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‘the companion who couldn’t’

who and roseI am enjoying the latest reruns of the Doctor’s adventures, the first of the ‘new’ series starring Christopher Eccleston and Billie Piper as his companion, Rose Tyler who says at a crucial moment in episode one, ‘I’ve got no ‘A’ Levels, no job, no future; but I tell you what I have got; Jericho Street Junior School under 7s gymnastic team. I’ve got the bronze!’

  • After Billie Piper was cast as his future companion Christopher Eccleston joked, ‘I’ll be doing the running and screaming.’ Billie says she imagined Rose as someone the Doctor would come to value; courageous and intelligent, with potential to be ‘really, really great’. Certainly she was conceived by the writers as more independent, braver and more capable than previous companions.

Rose‘s consciousness of her inadequacies (no ‘A’ levels, no job, no future) when faced with saving the Doctor (and the world as well) caught my attention in the light of what it means for us to be disciples of Jesus, tasked to follow him into a world of dangers.

  • In fact, all three of the Doctor’s companions in this series, Rose, Captain Jack Harkness, and Adam Mitchell were drawn to break the mould in one way or another and each reflects something we see in Jesus’ original disciples and even in ourselves.

ninth and AdamRussell T Davies apparently claimed that he ‘always wanted to do a show with someone who was a rubbish companion.’  He described Adam as ‘the companion who couldn’t’ and when the Doctor returns Adam home he tells him, ‘I only take the best; I’ve got Rose.’



Jack Harkness, on the other hand, was conceived as first a con man whose relationship with the Doctor would bring about a change in him from coward to hero.

Now we could think about Rose and the way her modest achievements (I’ve got the bronze!) were transformed in partnership with the Doctor or we could think about his influence on Jack, but what about Adam?


So often, in examining the Doctor’s life for parallels with Jesus, it is the differences between them that teach me the most and this is no exception.

Adam fails and his weaknesses, his ‘sins’ if you like, in the eyes of the Doctor, (who only takes the best) mean that he is rejected.  

How different to Jesus, the ‘friend of sinners’ whose choice of companions is made on no other basis than ‘grace alone’, whose whole purpose in coming into our world was to die to save us, to bring us to God our Father made new, having become like him in his resurrection. Good news for the likes of you and me!

Paul, in a letter to the Christians in the city of Corinth, encouraged them in regard to this.

He wrote, ‘Brothers, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things–and the things that are not–to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him. It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God–that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. Therefore, as it is written: “Let him who boasts boast in the Lord.”’  1 Corinthians 1:26-31

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