The Modern Companions
and Fellow Time Travelers

“Is this actually what you do? Do you just crook your finger and people just jump in your 'Snog Box' and fly away?"
"It is not a 'Snog Box'!"
"I'll be the judge of that."
- Clara Oswald and The Eleventh Doctor

     When Russell T Davies resurrected Doctor Who in 2005, he made the companions more important than they were in the original series, occasionally reaching a status nearly as important as The Doctor himself. Unlike the revolving door that was the TARDIS in the original series, with some companions only staying a little while and then leaving mid-season, in the Modern series, you could be sure a companion would stay around for at least one season (12 or 13 episodes), if not more. Even if it seemed The Doctor often chose his companions in a purely haphazard way, they all turned out to be important and loyal friends, several of them saving his life on a number of occasions. Not only important to The Doctor, the companions are important to us: from Rose Tyler to Bill Potts and beyond, the companions are our gateway into the adventures of Doctor Who.

Picture above: The Eleventh Doctor (Matt Smith) and Clara Oswald (Jenna Coleman) in The Snog Box... err... TARDIS.

Rose Tyler

Played by Billie Piper
Seasons 1 (2005), 2 (2006) and 4 (2008)
Specials: "The Christmas Invasion" (2005), "The End of Time Part 2" (2010), "The Day of the Doctor" (2013)
Companion to The Ninth and Tenth Doctors

THE DOCTOR: "I'm a Time Lord. I'm the last of them. They're all gone. I'm the only survivor. I'm left traveling on my own because there's no-one else."
ROSE TYLER: "There's me."

    Shop Girl Rose Tyler's mundane life was saved and turned upside down by The Doctor in the premiere episode "Rose", in which she and The Doctor battled race of killer plastic manikins called the Autons. At the end of that adventure, she risked her life to save his and just like that, The Doctor had his new companion.

ROSE: Couldn't we just launch a nuclear bomb at them?
HARRIET JONES: You're a very violent young woman.

      In her travels with The Doctor, played in Season One by Christopher Eccleston, Rose Tyler saw the end of the world, met Charles Dickens, encountered her first Dalek, went back in time to save her father's life (much to the displeasure of time itself), and was nearly killed by the Mighty Jagrafess of the Holy Hadrojassic Maxarodenfoe, or "Max", for short. At the end of the season, Rose accidentally poisoned herself while fighting The Daleks, and The Doctor transferred the poison from her body to his, forcing a regeneration. As Rose watched in horror and confusion, The Doctor exploded in blinding light, acquiring a new body and personality, but with all the memories of his previous incarnations ("Barcelona!"). Already enamored with the Doctor she knew, it didn't take long for Rose to accept and love the new handsome, dashing and borderline insane version of The Doctor, now played by David Tennant. More adventures followed, of course, as did a definite but platonic romance, but by the end of the season, Rose and The Doctor parted ways.

     There have been many great companions from 1963 to the present day, but only a handful of them could be called iconic. Elisabeth Sladen as Sarah Jane Smith and Lalla Ward as Romana, to mention two. Billie Piper as Rose Tyler, with that beautiful shining face that could blind you, was another one. There are several other companions whom I like more, but Russell T Davies' casting of Piper to be the the first new companion of the modern series was a brilliant move.

     Family Ties: Rose lived with her Mom, Jackie Tyler (played by Camille Coduri) and had a boyfriend Mickey Jones (played by Noel Clarke) whom she took for granted. Her father Pete (played by Shaun Dingwall) was run down by a hit and run driver when Rose was only a baby, but... this is Doctor Who so....

     Billie Piper was a huge factor in the success of the new Doctor Who series. The pop star turned actress did a superlative job as Rose Tyler, a beautiful (those eyes and that smile!) quick-witted young woman with almost no prospects until she met The Doctor and became a Time Traveler. Piper's presence as Rose in the first two seasons of the new show bridged the gap between Christopher Eccleston's departure and David Tennant's arrival, giving viewers at least one major familiar character to follow during the transition. Her rapport with both Eccleston and Tennant was always utterly believable. Nowadays, I may rank other companions higher than Rose Tyler, but I will always have a soft spot in my heart for Billie Piper. She was, you could say, my first.

"When he's stressed, he likes to insult species... Cuts himself shaving, does half an hour on life forms he's cleverer than. "

     At the end of Season Two, Piper bowed out of the show, but she returned for a few episodes in Season Four and was a welcome part of the 50th Anniversary episode Day of the Doctor. Outside of Doctor Who , Piper played the lead in the TV series Secret Diary of a Call Girl and had a role in another series, Penny Dreadful. She also starred in the 2-episode series The Sally Lockhart Mysteries.

