It’s official – after plenty of build-up longtime Doctor Who companions Bradley Walsh and Tosin Cole have left the BBC sci-fi series, with their characters Graham and Ryan departing during New Year’s Day episode Revolution of the Daleks.
But is this definitely the end for this duo? Could Walsh and Cole make a possible comeback in future episodes, teaming up with the Doctor and Yaz (Jodie Whittaker and Mandip Gill) and new companion Dan (John Bishop) when they’re next back on Earth?
Well, it’s certainly possible – but before we get into why, we’ll have to hit you with an obligatory spoiler warning for Revolution of the Daleks. Read on at your own risk…
At the close of the episode both Ryan and Graham seem pretty definitive in their decision to leave the TARDIS life behind, with Ryan in particular keen to find his way on Earth.
“I think I’m gonna stay here,” Ryan said. “Me mates need me. And I know this sounds stupid, but I feel like my planet needs me. You gotta fight for it, right?
“Look, Doctor – before I met you, I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life. And now I know.
“Well, there’s lots to explore – so much more to see!” Graham added. “But, um… I don’t want to miss out on you, you know? And being here without you ain’t gonna be the same. You know I’ll always be looking around then to say stuff to you, you know?
“See, Ryan, you’re my family. And I remember, Doc, what you said – that we wouldn’t come back the same people, and you’re right. Just not in the way I thought.
“I’m ready – I wanna be at home with my grandson.”
However, before going Graham does suggest to Yaz that he might not be done with the TARDIS team just yet.
“Yaz… I’m sure I’ll see you soon, eh? Keep doing humanity proud,” Graham says, shortly before the Doctor gifts both him and Ryan psychic paper.
“Might come in handy!” she suggests – and sure enough, in the episode’s final scene Graham and Ryan are planning to use the paper to investigate their own alien mysteries down on Earth.
“I was looking online earlier… some weird stuff going on in a village in Finland. Troll invasion, so the locals are saying,” Ryan says.
“And you know there’s a quarry in Korea that has shut down, because the workers are saying they saw gravel creatures come to life,” Graham replies, with the pair deciding to finish their attempted bike ride before they set off to one or both destinations.
“Few more tries, then we’ll go and save the world, alright?” Graham says.
In other words, even if they’re off-screen the episode makes clear that Graham and Ryan aren’t quite done with their sci-fi heroics, with both characters keen to protect the Earth in a more modest way without the Doctor.
They wouldn’t be the first ex-companions to walk this path, after all – Elisabeth Sladen’s Sarah Jane Smith and John Barrowman’s Captain Jack Harkness both left the Doctor to watch over the planet in their own spin-off series, while Freema Agyeman’s Martha joined UNIT to continue the same sort of work.
But could Graham and Ryan also follow in those ex-companions’ footsteps when it comes to Doctor Who returns? After all, all of these world protectors eventually made one or more returns to the main series after their departures, at least partially because they ended up going after the same sort of threats as the Doctor.
It’s certainly possible that one or both of this newly-departed Doctor Who duo could be back in the next series. Yaz is still travelling with the Doctor, and would want to return home from time to time – why wouldn’t they look in on their old friends? Or what if Graham and Ryan found a threat beyond their capabilities to face and decided to call in the big guns?
Whether it would happen is another matter. Both Bradley Walsh and Tosin Cole have moved on from the series with big new TV roles (a remake of The Darling Buds of May and a US courtroom drama called 61st Street specifically) and might not be available or inclined to reprise their old roles.
Still, we do have to wonder. Graham’s note that he’ll see Yaz “soon” could suggest at least Walsh would be in line for a return (notably he implied that he’d seen some scripts for the next series in a New York Comic-Con interview), and while Ryan’s storyline is pretty wrapped up after Revolution of the Daleks it still feels like there could be more to explore with Graham.
Maybe we’re reading too much into this and maybe this really is a permanent goodbye to Ryan and Graham. But this is Doctor Who, right? As ever, anything is possible.
Doctor Who will return to BBC One this year. Want something else to watch? Check out our full TV Guide.