DR. WHO
  Classic Companions Hall of Fame
(1963-1989)

"My name is Romanadvoratnelundar."
"I'm so sorry about that. Is there anything we can do?"
  - Companion Romana and The Fourth Doctor

     Companions in both eras of Doctor Who are those people who traveled with The Doctor. In the classic Doctor Who era, they were a mixed bunch. There were some outstanding ones, but for every Jamie McCrimmon, Sarah Jane Smith or Ace, who all brought skill and intelligence to Team Who, there were others whose only functions seemed to be screaming, running, falling, or just being pretty but rather useless. Unlike the modern series, where we could be assured The Doctor's companion, be it Rose, Martha or whoever, would be around for at least a whole season, in the old days, the TARDIS sometimes had a revolving door, with some companions coming and going rather quickly.

     Others, however, spent a couple of years with their Doctor(s). There are way too many companions in the history of the original series for me to cover all of them, so below are a handful of classic companions, spanning from The First Doctor years to the Seventh, who I think define the early Doctor Who era.

Picture above: Peter Davison and Janet Fielding as The Doctor and Tegan Jovanka.



SUSAN (Susan "Foreman")


Played by Carole Ann Ford
Companion/Granddaughter to The First Doctor
1963-1964, 1983 20th Anniversary Episode "The Five Doctors"

"Oh, Grandfather - I belong with you!"
"Not any longer, Susan."

     Originally developed in the pilot episode as a kind of teen space superhero with telepathic powers, the character of Susan was changed to a more typical teenager, albeit one from Gallifrey, in order to give younger viewers someone to whom they could relate. Susan was not only the first companion but also The Doctor's granddaughter (note: though there are some notions that she is not really related to The Doctor but merely a fellow traveler, I am going with the "she's his granddaughter" side on this one). Susan is the person who came up with the term TARDIS, standing for "Time And Relative Dimension In Space".

     In the 1964 serial "The Dalek Invasion of Earth" Susan fell in love with a human, and The Doctor, wanting her to have a happy life, locked her out of the TARDIS and went on his way without her. In real life, Carol Ann Ford was frustrated with her character's lack of development and opted out of the series.  She returned as Susan in 1983 for the 20th Anniversary episode "The Five Doctors" where she once again teamed with her grandfather, this time played by Richard Hurndall as the original actor, William Hartnell, had passed away. Ford also had a cameo appearance in the 2013 TV Movie "Adventures in Space and Time", as a mother calling for her children to come inside and drink their tea.

     In the 2013 episode "The Rings of Akhatan", the 11th Doctor mentions his granddaughter in passing to Clara Oswald. In the 2017 episode "The Pilot", The 12th Doctor  has a prominent photo of Susan on his desk.

Companion Exit: Forced.


IAN CHESTERTON & BARBARA WRIGHT


Played by William Russell and Jacqueline Hill

Companions to The First Doctor
1963-1965

Doctor: "I learned not to meddle in other people's affairs years ago."

Ian: "Hoo hoo hoo!"

      
Ian Chesterton and Barbara Wright were teachers at the Coal Hill School who found young Susan Foreman's ways a bit strange. Following her home from school one afternoon, they stumbled onto The Doctor and were soon found themselves in the TARDIS, essentially becoming unwilling companions. As they got to know The Doctor, and discovered the joy of time travel, Ian and Barbara became invaluable members of the team. In "The Daleks", it was Ian who put himself in charge of getting the Thals combat-ready, and took command in the charge to defeat The Daleks. In other episodes, he was never one to back down from a fight, and he usually won. Barbara was always quick on her feet, using logic, intuition and imagination to save the day on several occasions.

     After Susan's forced exit, Ian and Barbara stayed with The Doctor for several more adventures, but after defeating The Daleks (once again!) on the planet Mechanus, the pair said goodbye to The Doctor and used the now-abandoned Dalek time machine to get back to London circa 1965.

      In an episode of The Sarah Jane Adventures, Sarah Jane Smith reveals that Ian and Barbara eventually wed and have not aged a bit since the 1960s. Good for them!

