first doctor companions


That time in eighteenth-century France when Barbara and the Doctor had a post-Aztecs followup chat about time-travel. And I loved it for the following reasons:

  • This is the first historical since The Aztecs, but what this conversation makes clear is that he and Barbara have talked about it since, and several times by the sound of it. 
  • While Ian continues to be the Doctor’s Science Bro, it’s clear that the Doctor’s relationship with Barbara is to a large extent grounded in the fact that they have both learned their lesson about time-travel and history the hard way. Or at least it’s heavily implied in The Aztecs:

(Gifs by Cleowho)

  • The Doctor doesn’t say ‘my position’; he says ‘our position’. He may be the more experienced time-traveller, but he considers Barbara to be a fellow traveller now. They have a genuine friendship these days, and a large part of that is because they both ‘get’ time travel, despite her still having a lot to learn. In fact what’s particularly lovely about their friendship is that they’re far more similar than they could ever have suspected at the start when Barbara was busy administering assorted verbal eviscerations.
  • The fact that all they can do is not get swept away with the tide of history bothers the Doctor, but what bothers and saddens him more is the fact that Barbara appears to be going through one of the however-many stages of learning how to be a time-traveller, which is moving past the frustration of not being able to change anything to simply finding everything absurd. And when at the end of the episode everyone (especially Barbara) is so flippant about the pointlessness of their actions when everything’s already been written, it bothers him. His insistence that they not get carried away with the flood, and his beautiful little speech at the end of the serial about their lives being important if only to themselves isn’t just about selfishness and self-preservation; it’s about not allowing the predetermined nature of history to render your life devoid of meaning. 

“The Twelve Doctors Play DDR”, a sequel to this comic with Susan and this other comic with One.

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“____ was the first to do _____ and therefore is the best companion!”

“____ is the only one to stand up to the Doctor!”

Nope, sorry. 

Unless you’re talking about Barbara Wright, who really was:

  • the first person to speak on the show
  • first human in the TARDIS
  • first equal human companion, with Ian
  • first TARDIS crew member to encounter the Daleks (even before the Doctor!)
  • first academic companion to use her historical knowledge to her advantage in trips to the past
  • half of the original Doctor Who OTP, again with Ian
  • the woman who set the precedent for companions having to stand up to the Doctor and not let him pull shit
  • seriously SHE GAVE HIM THE BIGGEST VERBAL BITCHSLAPPING OF HIS LIFE - he tried to accuse her and Ian of conspiring against him and she was like “hold up you lil bitch you literally kidnapped us and yet we’ve saved your life multiple times since”
  • “Accuse us? You ought to go down on your hands and knees and thank us. But gratitude’s the last thing you’ll ever have, or any sort of common sense either.”
  • is basically the reason the Doctor came to like humans in the first place, if she hadn’t come first the other companions probably wouldn’t have come at all

Y’all can act like a companion is a special snowflake for not putting up with the Doctor’s shit but that’s not a special thing, that’s been a requirement since Barbara Wright walked through the TARDIS doors, that’s them living up to Barbara’s damn legacy, and so they should.


Historical figures met by the First Doctor and his companions in the TV serials: The Doctor Who actors side-by-side with historical images of their real life counterparts

I’ve tried to find portraits made during the time period the TV serials depict, however Marco Polo, and the mythical characters of The Iliad, do not have surviving contemporaneous portraits, so I went for the earliest depictions I could find. (Catherine de Medici’s portrait is a little too early actually, since she was a widow by the time of ‘The Massacre if St Bartholomew’s Eve’ and would have worn unadorned black clothing and a white veil in real life- but close enough is close enough!) 

And I’m counting the Iliad characters as historical, since the actual city of Troy did exist in Turkey, and excavations have shown that it was destroyed by fire during the traditional time frame given for the Trojan War, so most historians now accept the Trojan War as a real historical event, even though the specific characters and events of The Iliad were embellished by Homer.

I’ve stuck to the famous ones for this post, but some of the minor characters, like the poison-making lady in ‘The Romans’ and the various French nobles in ‘The Massacre’ were real historical figures as well.

Overall, I’d say the Hartnell era did a great job recreating the period looks of the historical characters. (The costume historian in me weeps at the hot mess that is Princess Joanna’s costume design, but I’m letting that one slide b/c she’s Jean Marsh so who cares what she’s wearing- she’s awesome!)

Click on the pics for additional descriptions

As a Whovian, I think it is truly a blessing that Carole Ann Ford, the very first companion, the very first woman in Doctor Who, is still alive. I also think it is the most blatantly wasted opportunity that she hasn’t been brought back to the series, even if it’s just for one episode. I want Susan back. I want Carole back.