Doctor Who Series 5 SPOILERS: New companion!

By Phil Plait | May 29, 2009 9:30 am

BIG SPOILER (kinda) for DOCTOR WHO SERIES/SEASON 5! Go away if you want to be unspoilt!

[Looks around. OK, good.]

Karen Gillan, the new Doctor Who companion

It looks like the old rumors were wrong: the new companion for the Doctor has been officially announced by the BBC: it’s a woman named Karen Gillan. She played a soothsayer in "Fires of Pompeii", so she’s at least mildly a DW veteran. There’s not much info on her online — though that’ll change pretty quickly, I assure you, and I expect this woman will see an uptick in friends on Facebook — except that she’s 21 years old and has done a few acting stints.

I make no assumptions about her at the moment; Billie Piper wasn’t known as an actress before Doctor Who and she turned out brilliantly. We’ll see.

So now we have a new show runner, a new Doctor, and a new companion! I’m even more excited now about seeing the specials coming out this year and the next, leading into a new chapter for my favorite TV show.



Comments (60)

  1. I may finally have to start watching if they’re bringing in actresses as hot as her %) Of course, she has to actually be good, and I’m taking Phil’s word that the show is awesome anyway.

  2. Sundance

    At first I thought this was going to get a bit sexist, and then I looked at the BBC announcement, and it carried on about how a generation of young boys are going to be drooling over her – and I thought “too late!”

    So let me just add “And she’s a redhead! Woot!”

  3. Joe Meils

    Redhead. Celtic princess type… (In the words of Penny Robinson in the awful Lost in Space movie… OUCH!!!) 😉

  4. Rift

    I thought she was brilliant in ‘Fires of Pompeii”. An Excellent choice. And yeah… Redhead… Woot!

    edit- Ooops, I thought she was the daughter in ‘Fires’, I’m bad. They look similar.

  5. Robert T.

    The one in the Facebook link must be another Karen Gillian. I personally like Billie Piper. Sad that she had to end up in an alternate universe. I wonder who the new doctor is. Ah, research…

  6. OtherRob

    So when do those of us in the States get to see the 2008 Christmas special (the preview you posted a while back looked like it’s going to be fun) and the 2009 “specials”? Will they make it to Sci-Fi or BBC America?

  7. Robert T.

    Hmm, Karen Gillian looks very young for the part. She could easily have been the Moon Princess in Moonacre.

  8. Tak

    As much as I’m trying to be really optimistic–even being a newcomer to Doctor Who I know that it’s often hard to accept a new Doctor and companion but that they usually turn out okay anyway–for some reason I’m getting a really disturbing “Twilight” vibe from the new cast. I really hope that ends up to not be the case.

  9. Stu

    A very young-looking, floppy-haired, boy band singer Doctor with a very young, gorgeous, flaming-locked companion… hmmm… pleeeeeeease BBC don’t turn DW into “Hollyoaks In Space”… 😮

    No, I have faith in the producers, all will be well I’m sure.

    But if the interior of the Tardis is suddenly painted black, and its floor is covered with dirty washing and discarded takeaway containers, and if the walls are decorated with guitars, framed Che Guevara posters and nicked traffic cones I’m turning over… 😉

  10. Charles Boyer

    Deliciously British, she is.

  11. I’m not happy that there’s going to be a new Doctor. Tennant was brilliant in the role. Companions come and go and this one will probably be O.K., but if Stu is right about the Tardis it’s goodbye from me.

  12. Matthew

    OtherRob, the 2008 Christmas special should be shown on BBC America on the 27th of June, with Planet Of The Dead sometime in July.

    The guy in charge of BBC America has said that if he’d been around at the time, Doctor Who would never have gone to Sci-Fi.

  13. Sarcastro

    Woof! If she’s got a Scottish brogue – like Clare Grogan, the original Kochanski in Red Dwarf – I don’t think I’ll make it through an episode without a trip or two to mah bunk.

  14. Joe Meils


    You think maybe the producers are going overboard in “Youthenizing” Dr. Who?

  15. Matt A

    Not long ago, I was talking about Doctor Who to someone – another fan of the series – and bemoaned the fact that it’s been a damn long time since the Doctor had a heterosexual male companion. Now, I acknowledge my complaint is more than a little unfair: Mickey Smith travelled in the TARDIS on several occasions, and Noel Clarke made a very good showing with a character who was not always well written. But there’s been a theme running under the show of late that I think is in danger of overstaying its welcome, or at least overplaying its hand; The companion (or, frankly, anyone who happens to be nearby) in love. Rose, Madame De Pompadour, Martha, Joan Redfern, Captain Jack, River Song… and that’s just the obvious ones; some people would throw John Simm’s version of The Master in there too, for starters. It was nice to have Donna and the Doctor be very pointedly not entangled, but if this new series goes back to the Doctor/Rose dynamic, I’ll be slightly disappointed even if it’s well-written. I liked the very different dynamic you got in the past; the Brigadier in particular, although Jamie, Leela, and Sarah Jane also stand out. Then, it was people on adventures together, and not a lovestruck girl – however feisty and capable – making moon-eyes in the wake of His Awesomeness.

