Yesterday the Doctor Who crew announced that they’d chosen the new Doctor Who companion that will take over from Karen Gillian and Arthur Darvill: Jenna-Louise Coleman. Moffat has heaped much praise upon Miss Coleman and said that her energy matches and even exceeds that of Matt Smith, so we should all rejoice.
Yet my first thought upon seeing her was: another young, white female? Really? That’s the best we can do?
I know nothing about Coleman and I have no reason to believe she’s not a good actress. So, nothing against her personally and all. This is more about the general banality of choice here. I shouldn’t expect much from Mr. Moffat given his track record — he did choose Matt Smith, after all — but is it so much to ask that a TV show about an 1100 year old time traveling alien be more than just the same old tired stuff all TV is about? Do we really need another young, white cis woman to compliment the young, white cis man at the center of the show?
Say what you will about Russell T. Davies (and I have said plenty in my time), he at least had the balls to change it up a bit when it came to companions. There were two companions of color on his watch, plus an omnisexual man, plus a woman with some years and experience on her.
Given the show’s penchant for picking actors and actresses from past episodes, I can think of 10 really good choices for companion that each bring things to the table we haven’t seen in a while and break the young, white, human female mold in different and interesting ways.
Madame Vastra and Jenny
I’m starting with these two because I know so many people will agree. Moffat introduced them in “A Good Man Goes To War” and I’m pretty sure the entire fandom went nuts for them right away. They’re clearly lesbian, clearly in love, and would clearly bring some welcome snark and spark to the TARDIS. Especially because Vastra is all about not putting up with the Doctor’s bullshit. Yes, Jenny is a young, white female, I know. But this combo works so well. Plus she’s from our past and it’s been a while since the Doctor pulled a companion from sometime other than contemporary Earth. Vastra is non-human; again, something the show used to do and hasn’t yet since it came back. And with the whole lesbian thing we can finally leave behind the whole Girl Moons Over Doctor thing.
Canton Everett Delaware III
Any excuse to allow Mark Sheppard to take up more screen time on my TV is a good one, right? Beyond that, it seemed clear to me that when older Canton shows up in “The Impossible Astronaut” he had been through many more adventures with the Doctor than we saw. Why not add him to the TARDIS crew for a season? Let him bring the man he loves along (a gay black man from the 50’s in space? YES. Call Idris Elba).
When “The God Complex” first aired I remember a bunch of people said that they wished Rita hadn’t died because she’d make a fantastic companion. I wholeheartedly agreed. Just because Rita is dead doesn’t mean that Amara Karan can’t be a companion. It’s what happened with Freema, after all. She’s such a fantastic actress, just give her another great character and she’d be fabulous. Plus, she’s a woman of color. Honestly, the show needs to prove that Martha wasn’t just a token by being a little less white for no good reason.
Alonso Frame / Russell Tovey
Since we’ve seen Alonso twice now, I think he’s a good candidate to be a companion, but I’m not wedded to the character from “Voyage of the Damned”. Russell has a nice wide range and does crazy flustered really well. Maybe even better than Matt Smith. I don’t think he’d make a good solo companion, but perhaps teamed up with Amara or Lenora in a non-romantic way it could work. He’d also make a great alien with those big ears.
Ever since I saw Lenora in “Gridlock” I have loved her. I definitely don’t want to see her play the character from that episode as a companion, but someone new. As a Being Human fan it would give me no end of squeezing to see her and Russell Tovey as companions together, but that might just be too Brit-TV incestuous. Pair her up with Canton, maybe? Then you have a nice triad. An older guy to be sort of steady and reasonable, Matt being all muppety, and a younger woman to be the balance between them. Though, honestly, I’d love to see Lenora play someone 180 degrees from the roles I’ve seen her in so far.
I’ll say this up front: there’s no good reason why Torchwood’s Toshiko Sato is dead. Though I wouldn’t be down with them bringing that character back for Doctor Who, Naoko Mori should definitely get another chance at the Whoniverse. She’ll be the first Asian companion since the dude in the American movie. My only fear with her is that, once again, the writers will go for the easy stereotypes – shy, good at maths, bad at interpersonal relationships, computer wiz. Ugh. Naoko is so much better than all of that, as the show should be.
