BUZZ WORDS: Your 13th Doctor’s Companions Cheat Sheet

BUZZ WORDS: Your 13th Doctor’s Companions Cheat Sheet

0 comments 📅29 October 2017, 08:44

We’re starting to get a better idea of what the 13th Doctor’s TARDIS team is going to look like. Three companions, Graham, Ryan and Yasmin will be joining Jodie Whitaker on the show. We don’t know anything about these characters beyond their names yet. But we do know a fair bit about the people playing them and also about what a four-person TARDIS looks like. Because, despite the ‘It’ll be crowded!!!!’ complaints, this is a roster size the show has had several times in the past.

Let’s talk about Mandip Gill, first off. Her breakout role was Phoebe Jackson in the Channel 4 soap opera Hollyoaks. Soaps are basically talent farms. Folks learn their craft there, get a following and then go on to bigger things. It’s like farm leagues in pro wrestling except without the constant threat of the McMahon family buying your talent and forgetting how to use them the second they do.
From Hollyoaks, Gill went on to the BBC sitcom Cuckoo, a role in The Good Karma Hospital and a five-episode arc on daytime soap, Doctors. It’s a rock-solid foundation of work that will equip her for the demands of Doctor Who very successfully.

Tosin Cole is another Hollyoaks alumni, and also had a role on E20, a spinoff of Eastenders. He’s also, brilliantly, been in space before. He has a brief appearance in The Force Awakens as Lt. Bastian, one of Poe’s X-Wing pilots. So, again, you’re looking at someone who’s used to series TV, used to the physical demands of the work and has no problem acting against special effects.

Bradley Walsh is the oldest of the three by a good distance and has a raft of experience that includes time as a professional soccer player. From there he transitioned across to game shows where he spent almost a decade before deciding as a host to try acting. That took in everything from immortal British soap opera Coronation Street to an appearance in Doctor Who spin-off The Sarah Jane Adventures. He played three characters in the story, The Day of the Clown, and from there went on to Law & Order: UK which ran for eight years. Interestingly, the showrunner was one Chris Chibnall, who now runs Doctor Who. So, Chibnall clearly saw dramatic ability in Walsh. Given the show ran eight seasons and is ‘resting’ rather than cancelled, he clearly wasn’t alone.

Walsh is the wild card here for some fans. His background is firmly in light entertainment which has led to a lot of complaints about how he’ll lower the tone of the show. Given Bernard Cribbins’ experience prior to his turn on the show, not to mention Catherine Tate’s, it’s not like there isn’t precedent for this. And if Tate or Cribbins don’t work for you, bear in mind that Jon Pertwee played a scarecrow and Sylvester McCoy was a children’s TV presenter and Fringe performer before being cast as the Doctor.

As for the TARDIS being too crowded, we doubt that’s going to be an issue. First, we don’t know if all three of these folks will be travelling with the Doctor. Wilf didn’t and was a huge part of the 10th Doctor’s life. Likewise, Craig and River for the 11th and Danny Pink for the 12th. All of them were massive parts of the show. None of them were in the TARDIS every week. The fact Sharon D Clarke has also been cast in a recurring role speaks to Chibnall setting up narrative architecture for the run we can’t quite see yet, and some of these characters may well be Earth bound.

If they are all in the TARDIS? Great! The 5th Doctor had Nyssa, Tegan and Adric all at once at one point. The 11th had Rory (again occasionally), Amy and River. There’s plenty of room and the simple fact that the show’s dynamic has shifted from ‘Overly talkative brain and assistant’ to ‘Overly talkative brain and assistants’ is a really good thing. Variety is the spice of life. And whoever controls the spice…

Sorry, wrong universe.

But speaking of variety, that really does seem to be front and center in this lineup. A widespread of age group, ethnicity and gender being on the show is a pretty strong statement to be sending and one the show is uniquely equipped to do. After all, Walsh’s light entertainment past is shared by the show itself. Doctor Who is still viewed as ‘not really science fiction’ in a lot of circles. It’s a national treasure. It’s old school. It’s safe. It’s predictable.

Yeah, not so much now.

This is a massive shakeup for the show’s cast, which goes hand in hand with a shakeup of format. The next season, airing later in the year, will be 10 episodes rather than 13, each of which will be extended by five minutes.

Right now, countless people are dissecting what that could mean for the show. Does it matter? Maybe. What matters more is that this is a legacy TV show that is doing what all legacy TV shows should; stand on the shoulders of its past selves and reaching towards something different, Making something new out of the past. Playing all the right notes in a new and exciting order. There’s no bad news here, no cause for eye rolling. Just one of the weirdest, best ideas in TV history getting differently weird as it runs headlong into its 13th life.

So, business as usual for the Doctor then. We can’t WAIT.

Read our reviews of Doctor Who

No Comments

No Comments Yet!

You can be first one to write a comment

Leave a comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.