The Doctor has been on adventures with many friends who, for some reason, have never been classed as official Doctor Who companions. Why not? And who are they?
It’s hard to know how to class the Brigadier. In some ways, he is more important than the average Doctor Who companion (if there can be such a thing.) His association with the Doctor goes back decades, right back to his time as a colonel in 1968’s ‘The Web of Fear,’ and (on screen) he went on to meet all of the Time Lord’s subsequent incarnations up to the Seventh – including the Sixth, if you count ‘Dimensions in Time.’
As the head of the United Nations Intelligence Taskforce (or UNIT) he helped the Doctor to battle all manner of alien threats from his military base on Earth, and was something of a foster carer-cum-boss-cum-best friend to the Third Doctor during his exile. Now, some would say that he is a bona fide Doctor Who companion owing to his long friendship with the Time Lord and the fact that he has travelled in the TARDIS, but it could also be argued that he deserves to be in a tier of all of his own; he has become as much of a staple of the series as the TARDIS itself.
Duggan was a private detective who aided the Doctor and Romana during the classic story ‘City of Death.’ Between them, they thwarted the plans of the villainous Count Scarlioni who – from his Paris headquarters – planned to steal the Mona Lisa to fund a dangerous experiment into time travel that would see the end of life on Earth as we knew it.
So why is Duggan not classed as an official Doctor Who companion? It’s probably due to the fact that he only appeared in this one story, although one could argue that he had more impact on the Doctor’s life and travels than, say, canonical Doctor Who companions like Katarina and Kamelion, who said and did very little, in the grand scheme of things.
And the fact that Duggan didn’t go on to become a long-term Doctor Who companion is a source of regret to many, such was his penchant for action and adventure – and by action, we mean punching things. It certainly would have been an interesting to see him take on the amorphous Creature from the Pit…
Unusually, Peter Davison had three companions during his early adventures. But the large ensemble of Nyssa, Tegan and Adric afforded many story possibilities in his first season, even if was sometimes tricky for writers to evenly distribute the action.
It’s therefore unusual that the 1984 story ‘Kinda’ essentially introduced a fourth Doctor Who companion to the already crowded line-up. The scientist Todd was a fellow doctor who had been sent to the jungle planet of Deva Loka to assess its suitability for human colonisation. Naturally, with this being Doctor Who, the investigation was not a straightforward exercise, and Todd soon found herself in the throes of danger as she and the Fifth Doctor took on the snake-like Mara.
Todd (Nerys Hughes) landed this role after a contracting anomaly at the BBC, where the actor Sarah Sutton – who played Nyssa – wasn’t signed up for two episodes of ‘Kinda,’ meaning she could only appear briefly at the story’s beginning and end. Todd, therefore, essentially took on Nyssa’s role in the story, and although she was never granted a trip in the TARDIS, she is undeniably the key Doctor Who companion in ‘Kinda,’ even if she seldom regarded as such.
Chang Lee spends much of the Doctor Who TV movie working for the Master and trying to bring about the Doctor’s destruction, so it’s fair to say that he’s not desirable Doctor Who companion material (even if he’s not the first Doctor Who companion to try and murder the eponymous hero!) That being said, he does ultimately see the error of his ways and, by the end of the movie, he and the Time Lord have become firm friends.
And whilst Chang Lee does indeed get to travel in the TARDIS at the movie’s conclusion, he’s not really considered a legitimate Doctor Who companion, perhaps because his friendship with the Doctor lasts only a few minutes. Despite this, he does have a special place in Doctor Who canon as being one of the few characters to be brought back from the dead by the TARDIS itself, alongside Doctor Grace Holloway and (depending on your interpretation) Captain Jack Harkness.
But Chang Lee is one of those great ‘what ifs?’ of Doctor Who history. Had the TV movie turned into a full series of adventures, would the Doctor have returned to San Francisco to collect him? We will never know.
During David Tennant’s time as the Doctor, it became traditional (especially at Christmas) for ‘guest’ companions to join the Time Lord on his travels. However, they wouldn’t usually get a trip in the TARDIS – rather, they’d just team up with him for that particular story, and leave at the end.
In the case of Astrid Peth, there was a very real possibility of her becoming a full-time Doctor Who companion. Indeed, throughout the course of 2007’s ‘Voyage of the Damned,’ the two characters more-or-less agreed to the prospect, only for (spoiler alert) Astrid to perish at the end of the episode.
In reality, there was no chance of Astrid Peth (played by pop singer Kylie Minogue) of joining Team TARDIS, as her appearance was only intended as a one-off, but it certainly would have been fun.
What do you think? Should Astrid be classed as an official Doctor Who companion? And would you have liked her to join David Tennant full-time?
Lady Christina de Souza
Lady Christina was perhaps the most Lara Croft-like companion the Doctor has ever had. But again, it depends whether you class her as a companion. She featured in the 2009 special ‘Planet of the Dead,’ which saw an unfortunate London bus fall through a wormhole and end up on a hostile alien planet populated by flying killer stingrays – or at least, something that looked a lot like them.
But in what sense was Lady Christina like Lara Croft? Well, much like the iconic video game character, Lady Christina was an aristocrat-gone-rogue who had turned her life on high society and embraced a life of action and adventure, and loose morals. When this particular Doctor Who companion encountered the Doctor, she was in the process of stealing a golden chalice from the London Museum, and was attempting to make her escape on the hapless London bus that ended up at the other side of the universe.
And like many of the characters on this list, Lady Christina isn’t usually classed as an official Doctor Who companion, perhaps because she never travelled in the TARDIS itself. But she did become the owner of her own flying bus (and the star of her own audio series at Big Finish.)
Captain Adelaide Brooke
The Doctor encountered Captain Adelaide Brooke in the 2009 story ‘The Waters of Mars,’ where she was leading the first human colony at Bowie Base One on Mars. But of course, this was a mission that was doomed to failure, and indeed the Doctor went into this adventure knowing as much – he just didn’t know exactly how, or why, the base would fall.
As such, ‘The Waters of Mars’ is one of the darkest David Tennant stories, with the Doctor fully aware that his new friend Adelaide is living on borrowed time. Despite this, she still gets her own trip in the TARDIS, although Adelaide is one of the few Doctor Who companions to be patently unimpressed with its capabilities (it’ll make sense when you watch it.)
Played by Lindsay Duncan, Captain Adelaide Brooke was one of the more senior and experienced of the unofficial Doctor Who companions, and had no compunction with squaring up to the Doctor – even at the cost of her own life.
Who would you add to the list of unofficial Doctor Who companions? And who out of the above would you like to have joined the Doctor full-time? Let me know in the comments below.
Doctor Who tie – order now from the Lovarzi shop!