DOCTOR WHO: Companion Pieces - HANDLES

This weeks Doctor Who Companion Pieces column continues our Cyberman theme as Wil pays tribute to the Eleventh Doctor's faithful companion, Handles.

I'm a grown ass man, yet Christmas Day 2013 I had to fight back the tears over the death of one of the Doctor's companions. One I'd known for all of about 45 minutes. And one that was an incomplete robot. Seriously.

I'll admit that at first I was skeptical. When they released the publicity image for The Time of the Doctor it looked like it could be that years Marks and Spencer Christmas campaign...

I thought to myself "What's Matt Smith doing with one of those novelty M&S carrier bags?".

But after less than an hour of knowing the shiny little head all jovial thoughts had disappeared as we were presented with one of the most moving 'death' scenes Doctor Who has ever included. Credit of course has to go to Matt Smith's handling of the scene, and Steven Moffat's script, but Kayan Novak (soon to play Brains in the new iteration of Thunderbirds) really bought the decapitated Cyber-head to life. I've always been a champion for more non-human companions for the Doctor (I'd love to see the show really go out on a limb and introduce someone like Frobisher from the comic strips into the television series), so discovering Handles just about made my Christmas.

Outside of the TARDIS herself, Handles is the companion who spent the longest amount of time with the Doctor. All thanks to Steven Moffat's timey-wimeyness and 300 years defending the town of Christmas, Trenzalore together.

The Eleventh Doctor obtained him from the Maldovarium Market and gave the old Cyberman head the name of Handles. He set about repairing it, removing all its organic components, and making it devoid of any Cyberman protocols. He was left with a robot which seemed to interpret commands very literally, even if the Doctor was just offering a  rhetorical statement.

Handles had already been on many adventures with the Doctor whilst he was searching for the planet of Trenzalore, but we were first introduced to him on screen when the Doctor boarded a variety of spaceships in orbit around that planet. One of them turned out to be a Cyberman ship, clearly seeing a decapitated Cyberman head in the Doctor's hand didn't go down well!

With the Doctor deciding to stay put and defend the town of Christmas, he sent Clara home and was left with Handles as his only companion. But over the years, as one generation of Christmas residents made way for the next, Handles began to corrode with rust and slowly lose his functionality.

In the short story An Apple A Day (by George Mann and featured in Tales Of Trenzalore), the Doctor has left Handles behind whilst he stops the Krynoids from spreading further across Trenzalore. Reunited he tells Handles about the happiness he felt after defeating them, and mentions that he used to know a dog who had the same conversational skills as Handles.

Our Doctor has a thing for robotic companions. He welcomed Kamelion on board during his Fifth phase, and travelled with two iterations of K-9 (sending a third to Sarah Jane Smith) - and those are just the ones we've seen on screen. Handles even gave us a nice little tribute to the Doctor's robot dog, when he said "Affirmative" to his 'Master'.

It's a shame no-one ever thought of the idea of a Cyberman head, or something similar, as a companion. After all there are many stories of how difficult the Kamelion and K-9 props were, how they'd break down all the time. A simple head to carry around with remote controlled some lights inside was very effective. JNT is probably kicking himself on the other side for not thinking it up himself.

Back on Trenzalore, the Doctor kept repairing Handles as best as he could. But after 300 years he had run out of usable spare parts, and so sadly, Handles shut down for good. Handles last words were to remind the Doctor to patch the TARDIS phone back into the console, a reminder command he'd been holding on to for centuries.

In tears, the Eleventh Doctor paid tribute to his friend;
"Thank you, Handles, and well done. Well done, mate."

Previous Companion Pieces 

Rory Williams
Clara Oswald
Evelyn Smythe

Geek. Lover. Fighter. Dwarf. Follow Wil on Twitter.

Warped Factor
Daily features, news and reviews from the world of geek!