From David Tennant and Catherine Tate, to Peter Davison, Colin Baker, Sylvester McCoy, Paul McGann and the great William Russell, Doctor Who of late has not been short of returning legends.


But there’s been one notable absence in the form of Carole Ann Ford’s iconic character Susan Foreman.

For the uninitiated, Susan was the Doctor’s granddaughter, and the first ever companion in the beloved BBC sci-fi.

She travelled in the TARDIS alongside the First Doctor (William Hartnell) and paved the way for 60 years worth of companions, including Tegan (Janet Fielding), Ace (Sophie Aldred), Rose Tyler (Billie Piper), Donna Noble (Tate) and, looking to the future, Ruby Sunday (Millie Gibson).

After 51 episodes of adventures, Susan became the first companion to leave the show with a performance from Ford and Hartnell that is sure to still bring tears to fans’ eyes, as a departing Doctor declared: "One day I shall come back, yes, I shall come back. Until then, there must be no regrets, no tears, no anxieties."

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Fans have called countless times for a return for Susan – she did return in the 20th anniversary special The Five Doctors in 1983 and the 30th anniversary charity special Dimensions in Time in 1993 - but, for one reason or another, Susan has never made it to New Who.

That’s not to say people on set weren’t on board - Twelfth Doctor actor Peter Capaldi was said to be a big fan of the idea of Susan’s return. Ford told Doctor Who Magazine in 2015: "They invited us to the studios in Cardiff [during the filming of Last Christmas]. It was great. It was lovely to meet Peter [Capaldi]. A lovely man.

"[Capaldi] started saying, 'Oh, you should come back!' I said, 'Yeah, I’d love to come back!' He was running around the TARDIS saying, 'She’s got to come back! She’s got to come back!'"

A year later, in 2016, Capaldi was fielding questions on a convention panel at Fan Expo Dallas – asked which companion should return to the series, he answered: "Susan. Her story wasn’t finished."

Carole Ann Ford
Carole Ann Ford in 2022 Tristan Fewings/Getty Images

While it clearly didn’t happen in the Steven Moffat era, perhaps the second reign of returning showrunner Russell T Davies is the perfect time? Particularly as the show celebrates its incredible longevity n its 60th anniversary year?

The rumour mill has been swirling after Davies left either a casual remark, or a well-placed clue, on the official Doctor Who Instagram, commenting under a clip of Susan's iconic tearful goodbye: "Whatever happened to her?"

What indeed, Russell?!

For many of us, Susan was the ultimate companion. She was incredibly clever, brave and, thanks to her family relation to the Doctor, arguably knew the Time Lord better than anyone else.

Seeing her interact with a modern iteration of the Doctor like Ncuti Gatwa would be a joy - and it’s something only Doctor Who could ever do and still somehow manage to make it make sense.

Despite her being such an iconic companion, we also still don’t know a lot about Susan, with much of her story remaining a mystery. Fans have attempted to piece together whatever details they can about her from brief and throwaway comments over the years, but don’t they deserve some of those questions to be finally answered?

Plus, as Capaldi pointed out, her story didn’t get a proper conclusion.

Poor Susan didn’t actually get to make the decision to leave the TARDIS - something that has been so important in other companions’ stories. She was unceremoniously locked out and forced to watch her beloved grandfather fly away into the sunset.

There’s a theory that RTD, while bringing back Tennant and Tate, is about to make a big point about nostalgia and how it impacts us – in which case, maybe bringing back Susan wouldn’t be at the top of his to-do list. But, if he ever did want to continue an iconic companion’s story, and remind fans of the power of Susan Foreman, well... we wouldn’t say no.

Doctor Who is available to stream on BBC iPlayer with episodes of the classic series also available on BritBox – you can sign up for a 7-day free trial here.

For more, check out our dedicated Sci-Fi page or visit our full TV Guide and Streaming Guide.


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