    This is, of course, a big leap to take based on one picture. But hell, she’s gorgeous, and Matt Smith isn’t exactly hard on the eyes (some female fans I know strongly disagree, in fairness), and it might seem like a case of if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. But I think it’s time for a change. And by posting my opinion here, on an astronomy blog, naturally, it will be received and taken seriously at the very highest levels of BBC Wales. Oh, damn, I’ve wasted another twenty minutes of my life, haven’t I? Never a TARDIS handy when you need one…

  16. I was just thinking the Doctor is long overdue for a male companion, or a pair of companions, or even a non-human companion! I was hoping that Moffat would mix things up, but maybe it’s too early for that yet.

  17. OtherRob

    OtherRob, the 2008 Christmas special should be shown on BBC America on the 27th of June, with Planet Of The Dead sometime in July.

    The guy in charge of BBC America has said that if he’d been around at the time, Doctor Who would never have gone to Sci-Fi.

    Thank you, thank you, thank you, Matthew. I’m really happy to hear that. 😀

    Between DW, Torchwood, and Top Gear, I’m growing quite fond of BBC America.

  18. Matthew

    No problems mate!

    Don’t forget that David Tennant will be making a guest appearance in the third series of The Sarah Jane Adventures. K9 will be in it as well.

  19. They do seem determined to maintain the sexual chemistry between the Doctor and his human companion du jour. For anyone bemoaning the lack of heterosexual male companions, that’ll probably only happen when the BBC suits decide to make the Doctor become a hot woman in his/her new incarnation.

  20. Mena

    Maybe the Brits here can answer this question. I thought that Billie Piper was fairly well known in the UK before Doctor Who. She wasn’t?

  21. Voltaire

    Phil, you’re the person who turned me on to Doctor Who and showed me I was missing the greatest sci-fi series of all-time. I love your posts about the show. But in the finest tradition of speaking up only when things go wrong…

    “[Billie Piper] turned out brilliantly.”

    No. Hell no.

    But, I would also like to say that I am excited for Series 5. This will be the first new Doctor while I’m a fan of the show, and I’m excited to experience that. I also fully trust in Moffat – his two-parter “Silence in the Library/Forrest of the Dead” was one of the finest bits of Dr. Who I’ve ever seen, and Professor Song’s potential has me incredibly excited. I can’t wait to see where Moffat goes with her. I know she’ll be back. Which leads me to…

    I do somewhat agree with you, Matt A, that the “love” card is in danger of being overplayed. However, I think that is only because it is the topic at hand. The “Doctor in Love” could easily be the subtitle of the entire renewed series, and I don’t mind that. I view it like so: the Doctor has been a teenager all these years, running around and having adventures and being young and reckless, but now he’s starting to grow up. He even fell in love (Rose). Perhaps in the aftermath of the Time War he was more emotionally exposed and has since returned to a more detached state closer to his previous self (I think this is true), but I think he’s still on a long character-arc of maturing into a “person” capable of a mature loving relationship. I don’t think he’ll get there anytime soon (ha) and I know he’ll never settle down, but the possibilities of this arc for his character (written well) have me very excited.

    But that’s not really what I focus on when I watch the show. I mean, he’s the Doctor. Anything he does is brilliant (or fantastic!) 😀

  22. Voltaire

    Also, for those thinking it’s the suits at the BBC calling the shots:

    “Producers were cautious about casting him because they felt that a 26-year-old could not play the Doctor adequately; BBC Wales Head of Drama Piers Wenger shared the sentiment, but noted that Smith was capable enough to play the role.”

  23. Jeff

    I think we can handle a Celtic goddess

  24. Robert T.

    @ #19 Romeo Vitelli :

    Yes, it never occured to me that the Doctor could be incarnated as a woman. I mean, after all, it’s only a matter of physical appearance. The Time Lord becomes Time Lady. :)

    And to those really “bemoaning the lack of male companionship in films,” there’s a new Sherlock Holmes movie coming out in Christmas. What a long wait!!