     In 2018, Piper starred in the Off-Broadway play Yerma.


Mickey Smith

Played by Noel Clarke
Seasons 1 (2005), 2 (2006) and 4  (2008)
Special:"The End of Time Part 2" (2010)
Companion to the Nine and Tenth Doctor

"I'm the tin dog!"

    Mickey Smith was Rose Tyler's boyfriend,  and everything seemed to be going right for him until The Doctor (Christopher Eccleston) showed up in the first Modern Doctor Who episode "Rose". While Rose still had great affection for Mickey, her heart was with The Doctor, and while she rode though time and space, Mickey remained on Earth, pining away. It didn't help that The Doctor would condescendingly call him "Ricky" or "Mickey the Idiot", especially since Mickey often did crucial work behind the scenes in their adventures. In fact, although The Doctor often dismissed as Mickey as worthless, by the end of the fourth episode "World War Three", The Doctor offered him a spot in the TARDIS as a full-time companion, an offer Mickey turned down.

ROSE: No, you're not keeping the horse!
DOCTOR: I let you keep Mickey!

     When The Doctor regenerated (now David Tennant) and returned to Earth with Rose, neither Mickey nor Rose's mom Jackie recognized him, but after he saved the world from the Sycorax in "The Christmas Invasion", Mickey accepted him as The Doctor. While there was still residual resentment between both men, Mickey finally got to go on some adventures in the TARDIS in "The Girl in the Fireplace" and "The Rise of the Cyberman/The Age of Steel". That two-part story took place in a parallel world, in which a doppelganger "Rickey Smith" was a Cyberman-fighting hero and Mickey was just poor old Mickey. After Rickey's demise at the hands of a Cyberman, Mickey took his place, and was instrumental in defeating The Cyberman. But he had come to realize that he and Rose were through. At the end of the episode, he decided to stay in the parallel world with his grandmother (who was dead in the real world) while Rose and The Doctor went back to Earth.

"Mickey the Idiot - the world is in your hands."

     Having spent much time in the alternate world becoming a fighter, Mickey returned to Earth in "Journey's End" to help The Doctor defeat Davros and the Daleks. He then linked up with Martha Jones and Captain Jack Harkness, ostensibly to join Torchwood. The last we see of Mickey Jones is in David Tennant's final episode "The End of Time Part 2", where it was revealed that he and Martha Jones were now married freelance alien fighters.

     While Mickey Smith didn't have as much screen time or as many adventures in the TARDIS as other companions, he had one of the best character arcs of the whole series, going from a clingy, usually frightened young man who was always messing up to someone whom The Doctor learned to trust and respect. And so I grant him the title of "Companion"!.

Family Ties: We never do get to see any of Mickey's family except for a parallel world grandmother. It often seemed, though, that Jackie Tyler, Rose's mom, was his surrogate mother.

     Noel Clarke, who wrote the first season Torchwood episode "Combat", was set to appear with Freema Agyeman in the five-part Torchwood: Children of Earth, reprising their roles as Mickey Smith and Martha Jones. However, Agyeman accepted an offer to star in Law and Order: UK and before the script could be rewritten to feature just Mickey, Clarke had moved on also. One of Clarke's more interesting ventures was 2015's Chasing Shadows, co-starring along side Alex Kingston, known for her portrayal of River Song in Doctor Who


Martha Jones

Played by Freema Agyeman
Seasons 3 (2007) and 4 (2008)
Special: "The End of Time 2" (2010)
Other: Torchwood (3 episodes) (2008)
Companion to the Tenth Doctor

"He never stops. He never stays. He never asks to be thanked. But I've seen him, I know him... I love him... And I know what he can do."

     The Tenth Doctor seemed to have scoped out Doctor-in-Training Martha Jones well before her first adventure. If that is the case, he did a great job. When the hospital she and The Doctor were in was transported to the Moon (in Doctor Who, this can happen) and invaded by the space police known as The Judoon, Martha hardly batted an eye, her first instinct being to help the injured and keep frightened people calm.

DOCTOR: They're making a catalogue. That means they're after something non-human, which is very bad news for me.
MARTHA: Why? (pause) Oh, you're kidding me!

     Her transition into full-time companion did not come easy; still hurting from losing his beloved Rose, The Doctor often unintentionally treated Martha poorly. She, on the other hand, fell in love with him almost immediately. Yeah, there was some tension there. Still, even with all that emotional baggage they carried around, they became best of friends, and Martha proved her worth to The Doctor many times over, culminating with saving him, and the world, before The Master could complete his scheme of ruling the Universe. And when all was good with the world again, she was done. Realizing he would never love her in the same way she loved him, she parted ways with him. She did, however, leave him her phone.

