Doctor Who: Companion Pieces - BEN JACKSON & POLLY WRIGHT

Christopher Morley looks at Ben & Polly's Little Kingdom...

What better time than Valentine's Day to look back at Doctor Who's first couple aboard the TARDIS, Ben Jackson & Polly Wright. They first came together at the Inferno Nightclub during the events of The War Machines.

Polly had been bemoaning the fact that her employer's creation WOTAN- Will Operated Thought Analogue- was quicker & more efficient typist than she could ever hope to be. No wonder she felt the need to let off steam at the Inferno.

However, the robot artificial intelligence suffered from a rather big flaw in the form of a massive helping of megalomania! It's the race to stop the nasty computer that brings Polly & the man she'll eventually marry together in the first place. With the Royal Navy sailor from HMS Teazer & Professor Brett's PA, respectively, joining the First Doctor towards the end of his life, in his faithful police box after mistaking it for a real one.
POLLY: Shh, watch him. I'm sure there's something strange about that police box. Look, he's got a key for it. He's going inside!
BEN: Key, that reminds me. I forgot to give him this one back.
POLLY: Come on, we'll do it now.
BEN: Yeah, but I've got to get back to barracks.
POLLY: Oh, come on....Doctor! What on Earth is he doing in there?

BEN: Ah- look, it's locked. Let's forget it.
POLLY: Hey, Ben.
BEN: But I've only got a couple of minutes.
POLLY: Come on!
And with that they enter the famous old Type 40, Ben would stay by the Doctor's side with the posh totty he'd nickname ''Duchess'' for The Smugglers & The Tenth Planet as well as the novel Ten Little Aliens by Stephen Cole ( reissued as the first entry in a series of 50th anniversary reprints)- presumably set at some point between the two as their grandfatherly guide to the universe beyond Swinging Sixties London can sense a rather big impending change, as he tells Ben that he'll soon feel like a new person. Quite literally! He & Polly will of course see that change at close quarters. Not that they quite understand its implications, mind.

POLLY: His face, his hair, look at it...
BEN: He's breathing, and the TARDIS seems to be normal.
POLLY: Ben, what are we going to do? We can't just leave the Doctor there.
BEN: What, him? The Doctor?
POLLY: Well, that's who came through the doors. There was no one else outside. Ben, do you remember what he said in the tracking room? Something about 'This old body of mine is wearing a bit thin.'
BEN: So he gets himself a new one?
POLLY: Well, yes.
BEN: Oh, do me a favour.
POLLY: Then whatever happened, happened in here.
BEN: But it's impossible.
POLLY: Not so long ago we'd have been saying that about a lot of things.
Ms Wright proving quicker to accept the change than the man she'll come to love. ''It is the Doctor. I know it is. I think.''. She'll soon be a little scared as he appears to have lost his marbles a bit!
DOCTOR: Come here. The Doctor kept a diary, didn't he?
DOCTOR: I thought so. I wonder where. I wonder where.
(Ben and Polly watch as the man resumes his search of the chest.)
POLLY: He's a very different Doctor, Ben.
At least Jackson is the first to grasp the important bit of the whole regenerative process, ''It's not only his face that's changed. He doesn't even act like him". Quite right. And after the trip to Vulcan they'll make a new friend as Scottish piper Jamie McCrimmon joins the TARDIS crew at the end of The Highlanders.

And at Polly's suggestion the young Scot joins the TARDIS crew...
POLLY: What about Jamie? We can't leave him here.
DOCTOR: True. His ship's sailed.
POLLY: What will you do?
JAMIE: Oh, I'll be all right. They won't catch me.
BEN: Did you hear that! They'll catch us all if we don't move fast.
POLLY: Doctor, can we take him with us?
DOCTOR: If he teaches me to play the bagpipes.
JAMIE: If you want, Doctor.
BEN: That's all we need. Come on.
POLLY: Come on, Jamie.
JAMIE: But where are we going?
POLLY: You'll see.........
And see he does! But just four stories later Jamie and the Doctor would be saying goodbye to Ben & his good lady, as they return to resume their lives from the point in time at which they first entered the TARDIS. They wave bye-bye at the culmination of The Faceless Ones!

