Following the introduction of:
I’ve been thinking about Doctor Who companions gone by. Now, because a companion is anyone who’s travelled with the Doctor, I’ve straightened the definition to any regular character; a regular character being a character who appears in every episode of a season. And on that basis, this is my ranking of New Doctor Who‘s companions
6th Martha Jones (Freema Agyeman)
Showrunner: Russell T. Davies
Really, Martha gets more hate than deserved simply because she isn’t her predecessor, Rose. Would Martha be hated even more had the Doctor moved on from Rose and onto Martha, instead? I don’t know. The problem is, not only did Martha constantly fawn after the Doctor and only develop into a character functioning independent of the narrative at the end of her single season, but the Doctor couldn’t seem to accept that she wasn’t Rose, either and must have mentioned Rose in just about every episode of it. Such a shame that Martha wasn’t a given a chance to develop until it was too late.
Best episode: Human Nature, by Paul Cornell
Worst episode: Evolution of the Daleks, by Helen Raynor
5th Rory Williams (Arthur Darvill)
Showrunner: Steven Moffat
Rory Williams is unique in Doctor Who, in that he was the only time a new regular character’s been added while the previous season’s regular character is still present. Thus, for his single season, there were three regular characters instead of just two. But Rory had still been recurring through the previous season, and completely defined by another character. And that’s the Martha problem – there was no sense of independence for Rory, only ever orbiting the character that brought into Doctor Who. Would would have been interesting is if Rory had been given a season with just the Doctor – that might have been a better judge of character. Instead of just being Moffat’s personal punching bag. He must really dislike a guy called Rory. Unfortunately, Rory’s constant death and resurrections made it difficult for me to care about him.
Best episode: The Doctor’s Wife
Worst episode: The Curse of the Black Spot
4th Clara Oswald (Jenna(-Louise) Coleman)
Seasons: thirty-four to thirty-five
There’s not really anything I can say about Clara that hasn’t already been said by everyone else. Ultimately, Clara fails as a character because she’s yet another character that’s completely absorbed by something, which is that she’s a personification of Doctor Who as a series. She is presented as the most important character in all of Doctor Who, even more so than the Doctor. Clara is responsible for literally everything the Doctor’s done. And I can only imagine that after Clara, the Doctor will always fail to resolve an episode because the true hero of the show is no longer present. But at least she has her own life, and isn’t just a moon orbiting the Doctor’s planet.
Best episode: The Name of the Doctor
Worst episode: The Rings of Akhaten
3rd Amelia Pond (Karen Gillan)
Seasons: thirty-one to thirty-two
I like to call Amy the “bug-eyed monster” out of her habit of always staring at danger rather than reacting in some believable way. Do I particularly like Amy? Well, no. Sure, her accent is cool, and – let’s be honest – Karen Gillan is to die for. But the biggest problem with Amy’s character is that I don’t respond to her personality. Now, I won’t deny that Karen Gillan is the sexiest character to be in an episode of Doctor Who, but that’s as far as it goes. Beyond the cover, there’s no text. There isn’t a character here, just Moffat’s tendency to write a generic, tall-and-ginger, long legs/short skirt fantasy prostitute. And Amy is a prostitute, make no mistake. She might only be a prostitute of the mouth, but with Karen Gillan, is there really any difference? Yes, the walking fantasy Moffat created worked for my sexual organs, but my brain would like to be stimulated too.
Best episode: The Eleventh Hour
Worst episode: The Curse of the Black Spot
2nd Rose Tyler (Billie Piper)
Seasons: twenty-seven to twenty-eight
Billie Piper as Rose Tyler is Doctor Who‘s best casting decision outside of the Doctor himself. And she’s still the most relate-able. When we first meet Rose, she’s turning off her alarm clock and waking up at 7:00. Never before has the life of a Doctor Who companion been so easily summarised in a single shot. In fact, we see her day in a manner of minutes, rather than just jumping in randomly. And Billie Piper’s mannerisms – they are so subtle, so naturalistic that I – get this – forget she is acting. Every time I watch an episode with Rose, I see another quirk, another small detail to the characterisation. They are so clever and so unpredictable that I still do not see them coming. Rose Tyler feels the most real to me. And for that first year before the Tenth Doctor, Rose was the character that took me through 2005. I see more of myself in Rose than I do in any character. As much I may want to. Speaking of which…
Best episode: The Empty Child
Worst episode: Fear Her
Honourable recurring character mention: “Jack Harkness” (John Barrowman)
Guest appearances: The Empty Child, The Doctor Dances, Boom Town, Bad Wolf, The Parting of the Ways, Utopia, The Sound of Drums, Last of the Time Lords, The Stolen Earth, Journey’s End and The end of Time: Part Two.
