Doctor Who’s Companions: The Definitive Guide (Part 3)
We started this series quite some time ago but had to put it on hold while I, well, had to finish watching the series. Turns out that it’s looooong. Anyway, we’re up to date on the world of Doctor Who and we’re ready to get the ball rolling again. Check out Part 1 and Part 2 first, and there’s also our guide to the Doctor himself (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3).
Played by Mary Tamm and Lalla Ward
Species: Time Lord
Era: The Rassilon Era
First Appearance: The Ribos Operation (Season 16) – the beginning of the ‘Key to Time’ saga. When the Doctor was enlisted by the White Guardian to seek out and assemble the Key to Time he was provided with a companion to aid him on his way. Romana, a recent graduate from the Time Academy, was immediately transported onto in the TARDIS.
Profile: ‘Romana’ is a nickname given to the character in her first appearance as a way of avoiding having to call her Romanadvoratrelundar during their quest. Being a Time Lord Romana shares the Doctor’s ability to regenerate, but seems capable of controller her appearance in this event. In her first incarnation (seen above on the left) Romana was quite haughty and looked down on the Doctor, having little patience for his goofy attitude. Being more academically qualified than the Doctor she initially saw him as inferior, but she eventually came to see his approach as worthwhile.
After the Key to Time Romana underwent a regeneration, taking on the appearance of Princess Astra, whom they had met on their previous adventure. In her new form Romana was less headstrong, taking on the Doctor’s subversive approach, even using her own sonic screwdriver. The two had a close relationship and would often verbally spar with each other (it is often assumed that the close bond between the characters was a reflection of the romance between Tom Baker and Ward in real life).
Final Appearance: Eventually the rulers of Gallifrey called Romana back to her home world. Reluctant to leave the Doctor’s side their adventure took them into E-Space. The Warrior’s Gate (Season 18) was the episode where the TARDIS returns to the real universe, but Romana elected to remain behind to help the slave race of Tharils, along with K9.
Played by Matthew Waterhouse
Species: Alzarian (located in E-Space)
Doctor: Fourth and Fifth
First Appearance: Full Circle (Season 18). Upon being transported into the E-Space universe the TARDIS land on Alzarius. During their adventure here they meet mathematic prodigy Adric. Before the Doctor and Romana leave Adric hides on board the TARDIS to go with them.
Profile: Although young Adric had an adventurous spirit that would both endure him to the Doctor and occasionally frustrate him in equal parts. Adric’s youth and intelligence (of which he was aware) would lead to occasional bouts of immaturity that could get the group in trouble, but he would never deliberately cause trouble for the travellers. He would also seek validation from the Doctor even while proving to test his patience.
Final Appearance: During their battle with the Cybermen in Earthshock (Season 19) Adric tried to prevent an attack on Earth by solving mathematical problems to unlock the encryption. Instead of escaping when he had the chance he stayed to try and solve the final problem, which lead to him being trapped on board the detonating spaceship. Adric was the first major companion to be killed whilst travelling with the Doctor.
Played by Sarah Sutton
Era: 1981 (Earth time)
Doctor: Fourth and Fifth
First Appearance: The Keeper of Traken (Season 18). Unlike the usual wanderings collected by the Doctor Nyssa is an aristocrat. The Doctor and Adric get caught up in a political conspiracy on Traken involving the Master.
Profile: When first crossing paths with the Doctor Nyssa was taken under control by the Master. After breaking free and joining Adric, the Doctor and later Tegan in their journeys through time she proved to be a stabilising influence among the three large personalities in the TARDIS. Having been raised as an aristocrat she had some skill as a diplomat, and could keep a level head in dangerous situations. When Tegan and Nyssa are confronted by the image of the departed Adric it is Nyssa who notes that his destroyed badge is intact, and therefore a trick. During her time with the TARDIS crew Nyssa rarely initiated their travels or their adventures, but was always an active participant.
