Earlier in the month, Candy Jar Books released an unofficial guide to the companions of ‘Doctor Who’. Along with it, they set up a poll to see who fans thought were the best companions. The results, apparently, are in:
9. Amy Pond
8. River Song
6. Romana and Jaime McCrimmon (tie)
4. Rose Tyler
3. Donna Noble
2. Sarah Jane Smith
Far be it for me to question the legitimacy of an internet poll, as they are known for being statistically accurate (sarcasm implied), but I wonder just what sort of fans were aware of this poll.
After all, if you look at this list and think that it has a heavy dose of NUWho and 80s Who, you’d be right. You’d also be right to note that there is a surprisingly lack of male characters on that list, which, if I’m going to be honest, I mostly object to because Turlough is my favorite companion. The poll, apparently, still going on here, though the publisher tweeted the results as definitive.
But really, the most surprising fact is not just that Tegan Jovanka beat out Sarah Jane Smith (the most well-loved companion), but that she won the poll altogether. In fact, I’m not the only one surprised. The amazing Janet Field, who played Tegan, also expressed her disbelief:
“Are you sure you mean me? Tegan? The Mouth on Legs? That’s fantastic. And rather unexpected.”
Now, while I personally have never been fond of Tegan as a character, I understand that it is an opinion and it is stupid to fight about opinions that are about simple like and dislike. But, yet, here I am, trying to say as tactfully as I can, how confusing it is to me that Tegan would even make it to a top ten list.
Why? Because Tegan’s entire stay on the TARDIS can be summed up like this:
Tegan’s story is as follows: She accidentally boards the TARDIS after her car breaks down, and she is whisked away by the Fourth Doctor, who then promptly dies. She thereafter travels with the Fifth Doctor, and while he tries to get her home, he keeps failing. She does eventually make it, and she leaves ‘Doctor Who’ forever. For NUWho fans, the doctor’s experience with her were famously described as “I once spent a long time trying to get a gobby Australian to Heathrow Airport.”
Do you see my problem?
For one of the longest running companions, Tegan certainly wants to go home an awful lot, and as someone who desperately wants to gad about on the TARDIS to all the timelines and all the planets, I find that concept sort of offensive. Sure, you can feed me the line about how Tegan never wanted to be on the TARDIS in the first place, and try to garner some sort of sympathy from me, but it doesn’t wash. First off, all she wants to do is go to Heathrow, and I’ve been there. That is a horrid place. And secondly, Peri, a sixth doctor companion, didn’t want to board the TARDIS either, and she still went on uncomplainingly…
… and that’s even after the Doctor tried to choke her death (“The Caves of Androzani”).
Or, I suppose you can say that Tegan went through a lot when she was a companion and it’s only natural she would want to go back to Earth where she would feel safe. If we say that, though, we’ll have to just ignore the fact that her life was as equally in danger on Earth as it was anywhere else.
But really, all I can think of when I think of bad things that happened to Tegan is that she had some nightmares, and then got spooked by the Daleks. Then I wonder… how many times did Rose face off against the Daleks, and still want to be a companion? Rose even thanked the Doctor as she was about to be exterminated in the episode “Dalek”, and that was only the sixth episode of her run.
This is not to say Tegan isn’t a strong character and doesn’t deserve love in light of other companions. She was strong, independent, and unafraid to express her opinion… and unafraid to wear the worst styles the 80s had to offer. But when it comes down to judging someone on being a good companion, I’d rather the prize go to someone itching to go away with the Doctor than someone who’s not.
So all of this, I think, begs this very pertinent and relevant question: “WHY NOT ME?” Yes, I’ll admit that I find myself disliking Tegan simply because she had the opportunity of a lifetime and she didn’t truly appreciate it. So why not me? I ask again. Well, the obvious answer is that ‘Doctor Who’ isn’t real, but I’ll figure out how to get around that some day.
Who do you folks think should have won?