Ian and Barbara, Barbara and Ian. The first humans that traveled with the Doctor. They brought wit, grace, and charm to the TARDIS and made it a better place by their mere presence.
What to say about these two that I haven’t said over six dozen blog posts? They’re a great pair. William Russell and Jacqueline Hill really brought something great to these roles, and had an amazing chemistry from the moment they first appeared on our screen. They did a wonderful job of grounding us, the viewers, in something real and normal, even while facing Daleks, revolutionaries, Sensorites, cavemen, or walking mushrooms.
Ian was always brave, and always kind to basically everyone. He never ran from a fight, but also never sought one out, and took a life only when there was no other option, and allowed us to see that it affected him to do so.
As for Barbara, she was everything Susan couldn’t be; she was brave without trying (usually), and not afraid to stand up to the Doctor when he was wrong. Her knowledge of history came in handy more than once, and one memorable time, among the Aztecs, it almost cost everyone their lives.
It’s as a team that we remember them. No one talks about Ian being their favorite companion, or about Babs being their favorite. No, it’s always Ian and Barbara, together. Much how later it was, more of than not, Amy and Rory. One without the other could work, and work well, but they were so much, much better together.
Jacqueline Hill returned to Doctor Who once, during the Tom Baker years. She never came back after that, and sadly, died of cancer in the 1980s.
William Russell never came back to the series, at least not on TV (plans for him to return as Ian back in the 1980s were scuttled). But for many years he’s been a solid presence at Big Finish, playing Ian, and giving us more and more insight to the character. He’s quite a bit older, now, and can’t always bring to mind the young man he was, but he gets close enough.
Vicki, Steven, Sara Kingdom, Dodo, Polly, and Ben, all had their places as companions to the First Doctor. They all their moments to shine. But for my money, the best, most consistently wonderful companions, were Ian and Barbara, always there, until they weren’t anymore. I miss them already.