Clyde Langer (Daniel Anthony)
Bringing in someone from The Sarah Jane Adventures would tie the Whoniverse together even more. I like Luke, though I don’t think the whole innocent super genius thing would work all that well on Who, especially up against 11. Clyde is a different sort of person, and his personality would compliment Matt’s manicness well, I think. Plus you get the benefit of a person of color and someone who won’t be over-wowed by all the strangeness yet remain grounded.
Dichen slips in as a Whoniverse alum just barely since she had a small part in Torchwood: Miracle Day. However, my recommendation is not based on that. I had to watch every episode of Dollhouse so I could write about it. Despite the absolute torture of such a thing, I did notice that Dichen outdid most of her co-stars on a regular. One of the few good things about Dollhouse was watching her and Enver Gjokaj school everyone on how the whole new character every episode/scene thing was done. Not that most of them learned. I see her as a companion with a lot of mad energy. Or maybe even a Time Lady. Let’s rescue Romana from E-Space and revive her as a mixed-race woman of color!
This entrant right here is just some wish fulfillment. I’ve watched Gina Torres be a badass awesome lady through many a TV show, both good and bad. I say let’s bring that to the TARDIS’ doorstep and see what comes of it. She’s a woman comfortably above tweenage with some gravitas to her, has the body to do all the running necessary, won’t let the Doctor walk all over her or fall in love with him, and is probably comfortable destroying whole galaxies if you get in her way.
There you go: 10 awesome choices that aren’t the same old banal young, white female we’ve already been there and done.
Who would you add to the list?
38 thoughts on “10 Better Choices For The Next Doctor Who Companion”
The show does not have the best track record with non-white companions. Mickey was treated like crap by the hero (please compare “Ricky” and “Mickey the idiot” with the Doctor’s relationship with Rory). Martha was constantly in the shadow of Rose — white or black, I think having a “rebound” companion who loves the Doctor but isn’t loved back was not ideal. Better to have gone with “I was in love, now I just want a friend” as with saw with Donna Noble.
Martha wound up a servant in “Human Nature/Family of Blood” and the human Doctor still wasn’t capable of loving her (would that have been written with Rose or would we have gotten romantic drivel about he still fell in love with her?). She also somehow wound up working at a shop to support him in “Blink,” when The Doctor still had a sonic screwdriver, his intelligence, and was healthy enough to hold down a job.
I just want a companion that is not just another 20 something human girl from London with stars in her eyes for the Doctor. I want somebody who can DO something!
Think of all the companions in the past that had some sort of talent beyond standing by the sidelines pining for the Doctor!
If it HAS to be a human girl from England then why not Lady Christina de Souza (Michelle Ryan) from Planet of the Dead?
At least she has “skillz” that would be useful in running around in perilous plots.
I COMPLETELY agree with both Alonzo and Clyde! I mean, I love the rest of the list, but these two are the ones I really want to come back! I agree with you about Luke, and I think Rani would be a great companion too. Putting Clyde and Rani on the TARDIS with the Doctor would keep the Amy and Rory feel, and could also have a nod to Liz Sladen, which they haven’t exactly done yet since her death. This list is great!
I loved Martha Jones when she was the Dr. Companion, I felt that her character added so much more to the show than Rose did, and was actually really intelligent and still had that sense of adventure instead of just being the butt of blonde jokes and screaming. That being said, a guilty pleasure of mine is that I do like Amy as a companion, I feel like her fierce attitude and dark past get things rolling rather than just seeing Matt Smith be cocky. Because of this, I am a bit concerned with Jenna as the new companion, and still haven’t truthfully gotten used to Matt Smith’s doctor. I think a little change would be nice though, and I would be stoked if they had an Asian, Middle Eastern, or Indian companion.