Showrunner: Davies (Doctor Who and Torchwood seasons one, three and four) and
Nobody knows his name, but that’s probably for the best. Where to begin with “Jack Harkness”? For starters, he’s basically the Americanised Doctor Who, but existing as a separate character within that universe. Billie Piper as Rose Tyler may be the best Doctor Who casting decision other than the Doctor, but “Jack Harkness” is the best Doctor Who character other than the Doctor. It says a lot that he was the one New Doctor Who to be given a spin-off, something with-which I could not be happier. In fact, “Jack” is becoming a completely separate entity to the Doctor Who universe, and is the single character to break-away from it and become a whole universe of their own. He couldn’t be more sexually outrageous, and that suits me just fine. Jack is one of television’s most significant characters, because he does not apologise for himself, he does not expect the need to explain, and most importantly, he is an optimistic character. Jack is not angsty and dramatic, instead coming from a future where such things do not exist. More than anything, he is the most fun character in the universe. For those of who are melodramatic inside, Jack makes the desire to be swashbuckling, swinging from ropes and wearing tights the ultimate dream. Jack is by far the most positive representation of the Human psyche, and makes the concept of sexuality something to be celebrated, regardless of the form.
Best Torchwood episode: Day Four
Worst Torchwood episode: Cyberwoman
Honorary Classic Series Mention: Sarah Smith (Elisabeth Sladen)
Guest appearances: School Reunion, The Stolen Earth, Journey’s End and The end of Time: Part Two.
Showrunner: Davies (New Doctor Who and The Sarah Jane Adventures season five)
I might be more invested in New Doctor Who, but that does not mean ignoring Classic Doctor Who. If there were any Classic Doctor Who character to bring into New Doctor Who, it is Sarah (Jane) Smith. Not even I can understate how significant Smith is as a character. Dorothy “Ace” McShane gets a lot of credit for being the proto-modernist companion, but really, that is only because of her little subtlety the character had. Smith was the trend-setter, the first companion that felt like a real person. Before, each companion had simply been a replacement of the last, that still had a few individualities of their own so as to at least seem unique. But Smith was no just an important feminist character, who challenged the idea that the Doctor is the only character worth writing-well, but also the companion who has resonated the most. Rose, Martha, Donna, Amelia, Clara, Bill – none of them would have been written with such independence had Smith not first broken-down that barrier. Of course, it means that we now expect more from the female companions than just being able to survive on their own, but that’s a good thing. Barriers should be broken. And Smith was the character that even tried. So of course Smith was given a spin-off show, The Sarah Jane Adventures. The Sarah Jane Adventures is still the best CBBC show. It didn’t patronise its audience, and wasn’t afraid to approach some themes of-which other CBBC shows regularly showed they were. It was smart, but not pretentious, and – through Smith – provided quality programming for its demographic that was never really present in other CBBC shows. It is just a shame it had to end how it did…
Best The Sarah Jane Adventures episode: The Wedding of Sarah Jane Smith: Part Two
Worst The Sarah Jane Adventures episode: From Raxacoracofallapatorious With Love
1st Donna Noble (Catherine Tate)
It’s really no surprise that Donna comes first – she is as close as New Doctor Who companions have come to being Classic Doctor Who companions. She’s as well-written as Rose, but more mature. And her platonic relationship with the Doctor came as a relief after the two previous companions had been with him to purely romantic ends. Rose was the companion that I felt I am, Donna is the companion that I want to become. And quite possible, Noble’s best attribute is how she helped Tate break-out of her comedic roles and ascend into pure, hardcore drama. Donna’s season was the best period Doctor Who‘s ever had.
Best episode: Forest of the Dead
Worst episode: The Doctor’s Daughter