Multi-Doctors are always fun but it can be just as amusing to have companions of different eras meet, especially if they get to compare notes on their Time Lord. We saw an all to brief example of this at the end of ‘The Five Doctors’ where the various groups finally reached the tower.
This also doesn’t include incidents such as ‘School Reunion’ or ‘The Death of the Doctor’ where companions meet each other after one or more of them have finished travelling with the Doctor.
The Doctor and his companions are often separated during an adventure and it isn’t hard to imagine that they might accidentally come into contact with other companions having their own adventures.
To make this truly entertaining seek out the companions who would make a fun combination. Imagine Tegan and Donna joining up, moaning about the Doctor and refusing to be told what to do or Harry Sullivan irritating Ace while he tries to be chivalrous.
Companions don’t necessarily have to realise that they are in the company of time travellers, let alone that they are travelling with the Doctor. If they are in period dress or better yet, native to the current era, they will simply assume they are locals.
If they do know whether the companion is a past or future companion to ‘their’ Doctor can have a huge impact on how they behave and what they learn. They could know the future of the person they meet, which could be awkward if it is Adric. If they reveal too much they could threaten the Doctor, and by extension their, time line.
Similarly they could find out what the future holds for themselves and the Doctor. Even if the future companion just regards them with pity, as River Song does to Donna in ‘Silence In The Library’, it could lead to worrying indications about their future.
They may also experience the same jealously that Amy feels in ‘Dinosaurs On A Spaceship’. Meeting another companion reveals the hard truth, that you aren’t special for travelling with the Doctor. There were people before you and there will be people after you.
Once you’ve established how the various companions relate to each other you can concentrate on the plot Are they involved in two separate adventures or a single one which the two groups of companions are tackling at different angles.
If they are two separate stories the companions should be able to help each other to justify the cross-over. Maybe Ben and Polly need Ace’s Nitro-9 to create an entrance in the alien ship so they can rescue the 2nd Doctor and Jamie, maybe Steve Taylor is the only one who can fly Jo Grant in the space shuttle to the alien planet where the Master has captured the 3rd Doctor and maybe Martha Jones can work together with Nyssa to find a cure to a deadly virus.
If it is the same plot the respective insight offered by multiple companions can help them overcome a challenge that would have been too great for them individually. In this situation similarities between companions is a strength, letting fighters fight together and brainy types solve problems in half the time.
In either case this allows an adventure to be a lot grander and accommodate those who wish to play companions of different eras. It also takes the spotlight from the Doctor, allowing his companions to shine. This is perfect if you don’t want a player to take that role.
You could choose to have companions cross paths during their down time. They could bump into each other while shopping, sight seeing or just generally trying to relax. This allows more opportunities to socialise.
This could act as a framing device, with the companions comparing war stories. These can act as flashbacks, if you prefer to keeping their adventures free of the influence of other companions.
The fact that these are established as stories allows for more flexibility about what ‘really’ happened. Companions might challenge each others accounts but it gives them the freedom to tell a great story without worrying if it is canon. For this exercise you might consider giving them more story points than normal.
As in ‘The Five Doctors’ companions could meet each other when they are snatched out of time. In this situation it is an opportunity to work together to free themselves and save the Doctor (which ever incarnation that might be), thus proving their worth.
While the above suggestions emphasis keeping the Doctor off-screen he could still be the reason that the companions are meeting. Examples of this are presented in the Big Finish audio ‘The Veiled Leopard’ and the book ‘Cold Fusion’.
Such an arrangement could be the Doctor circumventing the rules that prevent him from interacting with his own timeline by acting through his companions. This is a dangerous gambit and can establish that the stakes are high. The companions can feel that they are being deliberately left in the dark.
Whatever the reason having companions of different eras interacting helps reinforce the idea that they are not one in a series of people that have travelled with the Doctor but part of a brotherhood.
Only a fellow companion can understand the danger, stress and sacrifice they undergo or share in the magically wonder of being the person that the Doctor depends on. They should take solace and comfort in that.
With the 50th anniversary fast approaching it is important to remember that the series is more than just the Doctor, but also the people who travel with him. Adventures spotlighting them can only help to celebrate this vital element of the show.