best left as iconic one-offs rather than suffer the policy of diminishing returns, everything about Sally in Blink works so well, it's perhaps best that she's remembered with the same fondness as a "one that got away" Summer romance. Furthermore, as actress, Carey Mulligan, has deservedly gone on to much bigger but not necessarily better things, the Who community can take some collective pride knowing we took to her charms before Hollywood and Vanity Fair came calling.

 

Todd, Kinda

The Doctor and Todd in Kinda

The unique and gorgeously nutty Kinda was memorable to this young fan's mind for a number of things. The contrast between the ashamedly artificial jungle sets and the very real psychodrama played out by the troubled inhabitants of the Dome, the Quantel-induced mind-rape of Tegan by PC Reg Hollis, and, not least, seeing that nice lady from The District Nurse as the MILF-y Dr Todd. The early days of Davison's era saw this most mild-mannered of Doctors cast in the role of reluctant nanny to a brood inflicted on him more by circumstance than choice. What he really needed, to balance things out, was a more level-headed, mature companion that he didn't need to mollycoddle.

 

Jane Hampden & Will Chandler, The Awakening

Jane Hampden and Will Chandler in The Awakening

It's a two-for-one here, with Polly James (another Liver Birds refugee) and Children's Film Foundation wunderkind, Keith Jayne, as companions for the day, while Tegan and Turlough are sidelined in classic Eric Saward-era fashion. Schoolteacher Jane Hampden and timeslipped country bumpkin, Will Chandler are cut so squarely from the cloth of two classic companion templates – the "cardigan" (Barbara Wright, Liz Shaw) and the "primitive" (Jamie, Leela) – that their inclusion here writes itself. Granted, Jane out-beiges the Fifth Doctor, but as said before, his era was crying out for a more mature, level-headed companion, and Keith Jayne (fresh in many viewers' memories from Thames' Stig Of The Dump) is a delight. It's a wonder that they've not been revived by Big Finish for a run of Season 21b audios.

 

Wildred Mott, Voyage Of The Damned, etc

Wilfred Mott in Voyage of the Damned

For anyone of a certain age, the Crib is such a part of one's television memories that he's as familiar and well-loved as a favourite uncle – and of course he had Who cred points for being brilliant in Daleks: Invasion Earth 2150 AD – so seeing him join the Who family with the return of Donna Noble was a match made in telly heaven. Two national institutions reunited at last! I guess we can say he's a companion in all but name after playing such a significant role in The End Of Time – indeed, Wilf was the only remotely real or grounded ingredient in the whole shebang. I don't think I'm alone in thinking it wouldn't have hurt to have seen even more of him in the series. Fortunately, as ever, Gary Russell was on hand to grant those fanboy wishes by giving him a central role, and doing the character justice, in his BBC novel Beautiful Chaos, one of the standouts of the range.

 

Glitz & Dibber, The Mysterious Planet

Glitz and Dibber in The Mysterious Planet

Tony Selby got to essay his role as Sabalom Glitz in that season's technobabble-strewn finale, and again in the knockabout Dragonfire, but it's something of a shame that his dim-witted accomplice, Dibber (Trig to Glitz's Del Boy), was quietly forgotten about. Glitz and Dibber's double act (Robert Holmes riffing on his own Garron & Unstoffe from The Ribos Operation) is one of the few elements in the misguided Trial that approximates something resembling entertainment. They should have stuck around. Having this pair aid and abet the Doctor for a mid-season arc may not sound like an idea with great mileage, but a few leagues more bearable than Mel Bush's perkiness offensive.

 

Madame Vastra, A Good Man Goes To War

Madame Vestra in A Good Man Goes To War

An immediate hit with many fans, so much so that a Facebook group clamouring for this crime-fighting, Sapphic Silurian (what's not to love?) and her Victorian servant and vagina-licker, Jenny, sprung up within hours of A Good Man Goes To War's broadcast. Vastra's such a strong character, played with delicious relish by Neve McIntosh, that it's enough to forgive everything that the show didn't quite get right with the reminagined Silurians. If Moffat wants to take a chance by giving us a non-humanoid (well, as non-humanoid as a lizard with distinctive ladybumps gets) companion, Madame Vastra would definitely cut the mustard.

 

Jenny, The Doctor's Daughter

Jenny in The Doctor's Daughter

On second thoughts, no, just no… Too much Oedipal weirdness. Apart from anything else, that closing scene was such a blatant teaser for a spin-off CBBC series that I'm surprised it hasn't happened yet.

 

 

 

 

 

James Gent

 

 

The If Only Companions Of Doctor Who
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