The Almost-Companions

"You're gonna miss your best friend now /
You're gonna have to find yourself another best friend somehow!"
- Bob Dylan, "Crash on the Levee (Down in the Flood)"

     The Doctor almost always traveled with a companion or two. Some of them came and went rather quickly, others stayed on for several seasons, even spanning multiple Doctors. In the course of the new series, there have been possible companions who either didn't work out (in "The Long Game", the Ninth Doctor banishes brand new companion Adam Mitchell from the TARDIS for being an opportunistic jerk) or refused to take him up on his offer (the engineer on the "Mummy on the Orient Express" turns down a job as the Twelfth Doctor's maintenance man). And, with the Tenth Doctor especially, some potential companionships just never happened. Here are several "almost companions" from the modern era of Doctor Who.

Lynda (with a Y)

Played by Jo Joyner
Season One, "Bad Wolf" / "Parting of the Ways"
Almost Companion to the Ninth Doctor

    In the Ninth Doctor's final adventure before needing to regenerate, he meets Lynda ("Lynda... with a 'Y') who learns of his time-traveling life style and hints to him that she wouldn't mind that sort of thing. Despite his love for Rose Tyler, the Doctor immediately considers Lynda as a potential companion. Unfortunately, she never gets the chance, becoming a casualty in a battle against The Daleks. Damn those Daleks!

Jeanne Antoinette Poisson ("Reinette")
(aka Madame de Pompadour)

Played by Sophia Myles
Season Two, "The Girl in the Fireplace"
Almost Companion to the Tenth Doctor

   In one of the most outstanding episodes of the series, and certainly one of writer Steven Moffat's best scripts, The Tenth Doctor, Rose Tyler and Mickey Jones find themselves on a spaceship that is, for some reason, linked to the legendary historical figure Madame de Pompadour. Never mind why and how, because that doesn't matter here. What matters is that this was a Doctor Who episode that had it all - history, sci-fi, comedy, drama, horror, heartbreak, and an almost companion. Clearly smitten by her by the end of the episode, The Doctor offers Madame de Pompadour a chance to ride with him in the TARDIS, which could have led to full companionhood. Before it could happen, her window of opportunity unexpectedly closed. Time is like that.

Joan Redfern

Played by Jessica Hynes
Season 3, "Human Nature / The Family of Blood
Almost Companion to the Tenth Doctor

    A gem written by Paul Cornell (adapted from his own novel), the two-part "Human Nature / Family of Blood" may be counted as one of the greatest Doctor Who episodes from any period. I myself call it The Greatest Doctor Who Episode Ever. 

     Running from nearly unstoppable villains, The Doctor uses a timey-wimey device called a Chameleon Arch to change himself into a human with a brand-new personality, and hides out, Martha Jones in tow, in 1913 England, where he is now John Smith, school teacher. The story features a fantastic performance by David Tennant as the awkward but friendly John Smith (The Doctor's memory and personality is locked up in a fob watch), and was also one of Freema Agyeman's best showcases as Martha, who is the only person in the story who actually knows what's going on. There's also the bevy of creepy villains who call themselves The Family of Blood, villains who are so good, they are also highlighted on our Villains, Monsters and Evil Aliens page.

     The heart of the episode, though, is a sweet love story, as the timid John Smith falls for the school's nurse, the lovely and kind Joan Redfern, who falls in love with him as well. When the story is over, the villains are dealt with and The Doctor is The Doctor again, he clearly has feelings for Joan and asks her to travel with him. But alas, she was in love with the fictional John Smith and is not all that keen on The Doctor, especially considering that since he arrived, followed up by The Family of Blood, many good people were killed.


Played by Rebekah Staton
Season 3, "Human Nature / The Family of Blood
Almost Companion to the Companion of the Tenth Doctor(!)

     There were so many almost companions in the David Tennant era that even a companion almost had a companion. In Season Three's classic "Human Nature / Family of Blood", where The Doctor and Martha are hiding back in time (1913) to escape from the villains known as The Family of Blood, Martha Jones befriends maid Jenny, who becomes her only real friend. One night after work, the pair share a cuppa outside under the stars and Martha hints at the adventures she will have when she leaves. Then she pops the question to Jenny:

"You should come with me, Jenny - you'd love it!"
"Where you gonna go?"
"Anywhere! Just look up there. Imagine you could go all the way out to the stars."

     Jenny's replies laughingly with a "You don't half say mad things!" and leaves it at that. Unfortunately, by the time Martha gets around to have a cuppa with her again, Jenny has... well... changed. And another Almost Companion bites the dust.