     Ian and Barbara, as played so excellently by Russell and Hill, easily deserve top honors in The Companion's Hall of Fame. Their position as "the adults" in the room, separating them from both the ageless Doctor and the youngsters (Susan and later companion Vicki), their ability to carry the show even when The Doctor was not around, and their obvious affection for one another, brought an unexpected depth to what was essentially a show about a cranky old madman with a flying box. When they left, there were many more fine companions to come, but none quite like Ian and Barbara.

Companions Exit: Left on their own accord.

Jackie, We Hardly Knew You: As mentioned several times in our Doctor Who sections, several prominent Doctor Who star had previously appeared as a different character before landing their starring roles (Colin Baker, Freema Agyeman, Peter Capaldi, among others). Jacqueline Hill, however, did it the other way around. She was one of the first stars of the show in 1963, left in 1965, and returned to the series much later in 1980's "Meglos" as the priestess Lexa.

Jacqueline Hill died of cancer in 1993.



JAMIE (James Robert McCrimmon)


Played by Frazer Hines
Companion to the Second Doctor
1966-1969, 1985 episode "The Two Doctors"

"Ooh, it's a flying beastie!"
- Jamie's reaction at seeing his first airplane

     A companion with staying power, Jamie McCrimmon first showed up in 1966's "The Highlander", The Second Doctor's second complete episode, and stayed around until the Second Doctor's final episode, 1969's "The War Games". The character of Jamie appeared in more episodes than any other companion in Doctor Who history, and it doesn't seem like that record will be broken any time soon.

    Unfortunately, because so many of The Second Doctor episodes are either in tatters or completely missing, we may never get a full picture of just what Jamie McCrimmon, and Frazer Hines, the actor who played him, brought to the table. (The same could be said for The Second Doctor/Patrick Troughton).

     The Doctor met Jamie in "The Highlanders" (1966), set in Scotland, 1746. It was the second story of The Second Doctor's first season. At the end of the story, The Doctor invited Jamie on board the TARDIS. Although flying around into the future may have been daunting for the young Scot, he was a quick and eager learner and a valued member of The Doctor's team. While one companion, Victoria, would make way for another, Zoe, Jamie was in every Second Doctor series barring two episodes of "The Mind Robber" (1968) in which Frazer Hines, ill with chickenpox, would be replaced by another actor, Hamish Wilson.

     At the end of "The War Games", both Jamie and Zoe had their minds wiped by The Time Lords and were sent back to their respective eras, with no memories of their time with The Doctor.

     Frazer Hines reprised his Jamie persona twice. The first was a small cameo in 1983's "The Five Doctors", the second a much more satisfying full adventure in 1985's "The Two Doctors", featuring the then-current Doctor Colin Baker and Patrick Troughton reprising his role as The Second Doctor.

      After The Second Doctor and Jamie's run on Doctor Who, there was an undeniable shift in the show, and dominant male companions became rather scarce. (Note: this is all observation, not necessarily criticism). From The Third Doctor series onward, most of the most famous and/or popular companions were female. The reigns of the first two Doctors featured Ian Chesterton, Steve Taylor and Jamie McCrimmon as major companions. Even during this period, with male companions dominating, the show featured Vicki and Zoe, both of who were as smart or smarter than The Doctor himself. From the Pertwee years through to the Peter Capaldi years, strong female companions would dominate Doctor Who, in the likes of Liz Shaw, Jo Grant, Sarah Jane Smith, Romanas One and Two, Tegan Jovanka, Ace, Rose Tyler, Martha Jones, Donna Noble, Amy Pond, Clara Oswald and Bill Potts. While there were some male companions (the precocious boy Adric, Visior Turlough, who starts off trying to kill The Doctor before becoming his friend, and Rory Williams, who, yes, definitely was a strong male companion), the ladies were the leads. Not to stir up any controversy about the Thirteenth Doctor being a woman, and I have no problem with that choice at all, but the long list of strong female companions from The Third Doctor through to the Twelfth Doctor, plus Vicki and Zoe and others I may have overlooked, does call into question the idea that we needed a woman Doctor because young female viewers had no heroes to look up to in the show.

     The other undeniable fact is that the Male Doctor / Female Companion combination turned out to be incredibly popular. I certainly enjoy it - wacky Doctor, smart, attractive companion works for me every time.

     Also interesting is the rumor that actor and game show host Bradley Walsh will be the companion to Jodie Whittaker's Thirteenth Doctor. Female Doctor / Male Companion!