  25. Henry Holland

    Agree with most of what Matt A. @ 15 wrote. I felt the last part of the full season and the specials with DT have been, well….boring. I’m tired of The Doctor coming to Earth–I want him out in the universe; they now have the ability to do effects well enough that it’s not essential to have him come to Cardiff all the time. I think he and Russell T. Davies might have stayed one season too long.

    “Silence in the Library/Forrest of the Dead” was one of the finest bits of Dr. Who I’ve ever seen

    Agreed, it got me really excited for The New Regime.

    I’m excited because one of my major lust objects, Russell Tovey, is back for another turn as Midshipman Frame. He was apparently offered a shot at playing The Doctor, but turned it down because “in the UK, the actor playing the Doctor is a rock star and I didn’t want that kind of attention”. Good for him and he’s brilliant as George in the wonderful Being Human anyway.

    As for where the show is on, why watch it on the horrible Sci-Fi or BBCAmerica, with their commercials every five minutes? I download the BitTorrent the night the show is aired in the UK, it takes about 10 minutes because there’s scads of people DLingit and I watch it on my ‘puter. No commercials, it’s wonderful.

    Mmmmm…..Russell Tovey……mmmmmmm.

  26. evirus

    i was kind of annoyed that the show is taking the break that it is, having just started watching at the beginning of the last season being aired(i took an interest in it after watching a few episodes online and started to play catchup) the only thing i didn’t like was donna nobel, after seeing rose and martha i guess i was expecting a companion that looked a little younger than donna did.

  27. Joe, I have to admit I go pretty far back with the Doctor so my first impressions were with older actors. It seemed more intellectual then despite the cheesy FX. Not to mention the Daleks. I’m hoping that it will all be good this season cause I’m a big fan of just about anything British.

  28. Grinspoon

    I am in the camp of worrying they are trying to appeal more to the younger audience. The new young doctor can’t play anything new the actors age, needs to have that experience behind him, then with a young companion… ah i am worried about the fate of the show.

  29. Stu

    Mena (#20),

    Billie Piper was very well known over here in the UK pre-Who, but probably more as a pop star rather than an actress. She had done a few acting roles but had a high profile and was a huge star in the charts when she was younger, with lots of hit records. She was everywhere in the teen magazines, known for her bubbly character and Dr Phlox beaming smile. She was also well known for marrying, at an eyebrow-raisingly early age, a very well known radio and tv presenter.

    I loved Rose from the start… gutsy, brave, etc… but Martha Jones stole my heart, and even though there was a lot (and I mean a LOT!) of negativity on the Dr Who forums and message boards (you think BA’s comments get fiery sometimes? Wow, some truly hateful and personal stuff gets posted on DW forums, quite shocking) towards the character and the actress that plays her, I thought she was a fantastic character and Freema Agyeman a great actress.

  30. Paul

    I was just thinking the Doctor is long overdue for a male companion, or a pair of companions, or even a non-human companion! I was hoping that Moffat would mix things up, but maybe it’s too early for that yet.

    The point of the companion is to give the viewers a human “point of reference” that they’re supposed to identify with. A non-human character wouldn’t serve this literary purpose, so it would only exist in addition to a human companion. (For example, the show would really fall flat if K-9 were the only companion).

    Otherwise, I think we need to give Moffat, the new Doctor, and the new companion a full season before we decide if the show has too much or too little romance, or is too youthful, or any of that.

    I will agree the Russel T. Davies was starting to run out of ideas in the end. It seemed like he was making an effort to make each season bigger and better than the previous, but all he was doing was making it more and more over the top. “Hey, last season we threatened London, now let’s threaten the whole world! Oh, last season we threatened the whole world, let’s threaten ALL OF REALITY!”

    Sometimes in order to keep going a show needs a new leader with new ideas. I think that time has come.

  31. PhilB

    Well if we want to go all old school, the real purpose of the companion was also to have someone to do the heavy action work since the Doctor was too old for action heroics. As to the companion needing to be human, I only need one word…. Romanadvoratrelundar. 😉

    Personally, I’m against the romance aspect of the TARDIS that Davies brought to things, and I’m really hoping Moffat tones that down. A return to multiple companions would be nice too.

  32. Joe MA

    She kind of reminds me of on the back ground students of Hogworts in the Harry Potter movies.
    I rather a non known for the role of the companion.

  33. JustinL

    The new companion seems to be a good choice! I’m hoping for the best and I’m sure I won’t be disappointed. I miss Donna and the past feel of the show, but I can’t wait to see what lies ahead!

    Past, present and future, Doctor Who is amazing!

  34. I could live with being trapped in a blue call box with her…I will still miss David Tenant though- he will always be THE DOCTOR to me.

    Maybe he quit too soon 😉

    Without doubt WHO is the greatest sci fi of all time.

