Julien Neaves – Editor
You can’t have a Doctor without companions (technically you can but it’s just not the same) and and last month it was reported that Thirteenth Doctor Jodie Whittaker would be losing two of hers: cheerful Graham O’Brien (Bradley Walsh) and his grandson Ryan Sinclair (Tosin Cole). Walsh, also host of the quiz show The Chase, has cited a gruelling schedule while Cole is likely leaving because of his new show, the American drama 61st Street. Remaining to travel all of time and space is police officer Yasmin “Yaz” Khan (Mandip Gill).
With this news I thought it would be a great time to update my ranking of The Doctor’s companions of the modern era – we at Redmangoreviews do love to rank stuff. I will not be including occasional companions like River Song, Mickey Smith and Captain Jack or one-off companions like Astrid Peth or Lady Christina de Souza. So with that in mind and a black hole-sized SPOILER ALERT here are all 11 NuWho companions ranked:
#11 Yasmin “Yaz” Khan
When policewomen Yaz was introduced in The Woman Who Fell To Earth I was intrigued. Here was a perfect opportunity to have her police training and shoot-bad-guys approach clash with The Doctor’s pacifism, similar to the relationship between The Brigadier and the Third Doctor. But for two series the show seemed to forget she was a woman of the law as it in no way affected her behaviour or dialogue. What was left was a bland, ineffectual and exposition-spouting character who could easily be removed from pretty much every adventure with minor impact.
Even the one episode with an ostensible focus on her, Demons of the Punjab, did nothing to broaden or expand the character. Should change her nickname from Yaz to “Yawn”. Let’s hope when she is the sole companion the writers actually do something with her. Anything. Please.
#10 Ryan Sinclair
Having more than two companions can be a tricky set-up as the stories would have to be so well written that each companion is given something interesting to do and none feel like extraneous furniture. In Classic Who both the Fourth and Fifth Doctor had three companions at a point and even then the TARDIS felt somewhat cluttered. This sadly was also the case with the Thirteenth Doctor and at many points it felt like she had one companion too many.
But I will choose Ryan over Yaz because while he initially felt superfluous he actually got some development in his bonding with Graham. We also saw his romantic side in Orphan 55 and the relationship stuff with his father in Resolution was interesting. But like Yaz’s police training the writers seemed to forget his dyspraxia (a childhood developmental disorder making coordination difficult) after a few episodes so I have to take points off for that as well.
Nardole first appeared in the Christmas special The Husbands of River Song and to describe the character as underwhelming would be an overstatement. When it was announced he would become a companion in the tenth series my attack eyebrows were raised.
Thankfully the character was moderately fun and clever. But he did feel somewhat redundant, especially after the mystery of the vault was revealed. Would we really lose that much if we removed him other than a couple of rib-tickling ripostes? Not really.
#8 Graham O’Brien
I’ll just come out and say it – I love Graham. I really do. He is just so witty and relatable with his cut-to-the-chase attitude and every man persona. Of the three companions he feels the most like a real person, one that you could sit with and have a pint at the pub (look at me, talking all British and what-not). He is also a great viewer surrogate which is the underlying purpose of any companion.
The mourning of his wife Grace was a sustained character trait and the above-mentioned bonding with his grandson was lovely. Credit to Walsh for crafting such a fun character who could always liven up proceedings – even when the writing wasn’t that great – and I for one will be sad to see him go. At least we’ll always have the memory of him in Spyfall gleefully blasting at bad guys with his laser shoe.
#7 Clara Oswald
The most divisive companion since the 2005 continuation of the series has to be Clara Oswald. Some fans hate her while others love her. Part of the reason for this dichotomy is that when she was introduced – the substantive Clara, not her previous incarnations – she was a bland character. This was no fault of actress Jenna Coleman but rather showrunner Steven Moffat who thought making his Impossible Girl mysterious meant making her as flat as the Boneless.
Thankfully after the mystery was solved she became an interesting and strong character that kept the 12th Doctor on his toes, and the two played off each other marvelously. Her love affair with Danny Pink was touching and her death in Face the Raven actually felt like a loss, though it was undercut by Moffat bringing her back two episodes later. Damnit Moffat! Sadly the weight of her blah early days dragged the character down and to near the bottom of this list.