Final Appearance: After their adventure in Terminus (Season 20) Nyssa elects to stay behind on the derelict space station to help liberate slaves and set up a hospital.
Played by Janet Fielding
Era: Earth 1980s
Doctor: Fourth and Fifth
First Appearance: One of the occasions when the TARDIS’s faulty chameleon circuit as resulted in it being mistaken for a phone booth. When Tegan gets a flat tire on her way to Heathrow Airport where she worked as an air hostess she steps into the TARDIS looking to phone for help. This occured at the beginning of Logopolis (Season 18).
Profile: The Eleventh Doctor’s description of Tegan as a ‘gobby Australian’ sums it up nicely. Although she was whisked away unexpectedly and spend the first part of her journey trying to get the Doctor to return her to her life Tegan wound up forming a very firm bond with Tegan and she became one of the longest running companions. Tegan speaks very bluntly, and is very direct in demanding what she wants. She has an excellent instinct for people, often seeing their true intentions immediately.
Tegan was a very well developed character. Although she was a strong willed character some of her experiences with the Doctor, especially with the Mara, began to have an affect on her, occasionally leaving her very shaken. After leaving the TARDIS in Time-Flight it wasn’t long before she returned, and we had the rare occurrence of seeing a companion’s normal life and family.
Final Appearance: During Resurrection of the Daleks (Season 21) Tegan was horrified by the carnage left in the invaders wake and left the Doctor.
Played by Mark Strickson
Era: 1980s (Earth time)
First Appearance: Mawdryn Undead (Season 20) introduces Vislor as a young human attending school in England. The truth is that he is a political exile from the planet Trion who was banished to Earth following a civil war. In his first serial he is contacted by the Black Guardian who offers Vislor the chance to leave Earth if he kills the Doctor.
Profile: He first joined the Doctor as a secret operative for the Black Guardian. Although the Doctor feigned ignorance of this it is revealed that the Doctor was suspicious but saw the potential and suffering of Vislor and took him in anyway. Tegan is more vocal of her distrust but after the events of Enlightenment she gives him a chance for redemption.
Vislor’s difficult situation is reflected in his attitude. Having spent his life as a child on Earth he is often bitter, angry and ruthless when talking with others. He could be hesitant in joining the Doctor and Tegan in action, but the loyalty he feels towards the Doctor would always see him doing the right thing. Vislor often felt out of place, never fitting in with the Earthlings and not being able to return home, and this became a driving force behind the character’s motivations.
Final Appearance: In Planet of Fire (Season 21) Vislor learns that political prisoners are no longer mistreated on Trion and that he plays an important role in a prophecy regarding the leadership of the planet. At the end of the adventure he thanks for the Doctor for everything he learned from him and stays on Trion.
Voiced by Gerald Flood
Species: Android from the planet Xeriphas
First Appearance: The King’s Demons (Season 20) is set on Earth in the Medieval age. The Master had brought Kamelion here as part of a scheme to take control of the nation using the androids ability to mimic other people in appearance and voice.
Profile: With the ‘Curse of Kamelion’ reportedly causing the deaths of everyone associated with the character (including script writings, engineers and actors) there were only two on screen appearances of the ambitious character. The first fully animatronic character in television he was in every sense a robot.
In the show Kamelion was an android who could take on the appearance and voice of anyone. After joining the Doctor it was found that Kamelion retained a psychic link to the Master and was manipulated by the villain. After being used to the Master’s own end Kamelion asks the Doctor to destroy him.
Final Appearance: Planet of Fire (Season 21) sees Kamelion destroyed at his own request using the tissue compression eliminator.
Played by Nicola Bryant
Doctor: Fifth and Sixth
First Appearance: Planet of Fire (Season 21). While on Earth Turlough notices Peri swimming in the ocean and running into trouble. Turlough brings her on board the TARDIS to let her recover, where she encounters Kamelion disguised as her step-father and being controlled by the Master.
