Portrayed by: Michael Craze
Doctor(s): First Doctor, Second Doctor
Tenure: 9 stories (36 episodes), from The War Machines (June, 1966) to The Faceless Ones (May, 1967)
Background: Ben is a Cockney sailor set to ship out with the Royal Navy when he meets Polly and, later that night, the Doctor at a club. Ben is a contemporary young man, designed to pair with Polly and follow on from Ian and Steven as the Male Action Hero of the series, given the First Doctor’s advanced age and failing health.
Family/Friends: We know little about Ben’s friends or family, but he grows quite close with Polly and the two are eventually married after leaving the TARDIS.
Personality: Ben is a brave and somewhat impetuous young man. He’s a dutiful soldier and handy in a fight, but he’s not the most inventive or creative of Companions. A skeptic, Ben takes a while to believe that the TARDIS has travelled in time after their first flight and even longer to believe the Second Doctor is still the Doctor. Through his run, he mostly sticks with Polly and follows her and the Doctor’s lead. He has a nice rapport with Polly and later Jamie and gets along with the Doctor much less contentiously than his predecessor, Steven.
Special Skills: Military training, easy-going personality
Best Story: The Power of the Daleks, the video of which is lost, remains a great story in reconstruction and audio form. It’s one of the best Dalek stories and as the first ever post-regeneration story, it was a crucial moment for the series, as Polly and Ben (along with the audience) decided if they’d accept this strange new Second Doctor.
Worst Story: The Smugglers, though it features some fun guest stars, is a fairly lackluster story that does not earn its four episode runtime.
Highlights of tenure: Ben’s skepticism over the Doctor’s identity in Power of the Daleks is important, allowing the audience to be won over when he is, and a fun moment for Ben is his struggle for control of his mind and eventual saving of the day in The Macra Terror
Lowlights of tenure: After Jamie joins the TARDIS team, the two often end up vying for the same Male Action Hero beats, giving one or both too little to do.
– [re: the Second Doctor] “It’s not only his face that’s changed. – He doesn’t even act like him. Come on, it’s time we sorted this out.” Power of the Daleks
Ben: “It’s a machine, my old haggis; it’s taken you away from Scotland forever.”
Jamie: “Where to?”
Ben: “Ah, well, that as the Doctor would say, that is in the lap of the gods. We never know.” The Underwater Menace