“Thank you for being a friend / Traveled down the road and back again / Your heart is true / You’re a pal and a confidant.” The English language has over fifty viable synonyms for a friend, but in the realm of the Doctor Who fandom, the term “companion” is sacred. It is a title bestowed upon those who have been given a special place in the pantheon, a category of characters for whom books are written, songs are sung (well, other than that one, but who are we to judge), and tear-jerking YouTube videos are edited. But who makes the cut? Who ascends to the higher plateau of companionship, where others are relegated to ‘friend’, ‘colleague’, or the practically insulting ‘recurring role’?
This week, we’re joined by long-time listener and friend of the podcast Nicole to discuss, debate, and dissect what it means to be an ‘official’ companion of the Doctor. With extensive contributions from folks across the social networks (thank you!), we look to criteria including time travel, significant contribution to the story, appearance frequency and concurrence, and more. Suffice to say, it gets rather…convoluted.
EXTRA: Our interview with the voice of K-9 himself, John Leeson, from L.I. Who 5!
Traveling with the Doctor changes lives. History has shown us the many natures of such a change: lives that open to a new awareness and sense of purpose in a larger universe; lives that are reminded of the value and comforts of home; lives that end abruptly, or even tragically. As viewers, we may identify with certain companions over the seasons, and when the time comes that they leave the program, we might react positively or negatively to the way in which that departure is written.
This week, joined by Mike Solko of the TimeScoop podcast, we walk the list of modern Doctor Who companions, and discuss how fitting (or unfitting) their exit from the program suited the character. We agree on a few (Donna), disagree pretty emphatically on others (River), but as it happens so often on GPR, we gain a broader perspective of the impact these characters have on the audience, and how much the show has really come to mean to us all.
BONUS: We go around the room, and choose how we would want to leave the TARDIS, if we were companions ourselves. (Ah, fandom.)
Staying just safely within the bounds of professionalism and good taste, we spend a few minutes chatting and laughing with Noel Clarke, our beloved Mickey Smith, recorded live from the festivities at the third annual Long Island Doctor Who convention.
When you have a program that has spanned the decades as few like Doctor Who have done, and have at times both intentionally and unintentionally replaced actors within the principal cast, you have a rather large set of characters to draw upon for any sort of trivia game you might devise. Take three so-called “fans” of the program, and pit them against each other in attempts to identify which character delivered a single line from a single episode across that five-decade-plus span, and you’ve got a recipe for a good old fashioned geek slap fight.
This week, the GPR trio tests one another on their ability (or complete lack thereof) to identify quotes from companions who have ventured with the Doctor. The winner of this fierce competition gets…well, nothing. Probably a delicious, gourmet, home-cooked pizza, because you know for a fact who ISN’T going to win…
We have months to go before Series 10 even begins production, and possibly longer before we have definitive news on who the new companion(s) will be. You know what that means: pot-shot guesses and wild fan speculation!
Vote your conscience on the companion poll, and if you have some specifics on what you think will (or should) be done for the 12th Doctor’s company in the TARDIS console room, share it in the comments below. Let’s get hyped, and hypothesizing!
What sort of companion are you hoping for in Series 10?