November 2023 will see fans worldwide celebrating the 60th anniversary of the much loved sci-fi series Doctor Who. So, the visit of classic companion actor Frazer Hines for last weekend’s Supanova in Adelaide, and this weekend’s Brisbane event (11-12 November) is coming at exactly the right time!
Hines starred in the Classic era of Doctor Who as Jamie McCrimmon, a Scottish Highlander who became the longest-serving companion of Patrick Troughton’s Second Doctor, appearing in twenty stories, which, considering the multi-part serial format of Classic Who, adds up to a whopping total of one hundred and twelve episodes.
Let’s look back at Jamie’s history and celebrate some of the character’s best moments!
A HIGHLAND SURVIVOR
Jamie’s first appearance came in an early Second Doctor serial, The Highlanders, which became the final Historical story of early Who. The Doctor and his companions Ben and Polly encounter Jamie, a piper among a group of Jacobite rebels fleeing after their loss at the Battle of Culloden. The rebels are captured and almost sold into slavery, but are freed after The Doctor manages to smuggle them weapons. While most of the rebels board a ship with a sympathetic Captain who agrees to take them to safety in France, Ben and Polly convince Jamie to join them aboard the Tardis.
Unfortunately, like many Second Doctor stories, all four episodes of The Highlanders were wiped from the BBC’s archive tapes in the days before reruns, home release, or streaming were a concern. It remains one of the most highly sought-after stories among those hunting for any salvageable copies, highly due to its status as Jamie’s debut story.
LAST ACTION HERO
Most Tardis teams during the black-and-white era of Doctor Who featured a younger, male companion intended to act as an action hero type when The Doctor could not. When Ben and Polly departed the Tardis together, Jamie, who remained on board until the very end of the Second Doctor’s tenure, became the last to fill this role. This first manifests as his strong protective instinct towards Victoria Waterfield, an orphaned young woman The Doctor takes under his wing as a new companion. Jamie acts as an older brother figure to Victoria, and becomes quite upset when The Doctor eventually allows her to leave them in favour of a quieter life with a normal family.
THE VOICE OF COMMON SENSE
Sometime after Victoria’s departure, Zoe Heriot, a young scientist from the 21st Century, joins the Tardis crew. Jamie often found himself as the crew’s odd one out in this period, lacking The Doctor’s genius intellect or Zoe’s future knowledge. Zoe sometimes even teased Jamie for what she perceived as his lack of intelligence, when in reality, the time he had come from was just some way behind hers.
Fortunately, while he may have lacked the brain power of his traveling companions, Jamie brought a much-needed dose of common sense to the Tardis crew. For example, as The Doctor and Zoe celebrate their victory over the Quarks in the final episode of The Dominators, it is left to Jamie to point out the lava flow from a nearby erupting volcano still threatens the Tardis, thankfully allowing the trio just enough time to escape.
AFTER THE TARDIS
In the concluding chapter of the Second Doctor’s final serial, The War Games, the Time Lords finally catch up to The Doctor, who is revealed to be a fugitive from Time Lord society. While The Doctor is taken away to be punished for his interference on other worlds and timelines, Jamie and Zoe are returned to their own times, with all memories but their very first adventure with The Doctor erased. Jamie is last seen doing battle with an English soldier
However, this was not the last time Jamie would encounter The Doctor. The character had one more major televised appearance in The Two Doctors, appearing alongside both The Doctor’s Second and Sixth incarnations. Following this, Frazer Hines has regularly reprised the role of Jamie McCrimmon in many of Big Finish’s Doctor Who audio dramas. Hines often pulls double duty in the audios, performing the voice of not only Jamie, but also the Second Doctor, in honour of his late friend and co-star Patrick Troughton.
BEYOND THE WHONIVERSE
In recent years, it has been revealed that Frazer Hines’ performance as Jamie McCrimmon has had a surprising impact on pop culture even beyond the Whoniverse. While in the early stages of planning the novels that would become her epic historical romance series Outlander, author Diana Gabaldon caught part of a classic Doctor Who story on television. The story was The War Games, and Gabaldon was inspired to both set her story in Scotland, and name her novel’s romantic lead after the brave young Highlander on TV.
Thus, Jamie Fraser was born, with the eventual Outlander television adaptation making him one of the most beloved romance heroes of all time. None of it could have happened without Classic Who companion Jamie McCrimmon.
Have a chat with Jamie himself, Frazer Hines, at Supanova in Brisbane (11-12 November).
Lead Image: Frazer Hines at Supanova 2023 – Adelaide. Photo by Skye Meredyth.