"(T)he Doctor's wonderful and he's brilliant, but he's like fire. Stand too close and people get burned."

     With her medical skills and her known association with The Doctor, Martha Jones found a spot at UNIT ("Unified Intelligence Taskforce"), where she met up with The Doctor once again and hung around for several more adventures in Season Four. By this time, she had moved on from her crush on The Doctor (more or less), took an instant liking to Donna Noble when they met, and was genuinely happy for The Doctor when she learned Rose Tyler had come back. An underrated companion, Miss Martha Jones, and my favorite of the series. And yes, I believe she ranks among the most beautiful companions ever (and that's some competition there!), but don't love Martha because she's beautiful, love her because she's frakking awesome!

     Family Ties: Martha had an extended family, perhaps too extensive for the audience to get to know all of them. Most memorable were her long-suffering mother (played by Adjoa Anoh) and a sister (played by Gugu Mbatha-Raw) as beautiful as Martha herself, and in the episode "The Lazarus Experiment", as equally willing to throw herself into danger to help The Doctor. In the episode "The Sontaran Stratagem", Martha revealed that she was engaged to Doctor Thomas Milligan, previously seen in the episode "Last of the Time Lords", but apparently that didn't work out, because in "The End of Time Part 2" she is shown to be married to Mickey Smith, ex-boyfriend of Rose Tyler.

     Freema Agyeman auditioned for several roles before getting the choice spot of companion Martha Jones. One year before, Agyeman had appeared as Adeola Osholi, a worker at Torchwood, in Season 2's episode "Army of Ghosts". Her character died in that episode, but Agyeman later won the role of Martha. To explain why Martha looked so much like Adeola, it was revealed in the Season Three opener that she and Adeola were cousins. Apparently identical cousins, like on The Patty Duke Show.

     With her medical background and affiliation with The Doctor and UNIT, Martha could easily move from one series to another. Russell T Davies certainly picked up on that aspect of her character, shifting Agyeman to and from Doctor Who and the spinoff series Torchwood. He had her set not only for the five-part "Torchwood: Children of Earth" but also for an episode of The Sarah Jane Adventures. Before any that could happen, Agyeman jumped at the chance of a lead role on the new program Law and Order: UK, and her Doctor Who career came to an abrupt halt. For now.

"The Doctor sort of travels through time and space and picks people up. God, I make us sound like stray dogs. Maybe we are."

     Aside from Doctor WhoTorchwood, and Law and Order UK, Agyeman has appeared in an excellent 2008 adaptation of Charles Dickens' Little Dorrit, and the TV series The Carrie DiariesNorth and South and Sense8. She was also a cast member in the first series of the children's show Old Jack's Boat (2013), which starred beloved comedian Bernard Cribbins, better known to many Doctor Who fans as Wilfred Noble, Donna Noble's Grandfather. In 2017, she played a vampire, along with Eve Myles, in the horror spoof Eat Local. In 2018, she became a cast member of the NBC medical drama New Amsterdam.

Calling Doctor Love: There is a section of the Doctor Who fan base who dislike Martha Jones for falling in love with The Doctor. They moan and complain that all she does is pine away for The Doctor in every episode, ruining everything with her endless lovesick blues. And yes, you will find Martha's crush popping up in just about every episode of the third season. In every 45-minute episode, you can get a glimpse of Martha's infatuation of The Doctor somewhere. Usually for about, oh, five seconds, and then she gets on with the work of saving the Universe and making sure The Doctor doesn't accidentally kill himself. So please... if you dislike Martha because she fancies The Doctor, get over it. It's not that big a deal.


Donna Noble

Played by Catherine Tate
Season 4 (2008)
Specials: "The Runaway Bride" (2007), "The End of Time 1" (2009), "The End of Time 2 (2010)
Companion to the Tenth Doctor

"You fought her off with a water pistol! I bloody love you!"

     After losing Rose and watching Martha walk out on him, The Doctor seemed determined to (a) not fall in love with his next companion and (b) not have his next companion fall in love with him.

     Enter temp worker Donna Noble.

