Doctor Who Companion Profile: Steven Taylor

Peter Purves as Doctor Who Companion Steven Taylor

First Doctor Companion Steven, played by Peter PurvesSteven Taylor

Portrayed by: Peter Purves

Doctor(s): First Doctor

Tenure: 10 stories (45 episodes), The Chase (June, 1965) to The Savages (June, 1966)

Background: Steven is a human from the 23rd century who has been stranded on the planet Mechanus for two years when the Doctor, Ian, Barbara, and Vicki stumble across him while fleeing the Daleks and the Mechanoids. Rather than being invited aboard the TARDIS, Steven stows away, but he quickly becomes part of the TARDIS team, picking up the slack for the just-departed Ian in the Male Action Hero role.

Family/Friends: We know almost nothing about Steven’s family and friends before his time in the TARDIS.

Personality: We do know, however, that Steven is a brave, action-oriented man quick to make friends with his compatriots in battle. A pilot and veteran of a lengthy war, Steven is decisive and quick to act and has a dry, sarcastic sense of humor. Though perhaps not a natural leader, he eventually assumes this role comfortably. Steven may be one of the least intellectually curious of the Companions, leaving that to the Doctor, but as a man from the 23rd century, he has a higher base knowledge than some of the contemporary (to when their stories aired) Companions. He’s good at getting himself out of trouble when need be and though he’s not unfamiliar with morally questionable decisions, he grows tremendously during his tenure, becoming one of the few Companions to directly confront the Doctor when he steps over the line.

Special Skills: Pilot, fighter, strong moral center

Best Story: The Celestial Toymaker. This experimental episode has a lot of fun elements and features a villain it would be fun to see NuWho bring back, the titular Toymaker.

Worst Story: The Chase, though none of Steven’s stories stand out as particularly troublesome and even the less successful ones have interesting elements.

Highlights of tenure: Steven chewing out the Doctor for his decision to not save Anne Chaplet in The Massacre of St. Bartholomew’s Eve. He takes a moral stand and demands to leave, at least until he’s placated by the lucky arrival of Dodo, who we’re meant to believe is a descendent of Anne (implying that she survived the slaughter), goofily singing for his life in The Gunslingers, and stepping up and starting his new life in The Savages.

Lowlights of tenure: The ungodly repetition of “Last Chance Saloon” in The Gunfighters. Ugh.

Memorable quotes:

– “That unfortunately tells me only one thing. … That the nature of Man, even in this day and age, hasn’t altered at all. You still fear… the unknown like everyone else before you.”

– “You had to leave Anne Chaplet there to die. … I tell you this much, Doctor- wherever this machine of yours lands next, I’m getting off. If your researches have so little regard for human life, then I want no part of it.”

Notes: It should be mentioned that Steven’s outburst in The Massacre of St. Bartholomew’s Eve came after the traumatic deaths of Katarina, Bret Vyon, and Sara Kingdom (in The Dalek’s Master Plan) and abandonment to certain death of Anne Chaplet that same story. This time is one of the bleakest in the show’s early run, and Steven’s is one of the few honest reactions shown to the destruction the TARDIS teams frequently experience.

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