Six Smart Women Discussing Doctor Who

VerityExtra2015Happy 2015 everyone! With a new year comes a new theme for Verity!, and this year’s theme is companions! Join Deb, Erika, and Lynne as we talk about what we’re planning and why we think the companions are important. We also touch on how we’re totally going rogue and shaking up the Episode/Extra structure. We’re gonna be wild and crazy this year!

Be sure to check out the listener poll and let us know which 12 companions you’d like to hear us discuss in 2015. And let us know what you think of this year’s theme in the comments!


Bonus leak…I mean link:
Tansy on Two-minute Time Lord

Download or listen now (runtime 31:24) 

Comments on: "Extra! – 2015: The Year in Preview" (30)

  1. Links to the podcast and survey aren’t working 😦

  2. sostorm said:

    I feel like this is going to be a very interesting year. You seem to have a lot of ideas and that’s lovely. I for one is sort of tired of hearing about companions and their relationship to their families. I’d much rather have an episode centered around perhaps difficult choices the companion has to make without the aid of the Doctor. I think that would open up to talk about several companions which I think would be lovely. That was one of the fun things about the villain episodes, that they not only featured one kind but several from different episodes.

    Looking forward to another lovely year of Verity episodes.

  3. Watching some Tom Baker/Louise Jameson stories recently, I was struck by how refreshing it was to have a companion whose first reaction to encountering a new creature is to try and stab it. It got me thinking about a topic that I think it would be interesting to hear you talk about: Classic series companions who represent types of character that haven’t been represented among new series companions yet (and should be). As well as warriors like Leela and Jamie I was also thinking of Turlough and Kamelion, and how we haven’t had a companion work against the Doctor yet on the new series.

  4. I want it known that I adore you, Deb, and so I used one of my 12 votes for you. Dodo Chaplet it is.

    However, it looks like the first character I voted for, Tegan Jovanka, isn’t earning enough votes to be selected for discussion. It’s still really early, so I’m hoping that things will turn around. She has been criticized as being abrasive and whiney, but that was due to sketchy writing. Tegan was the first companion that I ever saw who put the Doctor in his place and called him on his BS. Since then I’ve seen earlier episodes and seen that other characters, like Barbara, did it too. But before Tegan, there had always been an air of deference when contradicting the Doctor. Tegan was the first companion that I ever saw tell him, in no uncertain terms, “no.”

    Also, I know that a lot of time has already been devoted to Clara. And since she has signed on for the whole of Series 9, there will be plenty more to talk about. So it would be easy to dismiss her and say, “We’ll get to her anyway throughout the course of Series 9.” But Moffat has gone to great lengths to make her the most complex and, in my humble opinion, the most interesting companion in the history of the show. She has even met virtually every incarnation of the Doctor which no other companion has ever done. There’s still a lot to discuss here, and I think you’ve just scratched the surface…

  5. I love the idea of exploring companions; their interactions with the Doctor, with each other, and how their originary context affects their reactions and our reactions to them. I understand leaving one-offs out of the poll, but with the flexibility that’s addressed in the 2015 preview, I’d also love to hear an episode about significant one-offs that the Doctor was clearly compelled by, regardless of how conventional fan opinion regards them.

    This would allow y’all to delve into what characteristics a given Doctor seems to gravitate toward and in what situations without having to dedicate an entire episode to ones that get namechecked in the preview — like Astrid, Jackson Lake, and Lady Christina — but also folks like Rita from “The God Complex,” Osgood, particularly in the s8 finale, and Riddell from “Dinosaurs on a Spaceship.”

    I always light up when a new Verity! ep goes live, so no matter what or who gets covered, can’t wait for what y’all come up with this year!

  6. Happy New Year to all of you! So excited about a year of companions…Can 6 of my votes go to River and 6 to Zoe? 🙂

    Your concerns about changes in structure…I never noticed the differences between “Extras” and “Regular” episodes, other than the Extras were shorter. I so know how necessary structure is with really big projects like Verity, but as far as my ears are concerned, it made no difference. I am just really happy every Wednesday when a new Verity! shows up in my line-up. So, if fewer “Extras” mean more long episodes-I am ALL in!

    Did I mention I’d really love you to spend a whole episode on River? Please, please, please, please? (Begging isn’t the same as demanding, is it Erika?)

  7. Justin Fun said:

    I voted Dodo whilst listening to the podcast, before I heard Deb asking us to! Now I feel a bit like a bandwagon jumper (though it’s not much of a bandwagon going by the current results….

  8. Richard S. said:

    Thanks for choosing an excellent topic for 2015, and inviting us all to participate.

