Doctor Who Companion Profile: Harry Sullivan

Ian Marter as Doctor Who Companion Harry Sullivan

Ian Marter as Doctor Who Companion Harry SullivanHarry Sullivan

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Portrayed by: Ian Marter

Doctor(s): Fourth Doctor

Tenure: 7 stories, from Robot (Dec, 1974) to Terror of the Zygons (Sept, 1975)

Background: Dr. Harry Sullivan is a surgeon working for UNIT when he’s called in to check on the Third Doctor after his fatal dose of radiation at the end of Planet of the Spiders. He arrives just after the Doctor regenerates and is tasked by the Brig to give the Fourth Doctor a physical, leading to one of the most entertaining opening scenes with a new Doctor in the series’ run. Afterward the events of Robot, Harry is swept away in the TARDIS for the Doctor’s next adventure, one TARDIS trip that lasts the next five stories.

Family/Friends: Harry’s family isn’t discussed on the show, but he does have a close relationship with his colleagues at UNIT.

Personality: Harry is brave and capable, easily adjusting to the many bizarre and dangerous situations in which he finds himself. Despite his medical training and military history, Harry is rather physically awkward, tripping over his feet every now and again. He contrasts his fellow TARDIS teammate Sarah Jane with his somewhat old-fashioned demeanor and personality, particularly toward women, but the two are close nonetheless.

Special Skills: Medical training, military expertise

Best Story: Genesis of the Daleks is one of the all-time great stories

Worst Story: The Sontaran Experiment, with only two episodes, is rather slight, despite some fun moments

Highlights of tenure: His first scene with the Doctor is his single most memorable moment, though he’s also a lot of fun in dual roles when he returns after taking a few stories off in The Android Invasion

Lowlights of tenure: His “old sport” attitude can get old after a while, particularly in relation to Sarah Jane

Memorable quotes:

– [re: the TARDIS] “Come along now, Doctor. We’re both reasonable men. We both know that police boxes don’t go careering around all over the place.”  Robot

Other notes: Harry was originally envisioned to take up the mantle as the show’s next Male Action Hero when the producers were planning to cast much older for the Fourth Doctor. After Tom Baker was chosen for the role Harry was kept on, but the producers soon changed their minds, despite the character’s popularity and strong rapport with his fellow TARDIS teammates.


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