Companion Exit: Forced

Pictured above: (1) Jamie meets The Sixth Doctor (2) The Twelfth Doctor and Clara.


BRIGADIER ALISTAIR GORDON LETHBRIDGE-STEWART

(aka "The Brigadier")

Played by Nicholas Courtney
Companion to The Second, Third, Fourth, Fifth and Seventh Doctors
Worked with The Sixth Doctor in the Charity Special "Dimensions in Time"

1968-1989

"Thank you, Brigadier - but do you think for once in your life you could manage to arrive before the nick of time?"

     Brigadier Alistair Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart (hereby known as "The Brigadier") is a companion who, as far as I know, never flew in the TARDIS with The Doctor, yet was always one of his closest and longest running allies. He first met The Second Doctor in 1968's "The Web of Fear" and reunited with him later that year in "The Invasion". When a strange man showed up in a hospital in 1970's "Spearhead from Space", The Brigadier soon figured out it was The Doctor, regenerated into a new body.

     Many of The Brigadier's adventures would be with The Third Doctor, who was marooned on Earth without a working TARDIS.  The head of UNIT (United Nations Intelligence Taskforce and later United Intelligence Taskforce), The Brigadier was attuned to all kinds of alien activity and actively helped The Doctor in defeating them.

     The Brigadier often displayed a low-key sense of humor. When the Second Doctor mentioned he couldn't find his recorder, otherwise he could play a tune to pass the time, The Brigadier replied "We must be thankful for small mercies." As he watched his friend The Third Doctor regenerate into The Fourth, his only reaction was "Well... here we go again."  His most famous utterance, "Five rounds rapid", became the title of actor Nicholas Courtney's autobiography. *

     The Brigadier would continue working with The Doctor(s) on and off until the original series was canceled in 1989. Nicholas Courtney worked with six of the seven Doctors in the original series. He appeared in the First Doctor adventure "The Dalek's Master Plan", but not as The Brigadier, but eventually caught up to the First Doctor, played by Richard Hundall, in 1983's "The Five Doctors". His last appearance in the original series was in the Sylvester McCoy adventure "Battlefield" (1989) and in 1993, he finally got to work with Colin Baker's Sixth Doctor in a special crossover episode with EastEnders, thus working with every Doctor who had appeared in the original series.

      Nicholas Courtney returned to the Doctor Who Universe, if not the show itself, in 2008. When Freema Agyeman became unavailable to guest star as Martha Jones in the Sarah Jane Adventures episode "Enemy of the Bain", Russell T Davies rewrote the script to feature Courtney as The Brigadier instead. It turned out to be his last acting role. The actor passed away in February of 2011 after a long illness. 

     The character's final appearance in the modern series was as a Cyberman in 2012's "Death in Heaven", though he was obviously not played by Nicholas Courtney.

"But, Doctor, it's exactly your cup of tea. This fellow's bright green, apparently, and dead."

     The Brigadier's daughter, Kate Stewart, who is featured on our "Friends of the Doctor" page, had several adventures with Doctors Eleven and Twelve.
 
* The book title "Five Rounds Rapid" comes from a classic nonchalant exchange between The Brigadier and one of his men while fighting a winged monster known as a Dæmon:

"Jenkins?"
"Sir?"
"Chap with the wings there... five rounds rapid."



JO GRANT

Played by Katie Manning
Companion to the Third Doctor
1971-1973

"Doctor, stop being childish!"
"What's wrong with being childish? I like being childish!"
 - Jo Grant and The Doctor, "Terror of the Autons".

    The Third Doctor had a trio of companions in his day. The first was UNIT Scientist Liz Shaw, played by Caroline John. The third was journalist Sarah Jane Smith, played by Elisabeth Sladen, of whom, see her own section below this one.

     The one in the middle was Jo Grant, played by Katie Manning.

     A junior operative at UNIT, Jo Grant was the replacement for Liz Shaw. The character of Liz Shaw was written out of the series because, possibly unfairly, she was considered too strong a character, almost equal to The Doctor himself. They instead wanted a "What does that thing do, Doctor?" type character the audience could cling to, and Jo Grant fit the bill perfectly. What the writers essentially did was create your stereotypical pretty "sci-fi girl" who was always getting in deadly trouble and needed the help of the male hero. Then, they ever-so-slowly pulled the rug out from underneath the viewers as Jo Grant's character grew stronger with each new episode.

