Before spring break our Doctor Who ExCo discussed the responsibility of the author, that is, what responsibility, if any, a writer or director has on making sure his or her works are socially responsible. In light of the news that Jenna-Louise Coleman had just been announced as Eleven’s newest companion to join next season, we assigned a little thought experiment in which students were given a few minutes to come up with characteristics which their “ideal companion” would have, those which they felt were underrepresented among the companions on Doctor Who. Below is the list of characteristics they came up with. Some are Doctor Who-specific but many are more general and speak for themselves in terms of the need for more diversity on television both in the types of actors cast as well as the characters they play.

  • From the past
  • Curvy
  • Flirty; a female version of Captain Jack Harkness
  • Familial relationship with the Doctor as opposed to a sexual or romantic one
  • Have a pet — after class, Jonas and I discussed how awesome it would be for a companion to bring her pet parrot along for the ride and how heart wrenching it would be for, on the last trip with the Doctor, for said bird to mimic the TARDIS noise or perhaps the Doctor’s catchphrase
  • Regeneration of Jenny
  • Religiously diverse
  • More intelligent and able to challenge things the Doctor suggests
  • Openly LGBTQ
  • Indian
  • Asian
  • Intentionally mischievous
  • Roma/Traveller — this potentially has significant social value among European audiences where discrimination against these communities is high
  • More proactive, aggressive
  • Writes down, photographs, paints or otherwise documents his or her travels with the Doctor
  • More willing to call the Doctor out when he’s wrong
  • Travels with the Doctor for reasons other than 1) he’s hot, witty, and brilliant or 2) to “see all of time and space”
The class also suggested that some additional diversity could be a good thing in the next regeneration of the Doctor. They’d like to see the writers move away from a young Doctor and back to older actors who could play a more parental role.

 

If you’re a Whovian, what do you think? Is there anything you’d add to this list? Do you think Jenna-Louise Coleman seems likely to be what you hoped for in the next companion?

(Photo credit: Fanpop)

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