In an announcement over the weekend, it was revealed that the Thirteenth Doctor—played by Jodie Whittaker—will be accompanied by three series regulars in Doctor Who’s new season. There is no word on whether any of this trio will travel in the TARDIS (giving them the sacred “companion” title), but it seems safe to assume we’re headed in that direction. So who are these lovely folks and how will they fit into the tapestry of Whovian history?
The three new cast members are Bradley Walsh, Tosin Cole, and Mandip Gill in the roles of Graham, Ryan, and Yasmin respectively. Walsh is a professed lifelong Whovian who has been watching the show for 50 years and remembers seeing William Hartnell in black and white. He played a villain briefly on the Sarah Jane Adventures (The Pied Piper), but fans will likely know him best from his time hosting game shows like The Chase and The Wheel of Fortune, as well as a three year run on Coronation Street. Cole has worked on E20 and Hollyoaks, and also appeared behind the wheel of an X-Wing fighter during The Force Awakens as a member of Red Squadron. Gill was also on Hollyoaks for three years, and has also appeared on Doctors, Cuckoo, Casualty, and the upcoming Lies and Records.
This would not be the first time that the series has hosted more than one companion on board the TARDIS. Duos are all over the place; in New Who we’ve seen Amy and Rory, Rose and Jack, Rose and Mickey. In the classic era’s tenure there were plenty of pairs, from Polly and Ben to Jamie and Victoria to Sarah Jane and Harry. But there were points when the TARDIS’s cadre stretched to more than two or three at a time….
In fact, the very first crew that the show ever saw was a group of four—the Doctor, his granddaughter Susan, and her schoolteachers Barbara Wright and Ian Chesterton. Though the Doctor never intended to take Barbara and Ian on, his paranoia saw him essentially nabbing the two from their own time and taking them on a prolonged adventure. Having very little control over the TARDIS during that period, the Doctor kept trying to send the teachers home, but something always got in the way. He grew quite attached to them despite his protests, but Barbara and Ian eventually had enough and made the choice to use a Dalek time machine to get home. Susan was later abandoned by the Doctor, who believed that she would have a better life off the TARDIS. The Doctor’s very first set of companions on the series were deeply emotionally important to him, and it set the tone for the entire show.
Similarly, the Fifth Doctor had a whole gaggle trailing along behind (or in front) of him. Five had something of a revolving door, but he typically had at three companions about. There was Adric, Nyssa, Tegan, Turlough, and Kamelion, all coming and going. The Fifth Doctor’s tenure was a bit traumatizing, however; he became the second Doctor to ever lose a companion (the first to lose one who was around for longer than one serial) when Adric died. Nyssa left to help reconstruct the space station Terminus, Tegan ran away in terror after encountering the Daleks, Kamelion was destroyed by the Master. While the Fifth Doctor seemed to enjoy his little family, he lost them one by one due to circumstances often beyond his control, and clearly felt responsible.
The Doctor having a larger group of companions always seems to make for high drama… which is likely what the new season is aiming for. We don’t know if these new friends are already acquainted with one another, or what will draw them all into the Doctor’s orbit, but it’s safe to say that they will be an exciting addition to the universe. The new season is set to drop in Fall 2018, so we don’t have too long to wait.