     Although not a scientist, and with few skills beyond the occasional lock-breaking, she nevertheless endeared herself to The Doctor quickly, and the pair has an easy-going, affectionate relastionship - one of the sweetest friendships in the entire series. Grant was cute, bubbly, clumsy, loyal to a fault, and always fun to watch. She once called herself "exceedingly dim" but this wasn't true. Although she would often get herself into danger, she got out of it using her wits almost as often.

"I'm up on the slag heap with the Professor. He's hurt, and we're surrounded by maggots."

     Katie Manning/Jo Grant was popular enough to last three seasons in the show. Her goodbye scene with The Doctor is one of those moments that remind you of how touching a series about a flying madman can be at times. If you think that the first time The Doctor fell in love with a companion was during the Rose Tyler years, watch the end of "The Green Death" to see what a Doctor in love looks like when his companion "flies the coup".

     In 2010, Manning reprised her role as Jo Grant in "Death of the Doctor", an episode of The Sarah Jane Adventures also featuring Matt Smith as The Doctor.

Companion Exit: Left her own accord. To get married.  Good for her!



SARAH JANE SMITH

Played by Elisabeth Sladen
Companion to The Third Doctor and The Fourth Doctor
1973-1976, 1983 20th Anniversary Episode "The Five Doctors"

     If they ever build a Companions Hall of Fame, there would surely be a statue of Sarah Jane Smith at the entrance. Sarah Jane is the only Classic Era companion who, as of 2017, has also appeared in the Modern Era series. She met The Tenth Doctor (six regenerations after she last saw him) in the 2006 episode "School Reunion" and showed up again in the 2008 two-part season ender "The Stolen Earth/Journey's End" and 2009's two-part special "The End of Time".

     However, the character is best known for her appearances in the original series with The Third and Fourth Doctors. Sladen joined the cast in 1973's "The Time Warrior", the first episode of Jon Pertwee's fifth and final season as The Doctor. When The Third Doctor regenerated at the end of the season, Sarah Jane continued her adventures with The Fourth Doctor, now played by Tom Baker. After several seasons, she left the series at the end of 1976's "The Hand of Fear".

     In 2007, Sladen began starring in the Doctor Who spinoff The Sarah Jane Adevntures, a fun show geared more for teens but quite fun for adults too. It last until her death in 2011.

     Toby Whithouse, who wrote 2006's "School Reunion", described Sladen/Sarah Jane quite nicely in a 2012 BBC America interview:

"[She] redefined the role of the companion... She changed the companion from being a rather helpless hysteric to being a feisty, opinionated, strong equal to the Doctor... I think what Lis Sladen did with that character is quite extraordinary. We forget how revolutionary she was at the time."


K9 (aka "K-9")


Companion to the Fourth Doctor
1977-1981, 1983 ("The Five Doctors"), 2006 ("School Reunion"), 2008 ("Journey's End")

     One of the most admirable aspects of the modern continuation of Doctor Who is the love and respect for everything that came before. With better makeup and effects, old villains and monsters may have been spruced up from their original designs, but the Dalek from 2005 were instantly recognizable as being one of the same creatures that first appeared in the 1963 season. Thus, when Sarah Jane Smith showed up in 2006's "School Reunion", the mechanical dog K9 she had with her was the same goofy, lovable, sometimes annoying K9 that traveled around with The Doctor back in the Tom Baker days. *

     K9, the most polite robot dog you could ever hope to meet, spent four seasons on the show before The Doctor handed off the little dog-bot to Romana and both she and K9 were written out of the series. A planned "K9" series went nowhere after the initial pilot, but after his appearance in 2006's "School Days", he became a recurring cast member of Russell T Davies' Doctor Who spinoff The Sarah Jane Adventures, and also had a one-season series all to himself.

* K9 was actually a series of mechanical dogs throughout his lifespan.


