Doctor Who: Companion Pieces - FROBISHER

On World Penguin Day Wil p-p-p-pays respect to Frobisher.

"It's practically impossible to look at a penguin and feel angry."
Joe Moore

The Doctor has had many companions. They have come in various different shapes and sizes, for the large part they have been humanoid and mostly from Earth (he has a penchant for the place after all), but occasionally he's been accompanied on his travels by some very special characters. Take K-9 for example, who could fail to love a robotic version of man's best friend? Then there's Kamelion, humanoid again, but a shape-changer with massive potential, yet no money in the kitty to realise it. Plus, you know, the machine didn't actually work properly, so....

...So, what if you could combine the two? A companion you couldn't help but love, and the shape changing potential of a robot that didn't work. Factor in an absolutely limitless budget and we have, my Warped Factor friends, the single greatest companion the Doctor has ever had - Frobisher.

Frobisher, the shape changing Whifferdill, companion to the Sixth (and Seventh) Doctor, made his debut in the 1984 Doctor Who Magazine comic strip adventure The Shape Shifter. We first meet him as a short pale yellow humanoid, with a round featureless head and wearing spectacles...

...However, Frobisher preferred to spend most of his free time in the form of a penguin. 

There's a story behind the penguin look. It's not just a random choice. Frobisher was a private investigator calling himself "Avan Tarklu" (a play on the phrase "Haven't a clue" - he took the name Frobisher as he thought it sounded British, and figured the Doctor would like it). He was once married to Francine, another Whifferdill, who left him because she was a better detective than he was. Frobisher was very fond of her in penguin form, and so adopted it to remind himself of her. How sweet is that? Best backstory ever!

Frobisher first encountered the Sixth Doctor when Josiah W. Dogbolter placed a bounty on the Time Lord. Frobisher infiltrated the TARDIS, but instead of turning the Doctor in for the money he decided that he liked the multicoloured dream coat wearing man, and helped him escape, joining him on his journeys.

Throughout their many comic strip adventures together Frobisher helped Ivan Asimoff rescue Polly the Zyglot from a circus, he battled a Kymbra Chimera after it infiltrated the TARDIS, and he was there to save the Doctor from drowning. In the 1986 Cyberman story, Genesis, Frobisher became ill with mono-morphia, trapping him in the form of a penguin. He had a narrow escape from a prehistoric sea-creature when he was unable to change due to his illness, so this time it was the Doctor's turn to save the day, throwing some waste from the future at the creature. It would be months (well, comic book months) before Frobisher began to recover from the mono-morphia, and could once again shift form.

In the Seventh Doctor's debut comic strip adventure, A Cold Day In Hell, Frobisher departed...

...gone, but in no way forgotten. The Whifferdill would return in various graphic novels, specials, stories and Big Finish audio adventures. So much so was his legacy that he played an absolute pivotal role in the IDW 50th Anniversary comic adventure Prisoners of Time...

So could Frobisher one day make the leap to the small screen? I, and many others, have long championed this idea, especially now that the technology has finally caught up with the idea of the character. For budgetary reasons Frobisher wouldn't have to be a CGI penguin the entire time, he's a shape-shifter after all so let him take a semi-regular humanoid form. Let him be a chair or a hatstand. Let him take on the appearance of that weeks celebrity guest star. Let him take the form of a previous Doctor, a way to please the fanboys (and girls) without having to explain any continuity issues.

Frobisher is everything that is great about Doctor Who wrapped up in the body of the most delightful creature known to man - when he's not a chair or a hatstand that is. The infinite realm of possibility that this science fiction series offers has a surface which is rarely scratched. For the last decade we've had Doctor and human companion, after Doctor and human companion. It's time to shake things up. It's time to blow the bloody doors off the TARDIS. It's time for the penguin...

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