    Having voted, and looked at the results so far, and seen how few of my choices have made the top of the list, and how many of their fellow travellers (as it were) are up there, I’d be quite keen for you to base an entire podcast on companion teams that just can’t be separated, not even by a single breath:



    There appear to be specific reasons, in terms of writing & performance, as to why these characters worked so well together, so… you know… Discuss, please?

    I’d love the idea you all getting more deeply into the major scriptwriting choices made for each companion. Maybe a weekly podcast section entitled “Doctor Who: The Scripters’ Office.” Something like that. Just an idea.

    In terms of the companion dynamic, my favourite era of the show was Peter Davison’s first season, but recently I rewatched most of Earthshock, and saw just how the writer Eric Saward struggled to give Nyssa anything remotely watchable to do whatsoever. So, maybe you could talk about the ideal number of companions for a given Doctor, and TARDIS teams that have or haven’t dated in terms of viewing tastes.

    Oh, and would it be possible for you to combine every single item of shipping into just one single dedicated podcast, and keep it there? Thanks.

    • Hmm. I don’t you can have a robust discussion of a companion amongst genre fans and *not* have shipping elements be a part of that exchange of ideas for most properties, Doctor Who included. Putting all the discussion of shipping into a single episode…not sure why – so people could avoid that topic if its not part of *their* head-canon? That, while it might be convenient for some, would have the effect of stifling the discussion for everyone.

      Take Rose Tyler for example. Some fans see moments/exchanges/actor chemistry between her and the 9th and/or her and the 10th Doctors and that becomes part of the narrative of that character. If it’s not addressed on screen directly (in most cases subtext) it allows for multiple interpretations. I just don’t think you can have a discussion of a character, like Rose, and not discuss those elements – kissing the 9th and 10th Doctors, flirtatious elements (the Doctor “dances” now) etc etc – they are certainly there if the viewer wants to see them. And then what about relationships that go from subtext to Text e.g. Amy/Rory, 11/River, Jenny/Vastra, etc.?

      Excluding those discussions to Exile Episode Island would make for an incomplete analysis in every other episode.

  9. Great discussion and theme! A couple of additional suggestions/ideas to throw out there:

    It would be great if some of the “expanded universe” companions could be featured in their own dedicated episode. Companions like Bernice Summerfield, Charley Pollard, Evelyn Smythe, etc. deserve some discussion. You could even include the War Doctor’s companion Cinder (from the book Engines of War).

    Another idea – an episode focusing exclusively on different “time teams” – comparing groups of companions that travelled together across eras and looking at how well they worked (or didn’t work) together.

    • Gary Schaper said:

      I just wanted to note my support for at least an episode discussing secondary media companions overall, in part because there are quite a few that push the boundaries of what makes a companion and how they’re used in the narrative. I appreciate that this might entail a bit more exposition on who these characters are than for televised companions, but then again there are examples from the early TV days where many of their episodes are lost and may be similarly unfamiliar to some listeners.

  10. Jarrod said:

    Bonus Leak…snicker….:) Well played, Erika (I assume), well played!

  11. i have a suggestion, I would love a discussion about potential companions, e.g. Katarina, Adam, all those characters who were intended to go on to be full time companions or were just really good characters who would’ve made great companions like Sally Sparrow

  12. AntonB said:

    IF you have time. Big ‘IF’ I know. I’d like to hear your thoughts on the ‘Almost Companions’ The ones that didn’t make the grade or did but that the Doctor, for his own reasons, rejected. Journey Blue and Shona from the last series spring to mind, as well as Rita from The God Complex (a Muslim companion? What an opportunity wasted) I’d really like a discussion devoted to the companion who got away that I think would have got universal approval – Sally Sparrow.

  13. AntonB said:

    Wow! Synchronicity! my comment went up before I saw haldered’s above. That’s two votes for the Almost People then!

  14. django said:


    Dodo doesn’t sing in the Gunfighters. She was supposed to, but couldn’t so the person who sings in the bar is Stephen. The song that plays through all of the episodes isn’t Dodo either, but it is Lynda Baron (Captain Wrack from Enlightenment and Val from Closing Time)

  15. Given the opportunity, I’m using my vote to push forward the companions that don’t get nearly enough love, such as the underrated Martha Jones.

    ~Michael from Companions of the Doctor

  16. Tansy was great on the Two-minute Time Lord, even though she did spoil your 2015 theme.

  17. Valerie said:

    I’m excited for the coming year of Verity! While listening, I was thinking that it would be cool if you published a “watch this” before releasing an episode. So before I listen to you talk about Kamelion, I could watch an episode to be all prepared. It would be another way to expand my Old Who watching in a targeted direction.

