In Season 10 of Doctor Who we had Pearl Mackie as plucky companion Bill Potts. And while the majority of Nu Who companions have been young, female and from a modern time, in Classic Who there was a whole lot of more variation including female Timelords, Scottish Highlanders and even robots.
I previously did a list on the Top 5 Worst Classic Who companions but there was a whole lot more good than bad. Here is my list of the Top 10 Best Classic Who companions:
#10 Tegan Jovanka (Fourth and Fifth Doctors)
She may not make everyone’s list of favorite companions but I thoroughly enjoyed lost almost-stewardess Tegan Jovanka. She was stubborn, loud and took no crap and kept the Fifth Doctor on his toes. She could be whimsical too as shown by her lively Charleston in the adventure “The Black Orchid” and also inspired the Fifth Doctor’s catchphrase “Brave heart Tegan”.
Episode recommendation: Earthshock
#9 Brigadier Alistair Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart (Second and Third Doctors)
Stately, rational, level-headed and the epitome of a soldier, there was no other companion like this UNIT leader, sometimes called simply “The Brigadier”. He would regularly be perplexed with the unconventional Third Doctor, and the Fourth to a lesser extent, and his militaristic view point would at times clash with The Doctor’s more scientific approach. His legacy lives on with a Cyberman cameo in “Death in Heaven” and through his daughter and UNIT head Kate Stewart.
He does not make it higher on the companion list because he rarely traveled with the Doctor but mostly shared his earth-bound adventures.
Episode recommendation: The Three Doctors
#8 Leela (Fourth Doctor)
Beautiful and deadly, the lovely savage Leela was quite the contrast to the pacifist Fourth Doctor. Unlike other companions she would attempt to use lethal force on foes either with her trusty knife or poison darts. She is also notable for her revealing outfits and for the Doctor’s efforts to civilise her a la My Fair Lady.
Episode recommendation: The Talons of Weng Chiang
#7 & #6 Barbara Wright and Ian Chesterton (First Doctor)
The First Doctor’s second and third companions (after his granddaughter Susan), this Coal Hill teacher duo was the standard by which all future companions would be judged. Ian was headstrong and brave and would frequently challenge the cantankerous Doctor, especially during their earlier adventures. Barbara was wise, empathetic and thoughtful. I was genuinely sad to see them go, especially with unremarkable replacements like Ben, Polly and Dodo.
Episode recommendation: The Aztecs
#5 K9 (Fourth Doctor)
A talking robot dog with a laser beam? What’s not to love! The adorable K9, whether Marks I or II, became one of the most recognisable show characters, even getting his own TV spin off and returning to both NuWho and The Sarah Jane Adventures.
Loyal, unwittingly amusing and with a cool voice, the only sad thing is that he did not feature in more classic adventures. Do we love Classic K9? Affirmative!
Episode recommendation: The Stones of Blood
#4 Romana II (Fourth Doctor)
Time lady Romana (full name Romanadvoratrelundar) had two incarnations: Romana I (Mary Tamm) and Romana II (Lalla Ward), the latter after she regenerated by choice and not because of injury or deteriorated health.
While Tamm (pictured directly above) was sexy and sophisticated, Ward’s Romana was more fun and adventurous. She was also one of the few companions that was an intellectual equal to the Doctor and was not afraid to make her opinions known. In real life Tom Baker and Ward were married for a time so not all of that on screen chemistry was acting.
Episode recommendation: City of Death
#3 Ace (Seventh Doctor)
No companion kicked more butt than Dorothy Gale “Ace” McShane. She wore a leather jacket, was aggressive, called the Doctor “Professor” and had quite the fondness for explosives.
The scene of her beating the ever-living-crap out of a Dalek in “Remembrance of the Daleks” (see the video below) is one of my favourite scenes of all of Classic Who. Brave and just a little unhinged, Ace livened up every episode she appeared in. Simply put – Ace is aces.
Episode recommendation: Remembrance of the Daleks
#2 Jamie McCrimmon (Second Doctor)
There was no male companion more valiant or more loyal than this mid-18th century Scotsman. Jamie was always ready to jump into action and defend the helpless, and was a good counter balance to the tactical pacifist and sometimes playful Second Doctor.
His adventures with The Doctor were a rousing good time and his historical perspective made for an interesting change from the usually modern-day companions.
Episode recommendation: The Moonbase
#1 Sarah Jane Smith (Third and Fourth Doctors)
Was there ever any doubt who would be number one? Reporter Sarah Jane Smith (the lovely Elisabeth Sladen) is the ultimate Classic Who companion. She was smart, strong-willed, spunky and quick-witted.
Smith was so popular that she was brought back for the Series Two episode “School Reunion” (together with K9 Mark III) and then proved so popular in that appearance that she was given her own spin off series “The Sarah Jane Adventures” which only ended due to Sladen’s death in April 2011. Both Sladen and Smith are beloved by Doctor Who fans young and old, and she is easily the number one Classic Who companion.
Episode recommendation: Genesis of the Daleks
So did I miss any of your favourites? Feel free to mention them in the comments. And if you enjoyed this post why not share it with your peeps? Sharing is caring.
For the flip side to this list and Top 5 Worst Classic Who Companions you can click here.