DOCTOR WHO Companion Pieces - Martha Jones

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Nathan Browne pays tribute to the Tenth Doctor's companion Martha Jones.



Martha Jones was that difficult second companion of the revived series. How do you follow Rose Tyler? Do you cast against type and team the Doctor up with someone a bit more mature? Someone whose feelings towards the Doctor are completely platonic? Someone who is more than capable of putting the Doctor in his place when he gets a bit too big for his boots? Someone like Donna Noble? Well that probably would've been the most sensible way to go but instead Russell T Davies clearly wanted to play it a bit safer because we got another young woman of a similar age who also falls in love with the Doctor and who also has a somewhat dysfunctional family. Ah! But this time instead of a common shop assistant, she's a well educated medical professional.

Martha on paper was not that much of an exciting prospect. But I'm gonna put my hands up and just come out with it - I prefer Martha to Rose. There I said it, it's out. Phew, that feels better.

Billie Piper did an amazing job as Rose Tyler, in many ways she's as responsible for the shows success as any other individual. Freema Agyeman had the unenviable task of following her, and over her time on the series developed Martha from a young medical student, through love sick swooning 'girl' (say that like Strax), to a well adjusted mature kick-ass woman.


Martha might've fancied the Doctor but she didn't need him, and here's the difference between her and Rose. Rose would do anything for love (and there's nothing wrong with that - Meatloaf will tell you similar), she stays with the Doctor because she loves him and everything that goes with him. After losing him she fights an impossible fight to return to her love. If the Doctor hadn't have felt the same way I kinda feel Rose still would've stuck around forever in the hope it would change. After all, she really didn't have much of a life to return to. Simply put everything Rose does, she does it for love (and there's nothing wrong with that - Bryan Adams will tell you similar).

But Martha is quite different, yes she fancies the Doctor and has a period of unrequited love, but once she accepted that the Doctor didn't feel the same way towards her then there was no way she was ever going to spend her life playing second fiddle to the Time Lord. No way she was sticking around in the hope he might change his mind one day, oh no, Martha was going places. From medical student, to fully qualified Doctor working for UNIT and Torchwood, to freelance alien hunter.


I'm going to come across very middle aged now, but there's an element of today's youth that don't want to put in the time and effort to get to the reward, they are counting on this one magical moment happening which will turn their life around and give them instant success, riches and fame - they are the 'Big Brother' generation. It's a culture that seems to be growing. It's not a great thing. Now I'm not saying that Rose is like that, not at all. She didn't choose the tower block/shop assistant life but that was the one she was stuck with. There are a lot of people like her, stuck in that trap and unable to get out. So Rose represented a large chunk of the younger society, she was living a daily existence that many people her age could relate to, just waiting, or hoping, for something better to come along. And then it did, in the form of the Doctor. He was her 'Big Brother' - the instant change she needed.

Martha wasn't waiting around, she was already putting in the hard work - university, medical school. We could argue that she came from a different class background to Rose, but I don't think that really has anything to do with it. She's not posh, she's down to earth and swears. Martha still had to work and persevere to get to where she was when we first met her, and no doubt she'd faced adversity and prejudice (I don't feel qualified enough to discuss the race issue, plus I'd like to think that the success of her character has nothing to do with it anyway) but she was succeeding before the Doctor came into her life and she continued to grow and succeed afterwards. Even if Martha had never met the Doctor we'd still have a character living a life that younger viewers can aspire to live. For that reason I think Martha is one of the most successful female role models we have seen on Doctor Who, and arguably the best one presented since Sarah-Jane Smith.


It helped that Martha appeared in some of the very best Tenth Doctor stories. Smith & Jones gave us a superb introduction episode, then Human Nature/Family of Blood and Last of the Time Lords gave her a real time to shine. But of course, we'd met Freema Agyeman before, she'd already played the role of Adeola Oshodi in the Series 2 episode Army of Ghosts, this was easily explained away as being Martha's cousin.

If there's one area of Martha's time with the Doctor that didn't quite work it was her family. They just couldn't match Camille Coduri's Jackie Tyler, and without singling out one individual, in some cases the performances were a little wooden.


Like many Doctor Who alumni Freema Agyeman has gone on to many other projects after leaving the world of Who behind. If you're a fan of CBeebies (and who isn't?) then check her out in earlier episodes of Old Jack's Boat (also starring Bernard Cribbins) where she gives a sexy little wink to camera in the opening titles - far too much for a man of my age to take at 5.40 in the afternoon. On a larger scale career wise, and if you're into that kind of thing, she's currently to be found Stateside in the Sex & The City early years show, The Carrie Diaries. Next up for her is a very interesting sounding sci-fi project from the Wachowskis called Sense8. The show revolves around a group of people scattered across the globe who are suddenly linked mentally, and must find a way to survive being hunted by those who see them as a threat to the world's order.

Martha Jones, for your time in the TARDIS we salute you.

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