In this bloggers opinion.
The companions are a huge part of Doctor Who’s success. They provide us with a surrogate into the Doctors strange and crazy world yet at the same time can be as brave and wonderful as the Doctor himself. Contrary to popular belief the role of the companion in Doctor Who was not just to stand at the side and say “yes Doctor, no Doctor”. The role of the companion as Steven Moffat himself said was to keep the time lord on his toes. In this list I have compiled what I feel where the 10 best companions throughout the entire run of both the classic and the revival. I have not included the Brigadier as though he is my favourite character I feel that he doesn’t quite count as a companion. He deserves an article all to himself. Captain Jack Harkness also I wouldn’t count as a companion in the conventional sense either, though he was technically by and large during 9’s time I still don’t think its fair to include him alongside the others as he ended up getting his own show and thus was given more screen time and development. I also will not be looking at Sarah Jane here as again though she is a companion the fact that she got her own show makes her stand out somewhat as being as big a character as the Doctor himself thus whilst she was a companion ultimately since getting her own series I feel she is something more than that. As always let me know what you think and who your favourite companions are.
10/ Harry Sullivan
Harry wasn’t the best well developed character. He was only there for one series, having been brought in in case an older actor was cast as the Doctor and therefore couldn’t do all of the physical stuff Jon Pertwee had been famous for. However after 40 year old Tom Baker (then the youngest actor to play the role) was cast there was no longer any need for the new male companion and Harry was dropped after just a single season. Still despite this Harry would prove to be a very memorable character for a number of reasons. First of all the actor who played him the late Ian Marter had brilliant chemistry with Tom Baker and Liz Sladen who played Sarah Jane Smith. Together the three of them were a very memorable trio, all three were good friends in real life and I think it shone through in their performances. Also whilst Harry may not have been that fleshed out I still feel that he was nevertheless very influential. To me Harry is where the blue print for the new who male companions comes from. Like Mickey and Rory he is a bit of a bumbling oaf on the surface and is even called a moron by the Doctor “Mickey the idiot” “HARRY SULLIVAN IS AN IMBECILE!!!!!!” however underneath Harry just like Rory and Mickey is a hero. Also whilst the Doctor may come down harder on Harry than he does on the female companion Sarah Jane he still nevertheless likes Harry again much like how the Doctor feels about Mickey and Rory. Prior to this I think the male companions like Jamie, Steven, Ben and Ian had always been dashing hero’s, but Harry was the one who made the male companion into more of a lovable bumbler who is somewhat secondary to the more intelligent female companion like what we see in the new series with Mickey and Rory. Its a shame that we didn’t get to see more of Harry though it probably was for the best as stories like Pyramids of Mars may have got too crowded with him there. Ian Marter would later go on to write a number of Doctor Who novelisations including of two stories Harry appeared in The Ark in Space and The Sontaran Experiment. He would also later go on to writer a novel featuring Harry called “Harry Sulivan’s War” which followed the characters life after he had left the Doctor.
Susan the Doctors grand daughter much like Harry was not that well fleshed out a character, though in her case that might have been for the best as she much like her grandfather worked better as a more mysterious character. Sadly Susan is one of the few female companions who was nothing more than a damsal in distress always screaming and crying at the sight of monsters or spraining her ankle (if Terry Nation was writing a script). Still she was a brilliant and crucial companion nonetheless as it was through her character that we first saw the softer side of the Doctor. When we first meet the Doctor he is almost the villain of the piece he is callous, cold, selfish, cowardly, murderous and even violent to his human companions. However it is through Susan that we see his loving and caring side and as a result of that thanks to Susan the audience doesn’t hate the character in those early stories. Susan also benefits from being the only member of the Doctors entire family that we see in the series, though we would later see a clone daughter in the 10th Doctors time and then River his “wife”, still Susan is the only member of his original family that we have seen to date in the series. Also Susan has probably the best ending of any companion I can think of. Her final moments in the Dalek Invasion of Earth are truly poignant and contain what is probably both Carole Ann Ford who played Susan and first Doctor actor William Hartnell’s best performances in the entire series.
8/ Jo Grant
Jo Grant is often seen as one of the damsal companions who couldn’t even tie her own shoe laces without the Doctors help. However nothing could be further from the truth Jo was a loyal and brave friend of the Doctors who faced down some of the worst the universe had to offer with some of her best moments being withstanding the Master’s attempts to hypnotise and torture her for information in Frontier in Space, and venturing out onto Spirodon a planet filled with plant monsters and Daleks in Planet of the Daleks. Some people tend to judge Jo harshly because she followed on from the genius Liz Shaw and was something more of a scatterbrain. However personally I liked this aspect of her character as I feel it made her somewhat more relatable, also bare in mind that the Doctors previous two companions Zoe and Liz had both been geniuses so I think it was somewhat refreshing to have a more down to earth normal companion who genuinely would react like an ordinary person to the strange things she encountered, but whose friendship and loyalty to the Doctor meant she always came through in the end.
7/ Liz Shaw
Though she was only there for one series Liz is one of the more memorable classic era companions. Liz was presented as being almost the Doctors equal. Obviously we can never have a human companion who would be the Doctors equal as he is a time lord, but still Liz was someone who could keep up with the Doctor more than most and be much more of a help to him. Personally I actually liked the evil version of Liz we saw in Inferno the best. She was a complete badass who ended up shooting the Brigadier or rather the Brigade leader. Sadly Liz was written out of the how after 1 year as the producers felt the Doctors companion needed to be less intelligent for practicality sake as part of the role of the companion is to ask the Doctor what is going on and therefore allow the Doctor to explain it to the audience, where as a genius like Liz will have figured it out on her own already.