A big yes to Amara Karan as a companion and interpreting a character as close as possible to Rita as possible, she was pretty, smart and interesting. And she was a muslim, how’s this for variety? Is Doctor Who after all, anything could happen! Maybe he could pick an alternate Rita from an universe where she didn’t die. Make it happen Moff¡
I’d love to see Clyde cross over, but it raises the awkward question of “so why aren’t you still with Sarah Jane?”, which I gather they don’t really want to address.
Not to mention “Why aren’t you still with Rani?”.
Ah, but maybe if Clyde and Rani both came on board, with a signed note from Sarah to the Doctor saying “I can’t cope with having a pair of young lovers snogging all over my flat, so *YOU* take care of them!”… =:o>
I vote for Gina Torres. She would be great for all the reasons you said, and for all the reasons Donna was so great… Wait, didn’t Donna get Timelord DNA? Maybe Gina could be a regenerated Donna?!? Ah, if wishes were horses… *sigh*
Well-said, and seconded! (And thanks to Marguerite for posting this on FB.)
Oh, letting Clyde cross over from the Sarah Jane Adventures would be awesome.
Awesome choices. Yeah, they had damned well better do something really interesting and unusual with her, because if they don’t, I’m gonna be really pissed at yet another Boring Cute Young White Girl from Today’s Earth. Hell, he couldn’t even get over the need for “young”? As a grumpy middle-aged woman, I want more Donna Nobles on my television!
You know, I came in with some idle thoughts and then I read the comments and now I am stuck on Nichelle Nichols as the companion to Helen Mirren’s Doctor and, well. You’ll have to excuse me now.
I reposted this on FB. And my brain started to overheat when you said IDRIS ELBA and then finally melted at Gina Torres. But–I like heavenscalyx’s suggestion of CCH Pounder the very best.
OK, I love your list, but as someone who’s had to deal with the practical realities of production, I just have to say that the Madame Vastra and Jenny suggestion will never happen. The reality is that a character that requires that much makeup has to spend 2-3 hours on each shoot day to get in and out of all the prosthetics. Either the production ends up paying massive overtime (and wears out the performer rapidly) or the alien character gets a lot less screen time. It’s unfortunate, but it’s true.
Realistically, there needs to be at least one companion who is from present-day Earth, who can react to things as the audience would and can ask the questions the audience would need to ask. The spells in the show’s history where they’ve strayed from that formula have generally worked, but it imposes an undue burden on the writers.
Now, Helen Mirren has expressed interest in playing the Doctor — and I think that would be particularly awesome, especially if she continued to play him with a male brain — so looking ahead to allowing the new companion to serve as a transition when Matt Smith departs (being a good companion for both versions of the Doctor), I’d vote for someone younger and male, and to that end I like the Clyde Langer suggestion a lot…
You know, Star Trek managed to make this work every week, as did Farscape, as do many other SF shows. I doubt that the Silurian makeup is any less annoying than Klingon or Frengi or Flaxian (wait… what was Neelix?). I don’t thik any of those actors were being paid massive overtime, and you saw them in almost every freaking episode.
Also, you do NT need one companion from present day earth precisely because in the past, when we’ve strayed from that, it has worked Thus you moot your own argument.
Also, if Helen Mirren played the Doctor in female form but with a male brain I would turn such a thing off and perhaps burn my TV. That sounds terrible.
I’m not sure it’s fair to compare a Hollywood production to a BBC production. Star Trek could afford to just pay the overtime.
Kyle, Star Trek was not regularly paying main cast members overtime. They just weren’t. I find your argument weak. Unless you can show me where that happens on a regular basis, I’m calling shenanigans.
Unfortunately, web links are hard to come by since most actors don’t publish their timesheets, but next time you’re at a con and have a chance to meet an actor who played a Star Trek alien, ask them what their work schedule was typically like. The folks I know who played aliens typically worked 10-14 hour days when other actors were working 8-10.
Trek actors with a lot of makeup did have to start earlier. I don’t know if they were paid overtime or not. Might look up SAG rules to see if that’s in there.
Babylon 5 though had lots of aliens with plenty of screen time.
And the examples given so far all had longer seasons than Doctor Who typically does. A grueling schedule for 13 eps a year versus 25 eps a year is well, half as grueling.