     The Tenth Doctor first met Donna under very strange circumstances, when, on her wedding day, she was accidentally transported from the church to the TARDIS (full explanation too complicated to explain - see "The Runaway Bride" 2006 Christmas Special). After that adventure, in which Donna lost her fiancé, she and The Doctor went their separate ways. A season later, she finally met The Doctor once again and after their first proper alien mystery, featuring dealing with the evil Adipose Industries, she became his full-time companion. She brought her own luggage, which included a giant hat box in the event they ever landed on The Planet of The Hats. Unlike the more romantic couplings of the previous two seasons, Donna and The Doctor were like brother and sister. There was a lot of love there, but no romance, and that's the way they both wanted it.

SOLANA: Now then, Doctor Noble, Mrs Noble, if you'd like to come with me.
DOCTOR: Oh, no, no, no, no. We're not married.
DONNA: We're so not married.
DOCTOR: Never.
DONNA: Never ever.

     They flew around time and space freeing a race called The Ood from slavery, arriving at Pompeii the day before the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius, meeting Agatha Christie, and other capers, culminating in defeating Davros, creator of The Daleks, whose plan was to destroy the entire universe, leaving only The Daleks alive. Although many of the Doctor's closest friends pitched in to help, it was Donna in the end who managed to save the day, and the world.

"Just someone. Please. Not the whole town. Just save someone."

     Family Ties: In the  Christmas Special "The Runaway Bride", Donna was about to get married but... things happened. She lived with her parents Geoff and Sylvia Noble (played by Jacqueline King and Howard Whitfield). By the time of her first official episode as a companion ("Partners in Crime"), Donna had lost her father but gained a grandfather, Wilfred Mott, played by comedian Bernard Cribbins.

     Catherine Tate starred in her own popular sketch comedy show and appeared with David Tennant in the Doctor Who Christmas Special "The Runaway Bride" that heralded the coming of Season Three. Russell T Davies liked the way she played against Tennant in the special and contracted her to be the full-time companion in Season Four. It was an excellent decision. Tate not only had great comedy instincts, but also stellar acting skills, and the chemistry and repartee between Tennant and Tate was outstanding, possibly the best of the entire series so far. For example: as good as Billie Piper and Freema Agyeman were in their roles, it is doubtful they could have pulled off the miming scene in "Partners in Crime" as perfectly as Catherine Tate did.

DONNA: It's a murder, a mystery and Agatha Christie!
DOCTOR: So? Happens to me all the time.

     Aside from her own show and Doctor Who, Tate has appeared in various projects as the TV mini-series Bleak House, the Jack Black comedy Gulliver's Travels, and the American version of The Office. She was also in Much Ado About Nothing where she reunited with her friend and former Doctor David Tennant.


Amelia "Amy" Pond ("The Girl Who Waited")
and Rory Williams ("The Last Centurion")
Played by Karen Gillan and Arthur Darvill
Seasons 5 (2010), 6 (2011) and 7 (2012)
Specials: "A Christmas Carol" (2010), "The Doctor, The Widow and the Wardrobe" (2011), "The Time of the Doctor" (2013 - Karen Gillan only)
Companions to The Eleventh Doctor

AMY: "I've got my space ship, I've got my boys... My work here is done!"
RORY: "We are NOT her boys!"
DOCTOR: "Yeah, we are."
RORY: "Yeah, we are."

       Amy Pond and Rory Williams were the first married couple to accompany The Doctor on his adventures in the "New Who" era. The Doctor first met Amy when, after his regeneration from his tenth incarnation, he crash-landed in front of the house of young seven-year old Amelia Pond. Establishing a quick friendship with her, The Doctor promised the young girl a trip in his TARDIS in five minutes, right after he got back from a quick errand. Due to the vagaries of time travel and The new Doctor's lack of attention span, he missed the few minutes by twelve years. Amelia, now known as Amy, had grown up a young woman with a shelf full of homemade "Doctor and His Blue Box" toys and a head full of psychological issues. That same day, The Doctor met Rory Williams, Amy's best friend and fiancé. At first, The Doctor only took Amy on space-time trips, but soon Rory became a regular proper companion.

RORY: Does anybody else find this day just a bit difficult? I'm getting a sort of banging in my head.
AMY: Yeah, I think that's Hitler in the cupboard.
RORY: That's not helping.

     While every companion was essentially loyal to The Doctor, "The Ponds" were loyal to a fault, sticking with The Doctor through thick and thin and enduring many awful hardships that would have made other companions run away screaming at the sight of a TARDIS or a madman with a bow tie and a sonic screwdriver.

     Eventually, though, the pair took a break from The Doctor and settled in to domestic life, only occasionally joining The Doctor. In one late adventure, they came across a young woman named Oswin Oswald, who was trapped in her spaceship on a planet of Daleks. Miss Oswald would become much more important in The Doctor's life later.

