A Companion To The Doctor’s Companions: Jamie McCrimmon

Jamie and the Doctor

A good companion should be more than just a witness, an object of jeopardy or a convenient dramatic device for the explanation of some weird scientific plot or other, he or she should feel like part of the team.

Frazer Hines (who clearly has the best christian name in all of science fiction, even if he can’t spell it right) holds the record for playing Jamie, the highland warrior from 1746, and the companion who has appeared in the most episodes of the show so far (116, to be precise). And you don’t get to hang around that long without contributing something rather special.

Most of the reason for his longevity lies in the affectionate bond which exists between Jamie and the Doctor (as replicated by the bond between Frazer and Patrick Troughton, the Second Doctor). All of the companions tend to end up bickering with their Time Lord host, but Jamie was the first to be treated as some kind of equal, and not only because the Second Doctor is a lot nicer to his friends (and even treats them as if they are friends) than his crusty predecessor. Jamie has fought for that honour, and the Doctor, for all of his teasing, respects this.

As with all of the companions, Jamie does the stuff the Doctor – with his whimsy and his recorder and his bumbling air – can’t. For all that the Doctor is super-intelligent and a Time Lord and all that, he needs a Jacobean hard-nut standing behind him, ready to rip some heads off at a moment’s notice. If nothing else, this suggests two things to any opponent the Doctor meets:

1: That despite his larking about, he’s a deeply principled man of peace (within certain parameters).

2: That he’s not someone to be messed with lightly, or Jamie will give them a jolly good dirking.

Here’s Jamie and the Doctor trying to convince Victoria that she looks good in modern-day clothing. Note the sly dig at Jamie’s kilt:

Aside from the personal chemistry, Jamie is interesting because he’s from a much more primitive time than any companions had been to date. Which means he no longer represents the modern-day audience, although he does still need to have all the science stuff explained to him. The fact that ‘all the science stuff” should also include electricity and microbiology – stuff that you or I understand without having to think about it – is conveniently ignored.

Nevertheless, he ably tackles cybermen, daleks, yeti and all manner of other alien invaders, and any scientific concept which is too fiddly for his highland mind is simply ignored, or translated into something he can get his head around. So while the storylines become more and more weird, Jamie is the one who brings everything back to earth.

Here’s action man McCrimmon being assisted by Rapunzel, in order to escape a toy soldier (don’t ask). He does talk to himself a lot:

And here’s the sad farewell, put back into his own time stream by the Time Lords, just after his first adventure, as if none of the other stuff (the other 112 episodes) had ever happened. And of course he goes straight back to his fighting ways:

Naturally the on-screen chemistry was too strong to be left alone, so in 1985 they both came back (looking suspiciously older) for a story called The Two Doctors. All anyone really wanted to see was the bickering:

Next: A Victorian called Victoria

Fraser McAlpine

Fraser has been writing and broadcasting about music and popular culture for over 15 years, first at the Top of the Pops website, and most recently for the NME, Guardian and MSN. He also wrote BBC Radio 1's Chart Blog and reviews albums for BBC Radio 2.

He is Anglophenia's current resident Brit, blogging about British slang and running around the Mall taking snaps of the crowd at the Royal Wedding, as well as reigniting a childhood passion for classic Doctor Who and cramming as much music in as he can manage.

Fraser invites you to join him on Twitter: @csi_popmusic

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