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The Gallifrey Times team’s reactions to the new companions

It was recently announced that Bradley Walsh, Mandip Gill and Tosin Cole will be joining the show as the new companions – Graham, Yasmin and Ryan, respectively – opposite Jodie Whittaker’s 13th Doctor.

Now the excitement has settled and we’ve had time to discuss the news and develop our opinions, here’s our team’s initial reactions to the new companions.

Ben (Assistant Editor)

My very first reaction to the news was pretty much: “Bradley Walsh! Who are the other two? I don’t know. But still… Bradley Walsh!”

I have to admit, I’m a big fan of The Chase (the gameshow, not the 1965 Doctor Who episode, although that was pretty good too) and I’ve seen Walsh presenting others shows such as Cash Trapped and Wheel of Fortune. I always enjoy watching him, as he has a great energy, a good wit and a real friendly vibe. I’ve only seen him acting professionally in The Sarah Jane Adventures – and one episode of Coronation Street that I think my Nan had on once – and from what I saw he’s a pretty good actor, so I’m excited to see how he gets on as a companion.

As for Mandip and Tosin, I’ve not seen either of them before, so I can’t really comment on their acting chops. I do like not having seen them though, as I’ve got no idea what they’re going to be like. 

My second reaction to the news – and I’ll probably get harassed for pointing this out – was that it seem Chibnall, knowingly or otherwise, has pretty much covered all bases with the casting, with multiple ages, genders and races. This is obviously a good thing, as it’s great to see diversity and it’s exactly what the Doctor would do – travel with all different people. However, there is a small part of me that this is trying a little to hard to please everybody.
Finally, I’m excited to see a busy TARDIS again. In the past we’ve had several companion trios, from the original companions (Ian, Barbara and Susan) to the latest crew of Bill, Nardole and Missy. It often works well – with one companion in trouble and the other companions helping the Doctor to find them – but not always, as we’ve seen with Nyssa/Tegan/Adric and, dare I mention them, Clara/Angie/Artie. The only qualm I do have with a big TARDIS team is it’s a lot of people to introduce in one go. Whereas the Ponds were introduced one at a time, most of the first episode will no doubt be spent introducing and establishing the three companions, possibly overshadowing the new Doctor a little.

Anyway, it’s exciting that we’re now at the point where bits of information are being revealed about series 11 and overall I’m quite excited to see how the new companions – Walsh in particular – get on aboard the TARDIS.

(Also, is it just me or does Jodie’s hair look a little reminiscent of the Eleventh Doctor’s trademark quiff in that photo?)

Andrew (Podcast)

The surprise to me that apparently wasn’t a surprise to many is the inclusion of Bradley Walsh as a Doctor Who companion. I had heard the rumours but thought them to be a joke as I can’t see a guy from an afternoon game show having too much pedigree as a companion! In all honesty I’ve heard a couple of negative things about his previous attempts at acting so let’s hope he is able to prove pre-disposed critics wrong! 

Tosin Cole for me is an exciting unknown but having been told he played a role in Star Wars the force awakens I can only see this as great potential for his contribution in the show. Mandip Gill I have seen acting before in Hollyoaks a couple of years back I think, I’m not a huge fan of Hollyoaks and find it pretty flimsy (similar to The Chase) but I thought Gill’s character to be a refreshingly good one well acted which I’m sorry but I find slightly unusual for Hollyoaks! Can’t wait to see how her acting has developed and I definitely think she will work well with Jodie Whittaker and the rest of the new TARDIS team.

Kitty (news)

All we know about the new companions are that there are three, two males and one female. We know the actors playing the roles but aside from giving us an idea of their level of skill in acting, it does not give us any insight into the companion characters themselves. 

I know many people are complaining that the TARDIS may be crowded with 3 companions. However, I believe this complaint to be unfair for a variety of reasons. First off, we do not know the dynamic for how the companions and Doctor will interact for the new series. We do not know that all three companions will be travelling in the TARDIS at one time. Also, in the classic era of Doctor Who a large TARDIS team did not hurt the story or take away from the Doctor being the Doctor. If the characters are well written and have good interactions and chemistry then a large TARDIS team will be a benefit to the show. It allows any reactions to situations the ability to occur in a natural way from a variety of perspectives. Those perspectives can then intermingle and create discussion among the companions and in turn bring all perspectives to a single conclusion together, which mirrors the viewing audience and their respective perspectives. 
I fully support the choice to have multiple companions for series 11. I do not, however, know for certain if I will enjoy it or not because it hasn’t been filmed yet… So naturally I’ve not had the chance to watch it. Instead of forming an opinion early on or complaining because the opportunity to be bad is present (And when isn’t it?) I am instead eagerly awaiting the new series and the surprises it has in store. I can’t wait to meet them.

Suman (news)

Unlike my instantly positive reaction to Jodie Whittaker’s casting, my thoughts on last week’s companion announcement are somewhat more mixed. It’s undoubtedly a smart move from Chris Chibnall to choose a combination of actors capable of appealing to an incredibly broad demographic, and the diversity of casting is to be applauded – as a British woman of Indian origin, I particularly welcome the show’s introduction of someone from a similar background as a regular companion for the first time.

It’s also great to see Doctor Who shake things up by announcing a team of companions rather than the single one we’ve become used to in the modern era. However, whilst I’m pretty sure the TARDIS has room for them all, I do worry that the introduction of several companions at once may split the focus that each character deserves as well as overshadow the Thirteenth Doctor’s debut. I am, as always, prepared to wait and see – and hopefully to be proven wrong!

I must confess to being totally unaware of Tosin Cole before the news, and have only a passing familiarity with Mandip Gill through her work on Cuckoo and Doctors. However, as with Pearl Mackie before them, it’s quite refreshing not to have any preconceptions and I really look forward to seeing what they’ll bring to Doctor Who. Having said that, I’m glad to see those Bradley Walsh rumours confirmed! His public persona as an entertainer and host belies his natural acting ability, and I found his performances in Law and Order UK to be consistently warm, convincing and engaging.

Overall, I’m feeling cautiously optimistic about Doctor Who‘s new TARDIS team and have faith that, if nothing else, Chibnall has chosen a strong ensemble cast to join Whittaker for what is shaping up to be a very intriguing Series 11!

So, that’s what our team thought. If you’d like to share your initial thoughts on the new companions, you can do so in the comments below or send us a tweet on Twitter.