With next season’s companion announced, we speculate about Doctor Who’s first male companion in a long time.
The BBC has announced the Doctor’s companion for season 11 of Doctor Who! It’s Graham, played by Bradley Walsh, and he’ll be the first regular male companion on the show since 1984.
Also joining the Doctor next season will be Yasmin and Ryan, played by Mandip Gill and Tosin Cole, respectively. But Walsh’s character will presumably be at the center of the story. It’s a welcome change from the usual dynamic of an older, male Doctor and younger, female companion — especially since the Doctor’s new incarnation is going to be a woman, played by Jodie Whittaker.
So here’s what we know about Graham, the Doctor’s new companion:
Although the Doctor has had male companions in the recent past, such as Nardole and Jack Harkness, they haven’t been as essential to the story as companions like Martha, Donna or Bill have been. Graham will be the first companion since 1984 to be the main companion of the show and be a man.
With the announcement that Thirteen would be female, we did hope to see something like this. It was often speculated that the reason for the choice of always having a female companion for the Doctor was to keep a balance between both genders. While it certainly would have been interesting to see two female characters at the center of the story, it’s a welcome change to see the role of the experienced, rather eccentric protagonist be given to a woman, and the role of the wide-eyed sidekick to a man.
At the age of 58, Walsh is the oldest actor to be cast as a regular companion. New showrunner Chris Chibnall is clearly making revolutionary choices for the next season. By making Graham visibly older than the Doctor, the dynamic significantly changes between the two characters — or at least, the way other characters will perceive them is going to drastically change.
In the past, companions have almost always been young women trying to discover where they fit in in the world. As an older man, Graham’s experiences will probably be different, his vision of the world more colored by experience. However, meeting with the Doctor is bound to change his life and his ideas about the universe. It’ll be interesting to see an older man rediscover his youth and re-examine his life through his experiences with the Doctor.
It also makes us wonder how many times people will confuse Graham for the Doctor, and the Doctor for a companion… something that happens all too often in real life, and which would be very poignant social commentary.
He looks human
It’s unfortunate that there isn’t any news about Walsh playing an alien character — and Graham doesn’t sound like a particularly alien name (although, who knows with Doctor Who). It would have been fun to see a companion that isn’t from Earth, and see human culture through his eyes.
But maybe making Graham an alien would make him harder to relate to, so the showrunners are staying on the safe side of things. There’s still a chance that he could be from the past or from the future — a human with very different life experiences than one would expect, or maybe even prejudices and biases colored by the time he comes from, that are suddenly contradicted by the appearance of the Doctor in his life.
Whoever he’s going to be, Walsh’s presence in Doctor Who signals a new beginning for the show. At this point, we can only speculate about how Graham will meet the Doctor and how the other companions Yasmin and Ryan will come into the story, but it’s an exciting time to be a Doctor Who fan, and we can’t wait to see what season 11 has in store for us.