Six Smart Women Discussing Doctor Who

VerityEpisode75They may not be the most unloved companions, but they’re the ones you, the listeners, didn’t want to hear us talk about. Join Deb, Erika, and Lynne as we discuss the companions in the bottom 1.5% of our listener poll. Why do we think these companions ended up here? Do they belong? Or do we think some of these characters should be rated higher?

Did you vote in the poll? If so, did you vote for these companions? If not, why not? If so, why? Let us know in the comments!


Also covered:

Bonus links:
Doctor Who: The Writers’ Room
The Doctor Who Book Club Podcast
Companion Piece
Kamelion touches the TARDIS

Download or listen now (runtime 1:06:40) 

Comments on: "Ep 75 – The Bottom of the Barrel" (25)

  1. Waitaminnit – You asked your listeners what they wanted you to talk about, and then you did a show about what they _least_ wanted to hear??

    That’s what I like about podcasting. 🙂

  2. Richard S. said:

    (Stands up & applauds Deb’s soapbox moment!) Yay! and well said, Deb.

    It’s been 5 months since the poll, can’t recall the entire list of my own votes, pretty sure I voted for Mickey, absolutely certain I voted for Ben & Polly thanks to their appearances in Target Books from the mid-1970s onwards. I’m pleased to hear you’ll be talking further about them all. I wonder, if the DVD of The Underwater Menace had been released as scheduled last year, would Ben & Polly have gone up in the poll? Or sunk without trace?

    I had the pretty much the same experience as Erika with the Davison TARDIS team, looking for kids on TV who represented my own teenage self-image, finding very few outside of TV sci-fi. Nowadays I’m less keen on Adric’s pouty behaviour, but I still see how he fulfilled an important role in that crew, especially in one of my all-time top 3 stories, Kinda.

    I can remember when Bonnie Langford was announced as the new companion in DW and fandom checked its calendar to see if it was April 1st. I haven’t seen any of Mel’s episodes in decades, even though they were some of the first I recorded on VHS.

    Surprised to see Rose so low in the poll, even after the anniversary special. I was perfectly happy to see her replaced by Martha, and I really loved the amount of commitment that Freema gave to her appearances on DW Confidential & the CBBC show Totally Doctor Who. Strangely, I felt Martha was more interesting in her earlier episodes, perhaps because I started cringing every time Freema seemed to struggle with the medical or technobabble dialogue.

    It was the reverse with Amy. Started out finding her too brash & lairy (it’s a word), eventually grew so fond of her that I still can’t bear rewatching her episodes because Oh The Feels. Hardly ever dream about celebs, but a few weeks ago I actually had a dream about Karen Gillan. There was a sofa involved, and a fair amount of chatting. All very innocuous, sadly. I’ll have to check out the video of Karen being interviewed by a 9-year-old DW fan called Presley, all over the Twitters at the moment.

    • Korina said:

      I still adore Rose, but I didn’t vote for her because, really, she’s been talked to death. There’s really not much more to say. Donna, however… 😉

      • Korina said:

        Please remove a ‘really’ when you read this, either one. ::facepalm:: Really.

  3. Dave S. said:

    I do love the initial Kamelion reveal, though, as the cliffhanger in “King’s Demons”. It’s just so loony.

  4. James C said:

    An entertaining discussion, and I especially appreciated Lynne’s take on Adam. His character really was very successful at what he was asked to do.

    That’s really just an excuse to post though. I really wanted to let you know that I clearly listen to too much podcast. Traffic Experiment’s “Vashta Nerada: Doctor Who Theme” has I think become my definitive version of the theme! This is what you’ve done to me…

  5. so, I have to comment on a few things touched on in today’s podcast.

