Blogtor Who continues revealing the secret histories of the Doctor’s former friends in Graham’s group, with… Jo Jones
One of the last, and most lovely, surprises in The Power of the Doctor was when Graham unveiled his support group for former companions. It’s a place for those who once travelled with the Doctor to share their stories. But also their traumas and problems reintegrating into ‘real’ life. It’s a well attended group. But unless you’ve seen an awful lot of Doctor Who, you might not be able place them all. So here’s our roll call of some of the Doctor’s very best friends, continuing with Jo Jones.
Jo Grant was the longest serving companion of the Third Doctor era, a UNIT agent assigned to assist the Doctor in defending the Earth
Jo Jones (nee Grant) is one of the more familiar faces among the group for newer fans. She first appeared in Season Eight in 1971. She got her assignment to UNIT thanks to the influence of her uncle high up in the United Nations. Kate Stewart’s father, the Brigadier, didn’t quite know what to do with her. So he assigned Jo to assist the Doctor by “handing him his test tubes.” On her first day on the job, she got hypnotised by the Master (himself making his very first Doctor Who appearance), and almost blew up UNIT HQ. But she had bravery, an earnest optimism, and a cheeky ability to puncture the Third Doctor’s occasional bouts of pomposity. Combined, they soon made her a favourite with her friends and viewers alike.
Jo stayed for three whole seasons. In her time with UNIT and the Doctor, she encountered the Master an incredible eight times. His alliances with the Autons, the Daleks, the Sea Devils and the Axons, his takeover of a high security prison, his attempts to inherent the awesome powers of the Daemon race, tame the ancient Chronovore Kronos, and claim a planet-killing superweapon. Jo helped the Doctor defeat all these schemes.
Whether on missions for the Time Lords, or after his exile was lifted, Jo also joined the Doctor on travels to the stars
Her time with the Doctor took Jo Grant to the stars. From the planet Peladon in the far future, where the medieval society attempted to negotiate joining the galaxy spanning Federation; to Solos as it struggled to be rid of the oppressive Earth Empire; the xenophobic Inter Minor where a bumbling travelling entertainer had brought an entire menagerie of miniaturised alien monsters; and the planet Spiridon where an army of ten thousand Daleks awaited in hibernation.
But with the Doctor exiled to Earth by the Time Lords, most of her adventures took place on Earth. These even included helping thwart a Dalek invasion from Earth’s own dystopian future. But perhaps most dramatic was when Omega, one of the ancient founders of Time Lord society, attempted to escape the Black Hole where he’d been abandoned, sending his Gel Guards to Earth in the process. That forced the first three Doctors to team up to beat him, with Jo right by their side.
Jo’s main concern always remained protecting her world, whether from aliens or the abuses of humankind, ultimately leading to her departure
Jo Grant was much more concerned with her own time and planet than the average companion though. It’s understandable, maybe, since she didn’t fall into a life of spacefaring adventure with the Doctor, but had actively chosen to pursue a career defending the Earth. When the Time Lords lifted the Doctor’s exile as a reward for his handling of Omega, he increasingly wanted to spend more and more time travelling. But that wasn’t for Jo. At the end of Planet of the Daleks she asks to go home.
It will turn out to be her last trip in the TARDIS. Not long afterwards she meets and falls in love with the crusading ecologist Professor Clifford Jones, a man she describes as reminding her of a younger version of the Doctor. But it’s more than just love that keeps Jo’s feet on the ground. Like Ryan Sinclair decades later, she has a great concern for the fate of her own world, and convinced that she can play a part in protecting its environment.
She and Cliff marry and head on an expedition up the Amazon river. They’re hoping to find a new type of fungus that they believe they can cultivate as a versatile, healthy, meat replacement. Who said Doctor Who in 1973 wasn’t ahead of its time?
Jo reunited with the Eleventh Doctor in The Sarah Jane Adventures in 2010
Years later Jo, now Jo Jones, would return to our screens again in The Sarah Jane Adventures. In the 2010 story Death of the Doctor Sarah Jane received news from UNIT of the Doctor’s supposed death. She’s summoned to the funeral, which naturally turns out to be a trap. But there she meets Jo, her predecessor as the Doctor’s travelling companion, or the first time.
Jo’s now the matriarch of a sprawling family of seven children and thirteen grandchildren, each named after the various cities of the world where they were born as the Jones travelled the world doing good. They climbed trees, tore down barricades, flew kites on Kilimanjaro, and sailed down the Yangtze in a tea chest. Jo even once handcuffed herself to the notorious Robert Mugabe. Together, Jo, Sarah Jane and the Bannerman Road kids expose the lie behind the funeral. They rescue the Doctor from the talons of the Shansheeth into the bargain, getting to meet the Matt Smith incarnation.
Jo also gets to reconcile with the Doctor after he just dropped out of her life all those years ago once she’d decided to get married. But he assures her of his pride in all his former companions. He even reveals he’d looked for her during the Tenth Doctor’s ‘farewell tour’ of companions in The End of Time. And in a beat echoed by The Power of the Doctor, both Jo and Sarah Jane end the episode comforted by the thought of being part of a wider family of former companions doing good around the world.
Jo Jones continues to live her Doctor Who life on audio, and in special minisodes
The former Ms Grant also featured in two special minisodes promoting The Collection Blu-ray range. These reunited her with Stewart Bevan as Jo’s husband Cliff, battling giant maggots and Autons. Big Finish have also explored Jo’s later years, as well as many extra adventures set during her original time with the Doctor. In UNIT: Assembled, UNIT reactivate her status and bring her back into the fold alongside old colleagues Yates and Benton. Kate Stewart sends Jo with Osgood to negotiate with a Sea Devil faction before the whole UK comes under attack by an army of militant Silurians. In Killing Time the Master once more draws her into his the schemes. But this time wearing the face of Utopia’s Sir Derek Jacobi!
Meanwhile, The Turn of the Tides reunites her with Sarah Jane’s protege Rani Chandra, as they confront an alien race who has sentenced humanity to death for its ecological abuses. Jo’s even teamed up with Captain Jack Harkness! In Torchwood: The Green Life, the pair return to Llanfairfach to discover the giant maggots aren’t extinct after all.
Jo will always be one of the most iconic Doctor Who companions, loved by everyone who’s seen her adventures. One of the staunchest defenders of the Earth, it’s no wonder she’s also one of the ones representing the Doctor’s family there in The Power of the Doctor.
Doctor Who returns in November 2023 for three 60th Anniversary specials