On Day 41 of our 50th Anniversary Countdown The Doctor Who Mind Robber examines some 1960’s companions that could or should have been. The would-be companions are listed in broadcast order only.
1. Bret Vyon – The Daleks’ Master Plan
There are some fans who may posit that Bret Vyon, the Space Security Agent from The Daleks’ Master Plan, has already been accorded companion status. This is somewhat of a minority view, however. Nicholas Courtney’s first Doctor Who role saw his character travel through time and space with the Doctor and his companions but he was somewhat of an interloper. His first meeting with the Doctor involved a threat of violence and he forced his way into the TARDIS uninvited. It took some time for a degree of trust to be established between the parties.
In any event Vyon was killed at the hands of his own sister, Sara Kingdom. Thank goodness he was or we would never have had the iconic Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart. Well at least not the Brigadier as played by Nicholas Courtney.
2. Anne Chaplet – The Massacre
Anne Chaplet was a French servant girl who the Doctor and Steven met in Paris during The Massacre. At the time Steven was the First Doctor’s sole companion, with this serial being the only one in the monochrome era of Doctor Who to feature just a single travelling companion. Vicki had left in the final episode of The Myth Makers and had been replaced by Katarina for episodes one to four of The Daleks’ Master Plan. Sara Kingdom then accompanied the Doctor and Steven until her death in episode 12 of that serial. Proceeding directly on from the DMP, The Massacre is one of a long series of sadly missing episodes.
As the Doctor disappeared for the majority of episodes of The Massacre, only to be replaced by his evil double Abbot Amboise, Anne had very little contact with him. Anne’s relationship with Steven, however, was strong and they immediately clicked. He was understandably devastated and angry when the Doctor refused to allow Anne to accompany them in the TARDIS when they left Paris in episode four.
STEVEN: Surely there was something we could have done?
DOCTOR: No, nothing. Nothing. In any case, I cannot change the course of history, you know that. The massacre continued for several days in Paris and then spread itself to other parts of France. Oh, what a senseless waste. What a terrible page of the past.
STEVEN: Did they all die?
DOCTOR: Yes, most of them. About ten thousand in Paris alone.
STEVEN: The Admiral?
STEVEN: Nicholas? You had to leave Anne Chaplet there to die.
DOCTOR: Anne Chaplet?
STEVEN: The girl! The girl who was with me! If you’d brought her with us she needn’t have died. But no, you had to leave her there to be slaughtered.
DOCTOR: Well, it is possible of course she didn’t die, and I was right to leave her.
STEVEN: Possible? Look, how possible? That girl was already hunted by the Catholic guards. If they killed ten thousand how did they spare her? You don’t know do you” You can’t say for certain that you weren’t responsible for that’s girl’s death.
DOCTOR: I was not responsible.
STEVEN: Oh, no. You just sent her back to her aunt’s house where the guards were waiting to catch her. I tell you this much, Doctor, wherever this machine of yours lands next I’ m getting off. If you have so little regard for human life then I want no part of it.
DOCTOR: We’ve landed. Your mind is made up?
No sooner had Steven left the ship than Dodo Chaplet mysteriously entered and Steven returned. Upon learning Dodo’s surname Steven was intrigued. Could she perhaps be a descendant of Anne’s? Logically, however, with would have been highly unlikely in a patriarchal society in which women were routinely given their father’s surnames.
3. Samantha Briggs – The Faceless Ones
Pauline Collins’ first appearance in Doctor Who was in the 1967 serial The Faceless Ones as the Liverpudlian Samantha Briggs. Investigating the disappearance of her brother on a Chameleon Tours flight to Rome, Sam met up with The Doctor and his companions. Although born in Liverpool, Collins’ Liverpudlian accent in the story has been the cause of much mirth over the years. A possible romantic match for Jamie, the relationship between the two characters never progressed beyond a kiss.
As Polly and Ben were leaving Doctor Who at the end of The Faceless Ones Collins was offered the job as a full-time companion. Perhaps wisely, given the lack of success of many companions post Who, Collins declined and went on to obtain an OBE, win a BAFTA for Best Film Actress, and be nominated for both an Academy Award and a Golden Globe. She is best known for her role in the movie Shirley Valentine. In 2006 Collins appeared in the Doctor Who episode Tooth and Claw as Queen Victoria.
4. Thonmi – The Abominable Snowmen
A young monk at the Det-Sen Monastery during the Doctor and his companions’ jaunt to Tibet in 1935 (The Abominable Snowmen), Thonmi would have been an intriguing companion. Having quickly established a rapport with Victoria, this young man could have brought an element of spirituality to the Second Doctor’s tenure. I couldn’t help but wonder what Thonmi’s reaction would have been to the Doctor’s trance like communication with the Time Lords in The War Games. Although the producers of Doctor Who experienced difficulties with Katarina during her mere 4 episode companionship, the subsequent success of both Jamie and Victoria as historical companions showed that the juxtaposition of time could work very well.
5. Astrid – The Enemy of the World
Sassy, sexy and a product of James Bond obsessed 1960’s Britain, Astrid would have made a perfect companion for the Doctor. Capable and organized, Astrid had the capacity to provide a strong female lead character to Doctor Who. At the time that Mary Peach filmed her role in The Enemy of the World she was also auditioning for Diana Rigg’s replacement in The Avengers. Although unsuccessful in obtaining The Avengers’ role, you could readily see her playing another Mrs Emma Peel. How wonderful that the recovery and release of The Enemy of the World has allowed us to see another five episodes of Ms Peach’s work!
6. Anne Travers – The Web of Fear
Anne Travers was another product of the Second Wave of Feminism. Intelligent and university educated, Anne was the daughter of Professor Travers whom the Doctor first met in Tibet during The Abominable Snowmen tale. So successful was Ms Traver’s career in science that she was working in the United States when called upon to provide assistance to her father.
Ms Traver’s was a scientific equal to the Doctor and ably worked alongside him during the 20 minute countdown thrust upon them by the Great Intelligence in The Web of Fear. Like Isobel, she brilliantly turned the tables on any male who sought to denigrate her. Her comeback to Knight in Episode 1 was just brilliant:
KNIGHT: What’s a girl like you doing in a job like this?
ANNE: Well, when I was a little girl I thought I’d like to be a scientist, so I became a scientist.
KNIGHT: Just like that?
ANNE: Just like that.
That Isobel and Anne shared a feminist outlook is not surprising given that Isobel was originally intended to be the reprisal of Anne in The Invasion. Circumstances meant that neither Professor Travers nor his daughter was reprised in The Invasion but in their places were substituted Professor Watkins and his niece Isobel. The Travers were nonetheless mentioned in The Invasion.
I waxed lyrical about Isobel in my review of The Invasion notwithstanding Rob Shearman’s rather scathing critique of her in Running Through Corridors. A forthright young woman, not dissimilar to the former companion Polly, Isobel was intelligent, capable and a great friend to Zoe. The girls’ glee at Zoe blowing up the International Electromatics automated answering machine was infectious. Just imagine the other hijinks they could have got up to. Isobel represented the growing second wave of feminism and did not retreat from her criticisms of patriarchy. She successfully imparted a glint of this onto Zoe.
©Vivien Fleming, 2013.