Favourite Doctor Who Companion

Favourite Doctor Who Companion

Oddly enough this isn't a question which the non-fan usually asks. Favourite Doctor and Monster. Yet, the companion is as much a part of the show as either of those elements, and to a degree more so, but often they're forgotten even though time and again they can be the prime-movers of the plot even if that is getting captured or stumbling into said monster just in time for the cliffhanger ending.

In the new series, Russell T Davies has gone for the iconic. The Doctor and his young female companion who he'll be teaching about the universe. It's the dynamic which has cropped up through all of the latter incarnations during the original series. The cliche is correct in this case, she will be asking him what's going on so that the audience can keep track.

A pattern I've always noticed is that the stories are weaker when this dynamic hasn't been thought through. I've read interviews with former producers, well alright John Nathan Turner, who's attitude was to introduce a companion based on some basic attributes and let the actor fill in the gaps.

The problem with that attitude is that it doesn't take into account how that will play with The Doctor of the day -- there needs to be some kind of chemistry and to be honest a good reason for the timelord to choose them as a companion. When this doesn't work is when the companion seems to have been plonked into the TARDIS at random with the hope that magic will happen.

Which is why picking a favourite companion is difficult. Because if you take away the actor and whatever rudimentary characterisation has been laid on them, they all end up being pretty much the same. The easy way would be to choose the one you fancy. So either Romana on the beach thank you, with Sarah Jane Smith visiting later for drinks.

But if I'm bring this to the realms of appreciation, I'm going to have to go for the unusual decision again. I said last night the 8th Doctor was my favourite timelord. Even more controversially my favourite companion, for the purposes of the people who know what the hell I'm talking about is Charley Pollard. She's McGann's friend in the Big Finish Audio cds and over the course of four seasons, redefined the role of the companion to the extent that she's an equal with The Doctor (sound familiar?).

For the uninitiated, Charley's an Edwardian adventuress who stowed away on an airship, the R101, and rescued by The Doctor just before it blew up in flames. Unlike inumerable tv companions who seemed to want to leave the TARDIS as quick as they could (see Tegan etc), Charley genuinely wants to see the universe, grab hold of this opportunity which has been put before her. Aided by India Fisher's superb performance, we heard her present a feeling of utter wonder at what was being shown to her, time and again. But even more unusually considering the job description she's saved The Doctor's life almost as many times as he's saved hers, a hand to hold when the universe is falling apart around him.

The chemistry between Fisher and McGann is so potent that often you're happy just to listen to them chat as the plot passes by around them. One of the best stories of the era, Scherzo (written by Rob Sherman, who's contributed the Dalek episode in the new series) is just them, no other characters, stuck in universe where they just walk round and around and its utterly compelling. They were living through the fall out of a previous story, equally classic (for different reasons) Neverland in which Charley told The Doctor she loved him and for the first time we knew the feeling was mutual. Which was somehow less controversial than that kiss in San Francisco.

But what's perfect about Charley is that she comes across as a real person. There is the afformentioned outburst, but also her constant irritation that The Doctor drops them in it time and again, and that the universe never quite works right, ever. In later seasons, a third companion was introduced, the chamelionic Cr'zz and although she was polite there was a definite irritation at having to justle with someone else for the timelord's attention. Such jealousy, as she might say herself it was 'Silly, childish and very human...'

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