Sally Sparrow

Played by Carrie Mulligan
Season Three, "Blink"
Almost Companion to the Tenth Doctor

    Steven Moffat's episode "Blink" is often described as the Doctor Who episode for people who don't know much about Doctor Who. With The Tenth Doctor and Martha stuck in the year 1969, it is Sally Sparrow who does most of the legwork in the episode. Sally, played by Carrie Mulligan, is a one-time character who could have easily stayed part of the Doctor Who world. It is Sally and her best friend's brother Finlay who, at great risk, put all the pieces of a very Steven Moffat-y puzzle together to save the stranded time travelers whose TARDIS has been stolen by The Weeping Angels (see our "Villains" page). Sally Sparrow remains one of the most memorable one-shot characters, one I think should have been allowed to hang around a while, or at least show up again in the following season and join The Doctor on a few adventures. Seriously, she almost single-handedly saves The Doctor and Martha - and The Doctor can't invite her for a few rides in the big blue box as a thank you?

Astrid Peth

Played by Kylie Minogue
2007 Christmas Special "Voyage of the Damned"
Almost Companion to the Tenth Doctor

     Moments after saying goodbye to Martha Jones in "Journey's End", The Tenth Doctor is shocked to find his TARDIS crashed into by... The Titanic! Investigating the circumstances, he finds it is actually a flying replica of the original Titanic designed for tourists. On the ship, he meets Astrid Peth, a woman from the planet Sto with whom he immediately bonds. Quickly they are in the middle of a nightmare, with an attack on the ship causing it to begin falling toward Earth, and the ship's robotic Hosts turning homicidal. As in the classic movie The Poseidon Adventure, which this special clearly resembles, several of the rag-tag group of travelers The Doctor is trying to save perish. In the end, it is Astrid who helps The Doctor get the situation under control.

     Russell T Davies seemed to initially create the character to be The Doctor's next companion after Martha Jones but later, casting pop singer and actress Kylie Minogue as Astrid, he made her a one-off "almost" companion who would only appear in this special. Minogue was one of several prominent stars Davies wished for and got during his reign of running the show. Others include Catherine Tate, Timothy Dalton and Michelle Ryan (see directly below).

Lady Christina de Souza

Played by Michelle Ryan
2009 Special "Planet of the Dead"
Almost Companion to the Tenth Doctor

     Man, they really should have had a spinoff series starring David Tennant called "Tenth Doctor: Babe Magnet".

     Cat Burglar Lady Christina de Souza steals a priceless chalice from a local museum and then hides on a bus to escape the police. It turns out The Tenth Doctor is also a passenger on the bus, and, because this is Doctor Who, the bus winds up going through a wormhole, taking them to a desert planet with seemingly no way back to Earth. When they do make it back to Earth (you knew they would make it back, right?), Lady Christina has caught the old "I want to ride with The Doctor in the TARDIS forever" fever, but The Doctor, having already had to say goodbye to three different companions whom he loved, refuses to take her on as a partner. Yet another "almost companion". Had it been a regular season and not a year of specials, the adrenaline junkie Lady Christina would have made a superb companion who could stand toe to toe with The Doctor.


Played by Amara Karan
"The God Complex" (2011)
Almost Companion to the Eleventh Doctor

     When The Doctor finds himself and his companions Amy and Rory in a creepy hotel that harbors many deadly secrets, he is impressed by a smart young woman named Rita who, along with several other people, is also trapped there. While several other fellow travelers freak out and subsequently get killed, Rita uses her faith, her wit and her intelligence to help keep her strong and alive for as long as she can.

     Midway through the episode, The Doctor gives his usual "all of time and space" speech, telling Rita that when they make it out of the hotel, he would take her traveling too. She was intrigued, even if, as she admitted, she didn't really understand what he was taking about. Unfortunately, Rita never did get to join The Doctor and his companions in time-traveling adventures. Judging from the performance from actress Amara Karan, Rita would have been a great addition to Team TARDIS.

Petronella Osgood

Played by Ingrid Oliver
"Day of the Doctor" (2013)
"Death in Heaven" (2015)
"The Zygon Invasion / The Zygon Inversion" (2015)
Almost Companion to the Twelfth Doctor

    One of Steven Moffat's most pleasant and likable characters, Petronella Osgood (not to be confused with any Moffat character named Oswin, Oswald or Oswin Oswald) was the world's number one fan of The Doctor, as can be gathered by her frequent donning of a fez and/or a Fourth Doctor scarf, as well as other Doctorish accoutrements. She first appeared in the 2013 special "Day of the Doctor" as Kate Lethbridge-Stewart's personal assistant, where she met several versions of her idol, including The Tenth and Eleventh. In 2014's "Death in Heaven", Osgood met The Twelfth Doctor, who was so impressed with her knowledge and intuition, he casually tossed out the usual "All of time and space" proposition, but it was not to be. Without spoiling anything for fans new to the show, Osgood showed up again in the two-part "The Zygon Invasion / The Zygon Inversion", where she may or may not have been a Zygon herself. If this was a Russell T Davies story, I could explain it. But it was a Steven Moffat story, so I can't help you.

Next: UNIT

Go Back: The Companions (and Fellow Time Travelers)

Doctor Who Main Page

The Secret Vortex

"Come on, Rory! This is not rocket science! It's just quantum physics!"
- The Eleventh Doctor