Crap. I’m never getting those brain cells back.
“Realistically, there needs to be at least one companion who is from present-day Earth, who can react to things as the audience would and can ask the questions the audience would need to ask. The spells in the show’s history where they’ve strayed from that formula have generally worked, but it imposes an undue burden on the writers.”
Oooh, those poor writers. Having to THINK…
Yea, I also think it’s not limited to present-day people. Someone from the 18th century is going to ask a lot of the same questions (and some interesting _different_ ones) when on an alien planet, or Earth of the future.
I also don’t think the audience needs spoon-feeding. People put up with being lost with Lost for years.
It’s that excuse, or a similar one at least, that gets white cissexual straight men as the main characters in things. :P
Paterson Joseph would be another excellent choice out of former Whodom, either as Rodrick from “Bad Wolf/PotW” (or did he die? hard to tell if anyone besides Jack got Rose-ified at the end) or as someone else. I’d actually had my fingers crossed that he would be picked for the 11th Doctor. I’ve had a wee crush since his turn as the Marquis De Carabas.
Yes, yes: a 1000 times yes to this post and all of your picks!
No new ideas; this is just to say almost all your choices would be AWESOME. I’m not sold on Naoko Mori coming back in, and while I think they could go interesting places with Daniel Anthony/Clyde, I think the current feel of the show doesn’t fit with a kid companion. OTOH, older I’d totally go for. Nichelle Nichols would make my day.
Clyde’s not a kid anymore, though. The actor is 25 or something now. I’d want him to play Clyde grown up, at least a little.
Fair point. THAT I can see.
Whoa. I had no idea he was so old!
Excellent suggestions all! I’d particularly love to see Russell Tovey, Lenora Crichlow, or Naoko Mori back, and Dichen Lachman and Gina Torres would be great additions. (I will also put in my obligatory shout-out for Natalie Morales [who I think campaigned on Twitter for a Who guest spot?].)
OH, and I loved Michael Obiora in “Blink” and keep waiting for him to do something else awesome. (I guess, according to some, Misfits would be this something else, but I haven’t seen it yet.)
All good choices! I really thought the steampunk couple were going to be part of a spinoff. They were too awesome not to be.
You forgot the age thing again. I adore Vorkosigan fanfic where Cordelia goes travelling with the Doctor after Aral dies. And the Doctor *should* cope with older humans – younger than him in age, but older in attitude. Like Barbara Wright! How about Nichelle Nichols or Judy Dench!
I did NOT forget age! I totes mentioned it about 10,000 times. And I chose Gina Torres and Canton specifically because they are older.
I agree with Nichelle Nichols and Judy Dench, though. Especially since the writers would have to be pretty damn creative to work that vibe in.
This list is EXCELLENT – although my vote for Canton’s partner would be Chiwetel Ejiofor (who I would really like to see as the Doctor, honestly). I particularly love the idea of Lenora Crichlow as a character wildly different from Annie or her “Gridlock” character.
Yes! EXACTLY! I think Freema Agyeman spoiled me, because ever since her turn as companion I kept expecting each choice after her to be more awesome and edgier. Donna Noble was perfect in this regard, but with the new Doctor in Matt Smith, I’ve been pretty let down. Don’t get me wrong, I do love the energy Karen Gillian brings to Amy . . . but I would like to see a little more diversity now that she’s leaving. Something to stir the pot up a bit.
I second the Dichen nod. Hated Dollhouse with a passion, but absolutely LOVED her role. I wanted to see her on the screen way more than Dushku, that’s for sure.
Still, I miss Freema’s Martha Jones. I mean, a lot. Her eps were the highlight of Whodom for me. I’m tickled that you included that pic and caption at the start of this post. That scene when she arrives in Shakespeare’s time and the line she delivers literally had my mouth drop open. I couldn’t believe Davies had the balls to go there, and I knew I was going to like this new companion.
We need more of that.
How about Caroline Chikezie, Lisa from the Torchwood ep Cyberwoman? She was so wasted as that character.
Or how about CCH Pounder? Older woman of color, American, and able to crush tiny Doctors with the power of her MIND.
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