Doctor Who’s Companions: The Definitive Guide (Part 1)
Doctor Who may be the name of the show but the time travelling screw-ball wouldn’t be half as fun to watch without his companions. If anything the poor guy goes a bit crazier than usual when travelling alone, and he’s forever wanting to share the universe with other people. The Doctor has changed his face ten times to date, but the number of companions who have shared his police box far exceeds that, and are just as interesting. Here’s the first round of details on them, in chronological order:
Played by Carole Ann Ford
Species: Time Lord
Era: Rassilon Era
Doctor: First, with a guest appearance during the Fifth.
First Appearance: An Unearthly Child (Season 1) – Susan arrived on Earth with The Doctor after they were exiled as punishment for stealing the TARDIS.
Profile: Susan was the first person to travel with The Doctor after he stole the TARDIS from his home world. For reasons not explained Susan, his grand-daughter, was exiled with him for his crime. The Doctor took her to Earth in the 1960s to receive her education, where they hid the TARDIS in a scrap yard called ‘I.M. Foreman’s’, which is where she took the alias before entering into Earth society. While in school two of her teachers noticed her strange gaps in knowledge and her uncanny understanding of history and physics, leading them to seek her out and eventually begin an adventure through time and space.
Susan was very similar to an Earth girl her age. She was ambitious and impulsive, but also naive. These attributes lead her into many scrapes and problems while travelling with the Doctor as her curiousity usually over-rode her sense of self-preservation. Her relationship with her Grandfather doesn’t come seem close most of the time, but they are the only family they have left and there are more than a few moments where they show how much they care for each other.
Final Appearance: The Dalek Invasion of Earth (Season 2) – While fighting back against the Daleks during their 2164 invasion of Earth Susan fell in love with young freedom fighter David Campbell. She elected to remain on Earth with him, with The Doctor bidding her farewell via the TARDIS intercom so she wouldn’t have her loyalty to her Grandfather prevent her from staying. She later returned in The Five Doctors.
Played by William Russell
Era: Earth 1960s
First Appearance: An Unearthly Child (Season 1) – meets The Doctor through his grand-daughter Susan, of whom Ian is a teacher.
Profile: Ian Chesterton is a science teacher at Coal Hill High School who, along with his colleague Barbara, notices some oddities in regards to a student named Susan. She had advanced understanding of psychics and a preternatural knowledge of Earth history. On the other hand she seems to lack some everyday knowledge like current currencies and basic social protocols. Out of curiosity they head to her given address to met her guardian and Grandfather only to find themselves at a junkyard. When hearing Susan’s voice coming from an old police box they investigate only to get whisked away through time by The Doctor.
Whilst he can come across as smug and uptight, Ian shows a surprising number of kick-ass skills during his adventures. He fights with swords and his bare fists, rides horses and strikes people’s pressure points. His daring attitude leads him into a few scrapes with cavemen, Aztecs and others and eventually gets knighted by King Richard. He is quite protective of his companions, leading more than a couple of missions to rescue Barbara or Susan. Throughout his adventures both Ian and Barbara want to return to their own time, but The Doctor’s ineptitude at steering lead them on a two year long journey. Still, this never stopped them from making the most of their experience.
Final Appearance: Season 2 penultimate adventure The Chase. After being trapped travelling in the TARDIS for two years Ian and Barbara make use of a Dalek time machine to return to England two years after they left.
Played by Jacqueline Hill
Era: Earth 1960s
First Appearance: An Unearthly Child (Season 1) – meets The Doctor along with Ian while investigating Susan.
Profile: Barbara worked as a history teacher alongside Ian at Coal Hill, and was also taken aback by Susan’s unusual behaviour. As they travel through time and space Barbara finds herself more in her element when visiting Earth’s past where she draws upon her studies to prepare the crew for what to expect. Often when Susan or Ian get carried away with their curiosity Barbara remains level-headed and resorts to logic as a way of addressing problems. Throughout her time in the TARDIS Barbara seems to find herself being captured or in need to rescuing a surprising number of times. From being poisoned by insecticide while shrunk to almost losing her head during the French Revolution she was forever finding herself in dire straits.
Final Appearance: Barbara returned to her own time and planet with Ian at the conclusion of The Chase.
Played by Maureen O’Brien
Era: Earth 25th Century
First Appearance: The Rescue (Season 2) when she is rescued by The Doctor, Ian and Barbara after spending a long time living in fear of the dangerous inhabitants of Dido, trapped in a wrecked spaceship.
Profile: Being from Earth’s far future she has a greater understanding of astrophysics and the universe. Due to this Vicki formed a quick and strong bound with The Doctor, being the only two members of the crew who had knowledge of the technologies and aliens they encounter. She takes over many of The Doctor’s duties in flying the TARDIS and helps him make tough decisions, such as allowing Ian and Barbara to use the Dalek time machine to get back to their own time. Vicki didn’t spend much time with The Doctor and the TARDIS, but she did battle the Daleks more than once, saw off Ian and Barbara and got involved in Earth’s history more than a few times. Eventually she fell in love with Troilus during the Battle of Troy and elected to stay in Earth’s past alongside him.
Final Appearance: The Myth Makers (early Season 3) whilst in Ancient Greece.
Played by Peter Purves
Era: Earth 23rd Century
First Appearance: Steven Taylor first met The Doctor and his companions when they land on Mechanus during The Chase. He’d been stranded for two years and after Ian and Barbara return to Earth The Doctor discovers that Steven has stowed away in the TARDIS.
