Doctor Who companions: The Ultimate Tournament
|LISTS - TV LISTS|
'Best Doctor Who assistant'? Best at what? Let's get down to the score-cards...
During Doctor Who's 47 years, companions have come and gone and have stuck by the good Doctor through thick and thin. We've had all sorts of companions, from plucky journalists through to shifty non-public school boys; leggy swinging 60s dolls through to haughty Time Lady ice-maidens and trusty schoolteachers through to – erm, Adric.
For completism's sake, I'm including all the companions of The Doctor, so that means one-offs too, like Adelaide and Christina – they were described in the BBC press releases as companions, so they're fair game. There'll be the equivalents of bronze, silver and gold for each category, so let the tournament commence!
3. Zoe Heriot (Wendy Padbury)
Initially a walking, talking brainbox with all the emotion of a photocopier, Zoe is chided for her lack of feelings by everyone she comes into contact with. Smug superquiff Leo Ryan has a go at her for being all brains and no heart. And even Jamie and The Doctor aren't that keen initially on the precocious young prodigy. "Logic, my dear Zoe, merely enables one to be wrong with authority," warns The Doctor.
But after she's stowed away in the TARDIS, Zoe goes from being Spock poster-girl through to a much more warm-hearted and caring companion. She still uses her total recall and whizzkid brain for defeating Cybermen fleets and finding her way through claustrophobic tunnels, but she also manages to help her new friends out of danger, and to form a strong bond with them. "Oh, what a nice and clever girl you are," says The Doctor after he's been temporarily rescued by Zoe in The War Games.
If only those pesky Time Lords hadn't come along and wiped her memories, Zoe would be higher up. And that's the saddest thing of all – her journey from heartless machine through to warm-hearted companion is cruelly reversed.
2. Donna Noble (Catherine Tate)
When we first meet Donna, she's exactly what some viewers feared she might be: A shouty caricature from one of Catherine Tate's sketch shows. She's too busy screeching at the 'Martian' to get her to her wedding on time like a one-woman Loose Women audience. But gradually, during the events of The Runaway Bride, Donna starts to mellow as she sees the bigger picture.
And when The Doctor, against all the odds, meets Donna again, she's ready to take up his offer of a quick spin in the TARDIS. And it's during these thirteen adventures that we see how much Donna has grown up. She keeps The Doctor grounded in reality, breaking through his aloof barrier to persuade him to save Caecilius and his family. She also gets to use her loaf, like when she works out that the number codes on the planet Messaline are dates. A far cry from the woman that couldn't point to Germany on a map.
Poor old Donna has to have her mind wiped at the end of Journey's End though, so she just misses out on the top spot. But for those 13 weeks, she proves that she's managed to change for the better. And in the end, she does get her just rewards.
1. Jo Grant (Katy Manning)
Initially a short-sighted whirling dervish of bubbly enthusiasm, Jo Grant isn't quite the assistant that The Doctor quite had in mind. She manages to ruin his experiment into steady-state micro-welding, and then nearly blows the UNIT building to the high heavens after getting hypnotised by The Master.
But despite a less than auspicious start, Jo quickly becomes The Doctor's best friend. And during her time with The Doctor, she proves to be a lot braver and more adaptable than she thought possible. She is ready to take the bolt of fire from Azal, and is prepared to use the dreaded Time Ram to defeat The Master.
By the time Season 10 comes around, Jo has grown up, standing up to Draconians and their chauvinistic ways, and even better, manages to block The Master's hypnotism with quick-fire nursery rhymes. She's very much her own woman by the time she decides to marry Professor Hippy, and as the recent Sarah Jane reunion proved, she's managed to accomplish a lot in her life, campaigning for human rights and ecological issues.
And heck, seven kids and 12 grandkids?
3. Rory Williams (Arthur Darvill)
After the recent heroics of Captain Jack and a tougher Mickey The Idiot, surely a change was going to come? Well, it did, in the form of bumbling poltroon, Rory Williams.
Rory isn't quite into this high-octane adventure lark like The Doctor. He fights like a girl, is prone to moaning and is relentlessly hen-pecked by Amy, so much so that he starts to become the sci-fi equivalent of Rickkkkkayyyyy from EastEnders.
However, Rory does redeem himself by sacrificing himself on two occasions – he is turned to dust in the dream world of Amy's Choice, and then takes the bullet for an absent-minded Doctor in Cold Blood. And no doubt, he'll be killed at least twice in the new series. Who knows, if The Doctor could erase all that initial bumbling and whining, Rory might be one of the bravest companions in the show.
