03 December 2012

Companions-Lite-Genesis of the One-Off

Most people, when they hear the term One-Off Companion, usually think of the various female assistants the Tenth and Eleventh Doctor's worked with in the various Christmas specials. And so far, the only one of those to have reappeared has been Donna Noble.

But the Christmas specials were far from the start of this trend. No, it had its roots deep in the history of the Doctor...

... and it started as far back as 22 February 1964 in the adventure, Marco Polo.

Within the context for future analysis of Doctor Who, any character which has only a single adventure with the Doctor will always be classed as a Companion-Lite - never a Companion.

Ping-Cho - The Original One-Off

Ping-Cho, a character from the story, Marco Polo, was a sixteen year old Chinese girl whose father was a government official in Samarkand. She travelled with Marco Polo to Peking, where she was to marry an elderly member of Kublai Khan's court. The man died before she could even meet him. During the journey, she became good friends with Susan Foreman. [TARDIS.wiki]

Although she was never called a Companion, I ran across a references to this idea, particularly in the About Time books (Wood & Miles, 2006). I had not thought about her in that manner but, after reading the review in the book, it gave me pause to think about not only Ping-Cho, but other characters which could also be slotted into this category, or possibly as an Associate. The Doctor's Friends Network was beginning to grow even more.

NOTE : On further thought, and review of the story, I believe that Ping-Cho should be classed an Associate, not a Companion-Lite. I don't feel she fulfilled enough of the requirements to be a Companion-Lite.

Currently, this is the list of Companions-Lite I have from the Classic Series. Some are slotted as Companions on other lists while others aren't even considered. This goes back to that Objective/Subjective issue discussed previously. I needed to make a decision how characters would be placed within my dataset.

Katarina [The Myth Makers]
Bret Vyon [The Daleks' Master Plan]
Sara Kingdom [The Daleks' Master Plan]
Astrid [Enemy of the World]
Sgt Benton [The Invasion]
Captain Yates [Terror of the Autons]
Hal the Archer [The Time Warrior]
Inspector Duggan [City of Death]
Richard Mace [The Visitation]
H. G. Wells [Timelash]
Bin Liner [Paradise Towers] (see Ace Proto-types)
Ray [Delta and the Bannermen] (see Ace Proto-types)

Ping-Cho, Bret Vyon, Astrid, Hal the Archer, Inspector Duggan, Richard Mace, H.G. Wells, Bin Liner, and Ray are usually not cited as Companions. But watching the stories they appeared in, I noticed they act nearly the same as Companions by fulfilling many of the requirements of a Companion. But they either leave at the end of the story, aren't even in one complete story, or generally don't fulfill enough other requirements. (See 'Companion Definitions' entry)

I am still in the process of reviewing other characters and believe I will find additional entries just as I added Ping-Cho last week.

The Ace Prototypes

When the producers realized they would have to replace Melanie Bush, a series of proto-companions were written into the scripts for the 24th season. These included Bin Liner from 'Paradise Towers' and Ray from 'Delta and the Bannermen'. This were characters they use to test the waters for a new Companion. Ace, in 'Dragonfire', was actually one of the test runs. She worked so well they decided she was the one and had her take up with the Doctor at the end of the story.

Obviously those proto-types also had to be added to the list. And why do they need to be added? Within any analysis it is important to gather the maximum amount of the data in order to produce the best results. Most complied lists for the new series add all of the one-off assistants to the Companion category. But the one-offs in the Classic are generally ignored. And since this is an analysis of the entire show I felt the need to be complete.

The TV Movie

Chang Lee [The TV Movie]
Grace Holloway [The TV Movie]

Chang Lee... He's always the question mark. It's a toss up as many pundits will argue that Chang Lee was actually a Companion of The Master. For this analysis I consider Chang Lee a one-off so he gets slotted in as a Companion-Lite, same as Grace Holloway.

The New Series

And though it looks like there were a lot of Companions-Lite in the Classic run the new series ramps it up tremendously. Seems like having a character come in, have an adventure with the Doctor, and then leave is a favored technique. Many of the these one-offs are very specially styled characters to fit into a particular story. Something that a regular character might not do as well.

Alison [Scream of the Shalka]
Jackie Tyler [Rose]
Charles Dickens [The Unquiet Dead]
Harriet Jones [Aliens of London/World War III]
Lynda Moss [Bad Wolf/The Parting of Ways] Included cause she was asked before she died.
Queen Victoria [Tooth and Claw]
Madame De Pompadour [The Girl in the Fireplace]
Handy [Army of Ghost/The Age of Steel]
Astrid Perth [Voyage of the Damned]
Jenny [The Doctor's Daughter]
Agatha Cristie [The Wasp and the Unicorn]
Jackson Lake [The Next Doctor]
Rosita Farisi [The Next Doctor]
Lady Christina [Planet of the Dead]
Clyde Langer [The Wedding of Sarah Jane]
Luke Smith [The Wedding of Sarah Jane]
Rani Chandra [The Wedding of Sarah Jane]
NOTE : The last three will always be considered as Companions of Sarah Jane, not the Doctor even if they participate in multiple adventures
Adelaide Brooke [The Waters of Mars]
Cassie Rice [Dreamland]
Wilfred Mott [The End of Time]
Amelia Pond [The Eleventh Hour]
Winston Churchill [Victory of the Daleks]
Nasreen Chaudhry [The Hungry Earth/Cold Blood]
Vincent van Gogh [Vincent and the Doctor]
Craig Owens [The Lodger]
Dorium Maldovar [The Pandorica Opens/The Big Bang]
Abigail Pettigrew [A Christmas Carol]
Karzan Sardick (young) [A Christmas Carol]
Karzan Sardick (old) [A Christmas Carol]
Canton Delaware III [The Impossible Astronaut/Day of the Moon]
Idris [The Doctor's Wife]
Rita [The God Complex] Included cause she was asked before she died.
Madge Arwell [The Doctor, The Widow and the Wardrobe]
Brian Williams [Dinosaurs on a Spaceship]
Riddell [Dinosaurs on a Spaceship]
Queen Nefertti [Dinosaurs on a Spaceship]

Many of the names from this list are placed on Companion lists on other sites.

