In the company of friends
There are loads of Doctor Who spinoffs. We're not just talking Torchwood, Sarah Jane Adventures and now Class, but also the many books, audios and comic strips that have been released over the last few decades. Which got us thinking about some of the many memorable characters that started life off-screen and about which ones we'd like to see make the leap to the TV show...
"I am Abslom Daak, Dalek Killer!" With a name like that you pretty much know what to expect. The love of Abslom's life was murdered by the Daleks and now he seeks revenge, cleaving through the tinpot terrors with his trusty chainsword. Thuggish and brutal, he may well be the antithesis of the Doctor, but the two have fought side-by-side several times, in comics and novels. And if you're thinking that his face looks familiar, it's because he cameod briefly in last year's episode, "Time Heist". A full appearance would be more than welcome.
Kroton the Cyberman
Yep, we've seen good Daleks, but how about a good Cyberman?
Kroton first appeared in the Doctor Who Weekly story "Throwback", where he was described as a "Junior Cyberleader", which conjures up all sorts of bizarre thoughts about Cyber-training programmes. Our man discovers that he has sympathy for some humans and rebels against his race. Cut to nearly 20 years later, and the character was brought back for Doctor Who Magazine's Unnatural Born Killers. He then went on to travel with the Eighth Doctor for a time, before settling down to become controller of The Glory - a big cosmic thingummy, basically.
Most of the Doctor's companions are young. Professor Evelyn Smythe, however, was a wonderful break from that norm. 55 years old when we first meet her in The Marian Conspiracy, she's older, wiser, but just as keen on adventure as the rest of the Doctor's friends.
A history teacher by trade, she was delighted to be shown the universe by the Doctor. Over the course of many years and adventures she brought out a warmer, gentler side in his usually irascible Sixth incarnation, and actor Maggie Stables proved an excellent foil to Colin Baker. Sadly, Stables passed away in 2014, and recasting would be a dreadful idea. Still, Evelyn proved that age is no barrier to adventuring long before Bernard Cribbins' Wilf stepped inside the TARDIS.
Occasionally fans moan about all the companions in the new series being human. Well, if the production team wanted to be really adventurous they could do worse than introduce Frobisher the Whifferdill from the Doctor Who Magazine comic (later played by Robert Jezek on audio).
Whifferdills are a race of alien shapeshifters so Frobisher could, in theory, look like anyone. But a bad case of mono-morphia has trapped him in the body of a penguin... He's great witty and intelligent and even better for being in the form of a walking, talking flightless bird.
First introduced in Paul Cornell's 1992 Doctor Who novel Love And War Bernice (or Benny, as most of her friends call her) is an archaeologist from the future and companion of the Doctor. But unlike River Song, Bernice is most assuredly down to Earth. She serves to ground the manipulative, mysterious Seventh Doctor in the New Adventures novels and it's this earthiness that has helped the character endure for so long.
Yes, despite the fact that she was introduced 23 years ago, she still features in new novels and audio plays - both with and without the Doctor. That's down to the character's qualities: she's resourceful and proactive, but not superhuman. She's prone to doubt and melancholy, but always sharp and witty. It's also, arguably, down to Lisa Bowerman the perfectly cast actress who embodies her in the audio plays. She looks and sounds exactly how you imagine Benny would look and sound and, to be frank, it's about time Steven Moffat got on the phone to her...
A bonkers Time Lady (probably) who travels the universe in a red Double-Decker bus? That's our Iris. Originally introduced in Paul Magrs' Who novel "The Scarlett Empress", she has since gone on to get her own range of audios (where she is played exuberantly by Katy Manning) and an entire line of short fiction anthologies form Obverse Books. She's a divisive character, Iris, and fans either love or loathe her. But at her best she's a wonderfully warm and likeable character, like a funhouse mirror image of the Doctor.
Originally introduced in the Doctor Who Magazine comic, Shayde is an artificial construct created by the minds of the Time Lords that reside in the Matrix (basically, where Time Lords go when they die). He's a deadly agent with one very distinctive feature: he's got a ball for a head! Despite his occasional shadiness (you see what they did there?) he worked alongside both the Fifth and Eighth Doctor, and has appeared in a Big Finish audio play No Place Like Home.