6/ Rory Williams
The best of the Moffat era companions for me Rory started out as a bit of clumsy oaf, but eventually became one of the Whoniverse’s ultimate badasses, a man who face down whole Cyberfleets, blasted Daleks and even punched out the Doctor himself. Rory’s relationship with Amy was for me the best love story there has ever been in the entire history of Doctor Who. There was never really a well developed romance between the companions prior to this and I don’t like the Doctor being involved with his companion romantically so for me Amy and Rory was the only one I actually liked. Rory standing outside the box and waiting for Amy for 1000 years wa definitely the characters greatest moment as it showed what a courageous and romantic character he was and how he didn’t need the doctor to be a hero.
Ace was the last of the classic era companions and fortunately she was the best in a long time in fact I’d say she was the best of the 80’s companions. Ace was unlike any companion before her, but was like many since. She was a tough cockney girl who beat up Daleks with baseball bats, wiped out whole cyber squads with slingshots, beat up Vampires on roof tops and enjoyed blowing things up a lot. We also learned more about her than other companions too and even saw both her mother and grandmother in one story albeit her mother was an infant. Ace was a very influential companion on the new series. Indeed just as every male companion I feel owes a debt to Harry Sullivan then I feel the majority of the female companions of New Who owe a debt to Ace. Her basic story arc has been repeated so many times particularly in the Moffat era. Ace meets the Doctor under unusual circumstances on an alien planet with Ace having no idea how she got there the Doctor takes her on board and is desperate to crack the mystery surrounding her. This same basic story is repeated in Donna, Amy and Clara’s story arcs to some extent. Ace is the first impossible girl! Also Ace is the first non heterosexual companion in Doctor Who’s long history as she and a Cheetah Woman named Clara have a very strong lesbian attraction to one another. Though its not explicitly clear in the story Survival itself this was the writer of Survival’s intention.
Romana has always been one of my favourites for many reasons. First of all both of the actresses who played her the late Mary Tamm and Lalla Ward where brilliant and played well off of Tom Baker, also Romana served as a brilliant foil to the Doctor as she was a time lord who in some ways was even more intelligent than the Doctor.. Romana had greater technical knowledge than the Doctor, however she had less experience than he did and thus she did not completely undermine him, but nor was she a helpless damsal either. Romana’s departure was also well handeled too as she ultimately left to explore an entire universe on her own with K9 who had actually left the Doctor to be with her.
3/ Jamie Mcrimmon
The best of the male companions for me Jamie was more like a younger brother to the Doctor. He was the only companion apart from Teegan in classic Who who was there throughout practically the entire Doctor he was with’s era. Jamie was the perfect foil for Troughton’s Doctor as the two shared the same naughty sense of humor and their interactions with each other always helped to create a real sense of fun in their stories. I would love to see Jamie again in the new series. Its a shame that he never got to meet Matt Smith’s Doctor who had a real touch of Troughton to him but I think it would still be quite nice to see him meet Peter Capaldi’s Doctor.
2/ Martha Jones
My favourite companion of the new series. Martha Jones is awesome simple as that. Though some people criticized her infatuation with the Doctor I didn’t mind it. I think it probably would have been better if they had not made her be in love with him as like I said I don’t think its really a good idea to turn the Doctor into a romantic character, but I still think it was done quite well with Martha as the Doctor did not return her feelings and also I think Martha’s infatuation with the Doctor did make her seem more human and relatable as sadly we have all or most of us been in that situation where we love someone who doesn’t feel the same way and I liked the fact that she was able to eventually overcome it and come back a stronger person in season 2 of Torchwood and season 4 of Doctor Who. What really scores Martha highly on this list however is how she managed to take down the Master all by herself. She isn’t the only one of the new who companions to take down one of the Doctors enemies in the season finale, but remember that Donna and Rose had superpowers when they blasted the Daleks. Martha did it all on her own without any powers an she had to wander the entire earth for a year, but she still managed it. She didn’t need to become the Bad Wolf, become an immortal, be born near crack, splinter in time and space or become part of a time lord meta crisis to kick one of the Doctors worst enemies ass she didn’t even need the Doctor with her at the time and for that she deserves major points.
She also in my opinion has the best theme of any companion in the new who.
1/ Barbara Wright
Even if I were to include Sarah in this Barbara would still be number 1 Sarah would probably be number 3 bumping Jamie down to 4. Barbara is the Ellen Ripley of the 1960’s. She was a strong, brave female character who unlike a lot of the later Who companions was not sexualized. Barbara did everything Ian the male companion who was with her did. She journeyed into the city of the Daleks alongside Ian and their male thal allies and faced the metal monsters head first, she figured out what had happened when the TARDIS was thrown backwards in time in “The Edge of Destruction” and saved every member of the crew. She was the only member of the TARDIS crew to resist the aliens control in the Keys of Marinus and single handedly killed them all freeing her companions and the entire alien civilisation they had enslaved, in that story she also fought off a rapist and later figured out the identity of the killer who had kidnapped Susan and saved her. She attempted to change all of history in “The Aztecs” she survived a Dalek ruled London all by herself in The Dalek Invasion of Earth and plowed down Daleks with trucks, she escaped from Dalek concentration camps all by herself, she outwitted the leader of the Daleks and figured out their greatest weakness and came up with the plan that stopped their entire invasion of earth saving humanity and the earth from them. I don’t really have to say any more do I? Barbara was a brilliant companion she brought conflict to show like in the Aztecs, was brave and brilliant in stories like the Keys of Marinus, Jacqueline Hill who played her also played brilliantly off of William Hartnell, William Russell and Carole Ann Ford with the four of the making up my favourite TARDIS team by far.