  35. Dave McGrin

    Hang need to pic my jaw off the ground, …there…wow…..maybe she’ll be the Past Donna, I rather hope she is more of a Donna type character and not a “oh doctor, I love you” type like Rose and Martha, it just get’s old after a while. Either way good to see the ginger’s in the TARDIS, add’s a bit of color. cheers

    BTW, I am just going to through this bit of petrol on the fire…. I could see her being a young River Song…….spoilers!

    Reading the various posts, I realize many posters are relatively new to The Doctor.
    Curious as to which Doctor each started with, after all, as a T-shirt at ThinkGeek says:
    You never forget your first Doctor

    For me? John Pertwee


  37. OtherRob

    It was Tom Baker for me. Early 80s on PBS.

  38. “Planet of the Dead” was broadcast on ABC here in Oz last night. Some interesting lines at the end of the episode which may give a hint as to what is to come in new series, and companion was rather attractive.

  39. Mark Derail

    OtherRob – the beauty of BitTorrent !

    I watched the DW specials mere days after their broadcast. Recorded in HD from UK BBC, and I noticed the voice track on some older episodes different to the US/Can versions.
    That might account for the delays.

    What’s funny is that the XMas & Easter specials still had David Tenant as the Doctor. In the Easter special, a foxy raven-haired master thief as a possible companion? Or will she use the magicked bus for a spectacular caper? She’s Bond Girl quality.
    (Easter special == Planet of the Dead)

    So if in S5 we have a new Doctor, when did David Tennant regen? Does his extra “hand” only work once?

    Hat Tip to John Paradox 😉

  40. Kat

    There are 3 more specials before S5 starts – “The Waters of Mars” in 2009 and then 2 unnamed ones in 2010 that you can spoil yourself a bit by checking out the casting shown on IMDB for them. In the final of these 3 specials, it has both #10 and #11 shown as the Doctor, so the regeneration much occur sometime there.

  41. Jo

    This new Doctor just looks way too young. What I loved about the previous Doctor’s was that all looked old enough to have some experience. Besides, young looking Doctor beautiful companion…I could give a pretty good guess to which direction this season’s headed. Also David Tennant, my ‘first’ Doctor. It’s going to be just so hard to beat such a favourite.

  42. Helen Nova

    If anyone wants to see Karen Gillan look up “The Kevin Bishop show” on you tube especially “The Gay Pretender”, where you hear her accent etc. She’s in other clips also.

  43. wp

    what happened to the future companion of doctor who, if they wait to long for her they will have to find another actrass to play her part, but that is the thing also the future companion reconized the doctor that david tennont played not some other actors doct am i right here? i have seen the first episode i feep privlaged for it, i still want to see the episode were the tardis is in the master’s tardis and the masters tardis is in the doctors tardis, i think it deals with atlantis, anyone know where to look for it?

  44. wp

    apparently you can get the videos online

  45. isabella

    dear doctor i love you cause i saw all your films all of them but is there going to be series five give me a email if there is doctor i dream about you all ways fromIsabella PS: i make books about you all ways and i read them.

  46. bobbie

    this isnt even gonna be doctor who anymore im not gonna watch series 5

  47. Gary

    why are they turning doctor who into a kid? do they not know that most people who watch this are over 20 he’s not even good looking infact he looks like a lion on E…. and as for the little kid who he’s got tagging along she really doesn’t look like she can save the world. it’s going to be her screaming and winging that she got herself in trouble and the doctor having to rescue her each week….at least billy pipper looked like she could throw a meaty punch and as much trouble as she got into she got herself out of it and the doctor on a few occassions. who’s next a 19 yr old dr and a 15 yr old floating about in space they might as well just switch the air times to the cbbc channel now……….i will not be watching this series!!!!! thnx but no thnx

  48. 3rdRobhidinginthecorner

    I totally agree with gary. The new series should be (i have to say this) EXTERMINATED! or at least DELETED!

  49. Angela

    Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to view any of the older Dr. Who episodes…having just become a fan with Christopher and Billie…but I was under the impression that the reverse aging of The Dr. was plot line…as he regenerates…he looks younger. As far as a youthful Dr. being unable to perform as if he has experience…doesn’t the Dr. retain all his memories…his attitude? Albeit each one adds his own special flavor. I’m loving all the episodes and am curious to see how series 5 moves. Thanks BBC for a wonderful long-lived adventure!

  50. jim

    im not shoked that one the heros in this web of sci=fi is g>y but guys kissin guys thats not what i payed 70 bucks the production people
    please understand that most people do not want to see guys on guys my kids watch this.please give us a the way i supported doctor who by paying the 70 bucks for torghwood and all the dvds.