     Family Ties: Former show-runner Russell T Davies loved creating families for the companions. Writer-show runner Steven Moffat - not so much. In the fifth season opener "The Eleventh Hour", young Amelia Pond lived alone, explaining to The Doctor that she had no mother or father, but had an aunt who wasn't around. We finally see her parents Augustus and Tabetha Pond (played by Halcro Johnston and Karen Westwood) at the end of the season-ender "The Big Bang" but never again after that. In Season Seven, we do get to meet Rory's father (played by Mark Williams) and he sticks around for two whole episodes! Though not exactly a family tie, Amy meets her younger self Amelia (well played by Caitlin Blackwood, Karen Gillan's cousin) in the season-ending "The Big Bang". As far as Amy's family ties with The Doctor and River Song go, well...  no spoilers here, but let's just say just say it's Moffat-y Hoffa's-y.

     Karen Gillan was part of the ensemble sketch comedy series The Kevin Bishop Show, starred in the horror movie Oculus (worth a look!), played Eliza Dooley in the short-lived American comedy series Selfie, and is probably most recognized, or not, because of the heavy CGI makeup, in the Guardians of the Galaxy movies. In 2017, she was also in the thriller The Circle with Emma Watson and Tom Hanks and Jumanji with The Rock and Jack Black.

     Arthur Darvill had a role in the Dickens mini-series Little Dorrit (which also featured Freema Agyeman and Torchwood's Eva Myles) and is known for the series Legends of Tomorrow and Broadchurch, which also starred David Tennant.

     Fish-Finger Factoid: Like Freema Agyeman before them, Karen Gillan and future Doctor Peter Capaldi had both previously appeared in Doctor Who, coincidentally in the same episode, Season Four's "The Fires of Pompeii".


Clara Oswald ("The Impossible Girl")

Played by Jenna Coleman
Seasons 7  (2012 - 2013), 8 (2014) and 9 (2015)
Specials: "The Snowmen" (2012), "The Day of the Doctor", "The Time of the Doctor" (both 2013), "Last Christmas" (2014), "Twice Upon a Time" (2017)
Companion to The Eleventh and Twelfth Doctor

"Run, you clever boy - and remember."

     The Eleventh Doctor met Clara Oswald twice in time and space, once in the future when he and The Ponds were kidnapped by The Daleks, and then again in the past where she was a pub waitress and a nanny. Not understanding how the same girl could exist in separate times, he made it his mission to find her again in the present, but when he finally did find her, she had no memory of him. Nevertheless, "The Impossible Girl" became his new companion.

CLARA: Emergency. You're my boyfriend.
DOCTOR: Ding dong. Okay, brilliant. I may be a bit rusty in some areas, but I will glance at a manual.
CLARA: No, no, you're not actually my boyfriend.
DOCTOR: Oh, that was quick. It's a roller coaster, this phone call.

     Although we'll never know if she and The Eleventh Doctor had any adventures we haven't been told about, on the show, she was only with him for half a season in TV time. In the final episode of Season Seven, "The Name of the Doctor", we discover how Clara had existed in different times and places. Clara next appeared with The Doctor in "The Day of the Doctor", a celebration of all things "Doctor Who" which also featured guest stars such as Billie Piper, David Tennant and John Hurt. In the last Matt Smith / Jenna Coleman episode, the Christmas special "The Time of The Doctor", Clara witnessed The Doctor regenerate into his twelfth incarnation, played by Peter Capaldi. Though she had a difficult time trying to adjust to the new, older, and much more cynical Doctor, she remained his companion through two seasons.

CLARA: Someday, you could just walk past a fez.
DOCTOR: Never gonna happen.

     If you read Doctor Who boards or venture into any Doctor Who related internet discussions, you would be led to believe that everybody hates Clara Oswald. I suspect it is a small but vocal minority, but there it is.

     I don't get it. I always found Clara Oswald to be one of the strongest characters in the new series, one with a busy life outside of traveling with The Doctor. Rose Tyler lost her job the day The Ninth Doctor showed up and she never looked back. Donna Noble was a temp worker who seemed to have a lot of time on her hands. When we first meet the older Amy Pond, she was a "Kiss-o-gram" girl. Later she became a model, but neither one of these occupations seemed like she was smothered with work. Even Martha Jones, who was one of the busiest companions of the new series, returned to her medical career only after she left The Doctor of her own free will.

"Impossible girl. A mystery wrapped in an enigma squeezed into a skirt that's just a little bit too tight."

