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 has almost always traveled with companions. 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 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" refuses a job as the Twelfth Doctor's maintenance man). And, with the Tenth Doctor especially, some potential companionships just never happen. Here are several "almost companions" from the modern era of Doctor Who.

Doctor Grace Holloway

Played by Daphne Ashbrook
Doctor Who (1996 TV Movie)
Almost Companion to the Eight Doctor

     Doctor Grace Holloway is unique in Doctor Who lore in that she killed The Doctor and then, just hours later, found herself going on an adventure with him. In the 1996 Doctor Who TV Movie, The Seventh Doctor (Sylvester McCoy) was gunned down in San Francisco and taken to the hospital, where Dr. Holloway attempted to stabilize him. Unfortunately, not understanding his alien physiology, Holloway accidentally killed him. A few hour later in the morgue, he regenerated * into his eighth incarnation (Paul McGann). The two paired together to stop a revived Master from executing his usual nefarious evil plans. When said nefarious evil plans all went kaput for The Master, The Doctor asked Grace to come with him in the TARDIS. Alas, she refused. Since this turned out to be a one-shot movie that failed to bring about a new Doctor Who series, that is the last we see of Grace Holloway. A pity, since, aside from that little "whoops - I killed The Doctor!" kerfuffle, she made for a pretty good companion.

     Because of legal issues, the character does not appear in any of the Big Finish Audio dramas. In the 2013 mini-episode "Night of the Doctor", The Eight Doctor toasts to the memory of several companions he has know in his travels, just before he regenerates into The War Doctor. Grace Holloway's name is conspicuously absent.

     Daphne Ashbrook has appeared in dozens of television programs over the years, but her largest role was as Jackie Kowalski in Nick at Nite's 2012's show Hollywood Heights.

* I may be wrong, but this may be the only time in Doctor Who history that The Doctor regenerated after he actually died. But the movie has several such moments that defy Doctor Who lore. Also, my friend Bob and I debated whether Grace Holloway should be considered a "Classic Companion" or an "Almost Companion".  This being my site, "Almost Companion" won out. One adventure with The Doctor does not a companion make.

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 life. 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!

     As with several actresses who have worked on Doctor Who, Jo Joyner played in the series EastEnders, and has had a pretty steady film and television career.

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 a near 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.

     Sophia Myles has been working in film and on TV since her teen years. Among her appearances: Oliver Twist (1999), The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby (2002), Thunderbirds (2004), Moonlight (2007-2008) and Transformers: Age of Extinction (2014).

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.  Running from the nearly unstoppable villains known as The Family of Blood, 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 one of Freema Agyemen'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 story, though, is a sweet love story, as the timid and awkward 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.

     Jessica Hines has won three British Comedy Awards and one BAFTA. She is known for her work in several programs, including Spaced, which she co-created along with Simon Pegg, a Doctor Who alumnus himself, having played The Editor in 2006's "The Long Game". She has a small but touching appearance as Nurse Redfern's granddaughter in "The End of Time 2".

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?

     This was Carrie Mulligan's only episode of Doctor Who. In her career, she's been in the usual assortment of classic novel interpretations (2005's Bleak House was excellent) and TV series, and played Daisy Buchanan in the 2013 film The Great Gatsby.

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 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. Very soon 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, and 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. Other 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: Companion Magnet".

     Anyhoo... 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 forever" fever, but The Doctor, having already had to say goodbye to three different companions, 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.

     Michelle Ryan's name was kicked around several times as being a full-time companion, but this is her one and only appearance in Doctor Who. She was best known in Britain for her role in the series EastEnders, shared time with Billie Piper in the TV movie Mansfield Park, and is remembered for her starring role in the short-lived, troubled but interesting remake of the TV series The Bionic Woman.


Played by Amara Karan
Season Six, "The God Complex"
Almost Companion to the Eleventh Doctor

     When The Doctor found himself and his companions Amy and Rory in a creepy hotel that harbored many deadly secrets, he was immediately impressed by a smart young woman named Rita who, along with several other people, was also trapped there. While several other fellow travelers freaked out and subsequently got killed, Rita used her faith, her wit and her intelligence to help keep her strong and alive foe as long as she could. Midway through the episode, The Doctor gave 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.

     Amara Karan began her acting career in the 2007 film The Darjing Limited. She also appeared in several television series including "Agatha Christie's Poirot" (2008) and "Stan Lee's Lucky Man" (2016).

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