Companions of Doctor Who (part 1)

Susan Forman - Doctor Who

Susan Forman – Doctor Who

Over the years the Doctor has traveled with many different companions, from humans to aliens to sentient time machines and tin Dogs. Thank you for joining me in the first edition of Companions of Doctor Who (part 1).

Susan Forman (The Doctors Granddaughter)

First off we have the Doctors Granddaughter, Susan played by Carol Ann Ford.

In the first season of Doctor Who, there is a companion named Susan Foreman who always refers to the Doctor as ‘Grandfather’. Has it been established that she actually is the Doctor’s granddaughter? This would obviously mean she is Gallifreyan or a Time Lord. 

The Ninth and particularly the Tenth Doctors don’t mention Susan by name, but do reference fatherhood on several occasions (the Ninth Doctor mentions his entire family died in Father’s Day, and that he “knows the feeling” of having been a father and grandfather in The Empty Child; the Tenth says he was/had been a father in the episodes “Fear Her” and “The Doctor’s Daughter”).

Although it is not explicitly stated anywhere, the natural assumption is that Susan is/was his natural granddaughter and therefore Gallifreyan. It is unlikely she is a Time Lady since she was seeing the universe with the Doctor at age 15 and then retired into a quiet life with David Campbell, although since Time Lords were taken to seen the vortex at age 8, it’s possible she did this prior to starting to travel with the Doctor.

When Susan appears in the “Death Zone” in The Five Doctors, she appears to be reasonably familiar with Gallifrey, although it’s possible that she picked this up from travelling with the Doctor rather than from being a native.

A late-1970s Doctor Who annual included a story which referred to Susan being a child of the Sisterhood of Karn and adopted by the Doctor.

Doctor Who Companions - Ian and Barabara

Doctor Who Companions – Ian and Barabara

Ian Chesterton and Barbara Wright

Both teachers at Coal Hill High School, Ian and Barbara encounter the first Doctor when they follow their bright student Susan Forman home.

Ian Chesterton – Played by William Russle, Ian and the First Doctor did not get along initially but later became good friends and allies.

a science teacher at the Coal Hill School alongside Barbara Wright. We are introduced to him in the series’ pilot episode as the teacher of Susan Foreman, who is soon revealed to be The Doctor’s granddaughter. Perplexed by Susan’s strange behavior, Ian and Barbara follow her back to her home in a junkyard, where they see her enter a mysterious police box. They follow her in, only to discover the TARDIS, the time machine that serves as a home to Susan and The Doctor. Though they promise to keep the secret, the paranoid Doctor refuses to let them leave and instead whisks them off through space and time.

Ian is an incredibly logical man of action, often taking on the bad guys who pose a physical threat, as The First Doctor is too elderly to engage in physical combat. He displays great concern for the safety of the group, often protecting Susan and Barbara while The Doctor callously puts them in harm’s way (in his early days, our favorite Time Lord was a lot less warm and cuddly). Though it is never made explicit, it is heavily implied that Ian and Barbara develop a romantic relationship over the course of their time on the TARDIS, and though they come to enjoy The Doctor’s company, when they see an opportunity to get themselves back in their own time using a Dalek craft, they take it and to return to their old lives as teachers.

Barbara Wright – Played by Jaqueline Hill, Barbara is Susan’s history teachers  alongside Ian, who gets whisked off into time and space by the enigmatic Doctor and the Tardis.

Barbara is incredibly sensitive and deeply intuitive, often discovering the root of a problem long before anyone else in the group. She is the conscience The Doctor has yet to discover, showing kindness and tenderness to him, Ian, Susan, and eventually Vicki, even in the tensest of situations. Though it is never made explicit, it is heavily implied that Ian and Barbara develop a romantic relationship over the course of their time on the TARDIS (in the spin-off The Sarah Jane Adventures, it is mentioned that they have since married), and though they come to enjoy The Doctor’s company, when they see an opportunity to get themselves back in their own time using a Dalek craft, they take it and to return to their old lives as teachers.

Arguably a relic of the show’s original educational mandate (which planned to alternate historicals intended to teach children about the past with science fiction stories aimed at educating them about science), Barbara became to stand for much more than the importance of understanding history. She was a moral compass for The Doctor, teaching him not just to fight injustice, but to care about humanity and, more importantly, to care about the people he traveled with rather than simply treating them as obstacles or means to an end. The Doctor never comes out and says it, but in their time together, it seems clear Barbara is his favorite Companion (especially once Susan is out of the picture).

Special Skills: Barbara is brilliant and incredibly emotionally incisive. She has a strong knowledge of history that comes in incredibly handy when the group is stranded in the past, but she also displays strong interpersonal skills. Perhaps most importantly, she can get through to The Doctor when no one else can. They often disagree, but he always respects her and she generally causes him to keep an open mind.