     Not counting her past incarnations, Clara worked as a nanny and taught at the Coal Hill School (admittedly, the whole "Clara is now a teacher" idea had no setup at all but again, there it is, thank you Mr. Moffat). Unlike most other companions listed above who loved riding with The Doctor over just about any other activity, Clara initially attempted to balance her life between adventures with The Doctor, nannying, teaching at school and having a romantic life with her boyfriend, fellow teacher Danny Pink. Being an authority figure as a teacher and a nanny, she acted less as a companion to The Doctor but rather more like an equal. When she stayed on as a companion to the Twelfth Doctor, she became more self-reliant and ever more reckless, never quite understanding that the path she was on could be her downfall.

     She was loving, feisty, beautiful, something of a control freak (again, a sudden addition to the character from Steven Moffat), self-confident, funny and completely willing to sacrifice herself to save The Doctor, whether it be the charming Eleventh incarnation or the cranky Twelfth. Her characterization rubbed some fans the wrong way, who complained the show was becoming Clara Who. I never got this at all. What's wrong with having a well-rounded, three-dimensional character who had a life outside of being The Doctor's time-traveling companion? Do these fans not want strong females in the show? If you look objectively at seasons eight and nine, you may find a fascinating story about an awkward but loving two-way friendship that drastically changes both The Doctor and The Companion. If I were to rank my favorite Modern companions (oh, you know I will!), Clara Oswald would be right up there with Martha Jones and Donna Noble. So there, Clara-haters. In the words of the woman herself: "Shuttup!"

     As of 2018, Jenna Coleman holds the "New Who" record for most appearances as a companion. According to the often unreliable IMDB, she was in 38 episodes and 2 mini-episodes. She still has a long time to catch up to Frazer Hines from the Patrick Troughton years!

     Family Ties: Clara is the daughter of Dave and Ellie Oswald. Her mother Ellie died when Clara was young. She also has a grandmother, seen in "The Time of the Doctor" (2013). That's about all we got from Mr. Moffatt about Clara. The guy just doesn't care about families!

     Jenna Coleman made her first television appearance in 2005 in the series Emmerdale, the same year as the new Doctor Who series premiered. She worked in several other British productions over the years, and also had a small part in the super hero flick Captain America: The First Avenger. According to Stephen Moffat, she won the part of Clara Oswald because she was the only actress they auditioned who could keep up with the hyperactive Matt Smith.

     After her two and a half year run on the show, Coleman became the star of the historical mini-series Victoria, where she did a splendid and often Clara-like job portraying the young Queen Victoria. In the show, she proved once again, as she did several times in Doctor Who, that she was born to wear period costumes (See "The Snowmen" or "Robots of Sherwood" for validation). No word yet on whether in a future season of Victoria, she will meet The Doctor, fight werewolves and establish Torchwood.

     Jenna ended her Doctor Who career (for now, at least) with a short appearance in 2017's Christmas special "Twice Upon a Time".

"I've just realized - I'm going out for another meal now."
"Don't worry. Calories consumed on the TARDIS have no lasting effect."
"Wha -- are you
"Of course I'm kidding; it's a time machine, not a miracle worker."


Clara, My Clara: Clara Oswald has seen and/or interacted with more Doctors than any other companion in history. All twelve up to that point in time, in fact, plus the unnumbered War Doctor. How? Well, rather than spoil things, I'll just point you to the 2013 episode "The Name of the Doctor".


Played by Matt Lucas
Season 10 (2017)
Specials: "The Husbands of River Song" (2015), "The Return of Doctor Mysterio" (2016), "Twice Upon A Time" (2017)
Companion to the Twelfth Doctor

"That's The Doctor for you: never notices the tears."

     Prior to Nardole, the only full-time male companion The Doctor had in the new series was Rory Williams, husband of Amy Pond. Nardole was also the first "alien" companion The Doctor had since the old series. A sweet, simple guy, Nardole was originally an employee of River Song. In "The Husbands of River Song", his head is taken from his body and placed into a mechanical body, one he eventually had to share with the head of one of River's husbands, Ramon (just go with me on this). Many years later, The Doctor went back and reassembled Nardole into his proper body (again, don't ask questions) and made him a companion. Although seemingly a simpleton, Nardole became an ace at flying the TARDIS, savvy enough in "The Return of Doctor Mysterio" to go back in time to 12th Century Constantinople ("I ruled firmly but wisely") and make it back just at the precise moment The Doctor needed him back in the 21st Century.

"I’m the only person you’ve ever met or will ever meet who is officially licensed to kick the Doctor’s arse."