ROMANA (I and II)


Played by Mary Tamm
1978-79
Played by Lalla Ward
(1979-1981)
Companion to the Fourth Doctor

      Romana was a Time Lord who traveled with The Fourth Doctor in two different incarnations, with a couple of quick regenerations in between. Her first incarnation was somewhat cold and snobbish, her second lighter and more fun. The behind the scenes reasons for the two Romanas was that actress Mary Tamm did not like the way her character was being developed and left the show, with Lalla Ward then arriving as a newly regenerated Romana, taking the form of Princess Astra, a character Ward had played the previous season. After an objection from The Doctor, she regenerated into several other forms until The Doctor somewhat reluctantly allowed her to keep the original Princess Astra look. Thus Ward belongs to the Multiple Who Characters Hall of Fame, along with Nicholas Courtney, Colin Baker, Freema Agyeman, Karen Gillan and Peter Capaldi, all of whom played at least one different minor character before playing a major character later in the series.

     Romana's quick regenerations, often described as trying on new outfits, have been a matter of debate for a long time. Time Lords, such as The Doctors we know of, usually regenerate only as a last resort, when they are mortally wounded. Some, such as The Tenth and The Twelfth, put it off as long as possible ("I don't want to go!" said Ten, while Twelve was weary of endless changing throughout his lifetime). Judging from Romana's actions, though, I assume that a Time Lord can regenerate any time he likes, but it does eat up a regeneration best saved for moments where they really need it.


ADRIC


Played by Matthew Waterhouse
Companion to the Fourth and Fifth Doctors
1980-1982

     Adric was a young orphan boy who lived with his brother on the planet Alzarius in the alternate Universe known as E-Space (got all that?). When the TARDIS accidentally wound up to E-Space, Adric met The Doctor, and later stowed away in the TARDIS. When he was discovered, The Doctor accepted him as companion.

     Adric is best known in Doctor Who history for his unexpected death. Although he wasn't the first companion to die in the series, Adric's death was the most dramatic in the series up to that point, and unlike much later companion Clara Oswald, who had an equally shocking death, Adric stayed dead. Attempting to prevent a freighter from crashing into the Earth, Adric used his mathematical prowess to try to change the course of the ship, but a stray shot from a dying Cyberman blew the ship's controls, and as The Doctor and his other companions watched helplessly from the TARDIS, Adric and the freighter crashed to Earth. His final utterance before dying - "Now I'll never know if I was right" - goes down in Who History with "Don't worry - it's far from being all over" and "You were fantastic, absolutely fantastic. And you know what? So was I!" as famous last words.

     P.S. "A Stray Shot from a Dying Cyberman" would make a great song title.

     Companion Exit: Death


TEGAN JOVANKA


Played by Janet Fielding
Companion to the Fourth and Fifth Doctors
1981-1984

      Tegan Jovanka was a stewardess whose car broke down as she was trying to get to Heathrow Airport. When she walked into a police box looking for help, she found herself lost in what she later learned was The Doctor's TARDIS. As happens so often with people who accidentally enter The Doctor's life, she soon became a companion. Like Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz, though, Tegan had one wish throughout her time with The Doctor: get back home, something The Doctor somehow always found difficult to schedule in his travels.

     A somewhat underrated companion, Tegan can be seen as a forerunner to the later Donna Noble, not afraid to stand up to The Doctor. Like Donna, Tegan could often be loud, emotional and argumentative (she described herself once as "a mouth on legs") but was fiercely loyal to The Doctor and her friends. She didn't get to spend much time with The Fourth Doctor, as he was "killed" by The Master shortly after Tegan showed up. However, when he regenerated into his fifth incarnation, she stayed with him. And like the later Martha Jones, Tegan left The Doctor on her own terms. Having seen too much death, including the above-mentioned Adric, she left The Doctor rather abruptly at the end of the episode "Resurrection of the Daleks".

     In the 2013 episode "The Crimson Horror", The Eleventh Doctor tells companion Clara Oswald that he "once spent a hell of a long time trying to get a gobby Australian to Heathrow Airport", hearkening back to his time with Tegan, if somewhat dismissively. I think The Fifth Doctor would have said it in a nicer way.

     As one YouTube fan writes in a tribute video to Tegan, "She takes on The Master, The Cybermen, a slew of creatures and people who only want to capture and harm her or her friends, and she does it all while running around in high heels."