Profile: Having spent two years stranded among an entirely robot population Steven has become short tempered and brash. He sometimes rubs his new travelling companions up the wrong way but remains loyal to them at all times. Alongside The Doctor and Vicki he’s not a great thinker but never shies away from a physical challenge.
Steven travels with The Doctor during a rather dark time for the Time Lord. After Vicki leaves they are joined in rapid successful by two other companions who both get killed early on in their time in the TARDIS. He argues with the Doctor over events during The Massacre of St. Bartholomew’s Eve because of The Doctor’s policy of non-involvement, leading to thousands of murders. At this point Steven wanted to leave the TARDIS. He does leave shortly after, accepting responsibility for two warring tribes on a distant planet in the future.
Final Appearance: The Savages (end of Season 3), after the conflicting tribes of savages and elders merge and need a leader.
Played by Adrienne Hill
Era: Earth 1st Century
Doctor: First and Seventh
First Appearance: During the Battle of Troy in The Myth Makers, where she works as a handmaiden to Cassandra.
Profile: When Vicki, Steven and The Doctor become involved with the siege of Troy Vicki befriends Katarina. Shortly after arriving Steven is wounded by a spear and Katarina helps him back to the TARDIS and tends to his wounds. After the events of the story Katarina chooses to travel with The Doctor while Vicki elected to remain behind. Unfortunately Vicki was unable to comprehend what was happening inside the TARDIS and assumed that she had died and passed to the afterlife. As a result she referred to the TARDIS as a temple and saw The Doctor as a god, calling him ‘Lord’. Despite his best attempts The Doctor was not able to dissuade her of this notion.
Not long after boarding the TARDIS Katarina is drawn in to a conflict with the Daleks where she is taken hostage by an escaped prisoner. Not wanting The Doctor to give in to the demands she activates the airlock and is sucked into the vacuum of space. Unbeknownst to Katarina she actually encountered The Doctor whilst she was a child. He was in his seventh incarnation at the time, meaning that she never knew that she was dealing with the same person.
Final Appearance: The Dalek’s Master Plan (Season 3).
Played by Jean Marsh
Era: 41st Century Earth
First Appearance: The Dalek’s Master Plan (Season 3)
Profile: When The Doctor and Steven first encounter Sarah Kingdom it’s during an attempted invasion of Earth by the Daleks. Sarah is a member of a security force and who is told that her brother Vyon is a traitor. She kills her brother, but through The Doctor she learns that this was not true, and her unquestioning loyalty to the leadership of Earth has lead her to perform this heinous act.
She joins forces with The Doctor to repel the attach by the Daleks in order to make up for her crime. She quickly proves to be a ruthless and aggressive ally – certainly a bonus when dealing with this particular foe. Sadly her time with The Doctor was short lived, as she got caught up in a field of accelerated time along with the Doctor and died of extreme old age before making her escape.
Final Appearance: The Dalek’s Master Plan (Season 3)
Played by Jackie Lane
Era: 1960s Earth
First Appearance: The Massacre of St. Bartholomew’s Eve (Season 3) – while in the 1500s The Doctor and Steven witness a massacre at the hands of French Catholics, including their ally Anne Chaplet. When they next land in the 1960s a young orphan wanders into the TARDIS thinking it was a police box. The Doctor is shocked to learn that she is Dodo Chaplet, a descendant of Anne.
Profile: Dodo is very much a light-hearted and fun seeking youth of the 60s. Whilst she was never especially bright or sophisticated she was strong willed and always cheerful. She witnessed many of The Doctor’s most remarkable adventures, including the gun battle at the OK Coral and playing the games of the Celestial Toymaker. It was though Dodo that The Doctor’s impact on history was first explored when she inadvertently carries flu germs into the future after the illness had been destroyed.
Final Appearance: The War Machines (Season 3) – after Dodo is taken under mine control by the WOTON AI during it’s attempted coup of London she decides to stay in her home town.
Played by Anneke Wills
Era: 1960s Earth
Doctor: First and Second
First Appearance: The War Machines (Season 3) – Polly is introduced as the secretary to Professor Brett, inventor of the AI system that threatens London.
Profile: Polly is very much a representation of the Swinging 60s of London, being young, sophisticated and trendy. Unlike many of The Doctor’s companions Polly is not naturally adventurous or curious, preferring to remain dignified rather than throw herself into the action. During her time on the TARDIS she is joined by Ben Jackson, who takes a protective role over Polly and responds to her posh attitude by calling her ‘Duchess’.
Polly and Ben are the only ones with The Doctor the first time he regenerates. After their shock at the incident they continue to travel with The Doctor until they find themselves back on Earth the day they left, where they elect to pick up their lives right where they left off.
Final Appearance: The Faceless Ones (Season 4)
Played by Michael Craze
Era: 1960s Earth
Doctor: First and Second
First Appearance: The War Machines (Season 3) – Polly and Dodo meet Ben, a Seaman in the Royal Navy, in a nightclub prior to WOTON’s attack with the War Machines.
Profile: When Polly and Dodo first meet Ben he’s depressed and angry about being shipped to the West Indies. When he defends Polly against the advances of another night club patron he winds up being drawn into the war against WOTON. Afterwards he helps Polly deliver Dodo’s TARDIS key back to The Doctor, only to be taken on an adventure through time.
Ben’s training in the navy has served him well and he often shows himself to be brave and loyal. He is a naturally suspicious character who doesn’t like being kept in the dark. During his time in the TARDIS he battles both Dalek’s and Cybermen in their first appearance before electing to remain on Earth with Polly after they return to the 1960.
Final Appearance: The Faceless Ones (Season 4)
PART TWO OF THE GUIDE COMING SOON!