    • Deborah Stanish said:

      You’re not the only one who suggested this and I think it’s a great idea. Where possible we’ll give listeners a bit of prep time and recommendations for eps they can watch prior to the discussion.

  18. Maureen You said:

    How curious that the votes are so evenly spread between all the companions. One person I think is missing is Brian Williams. He missed out last year in your talk about the boys.
    Thanks Maureen.

  19. Katrina d said:

    Oh such fun, opening many ye olde ‘companion’ can of worms.

    An interesting bit of fandom history for you ….
    Sara Kingdom did not appear in any lists of companions until Adric died. At that time the Adric-haters who were active in the fan community decided that Adric should disappear into oblivion and never been the first companion who died bravely (Katarina being a ‘stupid girl’ didn’t count at the time. *mega sigh*)

    So they trawled through old stories until the found the single mega-long story “Dalek Master Plan” squinted the right way at the episodes and started campaigning at conventions to elevate Sarah Kingdom to companion-hood. (Sara being ‘butch and therefore not really a girly girl like Adric” *mega sigh that I even remember hearing and reading this rubbish*)
    At one convention I attended it was seriously argued that both Katarina and Sara should be removed in favour of Bret Vyon who, being male, was a more appropriate hero and not-girly. ***mega facepalm***

    As fan authors were compiling the reference books Sara K joined the list of companions in response to overall feelings in fandom.

    Anyway, the memory of the hatred and fan politics is in part why you’ll get a lot of “she isn’t a companion” feedback from many older fans who really disliked tone of the conversation and the fanon corrupting BBC history.

    Personally I’m not bothered either way if she’s there or not – she’s an interesting character.

    Onto nicer things….

    Here’s a question for you to (maybe) consider … Is the Brigadier just a companion of the Doctor? Or, as the Brig’s the Doctor’s boss, is Pertwee’s Doctor a companion/sidekick to the Brigadier?

  20. Katrina d said:

    P.S. Oops, that should read “squinted the right way at — what was known of — the episodes and started campaigning at conventions to elevate Sarah Kingdom to companion-hood”

  21. Mark Harris said:

    I’d like you to maybe address the comment from Mr Moffat in the Doctor Who Magazine preview for Listen – Issue 477, October 2104:

    “Clara has her own Doctor now and becomes the main character – which of course the companion always should be, really – because you know her in a way you don’t know this new fella.”

    I think he’s said the same thing elsewhere, too. I kind of agree with him, I think, but I know a lot of people disagree: ‘Clara Who’, etc.

    It’s interesting to hear you talk about a ‘writers’ room’. I didn’t think Doctor Who had one; I think the show is too writer-led and doesn’t have a team taking the stories apart. If there were, we wouldn’t have any ‘bad’ episodes, and stories like Kill the Moon and Forest of the Night, with their scientific and narrative idiocies.

    • django said:

      The difference you see there is cultural. Generally (And historically) programs here in the UK are not created with a writers room. We allow the writer to stand (or fall) by their own skill and creativity. I dread to think what classic who stories would have turned out like if they had been hashed out in committee!

  22. […] last week’s show, we announced our theme for 2015: the companions of Doctor Who. So far so good, then *certain* […]

  23. John Lowmaster said:

    Idea for a discussion: Companions who “become” the Doctor. Saw this with Clara and a bit with Amy. The Doctor-Dona. Sarah Jane got her own show being the “Doctor.” Did Captain Jack become the Doctor on Torchwood? Becomes a mirror into what and who the Doctor is.

    • Graduating into their own version of the Doctor (or cough, in Jo Grant’s case, marrying one) was a common way for companions to leave in the Classic years. Romana definitely did this, and I think you could argue that Steven, Liz, Nyssa and Mel all did too. I like the way that many of them appear to walk away into their own show in which they are the protagonist – which is why I am getting tired of New Who constantly framing the companion’s leaving story as a tragedy instead of a graduation. Martha is the only female companion who left as a form of graduation/personal choice, and her leaving is always reframed by fans as being about her crush on the Doctor, when it was only one factor – her main reason to leave was to live her own life and look after her family.

      Mickey actually has one of the strongest “Classic Who” style leaving stories, finding a new world in which he can be useful and grow into his own kind of hero out of the shadow of the Doctor. I’d love to see Clara leave in a similar way when she and the Doctor eventually part company.

  24. Coulda beans and Neverwuzzes: Ray,Lynda,Sally,Samantha,Brett,Osgood.

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