Jan 6 2009 2:35pm

Companionable Science: Casting Eleven’s Companion

So, now that Matt Smith has been pulled out of the Edward Cullen Runners-up Pile and has had his eyebrows properly removed for publicity stills, the race to cast his companion is on. Lily Allen has an early mention as someone producers want to see, but if The Powers That Be are reluctant to cast two spunky pop tarts in a row, it’s not like there’s a dearth of actual actors in the world. Here are some suggestions for the Doctor’s new companion.

1. Nina Sosanya

She’s been a fixture on British TV for years, and picks up bit roles in movies like Love Actually, but Sosanya’s overdue for a breakout role. She has the confidence (and the bone structure) to hold her own against even the most chiseled Time Lord. Her acting chops and deadpan deliveries are just what this Doctor ordered. (Bonus points for getting her foot in the door with a guest spot in season two. Given how this show works, that was basically a screen test.)

2. Eileen Atkins

Eileen Atkins would make a wonderful tag-along companion, if she could be coaxed off the stage long enough to do it. She excels at the brisk politico type with a twinkle in her eyes—just the sort of lady you want when you’re in the middle of intergalactic debates. Plus, she’s slightly older than the Doctor, which counteracts the Jonas Brothers Effect, and means she’d be able to put the Doctor in his place, and co-sign on any car rentals they might need while traveling through space and time.

3. Thomas Edison

Enough with the sassy sidekicks. It’s about time the Doctor went toe-to-toe with another scientist. Pull a bill and Ted and bring along an actual historical figure—someone who isn’t intimidated by a little TARDIS. Thomas Edison doesn’t even need to sleep, he is THAT good. Who has a Sonic Screwdriver now, dude?

4. Julian Rhind-Tutt

Pros: Another British stalwart, he has plenty of experience in front of the camera, plus the uncanny comic timing that landed him a starring role in the short-lived and much-missed Keen Eddie. He knows how to rock a beautiful suit, which someone will have to do if the Doctor’s going to insist on a J. Crew sweater and sport coat all the time, and he walks the tightrope between sardonic and hapless like a master.

Cons: This show is sort of hitting 160% on its quota of white dudes.

5. Vanessa Hudgens

If you’re going to court the 18-24 demographic, do it right—make the pop-tart sidekick as young as possible without violating child labor laws, and make her American. Have them pine for each other at a distance of five paces as the camera swoops around them, and rake in those merchandising dollars! Think action figures, picture books, and CDs—nothing like a musical number to lighten the mood when you’re facing off against six dozen Cybermen.

6. A Dalek

It’s about time the Doctor learned to let bygones be bygones; bringing a Dalek on board would give his first season a politically-charged dynamic that would keep viewers on the edge of their seats (think BSG), and would cut down on the costs of another actor in the role. The Dalek (suggested character name: Dali) would win over audiences at last in the time-travel episode when they end up stranded in Victorian England and the Dalek complains about the weight of his frock and how he wants to exterminate his hat.

7. Colin Salmon

The Doctor of my heart. Make good on the promise of that guest stint and give him something he can really chew on; I know he can do it.  Go get ’em, tiger.

8. Lily Allen

You know what? It could work. Anyone who’s willing to wear a pink prom dress with bullet-riddled Bambis on it sort of has what it takes, you know?

Dayle McClintock
1. trinityvixen
Dude, Colin Salmon! He's one of those "Hey, it's THAT GUY!" guys I like in stuff! Oh, man, he would have been an excellent Doctor--the antidote to all excesses of the Tennant variety.
Jason Henninger
2. jasonhenninger
Can Lily Allen act? She's pretty fun in general. Maybe she'd be a sort of part-Rose part-Donna.

I like the idea of him travelling with a take-no-shit kind of older woman. That'd be cool!

Forget Edison, though. Tesla! Heck, Tesla may have actually been a time lord.

Or how about Tesla AND Edison. Talk about conflict!
Eric Tolle
3. ErictheTolle
You've left off the natural choice: Jennifer Saunders. The contrast of an older woman with the Gen-Z Dr. Who will be a great inversion of the early doctors and companions. And having been the writer and actor in a classic show (Absolutely Fabulous) we know she can act.

Or how about getting Gina Bellman to recreate her "Jane" character from Coupling? We could use a funny, neurotic character, and if this Dooctorturnsout to be boring, well we have Jane to watch.
Jason Henninger
4. jasonhenninger
I think casting Saunders would be cool, but isn't that pretty similar to Catherine Tate?

Gina Bellman...she was the one in Jekyll, right? Hotness. I'm all for that.
Sam Kelly
5. Eithin
Nine was PTSD Doctor, Ten was AA Doctor... I wonder what this one will come up with. I'm finding it hard to imagine him smiling, looking at that picture. DID Doctor? He could be his own companion that way.

The companion I'd really love to see is Tamsin Greig. She's been in Doctor Who too - and interestingly enough, she played Verity Lambert.
8. Clarence
I nominate Carey Mulligan. "Blink" was the best hour of TV I saw last year.
Matthew Ernest
9. radarskiy
A scientist as a companion was tried with Liz Shaw, and it won't work. One of the roles of the Doctor's companions is to serve as targets for exposition, since exposition thrown directly at the audience makes it a lecture hall and it's BORING. If the companion's intelligence is comparable to the Doctor's, you either have lots of "as you know Bob" moments or the audience is left in the dark when the smarty-pantses get on with what they were doing.
John Chu
10. JohnChu
My only request is that the companion isn't someone who falls madly in love with the Doctor or visa versa. We've been there. We've done that. Several times now. Time to explore other ways two people traveling together can relate to each other.
Garett Harnish
11. garett
Gina Bellman is currently on TNT's Leverage. While it is quite possible the series won't survive until 2010, she is currently working in a different country.

My only hope is we don't get a companion, but companions. The earlier doctors rolled with an entourage. Why not again?

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