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article imageDoctor Who: child companions to travel in TARDIS for first time

By Mathew Wace Peck     May 11, 2013 in Entertainment
Doctor Who is to feature two new travelling companions for the Doctor in its latest episode and, in a first for the 50-year-old TV science-fiction series, they are both children.
In Nightmare in Silver, the Doctor’s current companion, Clara (Jenna-Louise Coleman), persuades the Time Lord to allow her wards Angie and Artie Maitland to travel in his space–time machine, the TARDIS. In the series, Clara is employed as a nanny to the sister and brother.
Although the Doctor has had many assistants over the years and child characters have featured in the series – particularly so since Steven Moffat took over as its head writer – Nightmare in Silver will mark the first time in the TV history of the show* that a child has actually become the Doctor’s assistant. (*In the 1960s, Doctor Who comic strips featured children as companions when his grandchildren, John and Gillian, travelled with the First and Second Doctors in TV Comic.)
In an interview with Benjamin Cook in Doctor Who Magazine, Gaiman explains that he set out to break the Doctor’s rule of “no kids on the TARDIS”.
Previously, the Doctor’s youngest companions have been teenagers; notably, the Doctor’s granddaughter, Susan, who was travelling in the TARDIS when the series began in 1963, and Adric, a teenager who stowed away onboard the TARDIS during the early 1980s.
However, Carole Ann Ford was in her early 20s when she was cast as Susan and Matthew Waterhouse – though the youngest person ever to play a companion when he was cast in 1980 – was 18. Eve de Leon Allen (Angie) and Kassius Carey Johnson (Artie), meanwhile, are yet to reach their teens.
The story, which has been penned by fantasy-writing legend Neil Gaiman, sees the return of the Cybermen, a cyborg race first introduced in 1966, in The Tenth Planet, the story that also introduced the concept of regeneration – the method by which a Time Lord reconfigures his body structure in order to avoid death. Nightmare in Silver is Gaiman’s second Doctor Who script, his first being the multi-award-winning The Doctor’s Wife (2011).
Allen and Johnson actually made their Doctor Who debuts earlier this year in the season opener The Bells of Saint John and appeared briefly at the end of The Crimson Horror.
Prior to joining the BBC’s long-running science-fiction drama series, Allen was best known for playing The Boss in Nuzzle and Scratch (2008). Johnson appeared in Gigglebiz from 2009 to 2010, having previously starred in the music video that accompanied the official single for Sport Relief (2012) – “Proud”, by boy-band JLS.
Speaking at the time about his first professional acting experience, Johnson told This is Local London, “It was exciting and really fun filming the video. I had to street dance and walk on a very high wall. My friends think it was really cool to be filmed in a JLS video.”
Nightmare in Silver is the penultimate episode in the current series of Doctor Who, with the finale, The Name of the Doctor, broadcast next weekend. The eagerly awaited story has been described by Moffat as “a game-changing” episode.
Doctor Who will resume later in the year with a number of 50th-anniversary episodes.
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