Thoughts on a Potential New Companion for Series 8
Patrick Kavanagh-Sproull looks at the pros and cons of potentially bringing in a new companion for Series 8.
“Are you okay? There was a call for you at the office… from your doctor”
– Tom in The Day of the Doctor.
Every Doctor of the revived series has had a cluster of companions (that is to say, more than one) aboard the TARDIS. The Ninth Doctor found solace in the duo of Captain Jack and Rose whilst the Tenth Doctor begrudgingly took on Mickey Smith for a few episodes. Then there’s the Eleventh Doctor whose principal companions, Amy and Rory Pond became as iconic as the titular Time Lord himself for the short few years Arthur Darvill and Karen Gillan held the roles. Peter Capaldi’s Twelfth Doctor is on the horizon and already are people speculating whether one other face might join him and Clara.
On Monday it became apparent that Tristan Beint (The Day of the Doctor) might be making another appearance as his cursory schoolmaster Tom. Tom was the one who stumbled in on Clara and alerted her to the Doctor’s summoning in the 50th anniversary special. Beint had two sentences to say and that was him. Now if Beint’s teasing over Twitter turns out to have substance then we’ll be hearing a lot more from him. I’m going to look over the pros and cons of the possibility of Tom making a reappearance and what it could mean for the show.
The Ian and Barbara complex.
The TARDIS seems to be a bit of a hot-spot for teachers, particularly ones from Coal Hill School. Decades ago, on that historic day, a pair of concerned educators decided to follow their pupil and that pupil was Susan Foreman, granddaughter to the Doctor we know today. The educationists in question were Ian Chesterton and Barbara Wright who taught at Coal Hill before being whisked off (i.e. kidnapped) into the TARDIS. Ian and Barbara have become famous in their own right and many often overlook their scholastic origins. If Tom were to step onboard then he’d be the fourth teacher from that one school (as seen in The Day of the Doctor Clara has clearly become a preceptor herself) but I’m not complaining. Steven Moffat has peppered the recent string of episodes with references to the past so if Tom were from Coal Hill School then that itself would be a pleasing kiss to the past as well as making room for some An Unearthly Child references.
A squash and a squeeze.
Fact fans (you know who you are) will probably know this already but for casual readers erstwhile companion Fifth Doctor Adric was given the chop by executive producers because they thought the TARDIS console room was getting too crowded. In a way I agree, it meant that other assistants like Tegan and Nyssa got less development but there’s something nice and family-like having a larger TARDIS crew. If Tom became a companion then he’d be the third person present in Series Eight, hardly crowded I grant you but some people just want Clara and the Twelfth Doctor to travel onwards in just each other’s company and I see the reasoning behind this as I get onto in my next point.
Amy, Rory and the Eleventh Doctor mark two.
Whilst Amy and Rory will always occupy a special place in my heart I’ve leaned more towards best friendships within the TARDIS. In Tristan Beint’s tweets someone posed a ‘shipped’ name (“#tomwald”) between Tom and Clara to him and he approved. If he is the next new companion then surely he’ll know and if so Moffat will have divulged the bare bones of his character and how he will interact with the Twelfth Doctor and Clara. Beint’s tweets indicate that Tom and Clara will have a romantic relationship of sorts and to me it seems to be a repeat of what Amy and Rory did a couple of series back. I’d like a band of companions like that of the Second Doctor, Zoe and Jamie, three people who were strictly friends but there were some extremely mild romantic overtones between the astrophysicist and the Scotsman. The same can be said for Ian and Barbara; the schoolteachers, Susan and the First Doctor were just a group of people flung together in unusual – unearthly, you could say – circumstances and gradually they became friends. Particularly with Moffat writing for the Twelfth Doctor, I want something relatively new and not what could be a repeat of something bygone.
With the departure of one Doctor and the start of another, I like each regeneration to have a nugget of uniqueness somewhere. If Tom became a companion early on in Capaldi’s era then already we’d have something we can associate with the Twelfth Doctor. There needs to be something distinguishable between the eras, particularly ones between two Doctors written by the same man. The introduction of Tom would help set a new tone for the series (particularly with the Doctor’s recent decision to go on a quest) and help Peter Capaldi make Series Eight his own.
There are plenty of pros and cons regarding Tom and I personally think it might be a good idea depending on how Moffat writes him. In The Day of the Doctor he seemed a little bit flustered and panicked at the idea that Clara might be unwell (adding to the possible romance) so I wonder how he’d react to the TARDIS’ bigger-on-the-inside qualities or the revelation that Clara’s physician isn’t actually from Shoreditch.
But there’s also a debate over whether Tom would be a full-time companion and not just a one-off or a shorter companion like Adam Mitchell of Series One or Mickey. Clara and the Doctor took her wards, Angie and Artie on a quick trip in Nightmare in Silver (we all know how that went down), why not a work colleague?