2. Turlough (Mark Strickson)
Having realised that turncoat assassination wasn't his bag, Turlough rapidly showed his true colours by chickening out of every potentially lethal situation that he was in. He even openly wonders why humans feel they have to make a futile heroic gesture, even if it means death in the process.
Heck, Turlough is even reduced to babbling and wailing about an overgrown woodlouse in Frontios. And since the Tractators wouldn't even frighten a cowardly mouse, that's taking wimpiness to Shaggy and Scooby Doo levels.
But in the end, Turlough does leave with the promise of a hero's welcome on his home planet, so he just misses out on the top spot. Let's just hope that he didn't get drunk and recount his girly blubbing in Frontios to his family and friends, eh?
1. Victoria Waterfield (Deborah Watling)
When it comes to cowardice, Victoria could write a thesis on the subject. The poor kid's probably frightened of her own shadow.
It's just rotten luck that she chooses to travel with The Doctor during what's known as the 'Monster Years' of the show. When confronted with an army of Daleks, Cybermen, Yeti and Ice Warriors, Victoria's worst nightmares are paraded before her eyes.
And Victoria can do little more than blub, scream, screech and wail at every peril that's thrown into her path. As a result, she becomes one of the few companions to leave because the going has got too tough. So when she's terrorised by a clump of killer seaweed, she comes to the end of her tether, and asks if she can stay on Earth with the Harrises. So it's little wonder that the poor, simpering wallflower comes top of the biggest wimps category – heck, she's probably even scared of Benik from The Enemy Of The World.
3. Sarah Jane Smith (Elisabeth Sladen)
Just pipping Zoe to the post, Sarah-Jane may be an occasional tough cookie, but by golly, can she scream for Britain. Whether she's falling off a high gantry, backing away from the Morbius monster or – um, getting caught in a crappy trap on the planet Kastria, Sarah's screams can probably be heard all over the universe.
Luckily, her high-volume shrieking hasn't been witnessed so much lately. Not sure what her new buddies in The Sarah-Jane Adventures would make of the noise – they'd probably try not to laugh.
2. Melanie Bush (Bonnie Langford)
Bonnie Langford's Violet Elizabeth Bott could thcweam and thcweam and thcweam, so how appropriate that she gets to do the same in Doctor Who.
Despite a short run of adventures, Langford's Mel manages to break the windows in living rooms up and down the country with her piercing shriek. Difficult to know in which adventure she screams the most, although at a guess, it's the lamentable Time And The Rani. She hollers at the Rani's ridiculous multi-eyed gimp, and threatens to detonate the bouncy globe trap with her non-stop screaming.
And hey, she even manages to scream in the right key for the end of the first part of Terror Of The Vervoids, so that it seamlessly blends in with the cliffhanger bridge. Now that's clever.
1. Victoria Waterfield
Oh no, it's the googly-eyed girl child again. Say what you like about a woman who was once christened Leatherlungs, when it comes to making a noise, Victoria Waterfield is the one.
Right from her first scene in which she's wailing at a lone Dalek while trapped in a cell, the tone is set. And over the next year, viewers will break out the cotton wool in droves in order to block out the incessant din. Victoria screams at all the monsters, as well as any perilous situation that she's put in, not to mention the sights of grisly corpses.
So it's apt that her screams ironically save the day against the giant seaweed in Fury From The Deep. Her multi-tracked shrieking reduces the weed to a quivering wreck, not to mention deafening The Doctor and Jamie for all eternity. With that in mind, it'd be a crime for Victoria to miss out on the top spot – just hope that the future re-release of The Tomb Of The Cybermen comes with a complimentary set of sound-proof headphones.
MOST FORTHRIGHT COMPANION
3. Adelaide Brooke (Lindsay Duncan)
This no-nonsense leader of Bowie Base One takes no prisoners. And for just a few hours, she becomes The Doctor's somewhat reluctant partner in crime – hence her inclusion in the list.
Whereas other companions have blithely gone along with The Doctor's wishes and occasional tantrums, Adelaide fiercely holds her own. It's in the crucial last few minutes of The Waters Of Mars that Adelaide shows true grit – it's just ironic that it's The Doctor that she's facing off against. As The Doctor crows about how he's an unstoppable Time Lord Victorious, Adelaide proclaims that he's wrong and that he can't act as judge and jury over the whole of creation. In the end, she brings The Doctor back to reality as she rebalances the course of history with her own suicide.
