What makes a great Doctor Who companion?
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Despite what the title of the show may suggest, The Doctor is not the most important character in the long-running science fiction show Doctor Who. For many reasons, the most important character is in fact his companion, the person who travels with him on wonderful adventures in time and space. The companion is essential for both on and off screen reasons, so it is vital that the show's producers create a character with the right balance of qualities. Off screen, all companions must be an audience surrogate, which, for anyone not familiar with the term, is the character with which the viewer can most closely relate. It is the companion who must ask the questions which the audience has, and must channel our own wonder onto the screen. For this reason, the main companion is typically a (human) person from present day earth, with their extreme normalness emphasised in order for the audience to feel immediately involved in what is otherwise a highly unusual show. When Doctor Who was relaunched in 2005, the choice of companion was, as ever, essential. Rose Tyler, who travelled with the Ninth and Tenth Doctors, was a very modern teenager: in a middling relationship with a middling boyfriend, going through the motions in a dull shop job, and generally bored with her life - until the Doctor comes along. A journey in the TARDIS would seem like the trip of a lifetime for any human, but the Doctor has his own reasons for inviting guests to join him in his adventures. He is the last of his species, his home no longer exists, and he travels through all of time and space in a small box, as he has been doing for hundreds of years. Not only is he prone to feeling lonely, but is also quite long in the tooth. He's been around the block a few times, you could say. This is why the most important trait in a good companion is deceptively simple - they merely need to be a good companion. Matt Smith's Eleventh Doctor once said that if you made the universe your back yard, all you have is a back yard, by which he meant that as well as needing company, he also needed someone who hadn't seen it all before. The wonder a companion would feel upon seeing a distant planet or a collapsing star would rekindle the wonder in himself.
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