[List] - The Doctor Who Assistants Who Looked Human But Weren't


 
A few weeks ago we learnt that Jenna-Louise Coleman would be taking over the role of the assistant on Doctor Who as of this year's Christmas Special. To say that I am conflicted is fair. I was hoping that Steven Moffat might take the opportunity to go against the grain, throw off the order established by Russell T. Davies, and introduce a companion that wasn't a young female human from contemporary London (or the surrounding area). That, considering the Doctor can visit any planet, across all of time, across the entirety of the universe, he might go in a different direction. The casting of Coleman coupled with the recent Moffat quote that he considers "Doctor Who to be the story of the companion," my guess is we're in for Rose Mark 5.

I should make it clear, I have nothing against Ms Coleman herself. I'm sure she's a fine actress, who I've never seen in anything other then Captain America, where she had the ground breaking role of Bucky's girl at the Stark Expo (see above). I have a problem with the pattern that has been established since the series returned, that the only viable companions are those that can act as attractive audience surrogates. Certainly, the majority of the companions over the years have been humans, and a large number of them have been woman, but since the return of the series, the companions have been (save Rory) exclusively that. The series used to feature aliens, males, time lost heroes, robot dogs, and occasionally, the Doctor alone.

Until we see actual footage of Ms Coleman in action, we'll have no idea what Moffat has in store. It's all speculation. Luckily, for me, there is a single piece of possible saving grace. Just because she looks human, doesn't mean that she is.

Hit the jump for a break down of the companions that have travelled with the Doctor that are more than they appear.


I should make it clear, this isn't an opinion piece ranking companions, or an in depth analysis of the viability of certain types of companions as members of the TARDIS crew. It is simply a chronological list of all the companions that weren't human, but appeared to be. To establish the precedent. It also only takes the show into consideration; not the books, or any expanded universe material.

Susan/Carole Ann Ford
The first companion, apparently the Doctor's granddaughter, though whether she actually was, or if that was merely a clever lie was never clarified on screen. What was clear was that the Doctor cared for her a great deal, right up to the point that he abandoned her on a Dalek decimated Earth. She set the standard for future companions, in that she was young (like the target audience), naive, and easy for the baddies to kidnap and the Doctor to rescue. And, despite not having a name at the time, she was the first Gallifreyan viewers saw in the Who-niverse, sitting idly in a classroom. She stayed on the TARDIS for the first year of the show, survived two encounters with the Daleks, and returned briefly for the 20th anniversary special.

Romana/Mary Tamm & Lalla Ward
Introduced to the show during Douglas Admas' time at the helm, she was the first real attempt at giving the Doctor an equal to spar with, and the first (and presently, only)proper Time Lady. Forced upon Four by the White Guardian during the hunt for the Key to Time, she was at first smug, brash, humourless and arrogant, just like the Doctor himself in the early days. After a year on the show, Tamm was growing tired of the once independent character becoming yet another damsel in distress (she was also pregnant), and left the show, forcing a regeneration and Ward took on a personality similar to the Fourth Doctor, even dressing like her male counterpart, though usually less manic in behaviour then Baker's Doctor. Romana departed after three years, to remain in E-space with K-9, having set several precedents on the show: The first companion to have a (perceived, not explicit) romance with the Doctor. The first instance on the companion having an influence on a regeneration's personality (Doctor to Romana). The first companion that is most likely smarter then the Doctor. First non-Doctor regeneration. I always preferred the Tamm-Romana myself, no offence to Richard Dawkins. Tamm was just more interesting.
Adric/Matthew Waterhouse
The first major character to die on the show, and the first character to die that the audience was happy to see go. A stowaway from E-Space, Adric was a child genius, whose ego ultimately doomed him. We can blame him for destroying the dinosaurs as well, as if we needed another reason to dislike the whiny brat, who was never much of a bother, but never much help either. He was as he was designed to be: a child, always pestering and getting in the way, and thinking he knew better then his elders.

Nyssa/Sarah Sutton
Of all the characters to get screwed over by the Master, Nyssa took the worst. A native of the planet Traken, Nyssa joined the Doctor after the Master stole her planet's energy source and transferred his dying consciousness into her father's body. Her planet was afterwards destroyed when the Master tried to unwrite the universe using maths. Over time, she became less scared by the tragedy in her life, growing more empathetic and caring, eventually leaving the TARDIS to work on a space-leper ship. Her departure was the only of the Fifth's to illicit overt emotion, suggesting that he cared deeply for Nyssa, as a surrogate father might.

Vislor Turlough/Mark Strickson
Turlough began as a student at an English boarding school, caught up in a strange paradox involving the Doctor, the Brigadier, and Black Guardian, who was using Turlough, through mind control, to kill the Doctor. Luckily for Five, Turlough's major character trait was extreme indecisiveness, which resulted in a lot of flummoxing about, and general mischief, but never approached a really danger in the TARDIS, After the customary encounter with the Daleks, it was revealed that he wasn't a ginger student after all, but actually an exiled political dissident from the Trion race. He was the last male companion until Captain Jack Harkness, in 2005. Best addition to the Doctor Who mythos: hearing the Australian Tegan say his name.

Kamelion
A desperate attempt by the show's producers to introduce another K-9 to the mix, Kamelion was a shape changing android, able to take the form of any person, thus his inclusion on this list. Unfortunately, the robot prop hardly ever worked, and when it did, it looked rubbish, so the character ended up appearing in only two serials, both of which featured him being used as a puppet of the Master. What might have been a fascinating character, had they not relied so much on the prop and more on the shape changing, ended up being one of the show's worst failures, and marked the last of the non-human companions with the departure of the Fifth Doctor. From Six on, it was all human ladies, all the time.

There you have it. Half a dozen companions that could serve as inspiration to Moffat in creating a new companion that offers new (read young and/or American) viewers something different then the endless parade of sameness we've had thus far. Though, I fall back on my original demand: lesbian Silurian, or I'm asking for my money back.

Authors Note: Astrid Peth as played by Kylie Minogue, is often included in lists of companions. However, she never actually travelled in the TARDIS, thus disqualifying her from this list.
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About MR. Clark

Adopting the descriptor of "successfully unpublished author", MR. Clark began writing things on the internet in 2012, which he believed to be an entirely reputable and civilized place to find and deliver information. He regrets much.

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