Choosing The New Companion

We have our new Doctor – whether you like it or not (as THE Colin Baker once said) – so the next question is: who’ll be accompanying him?

So it’s Matt Smith. Some will no doubt refuse to pay their licence fee until some old codger is given the part. Others will complain he’s not good-looking enough. Others will write their MP demanding BBC heads should roll because they missed the chance to introduce a black Doctor.

But it’s Matt Smith. Learn to live with it. Sure there’s a certain lack of years/eyebrows/ethnicity, but just fix on those eyes – do they say otherworldly or what? And that brow (has someone counted the statues on Easter Island recently?) – how imposing is that? It’s hard to deny that he has a certain presence and charisma.

Of course, controversy will rage until we actually get to see him in the role, and even then some will love him and some will hate him (though for some odd people that seems to rest purely on whether or not he gets his hair cut). So give the lad a chance.

Besides which, you’ve got to save some vitriol for when the new companion is announced. Quite a few Internet pundits have been postulating that with such a young Doctor, maybe we’ll be getting another older, Donna-style companion. However, new exec producer Piers Wenger seems to hinting that may not be the case in an interview with The Telegraph, in which he says that they’re looking for: “Someone terribly exciting like Billie Piper, who was at the beginning of her acting career but who had a profile for other reasons. We are looking for someone whose light can burn brightly."

The Telegraph suggests this means candidates like Lily Allen, Rachel Stevens or Kelly Brook - known names with other strings to their bow rather than just acting who could be an unexpected acting revelation. And hey, they've obviously saved a few bob getting in Matty boy, so maybe they're going to splash out on a companion who can make a splash? Or maybe not. This is the BBC after all. And it'd be a shame if quirky, jobbing actresses like Jemima Rooper were out of the frame just because they've never released a single or hosted a chat show.

Anyway, we'd like to put forward a few suggestions. Doubtlessly none of these'll be the final choice, but let’s see how near we can get to how the current production team’s thinking. And remember, while some of them may seem outlandish, no-one took us seriously when we suggested Billie Piper back in 2004:

Hayden Panettiere
Best known for: Heroes
Age: 19
Pros: Well, she’s certainly well-known already, and she’ll probably be out of a job soon if Heroes’s ratings continue to nose-dive.
Cons: Would casting an American be a too obvious sop to Stateside sales? Plus, she’s probably wouldn’t want to move to the UK anyway.

Konnie Huq
Best known for: Blue Peter
Age: 33
Pros: Well, now that another white boy has been cast as the Doctor, maybe the show needs to consider another ethnic companion. Huq was always very popular with the Dads on Blue Peter so she could perform the magic again on Doctor Who.
Cons: We’re betting that the new companion won’t be older than the actor playing the Doctor. And while she’s never had a major acting gig (an extra in 2point4 Children is the highlight), her apology over kittengate was so cringey to watch we don’t have much faith in her acting ability.

Connie Fisher
Best known for: Winning that Maria thing
Age: 25
Pros: Wenger says he wants someone with a "profile for other reasons" and the former Maria from The Sound of Music certainly has that. Because of her Saturday night light entertainment connections she’s somebody who can play the "family friendly” ticket (hey, your nan’ll know her) and she was pretty good in that ITV drama over Christmas (apparently… nobody on SFX watched it). She’s also said she'd love to do it.
Cons: Apart from her name (ba-dum tish)? Do we really need a female John Barrowman?

Andrea Riseborough
Best known for: The Devil’s Whore
Age: 29
Pros: Well, she was in Party Animals, so she knows Matt Smith, which is handy. She’s a great, feisty Geordie actress who could add a bit of spark to the show.
Cons: Not really a household name.