It would have been interesting to keep Adelaide on as a companion, although it's likely that there would have been more sparks between her and The Doctor than in a Top 20 chart in 1974.
2. Romana The Second (Lalla Ward)
Oh, if only there hadn't been a girly wobble with a blubbing spree at the Daleks in episode two of Destiny Of The Daleks, Romana The Second might have walked away with the prize.
At least the Time Lady manages to be an improvement on her previous incarnation, a woman who, despite the ice-cool haughtiness, was easily terrorised, Scooby Doo-style, by a man in a green monster suit. The new Romana can confidently hold her own, not just against hammy panto villains like Soldeed, workshy scum like The Privateer crew or smarmy Lord Lytton wannabe Count Scarlioni, she's also more than a match for The Doctor. She occasionally gets him out of deadly scrapes, and even has her very own version of the Sonic Screwdriver.
Besides which, she always looks as if she is going to thwack Adric round the earhole every time the odious little runt opens his mouth, so she definitely earns her place in the Top Three.
1. Ace (Sophie Aldred)
After a decade of moaning and whining from the likes of Teabag, Peri and Mel, thank god that Ace came along to stand up to any potential threat with her tried and trusted brand of assertiveness.
In reality, calling someone "Bilgebag" and lobbing a can of Nitro Nine probably wouldn't carry much weight, but hey, it seems to work against the Daleks, Cybermen and Josiah Samuel Smith. This is a girl that responds to the Daleks' threats by demanding to know "Who you calling small?" and then whacking it with a baseball bat. Now that's assertive on a high scale, and what's more she doesn't scream – unless you count her screech of "Mum, I'm sorry!!" in The Curse Of Fenric.
Still, even Ace has her Achilles Heel, and that's clowns – so just don't ask her to meet Ronald McDonald, otherwise there will be tears before bedtime.
3. Adric (Matthew Waterhouse)
With his star badge for Mathematical Excellence and Justin Bieber bowlcut, Adric is the classic child prodigy that everyone hates. Adric can come up with a rapid answer to any equation or sum that's put to him in just a click of the finger. "Oh, he's very good," admits The Fifth Doctor in Earthshock.
Problem is – as with most clever clogs, Adric's not so bright when it comes to dealing with everyday challenges. His plan to free Romana from the clutches of He-Man-haired Aukon and his buddies goes belly up. He fails to recognise that Monarch is a power-mad dictator. And he doesn't even know what to do with a cocktail, the great clot.
A mathematical genius for sure, but probably not as clever as he thinks.
2. Liz Shaw (Caroline John)
Drafted in to help UNIT with its investigation into recent meteorite landings, Liz Shaw is annoyed to find herself dragged away from her beloved intellectual hothouse. In her first scene alone, we learn that Liz has several degrees in subjects like physics and medicine. Considering that degrees take about three years to complete and that Liz is only in her mid to late twenties, that means she probably started her O-Levels while she was still in nappies.
So in a sense, she's a perfect foil for The Doctor, constantly working out calculations, theories and strategies in order to help him defeat a gaggle of monsters – and to help him escape from Earth. A worthy contender then, but sadly, Liz doesn't realise that running across a very slippery bridge above a waterfall is a bit dangerous. You don't need a degree to figure that out.
1. Zoe Heriot
Yes, it's Zoe again, a teenager that is probably just as clever as The Doctor. Now that's the benchmark to set this category by – just look at her performance on the teaching machines in The Krotons. She manages to out-perform The Doctor, who's too busy faffing around and getting questions wrong.
At least the writers make a virtue of Zoe's considerable brain. Not only does she have a degree in pure mathematics, she also has total recall, so that means she can get herself, The Doctor and Jamie out of scrapes. Whether she's stuck in a haunted labyrinth, remembering freedom fighter rebels or working out equations to destroy Cyber ships, Zoe uses that big old brain of hers to save the day.
ONE FOR THE DADS
3. Amy Pond (Karen Gillan)
One thing that had been missing from 21st century Who was a companion in very short skirts in order to reduce the dads to gibbering fools. Well, the balance was redressed with the introduction of feisty Scot, Amy Pond.
Put it this way - the first we see of grown-up Amy is when she's strutting about in a policewoman's uniform – well, the stripper version of a policewoman's uniform anyway. The Eleventh Doctor's horrified at the thought, but up and down the country, the dads are relishing the prospect of more weeks of micro-skirts.
And hey, Amy's outfit choices managed to get The Daily Mail's proverbial knickers in a twist, so job done. If only she wouldn't KEEP SHOUTING!!!! all the bloody time.
