And no, we’re not talking about his height. Jamie McCrimmon travelled with the Doctor throughout (almost) the entirety of his second incarnation, making him the longest-serving Doctor Who companion in the show’s history.
How many episodes was Jamie in Doctor Who?
Jamie McCrimmon, played by Frazer Hines, was in an eye-watering 113 episodes of Doctor Who, making him the longest Doctor Who companion by a considerable margin. (We’ve written about some other close contenders here.) Admittedly, the seasons were longer in Jamie’s day, and the episodes were shorter than they are today, but Jamie still pips the others to the post as he was in virtually every Second Doctor story with the exception of the very first one, ‘The Power of the Daleks.’
This is certainly rare for Doctor Who companions. Tegan Jovanka came close to Jamie’s record, appearing in almost every Fifth Doctor story except ‘Planet of Fire’ (she appears in his final story as an hallucination) and by the time Jodie Whittaker regenerates, her companion Yaz will have been in every episode of her era. But Yaz can’t quite claim to be the longest Doctor Who companion as she will only have done 31 episodes, even though hers were longer than Jamie and Tegan’s.
What was Jamie’s first Doctor Who story?
Jamie McCrimmon’s first Doctor Who adventure was ‘The Highlanders’ in 1966-67. This was roughly a third of the way into the show’s fourth season, and came just after Patrick Troughton’s debut story. It is currently missing from the BBC archives, so be sure to check your loft / cellar / local African TV station.
Set just after the Battle of Culloden in the Scottish highlands of 1746, the adventure sees the Doctor and his companions Ben and Polly caught up in the aftermath and captured by Scots rebels. It is here that they encounter Jamie – a piper and a member of the Clan MacLeod, who helps them to hide from the marauding troops. It is a purely historical story with no science fiction elements, and interestingly this is one of the last historicals in the series’ history, beaten only by ‘Black Orchid’ in 1982.
So how did Jamie go on to become the longest-serving Doctor Who companion? Intriguingly, he never planned on becoming a Doctor Who companion at all; Jamie’s character was meant to be a one-off, and indeed many of Season Four’s subsequent stories such as ‘The Underwater Menace’ and ‘The Moonbase’ had to be retrospectively adapted to accommodate him.
His place in the TARDIS, therefore, came off the back of Frazer Hines’ strong performance. The producer Innes Lloyd was so impressed with him and the character of Jamie that he decided to make Hines a permanent Doctor Who companion for the rest of the season – and, as it turned out, for the remainder of Patrick Troughton’s tenure.
And Hines has admitted in subsequent interviews that, even though he was made welcome by the TARDIS team, he did wonder if his male co-star Michael Craze (Ben) was bemused by his arrival, and whether he questioned the wisdom of having another male in the line-up. Hines’ arrival also gave Craze less to do as, initially, some of Jamie’s dialogue was taken from Ben. That being said, Hines emphasised that he enjoyed a good friendship with his co-stars.
Indeed, his friendship with Patrick Troughton was one of the main reasons that he became the longest Doctor Who companion. Whilst the shooting schedule was punishing – with episodes being rehearsed and shot on a weekly basis for the majority of the year – Hines maintains that he and Troughton enjoyed themselves so much that they would still be filming the series now if circumstances hadn’t hastened their departures.
What was Jamie’s last Doctor Who story?
Jamie ended his record-breaking run as the longest Doctor Who companion in the 1969 story ‘The War Games.’ This adventure is one of the longest in the series’ history at an epic 10 episodes (beaten only by ‘The Daleks’ Master Plan‘ and ‘The Trial of a Time Lord’) and it’s also one of the least-viewed; it’s eighth instalment had one of the lowest ratings in Doctor Who history at just 3.5 million viewers.
But it is also fondly-remembered by fans, and notable for the fact that it was the last to star Patrick Troughton as the Doctor. In addition, it saw the departure of the other companion Zoe Heriot played by Wendy Padbury, and it was also the last Doctor Who story to be shot in black and white, plus it introduced Gallifrey and the Time Lords to Doctor Who lore. Phew!
‘The War Games’ was also an emotional tale. In the final episode, Jamie and Zoe are forced to say goodbye to the Doctor as the Time Lords return them to their own times, and whilst they can retain their memories of their first encounters with the Doctor (‘The Highlanders,’ in Jamie’s case) they will recall nothing else of their travels in time and space.
And thus ends the run of the longest Doctor Who companion in history. Or does it…?
Jamie McCrimmon actually made a return to the Whoniverse in the 1983 story ‘The Five Doctors,’ alongside a whole host of other Doctor Who companions and former Doctors, including his old co-star Patrick Troughton. Alas (spoiler alert) this was only an hallucinatory appearance, and it was brief owing to Hines’ filming commitments on Emmerdale. But the producer John Nathan-Turner was greatly impressed with the rapport that the two actors shared, and asked if Troughton and Hines would be willing to return for a longer appearance in the future.
Which they were. Jamie officially returned as a Doctor Who companion in Season 22’s ‘The Two Doctors,’ a story that takes place during the Second Doctor’s original run.
Where was ‘The Two Doctors’ filmed?
This was certainly a more exotic outing for Jamie, as filming for ‘The Two Doctors’ took place in and around Seville, Spain, with the Sixth Doctor Colin Baker, Patrick Troughton and Frazer Hines all heading overseas for (what turned out to be) Doctor Who‘s last ever abroad shoot of the Classic era. They were joined by the current companion Peri Brown played by Nicola Bryant and Jacqueline Pearce, best known to science fiction fans as the villainous Servalan in Blake’s 7.
The adventure – written by series stalwart Robert Holes – saw the two Doctors join forces against the dreaded Sontarans and a rogue Androgum known as Chessene of the Franzine Grig, and spanned three, forty-five minute episodes which were broadcast in 1985.
So what next for the longest-serving Doctor Who companion? Could the door be open for another return in the future? Anything is possible, especially with other former companions such as Sarah Jane Smith, Tegan Jovanka and Ace having returned for the new series. Indeed, with the show’s 60th anniversary on the horizon, this could be the optimum time for more Jamie McCrimmon.
Would you like to see the longest-serving Doctor Who companion make a return to the show? And what is your favourite story involving Jamie? Let me know in the comments below.
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