While picking the companions I disliked was easy. Narrowing down my five favorite companions is a LOT more difficult, because in 30+ years there have been some great companions. On the whole the good companions far outweighing the ones I dislike.
So narrowing down all those great companions to my five favorite, very difficult, and very subjective. But as stated, having recently watched all 30+ seasons of the show, you can call my choices informed subjectivity.
So without further ado:
I have some issues with Russell T. Davies as discussed in my worst companions posting, but one thing you can’t fault him with is in building up the dynamic/relationship between the Doctor and his female Companion, and doing a great job of casting that companion role… well, and writing it… well.
I think one of the common complaints many actresses who played a companion to the Doctor had, was in the writing of their roles. Davies with the characters of Rose and Martha created companions who had it all, beauty, brains, guts, and adventuresome spirit, and a personality, an aura… magnetic. And roles that complemented the Doctor.
So while I really love a lot of the companions that have been in and out of the ship of time, the two I come back to the most, which is a way of saying the two who are great characters, brought to life by great actresses, and they have great stories under their belt, and a great complement to the doctor… in other words they have it all…
Martha Jones played by the stunning Freema Agyeman and Rose Tyler played by the effervescent Billie Piper. They get the one, two spot.
Sarah Jane- I don’t think any list of best companions would be complete without Sarah Jane, played by the fantastic Elisabeth Sladen, who brought such a caring, and humanity, and belief to her role, and whose tenure bridged both Jon Pertwee and Tom Baker.
Liz Shaw, played by Caroline John, acted opposite Jon Pertwee’s Doctor. And she brought beauty, brains, wit, sophistication to the role, and at the time they thought that was too much. She was too capable, and she was replaced in a single season, with a dumbed down companion Jo Grant(that’s not a kick against Kathy Manning, who played Jo Grant, she quite made that role her own, and made that dynamic work, and became a great, woman of action companion for the bulk of Pertwee’s run). However, it was still an unfortunate replacement because she was a fantastic companion. And you look back at the handful of stories she did and they all stand out as fantastic Doctor Who episodes.
The last spot is a tie between Leela and Ace.
Leela- I really liked the character of Leela, playing opposite Tom Baker’s Dr. Who. Played wonderfully by the beautiful Louise Jameson, I thought she was a very interesting character, but her relationship with Tom Baker’s Doctor, and seemingly Tom Baker himself, was seemingly frictious and dismissive. Possibly because she was such a strong and striking character, and a strong and striking actress, and Tom Baker at the time wanted no competition for the spotlight. But despite the less than stellar dynamic between them, they still were in 2 or 3 of the best story-lines in the history of the series.
And tying her for fifth place was Ace played by Sophie Aldred. Ace was just a fantastic companion, and had a great relationship/chemistry with Sylvester McCoy’s Doctor. And they were in some amazing stories together. Their REMEMBRANCE OF THE DALEKS being easily in the top ten of any list of best Doctor Who stories.
Honorable mentions are:
Ian Chesterton – played by William Russell from 1963 to 1965 with William Hartnell
Barbara Wright – played by Jacqueline Hill from 1963 to 1965 with William Hartnell
Susan – played by Carole Ann Ford from 1963 to 1964 with William Hartnell
The first companions, if they had failed, if their chemistry had failed, we wouldn’t still be talking about the show.
Jamie – played by Frazer Hines from 1966 to 1969 with Patrick Troughton
His chemistry with Patrick Troughton, was a great, almost vaudevillian dynamic.
Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart – played by Nicholas Courtney from 1968 to 1989 with all the “old” Doctors apart from Colin Baker.
While not a companion, Nicholas Courtney’s reoccurring role as Brigadier Stewart, head of the UNIT, was a great addition to the Who mythology, particularly during the earthbound Pertwee era. He’s just a fantastic straight man for the Doctor’s craziness.
Jo Grant – played by Katy Manning from 1971 to 1973 with Jon Pertwee. She took the ditzy role she was given, and made it into a courageous character who would risk anything for the Doctor.
Peri – played by Nicola Bryant from 1984 to 1986 with Peter Davison and Colin Baker.
Let’s be honest, Nicola Bryant was brought in, by hit-and-miss producer Nathan Turner, for T&A… to sex up the show in hopes of salvaging the lackluster Peter Davison years. She was brought in for her huge breasts, and they were paraded prominently.
(Oh come’on don’t get offended, we’re all adults here, and that’s absolutely the truth. They were real, and they were fabulous. :). Oh, I’m joking! )
With the exception of Davison’s last episode, the only thing that was watchable about his tenure, was Nicola Bryant. But surprisingly enough, she was more than just a pretty face and a stunning body, she was a solid actress, and she was exceptionally likable, and this became very obvious during the Colin Baker Doctor years.
Colin Baker off-putting pompous portrayal of the Doctor, only made somewhat palatable because of Nicola Bryant’s Peri. I quite liked her, and unfortunately she was saddled with questionable characterization by the writers of her and her Doctors. But despite that she does manage to be part of 2 or 3 stories that transcended those issues, to be quite entertaining.
So that’s it for this installment. Five favorite companions and the honorable mentions! Feel free to mention your favorite companions.
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Sarah Jane Smith for me is THE Companion. #1 in my book always.
I agree with everything you said except Rose Tyler’s position. I’d place her far lower on the list…somewhere around #9 or #10.
Yeah Sarah Jane was great. I can definitely see the character of Rose not agreeing with everyone, but I don’t know… I just dug her.
Just like with Amy Pond I sometimes felt as if DOCTOR WHO was “The Adventures of Rose Tyler Guest-Starring The Doctor” and I get aggravated when upon expressing that sentiment the answer I usually get back is: “But, dude! She’s hawt!” as if that excuses everything (well…in some situations it does…but I digress)
I actually keep meaning to go on Netflix and watch NuWho from the Eccelston run up to the present as I haven’t really watched DOCTOR WHO in I dunno how long.
I’m ashamed to say i only really watched the Tom Baker edition. And when i saw the word Companion in your title i immediately thot of K9 … BUT …. the gal was pretty nice.