       Matt Lucas has appeared in several movies, but his best work is probably in the sketch show Little Britain, which also featured none other than Tom Baker as the show's narrator. David Walliams, Matt's co-star in Little Britain, appeared as an alien in the fifth season episode "The God Complex". Lucas is pictured above as the annoying foul-mouthed chatterbox Vickie Pollard, one of many characters he created for Little Britain.


Bill Potts

Played by Pearl Mackie
Season 10 (2017)
Special: "Twice Upon a Time" (2017)
Companion to the Twelfth Doctor

BILL: "Why did you run like that for?"
THE DOCTOR: "Like what?"
BILL: "Like a penguin with his arse on fire."

     Bill Potts was a young cafeteria girl,  slinging French fries/chips to students at St. Luke's University where The Doctor had settled as a professor. He noticed her attending his lectures even though she wasn't officially a student, and was impressed that whenever she didn't understand something he mention in a lecture, she smiled instead of looking puzzled. Thus, The Doctor took Bill under his wing and became her tutor.

"Do people ever hit you?"
"Well, only when I'm talking."

     In her first adventure, she learned what a Dalek was (the only appearance in the whole tenth season of the often over-used Daleks). More adventures followed, including one in which she managed to save the world from the mysterious "Monks" who had taken over. Bill also met "Missy", the female incarnation of The Master, and joined her, along with Nardole, in a rescue mission that soon took a very bad turn.

Family Ties: Bill lost her mother when she was very young, and was raised by her foster mother Moira.

"This is the most exciting thing that's ever happened to me in my life! The only exciting thing!"

     Pearl Mackie had only two small roles on TV before being cast as Bill on Doctor Who. She did have theatrical training and appeared on stage in The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night. Her character in Doctor Who is the first openly gay companion of the series, unless we count fellow time traveler Captain Jack Harkness as a companion.

      Mackie was scheduled for the tenth season only, after which Chris Chibnall took over show runner duties and cleaned the slate with a new Doctor (Jodie Whittaker) and all new companions. Before the Chibnall Era began, Mackie, as Bill Potts, played a major part in the 2017 Christmas special "Twice Upon A Time", which closed out the Peter Capaldi and Steven Mottat era of the show.

BILL: You're thinking! Tell me what you're thinking about.
DOCTOR: A magic haddock.
BILL: Obviously.


Ryan Sinclair, Graham O'Brien and Yasmin Khan

Played by Tosin Cole, Bradley Walsh and Mandip Gill
Season 11 (2018)
Companions to the Thirteenth Doctor

     As with Ian and Barbara from the classic days and Amy and Rory in the modern era, I have to group these three companions together instead of separately, because they all fall in together. In "The Woman Who Fell To Earth", the first episode of Jodie Whittaker's reign as The Doctor, we meet four people who all have some tie with each other.  Ex-bus driver Graham O'Brien is married to Grace, his nurse, who helped him through cancer treatments. Grace is the grandmother of Ryan Sinclair, a young man struggling with dyspraxia, a disease that affects motor skills and other functions. PC Yasmin Khan, who is bored with dealing with traffic problems and wants to do more in her job, was a schoolmate of Ryan's. These four all met The Doctor on a night where something mysterious has caused a train to malfunction. Not long after that, The Doctor accidentally stranded herself and her new friends (sans Grace) on a hostile planet with almost no chance of survival. Of course, they survived.

GRAHAM: Are we supposed understand anything you're sayin'?

     Over the course of the season, The Doctor and her companions tussled with an evil alien named T'zim-sha (whom The Doctor immediately renamed "Tim Shaw"), met Rosa Parks in 1955, found themselves battling robots in one of the biggest mega-stores in the Universe, and had several other adventures that all led up to yet another tussle with Tim Shaw... er... T'zim-sha.


Before the 11th season began, show runner Chris Chibnall told the world that there would be no previously seen aliens, monsters or characters from the past, in order to make the new season an easy jumping-in point for new fans. He stuck to his word, as there were no Cybermen, no Missy, no Sontarans, no Captain Jack... the slate was clean.

     However, in the 2019 New Year's Ever special "Resolution", The Doctor and her companions ran into.... wait for it.... a Dalek! And a pretty nasty one too, after years of seeing Daleks being treated like comic relief. Did Chibnall go back on his word?  Technically, no. He wasn't cheating - the Doctor Who Specials are not considered part of the seasons they come after, and are a separate entity existing between seasons.