    re: Amy/Clara divisiveness amongst fans (and I promise not to get rant-y) – i don’t agree that Amy was more divisive than Clara. All the feedback I get from my listeners as well as friends/acquaintances indicate that the two Moffat-era female companions (three if you count River) are equally divisive. I don’t think the reason some fans don’t like Clara is because she has a “well developed character”. I do appreciate that she became a well developed character after Smith left. I just don’t like the character she developed into. I find her deceptive, manipulative, and too eager to win approval from her man, whether it’s the Doctor or Danny. But more than that, or rather from the Doyle-ist perspective, I don’t like that the last series was, for all intents and purposes, “The Clara Show” with Peter Capaldi playing her wacky, wise-cracking, cantankerous friend.

    re: the Doctor as a role model – Deb said she agreed with Moffat about the Doctor NOT being a role model because a) “The Doctor lies.” and b) he often causes more harm than good and never sticks around to face the consequences. I would have to agree with with Deb in the sense that the Doctor, as written by Moffat, is not a role model. The Doctor(s) I grew up with were and continue to be my role models (though not exclusively). But in the end, it doesn’t matter what Moffat, myself, or any other Doctor Who podcaster thinks because it’s the children and young adults watching who decide for themselves who the role model in Doctor Who is.

    Great discussion as always.


    • Korina said:

      That’s funny; I seem to remember a very high body count pretty much wherever the Doctor showed up; The Horror of Fang Rock, anyone? I think his intentions are good, always, but somehow there’s always death around him. Maybe the question we should be asking is whether it would have been better or worse without him sticking his nose in where it doesn’t belong.

      • Paul B. =:o} said:

        … Which is exactly what “Human Nature”/”The Family Of Blood” is all about: The Doctor tries to do a kind and understanding thing for a family of a short-lived predator species, and this results in broken hearts and the slaughter of innocents.

  6. Jennifer said:

    I really like the perversity of an episode dedicated to those who came lowest in the poll, and the ways you covered them, but I think it’s worth noting there was a pretty even spread of interest. At top and bottom of the poll, Ace had more than eleven times as many votes as Adam. But at tenth from the top Romana I only had a bit more than twice as many votes as Rose at tenth from bottom, with 25 companions between them. It seems a pretty gentle decline, you know?

    And Rose-fatigue is definitely a thing, and it affects recurring characters like Mickey and Jackie who are so much part of her story. For all that, I want to stick up for Mickey. I think the choices made for his character, and the changes he undergoes, are more deliberate and nuanced then Erika and Lynn were giving him credit.

    Mickey is unsympathetic in the episode Rose to keep Rose herself sympathetic when she goes with the Doctor, but the show undercuts that immediately with his second appearance, Aliens of London. Rose’s departure had real consequences for Mickey (and Jackie), and that starts to build sympathy for him (as well as establish some key differences between new Who and old Who). From then until Age of Steel he displays slightly different mixes of aggrieved, helpful, and broad comic relief, in a way that looked a lot like recognizable character growth to me. When he returns in Army of Ghosts/Doomsday and Stolen Earth/Journey’s End it is as a dramatically changed character, but the change was set up in what came before, and that it happened off screen made sense in context.

    Actually, I have similar feelings about the Martha/Mickey pairing that we glimpse in End of Time. Even though that wasn’t set up, emotionally it made sense to me. That Martha’s off screen relationship (With Tom? I’m not sure if it’s ever explicit that’s who her partner was, but it’s certainly implied.) failed made sense to me. Part of her bond with him was formed in events in an alternate timeline she remembered but he didn’t. It doesn’t sound very sustainable, but Mickey had similar experiences that I think could lead to healthier intimacy. While all that happening off screen is understandably very annoying for some, for me, when I can see or at least easily imagine an emotional through line that makes sense, it really helps make me feel like their lives go on even when they’re not around the Doctor.

    • Korina said:


    • Kirsten said:

      The Mickey/Martha pairing made sad though, because it means that Martha’s marriage ended. While sometimes that happens for good reasons (and we don’t know if he died or if they divorced) and I see your point about that relationship with Tom being problematic- It still makes me sad to know that her relationship happiness didn’t last. I also want to see Mickey with Jack at Torchwood either on-screen or in print. It certainly seems implied that he’d go that way, since he walks off with Jack and Martha in Journey’s End. (Besides Martha had an appearance on Torchwood, so why not Mickey?)

