Beyond the TV Series: Audio Companions
Guest contributor Connor Johnston and Gustaff continue their guide to the Big Finish audios.
After a long break welcome back to Beyond the TV Series. In this part, Connor and I will be concentrating on the companions that Big Finish has created, exclusive for the audios. Even though there are more than enough companions and periods in the Doctor’s life where you can use the original characters, the classic characters do tend to become repetitive unless something changes.
Imagine for a moment Amy and Rory in Series 7. Sometimes you wondered what they even doing there. At times it felt like the story didn’t really need them. If at any time your audience feels this way, then you’re wasting a character. If a story can be edited to function without a companion, then there is no real reason to keep them around. I know this means that there’d be no Brian Williams, but it’s the truth. Characters that no longer have anything to bring to the poker table should just be kicked out of the game.
Because Big Finish literally inherited all the classic companions, they needed to find a way to keep things fresh and avoid their characters becoming repetitive. They also needed to stay true to the characters and not evolve them too much or else they wouldn’t fit in with later television continuities.
Storytelling just got a lot harder didn’t it? What with all these restrictions? So to compensate, Big Finish added their own characters in order to keep things alive. Let’s see who these people are and how they sustained the flame of life:
First Appearance: The Eye of the Scorpion
Before the Doctor and Peri go to Androzani, they have a multitude of adventures and along the way, they meet pharaoh Erimem. As some of you know, the aforementioned audio was my first and indeed, because of that, Erimem holds a special place in my heart. She is a cross between Jamie (she is from ancient Egypt after all) and Peri I suppose. The TARDIS radically transforms after Erimem joins the crew and the two females bond like sisters who absolutely love travelling and ganging up on the poor Doctor. He suddenly turns into that odd uncle who is forced to take care of his two mischievous nieces. The Doctor tries to educate Erimem in science and physics while Peri educates her in high heels and hangovers.
Must see stories: The Veiled Leopard, Eye of the Scorpion, The Kingmaker
First Appearance: The Haunting of Thomas Brewster
Picture Aladdin, but with a thick Londoner accent. Oh and he’s one of those controversial companions who starts out very unlikeable. An Oliver Twist-esque character, Thomas is a street rat who meets the Doctor and Nyssa after his dead mother starts speaking to him again (it makes sense in context). The Brewster arc is very entertaining though and offers a large assortment of stories that gets even more interesting when Thomas steals the TARDIS and leaves the Doctor and Nyssa stranded in Victorian London at one point.
Must see stories: The Haunting of Thomas Brewster, Time Reef, The Crimes of Thomas Brewster
First Appearance: The Marian Conspiracy
She is known to me as The Doctor’s Granny. Evelyn Smythe is a professor of history who invited herself onboard the TARDIS in order to see the universe. Probably the oldest companion to travel with the Doctor (Wilf not counting), Evelyn looks and sounds like what you’d expect the Doctor’s grandmother to look and sound like. She is responsible for ‘taming’ the Sixth Doctor. She deflates his ego occasionally and makes it very clear that he isn’t as cool as he thinks he is (Forget that! Six is as cool as he sounds). Evelyn is an intelligent individual and like a stereotypical granny, very caring towards the Doctor. I’m afraid that because of her particular personality and her ‘ruining’ my Doctor (I prefer the wild untamed Six), I have developed a strong dislike for Evelyn. However, even I can’t deny that during his time with Evelyn, the Doctor has some of his best adventures.
Must see stories: Jubilee, Project Twilight, The Spectre of Lanyon Moor, The Sandman, Pier Pressure
First Appearance: The Harvest
Hex is a nurse who meets the Doctor and Ace while they were investigating Cyber Technology. His family however has a long and dark history with the Doctor and a secret organization known as the Forge. Hex is sort of like Ace’s companion and the Doctor is still the professor. Here, the Doctor is at the peak of his scheming and he knows about Hex, but is desperate to keep the truth from the boy. Hex develops a schoolboy crush on Ace and the two of them are the Doctor’s right and left hands when he steps onto the battlefield, scheme in hand. The dynamic here takes on a plot arc route with friction between the Doctor and Hex heating up and Hex trying to cope with all the death that the Doctor leaves in his wake. Hex is certainly one of the most emotionally robust characters you’ll ever find in any Doctor Who medium.
Must see stories: Enemy of the Daleks, Night Thoughts, The Angel of Scutari
First Appearance: Persuasion
Will Arrowsmith is Mickey Smith, but funny. He has an excellent memory, but unfortunately he sucks when it comes to field operations. To mend this, he joins the Seventh Doctor and another companion whose name I can’t mention on a secret mission to find a device called the Persuasion Machine. To be honest, when I first heard Seven and she-who-must-not-be-named were going to be joined by Arrowsmith, I sighed because I thought he’d ruin the chemistry. How wrong was I? He is a very unique, very unusual character with a slight OCD condition that is mostly played for humor. He isn’t quite as OCD-funny as Adrian Monk (Monk) or Death the Kid (Soul Eater), but still very enjoyable. I would however advise listeners to steer clear of Arrowsmith for a while as he is one of those characters whose stories can’t be appreciated without viewing multiple others first. I will say that he is worth the wait though.