2. Peri Brown (Nicola Bryant)
Gazing into the distance in a skimpy bikini, spoilt brat Peri Brown sets the pace for most of her time in the show.
And so begins a run of stories in which Nicola Bryant is asked to come to work in figure-hugging tops, shorts, bacofoil bikinis and short skirts. The producers of Who at the time killed the thought of any hanky-panky taking place in the TARDIS by making Peri squabble with the Sixth Doctor on a regular basis.
Instead, Peri had the bad luck to be lusted after by an army of weirdos – Sharaz Jek. The Borad. Mestor. Even her ultimate choice of partner turns out to be a shouty chump in too much eyeliner. See, that's the price you pay for travelling in the universe in a bikini.
1. Leela (Louise Jameson)
Producer Philip Hinchcliffe had always said that he wanted to make Doctor Who to bring in more dads – so what better way than to introduce savage Leela?
Strutting around in a skimpy leather leotard, Leela was – as Louise Jameson said herself – always going to bring in the dads after the football results. And the ploy definitely worked for the next year, as the ratings regularly hovered around the 10-million mark.
And like Amy after her, Leela managed to cause quite a stir in the more reactionary quarters of the media – take this quote from a disgruntled Stanley Reynolds in The Times from 1977 – "Perhaps Leela is not a bow to the Women's Movement after all; maybe the leggy Leela is there for the dads and the more earthy 14-year olds".
Hmmmm, you think?
3. Martha Jones (Freema Agyeman)
There was a lot to prove with Martha Jones. Billie Piper's Rose had proven to be hugely popular with the fans, so the next companion had to be just as good.
So in Smith And Jones, Martha does make a good first impression. Freema Agyeman's performance is excellent, she gets some great lines, and altogether, she proves to be a lot more down to earth and forthright than Rose had recently been.
What's wrong though is that the presence of Rose hangs over The Doctor and Martha like a smug cloud. The Doctor's still mooning over Ms Tyler like a lovestruck teenager and doesn't heistate to rub this fact in Martha's crestfallen face. "Rose would know," he muses in The Shakespeare Code, while tactlessly pondering on how to solve the mystery.
And as a result, the promise that Martha showed in her début is largely abandoned in favour of the stupid unrequited love story. It's a move that apparently Russell T Davies himself thought was a mistake. Admittedly, Martha helps to save the Earth from the rule of The Master in Last Of The Time Lords, but it's a feeling of too little, too late. Even her semi-regular appearances in the following season are badly written – a mix of terrible clunky lines ("Doctor? It's Martha, and I'm bringing you back down to Earth!") and absurd scenarios (she starts crying and bawling like a baby at an overgrown man-fish sinking into a bog). A waste of a character and a waste of Freema's acting talents.
2. Kamelion (Gerald Flood - voice)
It's a damning indictment when the DVD boxset of Kamelion Tales contains – um, his only two adventures in Doctor Who.
Kamelion is a good example of the rather bizarre requests made by the production team in the 1980s. After K9 had proven to be extremely popular with kids, Kamelion was drafted in to become a similar sort of companion. Problem is, Teabag and Turlough were already on board, so it was difficult to write stories with four regular characters to cater for.
In a sense, you can understand why Kamelion was the poor relation. The technology required for Kamelion was still in its infancy, and may have been a pain to deal with on an already tight set of recording schedules.
But then you think, hey, this robot thing can change its shape. So why not hire a one-off actor to do the job for each story? This opportunity was never taken, so instead, Kamelion was shunted off to the TARDIS broom cupboard where he festered until his last appearance in Planet Of Fire.
1. Dodo Chaplet (Jackie Lane)
The clue is in the name. Poor old Dodo never stood a chance from the moment she blundered into the Doctor's life. Normally, companions get their own introductory story and a proper leaving story. Sadly, Dodo gets neither.
Instead, she just randomly comes on board the TARDIS at the end of The Massacre Of St. Bartholomew's Eve after she miraculously has the same name as the late Anne Chaplet. Following this, Dodo doesn't really get to do much apart from hang onto the coat tails of Steven and The Doctor. Back in the early 60s, the producers just made each young teenage companion a blatant Susan clone. Not much help either for the actresses or the audience at home, who were probably experiencing déjà vu every time they tuned in.
Dodo was the worst case, since she was an even more diluted version of Susan after Vicki had gone. Evidently, the producers didn't know what to do with her, so they abruptly shunted Dodo off to the country in the second episode of The War Machines without so much as a goodbye.
