Earlier tonight, BBC Four screened Sidekick Stories, a show celebrating the TV sidekick. You can see the Doctor Who part of it below the synopsis:

Narrated by Catherine Tate (Donna Noble to David Tennant’s Dr Who), Sidekick Stories looks at the role of the assistant/companion on television, from drama to sitcom, and light entertainment to children’s programmes. What are the literary antecedents of the TV sidekick – and who’s the greatest of them all? What’s the dramatic function of the game show hostess? Did the That’s Life reporters feel emasculated? How do you create a memorable robot? And what’s it like playing straight man to a puppet?

We examine the role of the companion in Dr Who (the man with the most sidekicks in TV history) and reveal the hidden talents of the magician’s assistant. There’s Edward Hardwicke on how to play Dr Watson; Andrew Sachs on the enduring appeal of Manuel, and Isla St Clair on life as ‘principal boy’ to Larry Grayson’s ‘dame’.

See the Who~related part of the show in the player below – it includes interviews with DAVID TENNANT (The Tenth Doctor), ELISABETH SLADEN (Sarah Jane Smith) and JOHN LEESON (the voice of K9) amongst others. Be warned – this clip features scenes from K9 & Company…


  1. As a fan of DOCTOR WHO and James Bond, I can't stress enough how tired I am of the whole "Assistants used to be giggly girls who get into trouble, but are now strong and independent women!" shtick. For one thing, Barbara and other early female companions (Polly, Zoe) were pretty resourceful when called upon to be. It's incredibly disrespectful to the actresses who played those characters when a new actress comes in and says, "My character is different! She can take care of herself!" Moreover, the companions are not the central hero of the drama – the Doctor is. Therefore, it stands to reason that they would need him to rescue them on a fairly regular basis. That's true of male and female companions throughout the program's entire history. Did Jamie MacCrimmon get in any less trouble than Jo Grant during their respective tenures in the TARDIS? Was Turlough really more self-reliant than Tegan? Finally, the primary purpose of having a human companion is so the audience can fully appreciate the adventure of going to alien worlds and seeing strange, often terrifying things. Humans, male and female, react in quite a variety of different ways when faced with the weird and dangerous. The idea that every female companion should be like Leela, able to fight her way out of trouble with her bare hands, is just unrealistic. Just because a person in a strange setting, facing situations they've never experienced before, gets themselves into some trouble and has to be rescued by someone who does know the ropes, doesn't make that person stupid, helpless, or "lesser". It just makes them human. The cliche that all female WHO companions before year 19XX or 20XX were just screaming bimbos is absurd and insulting to both the actors and the writers who created their characters.

  2. Sladen looks hotter now than she did in K9 & Company which is odd given the amount of time passed. Maybe it's just having a better hairdo makes older women look younger. Either way she's looking lovely.

  3. Any chance you could load the video on Youtube? I'd love to see it, but yours doesn't work for me either at home on dial-up or at work with a fast connection. At work, I get "There was a problem playing your video. File has invalid structure–Unable to load video." Got that at home once too, but then it started to work, but only for a few seconds. Thought it might be the dial-up at home, which is why I tried at work. Thanks in advance for any help you can give!


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