Doctor Who Names, Part 2–Companion Names: Ace, Tegan and Sarah Jane
The ‘Doctor Who‘ Christmas special aired on Christmas Day, so I thought this would be a good time to follow up my Fiftieth Anniversary Special post on Doctor Who actor names with one inspired by the other stars of the show – the companions.
The companions provide a balance to the usually erratic and eccentric Doctor, and help to maintain continuity from one regeneration of the Doctor to the next. They are his greatest supporters – sometimes helping, sometimes asking the right questions, and sometimes getting into a spot of trouble. Companions have been male, female and robots, and as the Doctor often travels with a few at once there have been 43(!) of them so far. Here is a is a summary of ten of his most well-loved female companion names.
At times it was slightly unclear whether the affection between sardonic Amy and the Doctor was romantic or not. But her unwavering love and loyalty for Rory proved she was a determined woman who clearly knew her own mind. Amelia has been rising in the past decade while Amy has been falling, but both are top 200 names.
Current companion Clara – a.k.a the impossible girl – is a nice match with current Doctor Matt Smith. She is clever, curious, quirky, fun, and enchanting. Clara is a beautiful and elegantly understated name meaning ‘clear, bright,’ and which has been steadily climbing for the past decade.
At first Donna came across as brash and mouthy, but she also proved to be cheeky, daring and full of heart. She was a true friend to the Doctor, a change from the romantic overtures of her predecessors Rose and Martha. Her time with the Doctor was one of immense personal growth, and her leaving was one of the most tragic as the Doctor was forced to wipe away her memories of their travels together. Donna is an Italian name meaning ‘lady’ that experienced its heyday in the 1950’s, and looks unlikely to make a comeback for a while.
Her name was a ‘Wizard of Oz‘ pun, but Ace showed she had a lot of fire and spunk. A tough-talking London teenager, she is best remembered for beating up a cyberman with a baseball bat. Dorothy is a sweet name that was extremely popular in the early 1900’s, but seemed out-of-sync with this lively tomboy. Ace suited her much better. Ace is a top 1000 name for boys, but is extremely rare for girls.
Leela of the Sevateem (1977-1978)
Leela was a tribal warrior – fierce and proud, she often ended up saving the Doctor rather than the other way around. Matt Groening has said that the name of the character Leela on Futurama was inspired by this companion. Girl names with the double ‘l’ sound have been popular in the last couple of decades. But while Leela has benefited from this trend she has never appeared in the U.S. Top 1000.
American Peri isn’t a favorite among many – she’s generally considered to be little more than on-screen eye candy – but her name is one of the most interesting. It was invented as a caricature of the type of long, ostentatious names that some mothers were choosing at the time Peri would have been born. Peri is a peppy sounding name that has appeared on small numbers of girls in the U.S since the 30’s.
Rose was the first companion when the series re-launched in 2005, and set a new template for companions to be mostly ordinary girls with extraordinary heart. Her romantic relationship with the Doctor remains a uniquely special one. Like a rose, she blossomed during her stint as companion, and helped to give this seemingly dated and dainty name some current day edge
Her name is “short” for Romanadvoratrelundar, and as a Time Lady herself Romana is the only companion that has also regenerated and been played by two actors. Romana was clever, at first haughty and mischievous, then more relaxed and witty. This romantic sounding Latin name sees some rare use in the U.S.
Sarah Jane tops many people’s lists as their favorite companion. She appeared in the new series and starred in her own spin-off show The Sarah Jane Adventures. The combo name Sarah Jane may feel a little plain and homespun, but this character helped redefine the companion role from helpless bystander to brave, smart, feisty and opinionated equal. She also had her impact on the name charts – Sarah Jane first appears on the SSA lists in 1974. Who wouldn’t want a caring, clever and brave role model for their daughter?
Tegan Jovanka (1981-1984)
Tegan was an outspoken Australian flight attendant. Story is that when a producer was considering names for this character he was thinking of either Tegan (after a friend’s Australian niece) or Jovanka (after Jovanka Broz), but a script writer mistakenly thought that this was to be her complete name after seeing them written on a piece of paper. Tegan is a good choice for a spunky sounding unisex but dominantly female name.
