John and Gillian (Who?) are a strange pair.
Accompanying the TV Comic First and Second Doctors, we discover very
little about them over their extensive travels with the Doctor.
Their debut story, The Klepton Parasites,
implies they are human as they arrive at a junkyard to meet their
grandfather, Doctor Who for, it seems, the very first time. As we
follow their adventures we find John is impulsive and adventurous and
Gillian shy and sensitive. However, every now and again interesting
characteristics are briefly glimpsed.
Gillian is seen on a few occasions to demonstrate
diplomacy, for example with the Ixon King in The Therovian Quest
and the Pied Piper in Challenge of the Piper. In Ordeals of
Demeter and The Trodos Tyranny, Gillian appears to have more
sensitive hearing than either John or Doctor Who. Later, whilst
travelling with the Second Doctor, Gillian begins to demonstrate more
independence culminating in her finally firing a gun at a dinosaur in
Monsters from the Past. However, only two stories earlier, in
Master of the Spiders, she was seen to be dusting the TARDIS console
room. On the whole, Gillian is often absent for sizeable chunks of
stories either being kidnapped by the week’s monsters or simply
disappearing from the main action, and when she is around, spends her
time panicking about the latest threat..
John, on the other hand, is the man of action – if
action can be said to consist of throwing things and firing the odd gun,
which is normally all John contributes to each story. He fires the
electron gun to aid their escape from the Zarbi (On the Web
Planet) and in the very first story lobs a rock at a Klepton ship. He
is far more impulsive but also protective of his sister and grandfather,
with a clear sense of good and evil fostered by his caring, measured
grandfather (Die, hideous creature die!).
With the arrival of the second Doctor, John and
Gillian very much disappear into the background. For many of this era’s
stories, the siblings appear only at the beginning and end of stories.
Usually they are told to stay in the TARDIS by the Doctor who, since his
(unexplained) regeneration has become decidedly protective of the pair.
Occasionally, John and Gillian do venture out in stories such as The
Zombies, Master of the Spiders and The Monsters from the
Past but merely get captured by the week’s villain/monsters and have
to be rescued by the Doctor. Eventually, in Space War III we
finally see John and Gillian showing some independence and proactive
plot function when they are sent back to the TARDIS by the Doctor but
ignore his instructions! Returning, they manage to rescue the
Doctor from the evil villain and carry him back to the TARDIS.
The new Doctor Who also seems to cause a shift in the
relationship between the trio. In the earlier strips, the relationship
is very much one of grandfather and grandchildren, but in the later
strips with the second Doctor, the relationship is far more vague and
one doesn’t get the impression that the characters are particularly
close. Indeed in Space War III John and Gillian are
convinced the Doctor has left them behind for good.
John and Gillian’s actual origins and relationship to
Doctor Who, though, are shrouded in confusion and mystery. Whilst
appearing human there is never any actual direct reference to their
heritage, save for the fact they are Doctor Who’s grandchildren. That
said, Doctor Who is never explicitly referred to as alien, so little can
be deduced from this relationship. Odd inconsistencies crop up as the
children’s adventures continue. John and Gillian are both familiar with
Christmas and Santa Claus (A Christmas Story), but have never
heard of the Pied Piper (Challenge of the Piper). Gillian
alludes to a motorway in The Gyros Injustice and pop singers and
television in Challenge of the Piper but both children are
regularly excited about trips to Earth with the strong suggestion that
it is because they like the planet rather than it necessarily being
their home (John and Gillian never seem concerned about being away from
Earth in the same way Ian and Barbara did, which suggests they have
nothing to go back to – least of all parents, who must be very worried
After battling the Daleks,
Trods and Cybermen, John and Gillian are deposited by the Doctor at
Zebedee University and never heard of again. The Doctor joins forces
with television companion Jamie McCrimmon and continues to have madcap
adventures without a thought for his beloved grandchildren – if that’s
who they truly were...