There have been many classic companions over the last 54 years of Doctor Who. Jo Grant, Sarah Jane Smith, Rose Tyler, Donna Noble… all the way up to Clara Oswald and Bill Potts.
But there will only ever be one first, and that honour goes to today’s birthday girl: Carole Ann Ford.
Celebrating her 77th birthday today, Ford is best known as Susan Foreman, the very first companion to William Hartnell’s First Doctor. She was the eponymous Unearthly Child from the very first episode of Doctor Who. Of course, Susan was also The Doctor’s granddaughter, a wanderer in the fourth dimension stuck on 20th Century Earth. While there, Susan attended Coal Hill School – where Clara would teach in Series 8/9 and the setting for Class. Her strange behaviour caught the attention of teachers Ian and Barbara, who followed her home and had their lives changed forever. Susan travelled her grandfather until the end of The Dalek Invasion of Earth. She left the TARDIS to spend her life with a freedom fighter she fell in love with.
“I made up the name TARDIS from the initials…”
Ford later reprised her role in The Five Doctors, acting alongside Richard Hurndall in the role of The First Doctor following William Hartnell’s death. She also returned for Dimensions in Time and a selection of Big Finish audio stories. Ford also appeared in The Five(ish) Doctors Reboot as well as An Adventure in Space and Time – both in a small cameo role and as portrayed by Claudia Grant.
Though it has been a long time since Susan travelled in the TARDIS, she remains a firm favourite companion and the undisputed original. Will we ever see her again? Time will tell. Peter Capaldi certainly expressed an interest in The Twelfth Doctor reuniting with his granddaughter. A photo of her appeared on his desk in The Pilot… so who knows!