Must see stories: Persuasion, Starlight Robbery, Daleks Among Us
First Appearance: Thin Ice
Raine Creevy is what de Souza should’ve been instead of what she turned out to be. Dear old Raine is a professional thief. She sells her talents to whomever pays the highest, but it isn’t until she finds the Doctor crammed inside a steel safe (again, it makes sense in context) that her life really takes a turn for the weird. Raine shares similarities with River Song. I’m not referring to her personality, but instead that Raine doesn’t constantly travel with the Doctor. She comes and goes. She is sassy (but not annoying), intelligent (but not overbearingly so) and her banter with Ace is quite enjoyable as their personalities clash regularly. Raine is also part of the-what-would’ve-been the next series of Doctor Who had it not been cancelled, so she is about as close to the TV family as you’re going to get.
Must see stories: Crime of the Century, UNIT Dominion
First Appearance: Colditz
Klein is probably the most controversial companion you’ll ever see in Doctor Who. She is so fascinating that it’s hard to imagine a character more entertaining than her. Klein is a Nazi from an alternate history where the Seventh Doctor and Ace were killed in German territory in 1942 and his TARDIS confiscated. Unable to comprehend the workings of the ship, Klein managed to use the flightlog to pilot the TARDIS back to Colditz castle in order to kidnap the Doctor and force him to help her and the Third Reich harness the power of time travel. Unfortunately, that is all I am able to tell you about her. Klein has easily the best arc in Big Finish and Tracy Childs really deserves this praise. She really is that good!
Must see stories: All of them, but Colditz is top priority!
First Appearance: The Creed of Kromon
C’rizz first encountered the Eighth Doctor during his visits to the Eutermes zone on Bortresoye. The Doctor had been exiled to the Divergent Universe for his own good; deprived of his TARDIS. In order to save people, including the Doctor and Charley, C’rizz was forced into doing unspeakable acts; causing him seek absolution. Still coming to terms with what he had done, he asked to join the Doctor and Charley in their travels and as such, became a companion. It’s always interesting when a companion is of alien origins, and C’rizz, in his thirst for redemption, offers one entertaining and memorable trip in the TARDIS.
Must see stories: The Last, 100 Days of the Doctor, Absolution
First Appearance: Storm Warning (or The Condemned)
Charley Pollard is a prime example of a beautiful mistake in time. She first encountered the Doctor before he saved her from what should have been her natural death, rewriting a fixed point in time (don’t worry, the Time Lords were still around at this time to fix the mess) and as a result, Charley handed fans a dazzling new companion: Someone who was free-spirited and adventurous! Her very presence with the Doctor was threatening enough, but facing enemies such as Cybermen, Daleks and the Celestial Toymaker proved her character was strong enough to stay on as permanent resident in the TARDIS. What really made Charley such an amazing companion was her unique bond with the Doctor, her interactions with him that poured so effortlessly and with such enthusiasm story after story.
Must see stories: All of them! But most of all Solitaire
First Appearance: Situation Vacant
Tamsin’s first connections with the Doctor came from a ‘help wanted’ ad. She’s an actress you see. However, before she met the Doctor, her career was going badly due to her age. She answered an advertisement calling for auditions to become the Doctor’s new companion, and was left defeated after not initially being chosen for the job, but eventually received her opportunity to join the Doctor. Tamsin’s entrance to the Whoniverse, to be brutally honest, is shocking! Her meeting with the Doctor is terribly manifested and makes one really not enjoy Situation Vacant for that reason. This makes you put this story in the same category as Good as Gold, Love and Monsters and Dimensions in Time (which as we all know – worst constructed stories EVER!). I will plead (more like beg) you to not be scared off by her first story though, because Tamsin’s journey gets much better. Her cheek, maturity and determination shapes her character into a strong hard hitting warrior and during her scattered and short adventures with the Doctor, leaves an everlasting impression.
Must see stories: The Resurrection of Mars, To the Death
First Appearance: Blood of the Daleks
Lucie was an unwilling passenger in the TARDIS, having been placed in the Doctor’s care as part of a Time Lord Witness Protection Scheme. It is with great Time Lord sleuth that the Celestial Intervention Agency (or CIA), re-wired the TARDIS to only dematerialize if Lucie was inside, therefore the Doctor was forced to ‘endure’ her company. Throughout her first series, she is constantly followed by a head hunter, hired to track her down at all costs and so it goes without saying, Lucie’s hard outer shell attitude is completely justified while dealing with the constant danger around her. Although originally quite adverse to the idea, Lucie finally decides to continue travelling with the Doctor, both completely willing. Lucie is very much an opinionated, feisty modern gal and is characterized very similarly to the companions from the revived series
Must see stories: Blood of The Daleks, Human Resources, Lucie Miller, To the Death
Molly O’ Sullivan
First Appearance: The Great War
Molly O’ Sullivan is a volunteer in World War I who meets the Doctor and accompanies him while he tries to save her. At the same time, there is a mystery surrounding Molly which has something to do with how dark her eyes are and why the Daleks seem to locate her so easily throughout history. Her personality is roughly the same as Donna Noble’s during The Runaway Bride, but this is more because the Doctor has yanked her out of her life away from her loved ones and like Leela and Jamie before her, she doesn’t understand this time travel stuff.
Must see stories: The Great War, The White Room, X and the Daleks
Since 1999, Big Finish has continued to bring forward a following of magnificent characters and continues to do so with each new story; securing and intensifying the love we have for companions from both the Classic and New Era, as well as introducing us to some fresh faces. These new companions have since found their own special place in the legacy that is Doctor Who and have definitely earned it. For that reason, we implore you once again, just like as we will continue to do so in the future, to dive into the world of Big Finish Audios and rate these companions for yourself. After all, it’s still Doctor Who as you know it; it’s just Classic Doctors, but with Brand New Adventures!