NOTE : After all is said and done if someone presents a reasonable argument about changing the status of a character I will never be adverse to making said changes. After all, I want my dataset to be as complete and accurate as possible.


  1. I am starting to sort of understand what you're doing with this blog - it intrigues me. But I will suggest the following two changes:

    1.) Idris: I don't really understand this one, actually. He never knew her AS Idris - she was Idris before she met the Doctor and his companions, not WHEN she met them, and the audience sees her as Idris (and I could swear you don't even hear her name?) literally for moments before the soul of the Tardis is stuffed into her. And after the Tardis' mind/soul/whathaveyou is in her, she is no longer Idris but a separate character entirely. The Doctor never knows her as Idris - he knows her as the Tardis in human form. And as tempting as it is to therefore suggest that the Soul of the Tardis is itself a Companion-Lite... honestly, the Tardis is still with him, and has been from the first episode; it's only the fact that she is self-aware enough to qualify as a character in her own right that was, until recently, concealed from the Doctor and the audience. I would actually count the Tardis herself as the longest-running Companion, if we're going to be honest. ;)

    2.) Amelia Pond is the same character as Amy Pond - while I understand that it is useful for some purposes to separate the two conceptually, in actuality, they really are the same character, we even see her as both ages in the same opening episode, and definitely, if we are counting her as a member of the Doctor's "network"... I'm sorry, she just can't be separated from Amy Pond! That makes no sense to me. The connection he has with Amelia is the same connection he has with Amy - it just evolves as she gets older. That's called character development. ;)

    Oh, and while we're at it - how about some updates? Winston Churchhill also appeared again in "The Wedding of River Song", as did Dorium.

    And three other "Companion-Lites" that I'm frankly surprised are missing (especially considering "Neffy" made the list already) should probably be added, all of them introduced as allies pulled in by the Doctor in Series 6's "Good Man Goes to War", but which reoccurred in the Series 7 Christmas special "The Snowmen" (as well as it's prologue short):

    1.) Strax (the Sontaran forced to become a nurse - I think he was introduced in Good Man Goes to War though I can't recall for sure; later assists Madam Vastra and the Doctor in the Snowmen and its prologue)

    2.) Madam Vastra (the brilliant Silurian woman living in the Victorian era who has a female lover and for some reason carries a katana - man, Moffat likes going crazy doesn't he? Not that I'm complaining - appears prominently in both Good Man Goes to War and The Snowmen/Snowmen's prologue)

    3.) I could swear her name is Jenny as well - Madam Vastra's human "assistant" who is actually her lover and wife. First appearance Good Man Goes to War, then The Snowmen and its prologue.

    Good list and good idea. Glad to see Lady Christina made the list as she's long been my favorite "one-off companion" ;)

    1. Thank you for such in-depth and interesting comments on the project. I'll keep this relatively short as many of your questions will be answered as this blog goes on.

      First, the software : In general, I'm using a piece of software which was never intended for the uses I'm putting it through. Sounds crazy but as powerful as it is, sometimes it isn't the best at dealing with multiple versions of the same person. So much of the work done is to try to "eliminate" those duplicates [such as when the terrorists use aliases to hide from authorities and you try to piece a network together through foggy information].

      1) The TARDIS : This will always be the longest existing companion. But if I put it into the mix, it would skew the results and always end up at the top of the list, no matter what character was being analyzed. So the TARDIS is considered "noise" and eliminated from the networks in order to get cleaner results. We all 'know' that it's the forever Companion, but it's just not displayed in every entry. There is work in progress to catalog the times when the TARDIS actually acted independently [i.e., The Edge of Destruction and The Enemy of the World].

      2) Amelia/Amy Pond are the same person. Again, the program is not equipped to deal with craziness like this when one of its purposes is to eliminate duplicates, I am asking it to deal with these duplicates - on purpose. The network science term is "Over-Time Analysis" that deals with how things change over a period of time. But it does not understand the concept of, "Hey, I've got these two separate versions of a person where one is lots older than the other and they are currently existing in the same place, at the same time". The program is build for the real world, thus, a need for a slight adaptation.
      Consider "The Pandorica Opens". Amelia and Amy are in the episode simultaneously. Having two separate nodes is meant to attempt to display that interaction correctly. Two separate nodes was necessary. The same situation pops up every time the Doctor meets a second [or third] version of himself [i.e., Father's Day or the Time and Space minisodes].

      Updates are in progress evidenced by this blog. There will be an update to the very large, all-encompassing network in the end. It probably won't be in the 'pretty style' with all the different styled nodes as that was done for show for the conference poster. But we'll see how I feel at the end.

      Vastra, Jenny and Strax are interesting cases. Before the Christmas Special, they were classed as "Associates", not Companions or Companions-Lite. They were brought in as special help for a job. IMO, that does not make for Companionship. And even with the Christmas Special, I am still unconvinced they should be upgraded. They "work with the Doctor", but I just don't get the feeling that they should be placed in any category other than Associate. This will not affect anything in their rankings when I get to them. But it is a consideration for some other project that I will have in the future.
      But this could change depending on what happens in the rest of the season. As I've said, things that happen now can have a ripple effect in the previous networks which could, very well, cause me to have to go back and recalculate things.

      It's happened before - it will happen again.

      Again, thanks.