  7. Jennifer said:

    One more thought, several hours later, and almost completely tangential (sorry!): the separation in placement between Rory and Amy on the poll is fascinating, and perhaps food for thought if considering the diviciveness of companions.

  8. Paul Pfeiffer said:

    Thank you so much for doing this episode so these companions won’t be forgotten. Why were these companions at the bottom?
    1) Rose, Mickey and to a lesser extent Jackie – popular but possibly over examined. Personally I love Rose but didn’t vote for her because I assumed everyone else would!
    2) Katarina – Her stories are missing and she was only in a short time.
    3) Grace – Only One story. She would be more popular if Big Finish had been allowed to feature her.
    4) Mel – I love Mel. Contradicting my previous statement, perhaps people haven’t listened to Mel in BF because like the Sixth Doctor, she has been fleshed out
    5) Ben & Polly – Very little remains. BF is slowly pushing Polly up. They really should be higher.
    6) Kamelion – Two stories and poorly used. He could have been great. A shape shifter meant you could have had a different guest star with every story. Such an opportunity lost.
    7) UNIT – Is the Third Doctor era not as popular? Please watch Inferno.
    8) Adric – poor acting from Matthew Waterhouse plus a character who is inconsistently drawn
    9) Adam – poor Adam. How many of us wouldn’t get lottery numbers if we travelled to the future?

    Clara is the best companion ever – Team Clara!!!

  9. I’m never going to think of Katarina the same way again. Of course she didn’t know what she was doing pressing the button that opened the airlock when you think about it. D’oh!

  10. sostorm said:

    I was surprised that no one mentioned Mel in relation to her development in the Big Finish audios. She’s a truly great companion there. She’s smart, compassionate and gets her moments to shine. From the first 50 I’d really recommend The Fires of Vulcan and Bang-Bang-a-Boom!

    Did you miss mentioning Vicky? She seems to be below 1.5% in the poll. Or maybe I just got distracted when you did.

    I’m so not over Donna yet. I would love to have had her for another season.

  11. James McCrory said:

    With reference to Vicky or as I’m sure she would insist on being called – Victoria – she did save the day in Fury from the Deep when the Doctor (Patrick Troughton) discovered it was only her scream that could defeat the creature in the pipes.

  12. Andrew McLean said:

    Katarina was quite capable of understanding what she was doing. This conversation was held in her presence at the start of episode 3:

    STEVEN: That light!
    VYON: It’s the outer door! It’s not fully shut. Quick, or we’ll all be sucked out!

    This explicitly sets up her understanding of the action she takes at the beginning of episode 4. Even if she didn’t fully understand why being sucked out was a problem, the context makes it very clear that this would be a bad thing.

    I’m pretty sure we never hear her say that she believes she’s dead either. She says that they are travelling through the underworld on the way to the place of perfection – and in Greek mythology it’s perfectly possible to do this without being dead. (Although her death was supposedly foretold – by Cassandra? – so she may have expected to die on the journey.)

  13. Thanks for another great episode!

    I was pleased to see that the much maligned Peri didn’t end up in the bottom 1.5%. She was always one of my favourite companions. Yes, this might have something to do with the fact that she joined the programme when I was a 14 year old boy, and because I am not American and don’t necessarily have a problem with fake American accents…

    But even so! I feel that she deserves more attention than she tends to get. I hope she will get some from the Verities on a future podcast. 🙂

  14. sostorm said:

    You’ve probably got everything planned out and such but I’d love to hear a big finish specific episode. Not only for the original companions but also about the progression of the old ones. I’d say Mel is fantastic in BF and Peri’s storyline with Erimem does wonders for her.

  15. Clara is my favourite companion ever and I realise that she won’t be everyone’s favourite but I have been shocked at the visceral hatred i’ve encountered on youtube, not only for the character of Clara but also for the current version of the master. I love them and hope that the 12th Doctor, Clara, Missy and the Moff stay with the show for a few more seasons because they have proven how adventurous and exciting the show can be.

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