  51. DW lover

    im only 12 but i already loved DW before i saw that this young doctor was coming on. DT was my first doctor and he is “BRILLIANT”. i am looking forward to seeing wat the new doctor brings but even though he’s young dont be so hard on him.its just so when people fall in love with him , they dont have to put him off straight away because he is getting to old. i dont want to see DT go but when i falll in love with the new doctor i will have a chance to see him is atleast a few series.
    i think it will be weird if the doctor has a girl partner because the whole theme is 1 male (always the doctor. The doctor being a girl will just be wierd) and 1 girl partner.
    i think that`people in some epocodes (like ‘Silence in the Library’)that say they have been with the doctor should come in futer the doctors daughter. will we ever see her again.
    will we see Proffesser Ravison and the new upgraded spanner gain

  52. Dw lover

    when will doctor who come back on ? in Aussie i mean

  53. brandon

    doctor who is my favourite tv show, its the only scifi show i watch and the first episode i ever saw was daleks in manhattan, i have also seen episodes with christopher eccleson, now that they are getting a new writer the stories will be differant (btw im 11 years old)

  54. MItch

    I love Doctor I just watched the end of time part one and it is amazing i still cant get over the master being back and the timelords are coming back to, at the end of the episode when wilfred says if the master is going to kill you then kill him first, it then shows the doctor turning around and shotting someone

  55. Cate

    In my opinion, the reason the Doctor regens so young is because he feels so old… after all, he has referred to his age many times recently, in particular saying “Sometimes I think Time Lords live too long” so his appearance is more youthful to reflect his urge to be. At least, that’s what I think :)

    And for everyone who is saying the (newer) Doctor has only had female companions of the human variety, this is not true. There was Jack, Wilf, Adam Mitchell (I doubt people will remember him, but he was in Series One) and technically, Astrid Peth was an alien, even if she was human in appearance.

  56. Debbie

    There could be a story behind why the Doctor is becoming so young – but it was easier to take him seriously when he looked more capable and ‘time lord(ish)’. Im rather new to the series, so i don’t have any older versions to compare with – so bare with me..

    The doctor feels old, and wants to die – but then he saves himself. Why? Hes not ready to go yet, but why? Hopfully they will address that in season 5.

    On top of that, there was so much growth potential for the Doctor as maturing into an ‘adult’. His character isnt really maturing at all in my opinion, hes in stasis. If the new season is geared more towards teenagers and young adults, then generally the Doctor will be anything but proactive. I mean, after 906 years, you would think the doctor would be questioning himself, his life style and whatnot. If hes really feeling that old, wouldnt he spend less time womanizing, and more time creating worthwhile relationships with many types of people (male, female, bi, homosexual, straight, etc etc)..not just young women? If Rose was meant to be the love of the Doctor’s life this time around – he should at least still mourn her, and that should affect his relationships with women, his self-image, and his resolve to continue his life’s work (probably increase).

    Perhaps there should be less focus on the flesh, and more focus on whats going on in the Doctor’s mind.

    Ill just have to wait and see, and hope. But oh god, if he says geronimo – ill never take this writer seriously. Honestly, did the 80s Doctor Who say geronimo? Or is it just ridiculous?

  57. Sariah

    Did you know, that when the original series was on TV there was this kinda unspoken thing about the doctors looking younger he ages. It seemed to work from William Heartnell to Peter Davidson (1-5) and I guess Colin Baker (6, not to get confused with Tom Baker who was 4th) he looked slightly older but not much and couls pull off the ‘looking younger’ things. But them Syvester McCoy appeared and he looked older the Peter and and Colin and in My opinion Tom and well (maybe about the same age as Jon Pertwee who was 3rd doctor) and the looking younger thing went down the drain. Maybe now they are trying to keep it up slightly. I don’t know, I just hope this new guy lives up to the level the David has set.

    I think they should throw in a male companion (they can keep the girl as well) just to bring back some feelings of the original. Hmm, I remember Turlough was one of my favorites and Advric would be too is the actor had been better. I liked Jamie too, and can’t forget Ian, he was one of the firsts.

  58. Eddy

    I’d like to know whats happened to the doctors “daughter” that was cloned a while back.. Surely she has a part to play somewhere!

  59. Messier Tidy Upper

    Ah the gorgeous Amelia “Amy” Pond – she’s worked out fine & I think she’s done a great job in the epsiodes I’ve seen so far.

    In fact I have to say she’s my new favourite companion along with Leela & Romanadvoratrelundar or “Romana” or Fred (well recalled # 31. PhilB ) & Peri. :-)


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