Before you read this post, I must warn you it contains massive spoilers for the Fourth Doctor Adventures Series 8 The Syndicate Masterplan. If you haven’t heard those, please click away now. This post will ruin your listening pleasure. I don’t normally produce posts like this, but Ann Kelso is more complex than appears on the surface. And if you don’t know who she is, read the news item A New Companion for the Fourth Doctor.
Ann Kelso or not Ann Kelso?
That is the question. Introduced in Andrew Smith’s story The Sinestran Kill, she’s a policewoman in the late ’70s and comes across the TARDIS, meets the Doctor and ends up travelling with him in a double-boxset epic packed with references back to The Dalek Masterplan. I told you there were spoilers, and in a lot of ways this story is a thorough follow-up to the Hartnell classic, including many of the characters.
Enter Ann Kelso, who travels in the TARDIS across lots of smaller adventures, and by any normal definition ticks the companion box. But. She isn’t real.
Yes, as the stories develop we see glimpses of over-familiarity with technology but not enough to cause huge alarm bells, just moments of slight doubt.
We slowly realise Ann is really Anya and her real Anya persona is more assassin than police and we slowly realise decide however much we liked Ann, Anya is not the same and nor is she so pleasant. Ruthless is one thing, but Anya has her own mission, drives and in the end is dislikable.
There’s also the matter of her surname; she’s Anya Kingdom, but is unaware of any connection to Sara Kingdom. For some reason that matters to me. I really like the idea of Sara Kingdom and how Big Finish gave her plenty of opportunity. Is it too easy to have her be a cousin? Perhaps, but why the surname? Is it just an unresolved tease? Maybe a future set has an ever deeper personality or maybe she just happens to have the same surname. I think I’d rather she was related and a villain as it makes for more dramatic tension. We have neither, for now.
By the end, with the story resolved, Anya (who has softened a tiny bit) want to travel on the TARDIS, but as the Doctor says, he rather like Ann and is quite sad she never was. I’m with the Doctor on this one.