#6 Bill Potts
Bill was a real treat and energised every scene she was in. She was one of the most down to earth companions and helped keep the Doctor grounded. She also had a wide-eyed wonder for exploration which was refreshing. I will confess I burst out laughing when she described the Doctor’s running as a penguin with its ass on fire. Classic Bill.
She does not rank higher on this list because she was somewhat underused. Her being a lesbian seemed to be an afterthought in terms of overall story and after her tragic cyber-conversion we had the jarring deus ex machina with her puddle not-girlfriend. It is okay to let characters die and stay dead Moffat. It’s a fact of life.
#5 Rose Tyler
You never forget your first, do you? I’m talking about companions by the way. What were you thinking about? In two series, and the odd future appearance, shop girl Rose stole our hearts and The Doctor’s as well. She was cool and sassy and fun-loving.
But take off your nostalgia glasses (yes, do it now) and you will realise she was just an okay companion. Decent but not brilliant. But with iconic moments like the Bad Wolf transformation and the parting at Doomsday she has placed her stamp on the franchise and as we give Jack his jacket we will give Rose her blouse. We don’t want her to be cold, now do we?
#4 Martha Jones
Martha! Martha! Martha! Like Clara, Ms Jones did not have the best introduction and her puppy dog pining for the Doctor got old real quick. Like Usain Bolt quick. But putting that aside the good doctor (small “d”) was a pretty dependable and capable companion.
She looks after and protects the amnesiac Doctor in Human Nature/The Family of Blood and travels the world to help defeat the Master in The Sound of Drums/The Last of the Time Lords. She even went on to join up with Torchwood and marry Mickey “The Tin Dog” Smith. Good for you Martha. You deserved it. And you deserve number four on this list.
#3 Rory Williams
Where is my wife?! With that one powerful line Rory Williams aka Rory the Roman aka Rory Pond cemented himself as one of the coolest companions ever. For a long time the sole full-time male companion of the modern era (until his baldness Nardole) he was anxious yet brave, silly yet clever, and eternally devoted to his wife Amy. Whether in a plastic body, threatening Cybermen or putting Hitler in a cupboard, you were always in for a good time when Rory was around.
#2 Amelia “Amy” Pond
The first moment we met adult Amy in that kiss-o-gram police outfit I was like hot damn! But besides being drop dead gorgeous Amy Pond was so lively, fearless and spunky. And other than a post-wedding jitters snog (British for kissing) she and the good Doctor had a warm, sweet friendship. Her relationship with Rory was timeless (literally in some cases) and the two had more chemistry than an exploding test tube.
We also got to see different takes on the character – we had fake pregnant Amy in Amy’s Choice (sounds like an after school special, no?), fake-not pregnant Flesh Amy for a few episodes, and heart wrenching Old Amy in the brilliant The Girl Who Waited. It was tears when she was touched by an angel in The Angels Take Manhattan and even more tears when the Eleventh Doctor saw an image of her prior to his regeneration into the Twelfth. Come along Pond! Come along! Why won’t you come along? *assumes fetal position and breaks into an inconsolable crying fit*
#1 Donna Noble
How can you not love Donna Noble? She was so funny and feisty and had such a huge heart. Out of all the companions she did the most to keep the Doctor grounded and humane. She would plead to save a family before Pompeii was destroyed or help rescue Ood from a life of slavery.
Unlike Rose and Martha, Donna was not a love interest but a “mate”, advisor, friend and conscience for the Doctor. She really brought out the best in him and their friendship was heartwarming and highly entertaining. And the Doctor removing her memory to save her life has to be one of the most tragic companion exits in the show’s long and storied history. You may have forgotten the Doctor and your wonderful adventures, but we will never forget you Donna.
So that’s my list. Now it’s time to vote for your favourite:
For more Doctor Who goodness check out my ranking of the Top 13 Doctors of Doctor Who here.
Julien Neaves is a TARDIS-flying, Force-using Trekkie whose bedroom stories were by Freddy Krueger, learned to be a superhero from Marvel, but dreams of being Batman. Also loves promoting Caribbean film, creating board games and is an aspiring author. Says things like “12 flavours of awesome sauce”. Can also be found talking about TV and movie stuff on Facebook at Movieville.