ATV Icon: Doctor Who’s Jo Grant

Last month it was revealed that actress Katy Manning will be guest-starring in the forth season of The Sarah Jane Adventures reprising her role of Jo Grant; a character she last played on-screen in Doctor Who in 1973.

© BBC, Elisabeth Sladen with Jo Grant.

 The actress will appear alongside new Doctor, Matt Smith, as the actor makes his first crossover appearance in the CBBC spin-off series, ala David Tennant last year. The two-part episode will mark Sarah Jane [Elisabeth Sladen] first encounter with the 11th Doctor but also Sarah’s her on-screen meeting with Jo, her predecessor.

It’s sure to be an exciting story and one that fans of the original series of Doctor Who will be looking forward too. However, some younger readers may have never even heard of former companion Jo Grant so here we profile her time travels and adventures with the Third Doctor [Jon Pertwee].

Jo Grant made her first appearance in The Terror of the Autons; the opening story of Jon Pertwee’s second season in the role. In Pertwee’s first season the role of companion was filled by actress Caroline John who played scientist Liz Shaw but the producers felt the character was suited to the series and decided not to bring Liz back for a second season.
Actress Caroline John was considering quitting Doctor Who at the time anyway because she was pregnant. So for the second season of Pertwee’s tenure a new companion was written into the series as well as a new advisory; The Master [Roger Delgado].
The Doctor had been exiled to Earth by his own people, the Time Lords, for his interference in the affairs of other species. Time Lord laws strictly forbid interference with other species, they were merely to observe, but the Doctor routinely got involved with the problems of others. For this the Time Lords punished him and exiled him to Earth which he had visited numerous times and stopped various alien attacks.
The Doctor allied himself with UNIT, an organisation set-up to combat alien threats, during his exile on Earth. This was how the Doctor was introduced to new companion Jo Grant. Jo had managed to get her influential uncle to pull some strings and get her assigned to the organisation. The head of the British division of UNIT, Brigadier Lethbridge Stewart [Nicholas Courtney] assigned Jo to work as the Doctor’s assistant.
Although shortly after meeting the Doctor she ruined one of his experiments Jo and the Doctor quickly clicked. Her sense of humour and warm smile won over the Doctor after her mishap with his experiment. However, Jo’s first adventure with the Doctor served to illustrate to her the dangers involved with working for UNIT.
Firstly Jo was hypnotised by The Master and ordered to put a bomb inside UNIT HQ, thankfully though the Doctor managed to stop her in time. Secondly the Doctor and Jo were abducted by two Autons and perused around a quarry as they tried to escape their captors. Despite the obvious dangers involved in being associated with UNIT and the Doctor, Jo still decided to remain with them.
Jo and the Doctor quickly formed a double-act of sorts in their various adventures becoming very close friends and anticipating what the other one was thinking or about to do. They frequently encountered The Master and although he often tried to kill them a kind of respect developed between them.
On occasions The Master even looked happy to see them, especially when they were in the 25th century and prisoners of the Earth’s president who believed them to be alien spies. The Master took great delight in rescuing Jo from an Earth prison and the Doctor from the penal colony on the Moon – it gave him power over the two and a smug satisfaction that it was he who had rescued them. He also had an ulterior motive, of course, as he was working with the Daleks at the time and was planning on handing them over to the creatures.
Many fans may think that romance is something new to Doctor Who but there were always hints of romance with Jo. It was strongly hinted that Jo and Captain Mike Yates [Richard Franklin] dated or at the very least went on several days.
It was also hinted that Sergeant Benton [John Levene] fancied Jo but probably didn’t act on it because Mike made the first move. If Jo wasn’t being chased by UNIT personal it was people she encountered on her travels with the Doctor. When she and the Doctor landed on Peladon the King [David Troughton] of the planet quite plainly stated his interest in her.
Although Jo was flattered by his attention she mistrusted his motives suspecting he only wanted her because he thought it would bring an alliance with Earth. Jo and the Doctor were pretending to be delegates from Earth for a peace conference on the planet. While the other delegates thought a marriage between the King and Jo was likely it never was – Jo’s heart always belonged on Earth.
King Peladon wasn’t the only one to fall for Jo; another was a Thal called Latep [Alan Tucker] while battling the Daleks on Spiridon. Latep quickly fell for Jo and invited her to return with him to the Thal home-world of Skaro. Jo was perhaps tempted but declined the offer preferring instead to return to Earth.
Jo was devoted to the Doctor and risked her own life on several occasions to try and save his. Although she trusted the Doctor she was always suspicious of his claims about the Tardis until her first trip inside the time machine and she wound up on an alien planet.
Jo was initially scared and unsure about stepping foot on an alien world but quickly became involved with local politics joining a group of colonists who were fighting a big mining corporation. During Jo’s time with the Doctor she encountered the Daleks twice, Autons, Ice Warriors, Sea Devils, Axons and Drasigs. In The Three Doctors Jo also met the Doctor’s Second Incarnation [Patrick Troughton] when he is sent to assisted the Doctor by the Time Lords because the renegade Omega was draining power from the Eye of Harmony – which threatened Time Lord society.
Jo’s time with the Doctor acted as an education for her in many sense; it allowed her to develop, to mature and to become independent. The Jo that left the Doctor was very different from the one that he had first met. Jo was not only independent and more mature but she also believed in fighting for just causes – something she had picked up from the Doctor.
Just as she had fought with the colonists against the mining corporation in her last adventure she joined environmentalists campaigning against a local mine. It was during this protest that Jo encountered Professor Clifford Jones [Stewart Bevan] who was leading the campaign.
Mirroring her first encounter with the Doctor, on meeting the Professor Jo inadvertently ruined an experiment of his. Like the Doctor though Professor Jones quickly forgave Jo her mishap and the two fell in love. Jo decided to leave the Doctor and UNIT, getting her uncle to pull some more strings, and join Clifford on his travels around the world. The Doctor, for a wedding present, gave them a blue crystal from the planet Metebelis Three.
Jo is briefly mentioned in Jon Pertwee’s final story, The Planet of Spiders. Jo is stated as being in the Amazon with Clifford but is returning the Blue Crystal to the Doctor because the locals there think its bad luck. Jo writes a letter accompanying the crystal to explain why she is returning it. The crystal forms an important part of Pertwee’s final story as the giant spiders of Metebelis Three are searching for it.