Poor old Dodo – the first but not the last example of shoddy treatment of companions. Somehow I can't see The Dodo Chaplet Adventures coming to a small screen near you in the near future.
BEST IN A SCRAP
3. Jamie McCrimmon (Frazer Hines)
The brawn to the Second Doctor's brain, Jamie McCrimmon managed to get the TARDIS team out of many a deadly scrape. Sometimes, he'd wave his cutlass in the air with a hearty bellow of "Creag An Tuire!!!", other times, he'd just use his fists, such as his clashes with Eelek's gimp, Axus or Tobias Vaughn's incompetent second banana, Peaackkaahh.
Yes, Jamie would probably manage to help you out in a fight – one drawback though, is that he's none too bright. He's frequently put in his place by Zoe, and sometimes you get the impression that he'd need an instruction manual for putting on a jumper. Which may prove to be a hindrance if the opponent's a lot more clever. But for sword fights and fist fights, Jamie's a shrewd bet.
The leggy savage is something of a dab hand when it comes to disposing of the enemy. She has her trusty knife to fall back on (not literally), and she can also wield a crossbow like no tomorrow. During her time with The Doctor, she manages to stay calm in the faces of hideous creatures like Magnus Greel, Voc Robots and Adelaide Lesage. Now that's what I call staying power.
So Leela would be a considerable asset in any fighting team. She just about misses the top spot for two reasons – one, she starts screaming when caught by an overgrown cuddly toy in a smelly sewer. Two – she's a mere mortal, so that means that the top spot can only go to...
1. Captain Jack Harkness (John Barrowman)
Captain Jack may be a one-man innuendo machine, but don't forget, when it comes to fighting, he's not half bad. He makes a convincing stand against the Daleks in Bad Wolf/The Parting Of The Ways, gets trigger happy in Last Of The Time Lords, and has gone into battle several times in Torchwood.
Jack's main raison d'etre in battle is, however, the fact that he can survive any potential threat that comes his way. The man's a real-life Wile E Coyote. You can drop an anvil on his head. You can blow him up. You can dismember him and then feed his remains to a pool full of Piranhas – he'll still come back to life with that "Huuuuugggghhhh" noise that he always makes.
And besides which, the man would probably kiss the opponent to death, so no probs.
3. Lady Christina De Souza (Michelle Ryan)
The idea of a haughty ice maiden is nothing new – look at the first Romana. Problem is, Christina's so smug and self-satisfied, quickly adopting the role of leader on board the wreckage of the bus, and being perfectly willing to put material goods over the safety of the passengers ("I hate you!" she scowls after The Doctor starts hitting her newly stolen Chalice Of Athelstan with a hammer).
Even The Doctor doesn't cave into her request to travel on board the TARDIS. He's currently in his Johnny No Mates period, but even so, he probably recognises a spoilt daddy's girl when he sees one – despite the tongue sandwich.
2. Adam Mitchell (Bruno Langley)
Adam – the 21st century re-imagining of Adric – has a lot in common with his Alzarian counterpart. They're both intellectual prodigies. Their names both start with Ad. They evidently don't know how to use a razor.
Oh, and they're both as irritating as you can get. The Ninth Doctor immediately smells a rat when he meets him in Dalek. The Doctor bellows at the squirming rapscallion after he's left Rose in the clutch of the lone Dalek. And he then scoffs at Adam's assertion that he'll help to bring down the pepperpot ("What are you gonna do? Throw your A-Levels at 'em?"). But despite his misgivings, he caves into Rose's request that he joins them on their travels.
Naturally, this doesn't last long, since he's quickly out on his arse again in The Long Game – for the sole reason that Adam's a selfish brat. He puts both The Doctor and Rose in danger after foolishly getting a chip in his head that turns him into a walking computer font of knowledge. All this is purely for his own gain, and so it's gratifying to see The Doctor practically pick the scamp up by the scruff of the neck and then dump him back in his own time.
Annoying, yes, but the payoff at the end of The Long Game is great.
1. Adric/Nyssa/Tegan (Matthew Waterhouse | Sarah Sutton | Janet Fielding)
Hmmmm, OK, this is a bit of a cheat, but hear me out. Individually, Adric, Nyssa and Teabag have their own faults. Adric's a precocious little upstart. Nyssa's boring. Teabag can't stop moaning. But put them together and it's like mixing petrol with a lit match.