     Former professional football player Bradley Walsh is well known in Britain as a comedian, game show host and actor, and for his eight-year stint on Law and Order: UK. Mandip Gill starred in the soap opera Hollyoaks and other television programs before she was cast in Doctor Who. Actor Tosin Cole has done much work on television and appeared in Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015). Sharon D. Clarke is a singer and actress.


Here is my rankings of favorite modern companions from the characters highlighted above. Your mileage may vary. And please, no hate mail

1. Martha Jones
2. Donna Noble
3. Clara Oswald
4. Amy Pond
5. Rory Williams
6. Mickey Smith
7. Rose Tyler
8. Graham O'Brien
9. Bill Potts
10. Nardole
11. Yasmin Khan
12. Ryan Sinclair

Note: I do not in any way hate my lower-ranked companions. So again... no hate mail.


Captain Jack Harkness

Played by John Barrowman
Seasons 1 (2005), 3 (2007) and 4 (2008)
Special: "The End of Time 2" (2010)
Friends with The Ninth and Tenth Doctors

"Who looks at a screwdriver and thinks 'Ooh, this could be a little more sonic.'?"

     Captain Jack Harkness first met Rose Tyler and The Doctor (Christopher Eccleston) in the first season episode "The Empty Child". At the time, he was a Time Traveling con artist who passed off useless space junk to collectors. He  developed into a fine extra hand to have around, though the Doctor, in whatever incarnation, always kept him at arms length. His preferred method of Time Travel was via a Vortex Manipulator, essentially a time machine wrist watch. Owing to circumstances too spoilery to talk about, Captain Jack could not die. He was also omni-sexual; he hit on men, he hit on women, he hit on aliens. If it was sentient, he hit on it.

CAPTAIN JACK:  Nice to meet you, Lynda Moss.
DOCTOR: Do you mind flirting outside?
CAPTAIN JACK: I was just saying hello!
DOCTOR: For you, that's flirting!

     After parting ways with The Doctor in the first season finale, Jack accidentally got stuck in the 1800s when his Vortex Manipulator broke, causing him to have to wait decades to catch up with The Doctor again (David Tennant). Jumping onto the outside of the TARDIS as it was taking off, Jack caused himself, Martha and The Doctor to wind up at the end of the Universe. When they got back to their normal time, they combined to defeat The Master, who was attempting to (say it with me) take over the Earth. A year later, he was back at, with The Doctor and hordes of others former and present companions and fellow travelers, trying to keep Davros and The Daleks from (say it with me) destroying The Universe. As of this writing, this is the last time Captain Jack appeared in a Doctor Who episode, aside from a quick cameo in "The End of Time Part 2". He did, however, spend four years (in TV time) running Torchwood in the show of the same name.   

"Wish I'd never met you, Doctor. I was better off a coward."

     John Barrowman has become a staple of superhero shows, appearing in The FlashArrow and Legends of Tomorrow.

Barrowman in the 2005 comedy musical The Producers. He played
"Lead Tenor Stormtrooper" in the "Springtime for Hitler" scene.


Dr. River Song

Played by Alex Kingston
Seasons 4 (2008), 5 (2010), 6 (2011), 7 (2012), 9 (2013)
Special: "The Husbands of River Song" (2015)
Friends (usually) with the Tenth, Eleventh and Twelfth Doctors

"Hello, Sweetie!"

   Doctor River Song has more spoilers in her timeline than any other character on television ever. Her timeline is so convoluted and full of surprises that it's difficult to describe her without giving away any secrets of the show. So in short - River Song's timeline intersects with The Doctor's in reverse. When she meets the Tenth Doctor, he has no idea who she is. Later on as her and The Doctor's move in opposite timeline directions, the Eleventh Doctor and his companions know who she is, but she doesn't not know them. At times, she is the Doctor's closest friend, at other times, she is his deadly enemy. And, one spoiler that doesn't spoil much, she is also The Doctor's wife.

"We're traveling in opposite directions. Every time we meet, I know him more, he knows me less."

      And that's about all I can say except that she is a whole lot of fun to watch.

     Although she spent most of her Doctor Who days with Matt Smith, River Song's first appearance was with David Tennant in the fourth season episode "Silence in the Library" and what may be her last appearance in the series was with Peter Capaldi in the 2015 special "The Husbands of River Song".

    Alex Kingston has been in many movies and TV series on both sides of the pond. While a favorite of Doctor Who fans, she is obviously more well known in the U.S. as Elizabeth Corday in  the  TV series ER. She also played a recurring character in Arrow.


Next: The Almost Companions

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The Secret Vortex

""Some left me, some got left behind and some... not many but... some died."
- The Eleventh Doctor, on companions