Today’s big news from the world of Doctor Who is the Beeb’s unveiling of the Doctor’s companions. Yes, companions plural! Ever since the show came back in 2005 we have had one Doctor and one companion stories with only brief appearances of secondary companions – step forward Mickey Smith (Noel Clarke), Rory Williams (Arthur Darvill) and possibly Captain Jack Harkness (John Barrowman). It was waaay back in the Eighties when we last saw a TARDIS team of four regulars. Where the writing is concerned, more characters make for increased drama and dynamics which is a great thing. What dogged some tales back then was that, in the previous format, writers couldn’t accommodate the larger cast which often led to regulars being sidelined by flimsy excuses. There was also times when arguing and tension replaced strong dramatic character interactions. But with 23-ish minute episodes the plot understandably had to take centre stage.
A popular and talented actor/performer, Bradley Walsh is a self-confessed long-time fan of Doctor Who and even starred as the villainous Pied Piper in The Sarah Jane Adventures episode The Day of the Clown. He played different personas of an alien entity and adopted the aliases of Elijah Spellman and Odd Bob the Clown. A two-year period on Coronation Street and host of the game show, The Chase (not to be confused with the First Doctor serial of the same name – or is that just me who gets flashes of Hartnell and Daleks when I hear the show mentioned?) Do I think he’ll be good as a regular cast member? Well, it may take a bit of getting use to as Walsh is such a personable chap. It will come down to his performance and his part as written to see if he’ll convince as his new character.One thing worries me however; is he going to be a token white male to be made fun of and get into silly scrapes to be rescued? If so then the series will suffer for it. So let’s hope that no gender politics is at work here. Male companions have gotten the short straw character-wise since the show’s revival. Few exceptions such as the aforementioned Captain Jack have fared well, often being comic foils to the female companion. Emasculated and lacking in courage or intelligence, male companions and acquaintances rarely get the chance to progress the story and are often thinly written stereotypes. My concern is that Bradley Walsh will continue the buffoon line and waste and excellent actor.