The three companions just don't gel well together at all – more often than not, they descend into petty squabbling matches over any given situation. They couldn't even conduct the simple task of opening a door without resorting to shrill bickering. In particular, Four To Doomsday and The Visitation are full of scenes in which the Terrible Trio argue over something, leaving the Fifth Doctor with the grief-stricken look of a new supply teacher who's been left in charge of a class full of rowdy kids.
Individually, the kids wouldn't quite make the list (well, apart from Adric, maybe), but put together, they're a terrifying prospect – a bit like One Direction on The X-Factor.
MOST ENDURING COMPANION
3. Rose Tyler (Billie PIper)
Love or hate her, Rose Tyler still manages to claw her way into the Top Three, if only for the fact that even when she wasn't in the programme, her presence was still felt as one of the mainstays of 21st century Doctor Who.
And at the beginning of her run, Rose was brilliant. A sassy but still vulnerable companion who was hugely likeable. She managed to melt the heart of the battle-scarred Ninth Doctor, standing up to him when required (she gives as good as she gets when dealing with his tantrum in The End Of The World) and also showing him the meaning of compassion (Dalek's a good example of this).
After Nine became Ten, Rose did start to get a bit too big for her boots, with occasional smugness and borderline bunny-boiling creeping in, but all the same, she did get some great moments – her investigation into the mystery of the Magpie TVs; her command of the nervy Sanctuary Base crew; and her final breakdown at Bad Wolf Bay. And Billie Piper turned in great performance after great performance.
So even after her departure, Rose was destined to come back for more. There were constant references to Rose in the following season, and then the season after that, she made a jaw-dropping reappearance in Partners In Crime. After a couple of fleeting cameos in the Sontaran two-parter and Midnight, she came back to mixed reviews in Turn Left, during which she sounded like she was gargling with a golf ball. But at least in The Stolen Earth/Journey's End, she was back to her usual feisty self. And wouldn't you know, she squared the circle of the Davies era with her final parting shot to the dying Tenth Doctor in The End Of Time.
So there's Rose – maybe not the most enduring companion yet – but if she makes any more reappearances in the future, who knows?
2. Brigadier Alistair Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart (Nicholas Courtney)
For rock solid dependability, companions don't get much more foursquare than The Brig.
Initially, The Brigadier started out as a one-off in The Web Of Fear in the comparitively low rank of Colonel. Promoted to Brigadier by The Invasion, the seeds were sown for his future semi-regular status in the early 1970s.
There was a bit of friction between The Doctor and The Brigadier at first. The destruction of the Silurian base didn't go down too well, while The Doctor was frequently taking potshots at The Brig's "Shoot first, ask questions later" policy. However, the friendship between the two evidently deepened, to the point where The Doctor and The Brigadier go to a tacky cabaret show.
Even though Lethbridge-Stewart was slowly phased out of the show, his popularity was in evidence on account of the fact that he made so many returns. He appeared with Tom Baker, Peter Davison and Sylvester McCoy – and if you want to, you can include Colin Baker, but then I get convenient amnesia when trying to remember dreadful charidee travesty Dimensions In Time. The legend even surfaced in a recent episode of The Sarah-Jane Adventures.
A lot of this enduring appeal is down to the considerable acting talents of Nicholas Courtney. Even in the Braindead Years (The Three Doctors and Planet Of The Spiders, for example), Courtney adds much charm and likeability to the role, turning him into a fully-formed character rather than a cipher.
1. Sarah-Jane Smith
You can imagine the pitch to the head of CBBC. "Hello, I've got an idea. How about a show which pits a horde of aliens against a woman in her early 60s?"
Still, while some may scoff, the gambit worked, since The Sarah-Jane Adventures is still going strong, with another series in the can.
Sarah-Jane herself is still hugely popular with the fans. She's another of those companions who's appeared with several Doctors, and better still, is enjoyed by a new generation of viewers.
In theory, Sarah-Jane's nothing out of the ordinary – the tough-but-screamy sidekick. But thanks to some consistently strong scripts and Elisabeth Sladen's fine acting, Sarah-Jane always comes across as totally believable, even when confronting ridiculous monsters like the Slitheen or the Kraals. She's very much become an Earthbound Doctor figure, complete with Sonic Lipstick and a ready wise-crack.
And Sarah-Jane is still topping Most Popular Companion polls to this day, 34 years after she originally left in 1976's Hand Of Fear. That says a lot about Barry Letts' and Terrance Dicks' original idea, and Elisabeth Sladen's acting.
Not bad for a companion who sometimes dresses like Andy Pandy.
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