Michelle Ryan
Best known for: EastEnders
Age: 24
Pros: She’s a good little actress, she’s got a great public profile and the stalker mags love her. Bionic Woman may have flopped but that wasn’t her fault. And, of course, she was in Moffat’s Jekyll, and we all know the Who team’s predilection towards people they’ve worked with before.
Cons: The Bionic Woman flopped, which may lead some rags to drone on about how she’s come back to slum it in UK TV. And anyway, we’d rather see more of her all gothed up in Merlin. Those dresses suit her.

Carey Mulligan
Best known for: Sally Sparrow in "Blink"
Age: 23
Pros: Okay, okay, this is the fan-wish choice. We all loved her in “Blink” and we don’t want to think that Sally Sparrow will never appear in Doctor Who again.
Cons: It’s just too much of a fan-wish of an idea. And again, Mulligan isn’t exactly the headline-grabbing name Wenger’s hinting at.

Emma Watson
Best known for: The Harry Potter Movies
Age: 18
Pros: You couldn’t really get a bigger headline-grabbing name than this. And she’s developing into an ever greater actress with each Potter film.
Cons: Probably far too expensive, and a bit plummy, old-school Who.

Agyness Deyn
Best known for: supermodelling
Age: 25
Pros: Well, as the current It-girl she certainly gets column inches but not always for the right reasons.
Cons: Was voted most irritating person of 2008 on BBC3, which isn’t a good omen. And she probably can’t act for toffee (and wouldn’t anyway, because sweets make you fat).

Anjli Mohindra
Best known for: The Sarah Jane Adventures
Age: 18
Pros: She’s already in the Whoniverse, as Rani in the Doctor Who CBBC spin-off, where she’s turned in some impressive performances. And she’s certainly young and good looking enough. And she fulfills the ethnic remit as well.
Cons: Not really a big enough name by any stretch of the imagination, and the new production team probably wouldn’t want the old regime’s hand-me-downs.

Lily Cole
Best known for: Modelling
Age: 20
Pros: Another It-girl, she’s the face of M&S, so she certainly has a high enough profile. She’s also proven her acting chops in the better-than-it-had-any-right-to-be St Trinian’s movie, and will soon be seen in Terry Gilliam’s The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus.
Cons: She has a very idiosyncratic beauty, with some people calling her the prettiest thing in all creation and others saying looks like her face has been drawn on a balloon.

Alexa Chung
Best known for: Presenting on E4
Age: 25
Pros: You should have seen the reaction from all the men in the SFX office to this suggestion.
Cons: No evidence at all that she can act.

Georgia Moffett
Best known for: Spooks Code 9
Age: 25
Pros: Although not a massive name in herself, Moffett generated a lot of publicity when she appeared in the Who epsiode “The Doctor’s Daughter” because she is a Doctor’s daughter – Peter Davison’s. And, of course, now she’s another Doctor’s (Tennant’s) girlfriend. All good headline-grabbing stuff. And the idea of a father/daughter team who look the same age has certain dramatic possibilities.
Cons: Again, the new team will want to put its own stamp on the show rather than use established characters, and it is a bit of a fan’s-wet-dream suggestion. But while we think there’s little chance she will be the companion, we’re sure we’ll be seeing more of Jenny.

Gemma Arterton
Best known for: Going from Bond girl to Tess of the D’Urbervilles
Age: 22
Pros: A superb actress who's shone in a bewildering variety of roles – from St Trinian’s to Quantum of Solace to Lost in Austen – she’s certainly a young actress with a big career ahead of her. And "Bond Girl To Who Girl" – think of the headlines that’ll make.
Cons: Possibly too expensive already, and would she want to tie herself down to a series that takes so long to shoot?

Lily Allen
Best known for: kooky pop songs
Pros: She has the profile and ability to create column inches
Cons: Little evidence she can act, though her disastrous chat show hints that her TV persona may not have the necessary charisma. Also, another pop star after Billie? It’s a little too obvious, surely.

A Talking Cabbage
Best known for: making schoolkids throw up
Age: Unknown
Pros: Tom Baker’s own choice for a companion.
Cons: Tom Baker’s barking.