Companion Exit: Left on her own accord


PERI
(Perpugilliam Brown)


Played by Nicola Bryant
Companion to the Fifth and Sixth Doctors
1984-1986

      In an attempt to get more viewers from The U.S., actress Nicola Bryant was added to the show as Peri Brown, a botany major from California.  It was the first time The Doctor would have an "American" companion, though Bryant was actually born in Surrey, England. Both Bryant and her character Peri had their ups and downs in the series. Bryant often had trouble with her American accent, and yet, so as not to confuse fans from the U.S., she had to use that accent at all public Doctor Who functions. The show was also not above exploiting her figure; in her first appearance, she is in a bikini, and for much of her run in the show, you might suspect that the director is stopping every few minutes to yell "MORE CLEAVAGE!".

     As Peri, she watched The Fifth Doctor (Peter Davison), with whom she just met and liked, regenerate into The Sixth Doctor (Colin Baker), who, due to a problematic regeneration, was choking her to near-death within minutes of regenerating, often considered to be one of the lowest moments in the series. A long break between seasons kept Doctor Who off TV for 18 months, and when it returned, The Doctor was put on trial by the Time Lords for breaking several Gallifrey laws (yet, I somehow feel it was poor Colin Baker put on trial for doing his best on a show that was not what it used to be) and at one point, he is shown Peri being killed. (It was faked). At the end of the series, Peri was gone and Colin Baker was fired from the show. All in all, not Doctor Who at its best.

     Yet... take away the wandering accent, the frequent "Lord, that girl is HOT!" reactions from the villains, and the general feeling that the show was faltering, and you still have a good, solid companion in Peri. Perhaps not a true "classic" comnaion, but she was fun to watch, was sweet and friendly, developed a nice friendship with The Sixth Doctor (the whole "choking" thing was just a blip on the radar), and remained The Sixth Doctor's trusted companion until just before the very end of Colin Baker's run.

Companion Exit: Complicated


ACE


Played by Sophie Aldred

Companion to the Seventh Doctor
1987-1989


"And naturally, you wouldn't do anything so insanely stupid as to carry around [Nitro-9 Explosive] with you, would you?"
"Of course not. I'm a good girl and do what I'm told."
"Excellent. Blow up that vehicle."

     Ace was yet another forerunner to the Modern companions such as Rose Tyler, Martha Jones, et. al. who were an integral part of Team Who. Ace, the last companion of the original series, was young, pretty, tough, energetic and intelligent, but with not much of a future ahead of her, and it's not a stretch to think that Russell T Davies had a character like her in mind when he created Rose Tyler for the new series. It is easy to see Ace fitting right in with Christopher Eccleston or David Tennant. She would have probably have pummeled Matt Smith once or twice, and definitely would have nicknamed Peter Capaldi "Gramps" or, more likely, "Methusela". Whatever modern Doctor you could imagine her traveling with, there would certainly be a lot more explosions.
    
     Ace was one of the most active companions of the original series, always ready to crash through a window, blow something up, or bludgeon a Dalek to death with a baseball bat. There was a father / daughter feel to her relationship with The Seventh Doctor, akin to that of The First Doctor and Susan or The Twelfth Doctor and Clara Oswald. Sophie Aldred had a great rapport with Sylvester McCoy, which helped keep even some lesser episodes watchable.

     The show went off the air in 1989, leaving the fate of Ace in the air, but Sarah Jane Says: A certain "Dorothy" (Ace's real first name) runs an organization called A Charitable Earth.

Companion Exit: Series cancellation


Video: Ace in action.

My Classic Companion Rankings
(in progress, as I watch the series)


The companions highlighted above are the ones I think defined the original series. However, that doesn't mean I love every companion I highlighted. Here is an ongoing list of my favorite companions from the orginal series. Non-favorite companions will be highlghted by their absence. That doesn't mean I don't like them, though in some cases, I don't.

1. Ace (based on several episodes I watched out of order)
2. Ian and Barbara (they just go together)
3. Jo Grant
4. The Brigadier
5. Jamie McCrimmon
6. Liz Shaw (underrated!)

Currently watching the Sarah Jane Smith Years.


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"Crush the lesser races! Conquer the galaxy! Unimaginable power! Unlimited rice pudding!"
- The Seventh Doctor