Doctor Who must keep regenerating, says the Time Lord’s former companion
For more than 50 years Doctor Who has been a part of millions of people’s lives. Children who grew up with the excitement of gathering as a family to watch it on a Saturday evening now introduce it to their children. That’s why decisions made about this British TV institution are hugely important. So many people care passionately, and as the Doctor’s longest-serving companion I’m one of them.
In my view the recent casting of Jodie Whittaker as the first female Time Lord is a brilliant and bold move by the show’s producers, and I can’t wait to see how she’ll play this iconic role.
But actually, I’m more interested in what the show might announce next – the new Doctor’s assistant. At the time of writing Bradley Walsh is rumoured to be Jodie’s new companion, breaking the run of many female companions. I agree with lots of fans that Jodie’s casting has opened the Tardis door for a male assistant, so I hope the rumour is true. Bradley’s shown he can act in Coronation Street and Law & Order: UK, and I’m sure he’d do a great job helping to save the universe every week – a job I did all those years ago.
I joined in 1966 and my first episode was called The Highlanders. My character was Jamie McCrimmon and when the Doctor came across me it was 1746 and I was part of the Jacobite rebellion in Scotland. It’s amazing that, years later, Jamie actually became the inspiration for author Diana Gabaldon’s Jamie Fraser, the hero of the hit TV series Outlander.
I was the second Doctor Patrick Troughton’s companion for three years and appeared in 120 episodes – a record I don’t think will be beaten – and they were the happiest of my career. The programme was so popular then that every Monday, at work or in the school playground, people would talk about Saturday’s episode.
The new show has a huge budget we could never have dreamed of, but we still managed to create some great sets. I remember London Transport once complaining when they thought we’d broken into Covent Garden underground station to film because it looked so realistic on screen.
In 1969 Patrick regenerated into Jon Pertwee and I left and joined Emmerdale because a show like Doctor Who can’t stay the same for too long and has to change and move with the times. That’s what they’ve done in appointing a female Doctor, and I think that for her to have a male companion would be out of this world – of course, there’s always an aged Highlander available! Hines Sight: The Life And Loves Of One Of Britain’s Favourite Sons is published by Telos, £12.99.