So Clara’s gone. That happened. She flew away in a stolen Tardis with Maisie Williams, and the Doctor’s memories about her were deleted. You know, it took me a long time to warm to Clara, but now she’s gone I know I’m really going to miss her. She and Twelve became one of my favourite ever Doctor-Companion teams; I thought they worked so perfectly together, and it was a gut-wrencher having to see them parted. But times change, the show moves forward, we move on, and a new companion is on the way.
No announcement has yet been made about who will be playing the new companion, but I think we should expect some details quite soon, given that filming for Series 10 is supposed to be starting in April (or at least it was, before Moffat threw a spanner into the works…). I’ve had some ideas, though, on possibilities for the next companion…
I’m not sure why I’ve become so enamoured by the prospect of a teenager accompanying the Doctor on his travels, but a teenage companion is one of my favourite possibilities for the next companion. Perhaps it’s the interesting contrast a teenage companion could pose to the companions we’ve had in New Who so far, which, with the notable exception of Donna, have all been ordinary, well-adjusted, twenty-something year-old British women. There’s nothing wrong with ordinary, well-adjusted, twenty-something year-old British women, but it’s starting to get a bit repetitive and tiresome.
A teenager, though, presents very different, and unique, possibilities. Teenage years are a formative, difficult, confusing, sometimes terrifying, sometimes perilous, but also vibrant and ecstatic, and beautiful, time of life. One is almost always a very different person as an adult, even a twenty-something adult, to when one was a teenager, and twenty-somethings who dispute it have forgotten what it was like to be that age. There are possibilities and directions in a teenage companion that aren’t realistically available with an older companion, and the Doctor’s dynamic with a teenage companion, if the companion is actually written well, promises to be very different from any Doctor-Companion dynamic so far in the modern show.
A Tardis Team
A Tardis Team, as I define it, is a team of two or more companions who are equally important as characters in a narrative sense. Examples from the show’s history include the companions who travelled with the First and Second Doctors, who both liked to travel with more than one companion at a time, including the very first set of companions: Susan, Ian and Barbara with the First Doctor; also, notably, Jamie and Zoe with the Second Doctor. In addition, the Fifth Doctor for most of his time travelled with at least three companions at a time, at first Adric, Tegan and Nyssa. New Who has never had a (regular) Tardis team; the Eleventh Doctor travelled with Amy and Rory, but Amy was clearly the principal companion.
For a shake-up, I’d welcome a new Tardis Team. I don’t think it would be a good idea to go for three permanent companions, as it would get far too crowded (not to mention expensive), recreating the difficulties of the Davison era, but a two-companion team could definitely work. The drawbacks of a Tardis Team are that less time can be afforded to developing characterisation for each main character, leading, perhaps, to characters that feel less fleshed-out, but the main areas of potential are variety in characters and a unique group dynamic. It’s the potential for group dynamic that really intrigues me about the idea of a Tardis team, as it would present such a stark contrast to the Twelve-Clara dynamic, which took the personal, one-on-one Doctor-Companion relationship to an extreme. A group of companions would be something completely different, and I’d be interested to see Twelve operating in such a contrasting character setting.
My favourite idea for a Tardis team is a male and female set of companions, who aren’t necessarily romantically involved (at least at first; I could get on board with a blossoming romance between the companions). I call to mind Ian and Barbara, Ben and Polly, Jamie and Victoria, Jamie and Zoe, as useful precedents. I can see Twelve as the madcap grandfather zooming about in time and space with his companions, who are like his adoptive grandchildren. There would be a very warm and engaging familial and paternal dynamic.
Someone not from Earth
I’m using “someone not from Earth” as an umbrella term to include all manner of companions of non-terrestrial origin, including both non-human aliens and humans from elsewhere in the universe (presumably from the future). The reason I’m attracted to a non-terrestrial companion is much the same as the reason I’m attracted to a teenage companion: it would make for an interesting change; it would be different. Maybe I’m just desperate at this stage for a new companion who doesn’t conform to the conventional profile, but I do actually think there are very interesting possibilities in a companion who comes from a radically different society, civilisation and culture from ours. It would mean a wholly different perspective, especially with regard to ourselves: there are great opportunities, for the willing writer, for commentary on our society from the point of view of an outsider.
I’m particularly attracted to the idea of a Time Lady as a companion. Now that Gallifrey’s back, a Time Lady companion is now eminently possible. Romana (both of her) was my favourite companion from the classic series, and I think Four and Romana were a brilliant Doctor and Companion team. That said, I don’t necessarily want another Time Lady companion to be Romana 2.0 (and the writers would have to be careful not to make her so). I like the idea of a young (for a Time Lady, so 100 years or so), energetic, relatively inexperienced, immature Time Lady, who, like the Doctor, doesn’t fit into oppressive, stultified, hidebound Gallifreyan society, and wants to escape and explore the universe. She has more energy and wanderlust than experience and prudence, and needs the Doctor as a mentor and guide of sorts. There’d be a master-and-apprentice dynamic. There’s also the potential for a spinoff that doesn’t involve Arya Stark in a flying American diner. But I’m rambling — the point is, a Time Lady companion would be brilliant.
The main pitfall of a non-terrestrial companion might be that the show would be too inaccessible to the audience, especially if the companion is a non-human alien. The narrative role of the companion is, strictly speaking, an audience avatar, and it’s obviously less possible for the companion to play that role if she or he is just as alien as the Doctor. That is, definitely, something the writers need to have at the forefront of their minds if a non-terrestrial companion is settled upon.
Someone from the past/future
I’m just going through all the possibilities now for a companion that isn’t an ordinary twenty-something British woman. The opportunities presented by a companion from the past or the future are similar to those presented by a non-terrestrial companion, in particular the different perspective a companion from another time would bring to the Doctor’s adventures. We’ve had companions from the past (Victoria, Jamie, and Victorian Clara; and Leela may as well have been from the past), and the future (Vicki, Zoe, Steven, Jack Harkness).
For my own part, I’m more drawn to a companion from the past. A companion from the future would still be very interesting, but I feel that the wonder and the novelty of space-time travel and advanced technologies and civilisations would be more emphatically conveyed through the eyes of someone from Earth’s past. I’m also a huge history geek, so I love the idea of plucking someone from ancient Rome (or better yet, the Middle Ages, where most people’s whole worlds were two-by-two square miles) and taking them on adventures in time and space. A historical companion might come with the drawback of the Doctor needing to explain what a mobile phone or a touchscreen or indoor plumbing or Twitter is every five seconds. That danger could be avoided with skill, though, as the show did with Leela.
Someone the Doctor knows
What do you think of my ideas for the next companion? What are your ideas?