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Note: some of these characters do appear in subsequent novelizations, comic books and audiobooks, but there is debate about whether they are part of the canon of Doctor Who fact, so we’ll stick to the TV stories to confirm whether they count as one-offs or not.
The Toymaker (“The Celestial Toymaker”)
A long shadow has been cast over Doctor Who by this figure, who exists in a parallel dimension of his own creation. He’s an old adversary of the First Doctor’s, although we don’t know what happened then, or when it happened, he likes to play games, and when he is defeated, reality stops. Oh, and he was originally intended to be one of the Doctor’s own people. With fertile possibilities like this, it’s no surprise that he nearly came back to face the Sixth Doctor in the 1980s, and has already been resurrected (or should I say regenerated) in book, comic and audio form.
Oh, and in “The Rings of Akhaten,” when the Eleventh Doctor says, “I walked in universes where the laws of physics were devised by the mind of a mad man,” it just seems rather familiar, that’s all.
Samantha Briggs (“The Faceless Ones”)
This Liverpudlian would-be love interest for Jamie McCrimmon helped the Second Doctor fight off the shape shifting Chameleons, and would have been a perfect addition to the TARDIS crew, especially as Ben and Polly elected to stay in 1966 London once the adventure was over. However Pauline Collins, who played Samantha, chose not to take up the offer of a regular spot in the TARDIS. It would be interesting to find out how Samantha feels about that decision now, especially given the kind of high-profile Earth invasions that have happened in the intervening years. And getting a legend of British TV to make a reappearance would be a wonderful thing too.
Bok (“The Daemons”)
We never really find out what happens to Bok in “The Daemons,” once his boss, the enormous and satanic Azal disappears, which does leave a door ajar, at the very least. And it’s not as if there haven’t been other moving statues in more recent stories, so the potential for, I dunno, a war between Angels and Daemons is definitely there.
Incidentally, it’s a crying shame that the Brigadier never got to face down a Weeping Angel with that withering sigh, or a line as good as “what in the blazes is that, some kind of ornament?”
Morbius (“The Brain of Morbius”)
If only because poking at the wet jellyfish of Time Lord lore and backstory would create all manner of chaos among old and new Whovians alike. Morbius is an evil Time Lord, he’s dead. His brain was transplanted into a patchwork monster and he was defeated by the Fourth Doctor. But look at this clip, look at all of those faces that appear to exist beyond the First Doctor. They hint at an untold past – whether it’s the Doctor’s or Morbius’s – one that would be very interesting to explore and recreate, and it would be a chance to show Gallifrey in full splendor.
Ann Talbot (“Black Orchid”)
Shakespeare was fond of stories involving lookalikes, although his tended to also involve an element of cross-dressing. Ann Talbot is the spitting image of Nyssa, a fact that becomes extremely important throughout her brief association with the Doctor. She’s presented, as historical characters often are, as being someone with a wisdom that is literally beyond her years. Also, revisiting Ann would be a rather neat way to welcome Sarah Sutton back without necessarily exploring what happened to Nyssa.
The Valeyard (“Trial of a Time Lord”)
Yesyesyes, he can hardly be considered a one-off if he’s in an entire season of Doctor Who, but “Trial of a Time Lord” is one overriding story arc with excursions into individual adventures, and besides, with the 50th on the way, and a regeneration shortly afterwards (and he gets a namecheck in “The Name Of The Doctor”) it’s very timely – pun intended – to consider bringing back the Doctor’s own worst enemy: himself! Quite how we do that without recalling all of Gallifrey and playing dizzy heck with the Doctor’s own timeline is another matter, of course. Especially as the “it was all a dream” card (and the “my evil self” card) has already been played in “Amy’s Choice.”
Captain Cook (“The Greatest Show In The Galaxy”)
There are a few dynamic duos dotted through Doctor Who history that seem to serve as a form of critique of the Doctor and his relationship with a single companion (see the final entry in this list for another). And while Captain Cook is morally far removed from the Seventh Doctor – and a pompous windbag to boot – he too is an intergalactic explorer, and he too has picked up a travelling companion from a different species (Mags – a punk werewolf) for his own entertainment. It does make you wonder just how many other mismatched pairs are still roaming the universe.
Grace Holloway (“Doctor Who” the 1996 TV movie)
The first human companion to snog the Doctor, and a doctor in her own right. And someone who could shed light on that lost Eighth incarnation, just by allowing her to official mention some of the adventures she and the Doctor embarked upon that never made it to TV. If the idea of bringing a character back is to fill a void, the story of Grace and the Doctor is one of the bigger ones in Doctor Who history.
Charles Dickens (“The Unquiet Dead”)
The real Charles Dickens had an incredibly eventful life, one that saw him mixing with middle class entrepreneurs and Victorian debtors alike. He knew poverty and riches, despair and celebrity, within his own lifetime, and put all of those experiences into his work. Having already helped the Doctor sort out the infestation of Gelth in Cardiff, during his latter years as a famous author, there’s no reason why the time-travellers can’t pop back and visit him again, or even travel to an earlier stage in his life (with the necessary dramatic fixes so that you don’t undo all the good work introducing him to the Ninth Doctor), possibly a visit to the workhouse where he lived as a child, even. He’s one of those creative historical figures, like Shakespeare, whose imagination seems to have been almost supernaturally fired, so it’s tempting to suggest an extra-terrestrial involvement.
Jenny (“The Doctor’s Daughter”)
Sally Sparrow excepted (and let’s face it, she’d be expensive now) Jenny is the most obvious choice from the Tenth Doctor’s era, given that her continuing absence from the show, after jetting off into the wild blue yonder, has given rise to so much online speculation as to where she is now, and what she is doing. It’s inconceivable that she won’t be back at some point, surely? Plus, once she’s had a decent explore, she’d be a good companion for her dad, given the Time Lord cellular structure and whatnot, and doesn’t necessarily have to be played by the same actor or actress (although it would be lovely if she was).
Emma Grayling (“Hide”)
Emma and her Professor Palmer were clearly written as a human mirror to the Doctor and his relationships with female companions in general, and Clara in particular. But as they are genuinely in love, their reappearance and evident continuing happiness could further twist at that lonely shard of ice in the Doctor’s heart. Plus Emma – played beautifully by Jessica Raine – has a similarly jaundiced view of the Doctor to that of Madge Arwell and Joan Redfern. As a result of her telepathic gift, she can see his guilt and shame, and sometimes he needs to be reminded of these things.
But hey, these are only suggestions. Who would YOU bring back? Tell us here:
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See more posts by 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