As a final bonus, there’s River Song. Technically, River is not a companion in the traditional sense. She has appeared in various adventures but hasn’t continuously traveled with the Doctor – yet. Born Melody Pond (she’s Amy and Rory‘s daughter), River Song is a play on her birth name. Flirtatious, mysterious and independent, this character adds an air of sass and spunk to both River and Melody.
Do these characters influence your impressions of their names? Would you use one of the companions names for your child? And more importantly, is your favorite companion on this list?
Brooke Cussans – better known on the Nameberry forums as bluejuniper – is based in Melbourne, Australia and is the author of name blog Baby Name Pondering. She especially loves rare and unusual names.
You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.
on December 30th, 2013 at 2:46 am
I love Doctor Who and the companions have definitely had an impact on names I love – Rose, Clara and Amelia are my favourites.
on December 30th, 2013 at 10:05 am
I’ve never actually watched Doctor Whom, but this makes me wonder if I shouldn’t start, if only for the names. Great list! My favorites – Rose, Melody ‘River Song’, and Clara.
on December 30th, 2013 at 10:46 am
As a Whovian- and detester of spoilers- I really wish this blog had been written without so many of them!
I love Romana, Rose and River the most, not just their names, but also their characters. However, Donna’s name fits her the best, the last name Noble coming to describe her in so many ways.
author in writing Said
on December 30th, 2013 at 10:47 am
Doctor Who has really gotten me to appreciate the name Clara! Oswin and Oswald are excellent too – and great shout-out to Ace!
on December 30th, 2013 at 3:42 pm
Ahh! This article definitely should have had a spoiler alert at the beginning! I’m in the U.S. and I haven’t met Clara yet.
I have to say, Rose Tyler did make me like the name Rose, which I had never cared for before.
on December 30th, 2013 at 4:19 pm
Rose and River will always be two if my all time favorite names. Rose is my favorite companion but the name River is so interesting on a girl. (Shoutout to River Tam from Firefly.)
on December 30th, 2013 at 7:33 pm
Sorry for the spoilers! We’re up to date in Australia and I didn’t realise that wasn’t the case in other countries 🙁
on December 30th, 2013 at 8:14 pm
I love Amy’s name – Amelia Pond is so storybook and magical. Doctor Who has made me appreciate a lot of names, like Rose, Martha, Sarah Jane and Oswin. I think Clara Oswin Oswald is absolutely fantastic, but I can’t love her name as much because I don’t love the character.
on December 30th, 2013 at 11:34 pm
I have to admit, whilst I liked Clara on a ‘oh-that’s-nice’ kind of level before Doctor Who, now I love it and it is, in part, thanks to the character.
on December 31st, 2013 at 7:14 am
Love Doctor Who! I love Clara– the character, but her name is good too. I felt it was a bit boring before the show, but her peppy character has breathed some life into it. Lovely!
Rose, Dorothy and Amelia are great, too. Melody has a nice sound (no pun intended), but it’s a big hippie to me…. love River Song.
on January 1st, 2014 at 2:48 am
I love Doctor Who! Out of these I love Amelia, Clara, Rose, Romana, Sarah Jane, River and Melody and I hope to use these in the future as they were all amazing companians with brilliant names.
on January 1st, 2014 at 4:58 pm
Not a major fan of Doctor Who despite everyone else who has been banging on about the Christmas special I purposely chose not to watch it still the names are lush, my favourites are…
on January 2nd, 2014 at 11:19 am
Fave companions are Rose and Amy Pond – but River Song is such a fantastic character too. Since she became a companion, the name Clara has really grown on me too, just as Cora became a favourite since Downton Abbey!
on January 2nd, 2014 at 11:21 am
What about Martha – she’s in the picture, but not mentioned. I like that name too, but hard not to associate it with Martha Stewart.
on May 15th, 2014 at 9:10 am
Best programme ever! Doctor Who has made me fall in love with the names Amelia and Clara, which are now my favourite girls’ names, and River Song is an amazing character with a fantastic name 🙂
leave a reply
You must be logged in to post a comment.