Profile: Being a young and ambitious college student Peri was an enthusiastic adventurer. She was often in high spirits and even when confronted with the abrasive and aggressive Sixth Doctor she would show him a lot of affection. Her time with the Doctor saw her mature and develop a stronger relationship with the Sixth Doctor, rather than be constantly taunted by him.
Peri eventually met a tragic end when it is revealed during the Doctor’s trail that she was host to an alien consciousness that was implanted into her, forcing the Time Lords to assassinate her.
Final Appearance: Although she was seen to have been killed in Mindwarp (Season 23) Peri was revealed to have survived and had left the Doctor to marry King Yrcanos of Thoros Alpha. The evidence of Peri’s death was faked by the Valeyard and revealed in The Ultimate Foe (Season 23).
Played by Bonnie Langford
Era: 20th Century Earth
Doctor: Sixth and Seventh
First Appearance: Terror of the Vervoids (Season 23) sees Melanie on the TARDIS with the Doctor. There is no explanation of how she met the Doctor and wound up travelling with him.
Profile: Mel is a human from Earth, where she worked as a computer programmer. She excelled at this task thanks to having an eidetic memory. There was an intention to show her origin story in the 24th season but the departure of Colin Baker made this impossible to film.
Bright and perky at all times Mel always met challenges with a smile and good humour. She even tried pushing the Sixth Doctor into some positive behaviors such as exercise and healthy eating. On occasion her optimism would lead her into trouble but she’d rarely let it deter to enthusiasm.
Final Appearance: At the conclusion of Dragonfire (Season 24) runs into Sabalom Glitz, who she met during the Doctor’s trail. Mel decided to travel with Glitz rather than the Doctor.
Played by Sophie Aldred
Era: 1980s Earth
First Appearance: When the Doctor and Mel met Dorothy ‘Ace’ McShane in Dragonfire (Season 24) she was working on in a cantina on Iceworld after falling through a space time rift from Earth.
Profile: The 16 year old explosives enthusiast ‘Ace’ is one of the best developed companions in the long running history of Doctor Who. Ace was seen as a tough and aggressive girl from the streets but this was in part a way of hiding her insecurities. After having a bad relationship with her mother and seeing her friends flat get firebombed as a hate crime she began acting out in sometimes violent ways. She committed a number of acts of arson using home-made explosives and got expelled from school after setting of plastic explosives in the art room as a ‘creative statement’.
When travelling with the Doctor Ace would be confronted with her past under the guidance of the Doctor himself. Through learning the truth behind the mysterious house she burned down and the history of her mother Ace learned to overcome her fears and she began to have a more positive outlook.
Ace is fiercely loyal to the Doctor, or ‘Professor’ as she called him, and her tough attitude would come in handing during confrontations. Ace finds a special place in Doctor Who history for going to town on a Dalek using a baseball bat. She would always stay by the Doctor’s side because, as she claimed, he needed her to “watch his back”.
Final Appearance: In Survival (Season 26) Ace is returned to her home town and time period but by the end of the adventure she chooses to remain with the Doctor on the TARDIS. The show was put of hiatus at this point but the producers did reveal that they had planned for Ace to become enrolled in the Prydonian Academy on Gallifrey and study to become a Time Lord.
Played by Daphne Ashbrook
Era: 1990s Earth
First Appearance: Doctor Who: The Movie. When the TARDIS arrives in California in 1999 the Doctor is shot several times by a street gang. Grace is the cardiac surgeon who operates on him prior to his regeneration.
Profile: After the Doctor’s regeneration he seeks out Grace to help his find the Master and prevent him from opening the Eye of Harmony. She’s a compassionate person who helps the Doctor even though she has grown disillusioned with her role as a surgeon due to not being able to save everyone. Through the Doctor she was able to feel hope once again.
Final Appearance: Only one appearance, as the movie failed to re-invigorate the series. At the end of the movie the Doctor offers to take Grace on a journey in the TARDIS, but she declines having found a new vigor for her old life.
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