What makes a relatable companion? When comparing the show to its classic and modern series there is an obvious difference. The classics have a variety of different people ranging from humans, aliens and robots. The modern series however has stuck to the companion being from modern day London. But the question is: Which is more relatable?
Personally most of my favourite characters are from the classic series. To name a few; Jamie was a Scottish Highlander from the mid-18th century, Romana who was a Time Lady, Leela was a warrior from the Sevateem tribe, Sarah Jane Smith who was a journalist from Earth, K9 was a robot dog and Ace who was teenager from Perivale. There is a lot of variety when naming companions from the classic series and many are loved no matter where they’re from.
People have argued that if a companion isn’t from modern day Earth they won’t be relatable enough. Of course in the classics many companions weren’t relatable in comparison to now due to the lack of back story or character development. However they were still lovable characters. If you combine these elements to a companion not from modern day London, I think they will just be as relatable and lovable.
In the modern series we haven’t had a companion who wasn’t from modern day Earth. Rose, Martha, Donna, Amy/Rory, Clara and even the new companion Bill are all from the same place and time. Undoubtedly these companions are very popular around fans. But is this format getting repetitive? Personally It seems the show isn’t take the risks it should. It could be because they’re worried people won’t warm to a very different companion which will risk the show; yet the same repetitive ideas will make viewers get bored of the show anyway.
Now imagine a companion not from modern day London in Nuwho. It would be much more interesting to see a companion not from the 21st century react to the past or future. For example, we could see a companion react to modern day and how differently they will act in certain circumstances. This will be a much more interesting way of storytelling and will be another way to make the show feel new. It will also change elements of the new series which would be great for a show that revolves on change.
In my view, a companion isn’t relatable from where they’re from, it’s how they react to certain situations and their emotions along with it. One of the main roles of the companion is to give the audience someone to relate to in comparison to the Doctor. With the Doctor being more alien and approaches differently to situations; we can still relate to a different companion and how unfamiliar they are to time travel and how they respond to the new places in the universe they see. A person from the Victorian times would react the same way to visiting another era just as a modern companion would.
To be honest, some modern companions haven’t been very relatable anyway. Amy Pond and Clara Oswald were first introduced with a mystery surrounding them and the Doctor unable to make sense of them. Amy Pond at first had no family and her life didn’t make sense. Clara Oswald was nicknamed The Impossible Girl and also knew little about her or her character. The main thing that defined her was her mystery. Just because they were from the same time and space as its audiences didn’t make them relatable in the slightest. The more we learnt about their backstory, their family and when we saw their development is what made the audience connect to them. Why should this be different for any other companion?
It was recently announced Pearl Mackie would be play the Doctor’s new companion Bill. There were rumours at first when the scene Friend from the Future that she could possibly be from the ‘80’s due to her sense of style. Unfortunately, it was confirmed that Bill would be from modern day Earth. Even though I’m looking forward to seeing Bill’s character on screen, I couldn’t help but feel disappointed that we weren’t getting anything new or different to the companion or the show in general. It would have been great to see the Doctor land in the 1980’s and see what time Bill lived in and how the episode would look. I’m sure Bill will be a fantastic companion but I think we will have to wait a while longer for a change in direction when it comes to companions. Perhaps that’s what Chibnall could offer the show.
In conclusion I think a companion can be relatable no matter where they’re from in time and space. It’s not the place the audience relates to it’s the person the character is. The show is getting very repetitive and companions have been the same for over 11 years now. If the show is going to change in 2018 under Chibnall, I think a very different yet relatable companion would be a brilliant option to add something fresh and new to the show. If it worked for 26 years in the classic series, I don’t see why it shouldn’t work now.