BEN: Did you say 1966?
BEN: What month is it?
DOCTOR: It's July. July the 20th, to be precise.
POLLY: What are you getting at?
BEN: Don't you see, Duchess? July the 20th, 1966 is when it all began! We're back to when it all started. Well, I think.
POLLY: That means it's as if, it's as if we've never been away.
DOCTOR: You really want to go, don't you?
BEN: Well, we won't leave, Doctor, if you really need us.
POLLY: The thing is, it is our world.
DOCTOR: Yes, I know. You're lucky, I never got back to mine. All right, then. Off you go. Now go on, Ben can catch his ship and become an Admiral, and you Polly, you can look after Ben.
POLLY: I will. You will be safe, won't you?
JAMIE: I'll look after him.
BEN: I'm sure you will, mate. Goodbye, Doctor.
Before that at least there's The Underwater Menace, The Moonbase & The Macra Terror. Not forgetting a few novel appearances either- Steve Lyons' The Murder Game, The Roundheads - by Mark Gatiss - soon to be reprinted as part of a Doctor Who History Collection- & Dying In The Sun from the pen of Jon de Burgh Miller. The Telos novella Wonderland by Mark Chadbourn finds the Doctor, still wearing his stovepipe hat, investigating the drug culture of Seventies San Francisco aka the '' Summer Of Love''.

As author Graham Joyce noted in his foreword to the book:
"Wonderland is Doctor Who on acid, and perhaps my only regret ... is that the Doctor doesn't get to take the drug himself. But then again the Doctor probably doesn't need to. He's a trip-and-a-half all on his own. He's already there."
Just how much Ben loves Ms Wright is evidenced by what he's seen doing after the two have returned to Sixties London, in the Ninth Doctor comic The Love Invasion- his first story alongside companion Rose Tyler in the Doctor Who Magazine comic strip, part of The Cruel Sea anthology collecting all such appearances by the Northerner in the leather jacket.

Part of the story takes place as they run through the Post Office Tower. And who should make an appearance but Ben & Polly, Jackson presenting his '' Duchess'' with an engagement ring? A world away from their first meeting........
POLLY: Hi, Kitty.
KITTY: Hello Polly, love. Oh, am I glad to see you!
POLLY: Dodo, this is Kitty. Kitty, Dodo.
DODO: Hello.
KITTY: Hi, Dodo. Polly, you're just the person I need. Will you help me?
POLLY: Oh, here we go again. Not that I mind helping people. Well, what is it then?
KITTY: Well, when you were here last week, do you remember a sailor at the end of the bar?
POLLY: Not especially, why?
KITTY: He's been here ever since. Poor lad, he just sits there at the end of the bar. Look out, here he comes now. Well, see? He's no great advertisement for the most with it place in town, is he? Couldn't you cheer him up just a little?
POLLY: All right, Kitty, leave it to us. Stand by, Dodo. This looks like a rescue mission. The Navy's in trouble. Excuse me. Well, hello. We met the other night, remember?
And so she does her best to cheer him up a little!

POLLY: So, spill the beans, sailor. Give us the facts. What's your problems?
BEN: Ah, you wouldn't understand. You'd think I'm some kind of a nut.
POLLY: Well, try us.
BEN: Well, it's my ship, see. It's gone off to the West Indies and I've got a shore posting. In barracks for six months.
POLLY: And you'll miss the swaying palms, the white beaches, the blue sea
BEN: Very funny! If you've finished cheering me up.
POLLY: Come on, Dodo, let's leave him. I can't stand people with no sense of humour.
Well, the path of true love never doth run smooth- even with the opportunity to show your intended beloved all of time & space in the company of an old geezer who changes into a Beatle, sort of. Happy memories nonetheless for the sailor-boy, no doubt?

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