Confession #15: I Wish Sgt. Benton Had Traveled with the Doctor

I don't really know, but I'm guessing every fan has at least one character about which they think, "man! - s/he should have been a Companion!" Currently, I'm having such wishful thinking about Mdme. Vastra. (Wouldn't that be a brilliant change-up for the TARDIS crew? How often has the Doctor had a non-human companion? KamelionRomana, K-9 (anyone I'm missing?) - a small fraction of the total, regardless.) When we get back to pre-Hiatus Who, though - something that's sadly "mists of time" for me rather than "misty nostalgia" - I've found that there's one recurring yet secondary character I'd really have loved to see travel with the Doctor on a regular basis:  Sgt. Benton.

Benton is a generally congenial soul, mellow and pleasant to be around. That all makes him great as a background character, but what makes me think he'd have done well long-term? There are a couple of major reasons, really, and they have to do with his basically unflappable personality.

First, he tends to take everything in stride. What better qualification than that can a Companion have? (Well... I'll consider that later.) When faced with all sorts of weirdness, Benton pretty much never bats an eyelash - with the exception of reasonable self-preservation instinct. Most famously, he had the best-in-the-history-of-the-franchise reaction to his first view of the inside of the TARDIS. Here's how it played out.

In the 10th anniversary special The Three Doctors, the Brigadier and Benton - along with Two, Three, and Jo - are chased into the TARDIS to seek refuge from the rampaging entity attacking UNIT. Far from freaking out, Benton just looks around.

"Well, Sergeant?" asks Three, smirking. "Aren't you going to say, 'it's bigger on the inside than it is on the outside'? Everybody else does."

Benton simply responds, "Well, it's pretty obvious, isn't it?"

Love. It.

Another thing I love about Benton is that he's nobody's fool. He's a quick, independent thinker - rather counter to the soldier stereotype, especially for a non-commissioned officer. In fact, he manages to match wits with none other than the Master, and win at least one round! At one point during The Time Monster, the Master tries to trick Benton so that he will leave his post and the Master can sneak back into his laboratory unmolested. Someone the Master has under his control tells Benton that the Brigadier has ordered the sergeant elsewhere. Naturally suspicious, Benton questions the relayed order.

Using his talents to mimic the Brigadier's voice, the Master confirms the order over a different telephone line. Benton hangs up, apparently satisfied. However, he does not blithely waltz off to the supposed meeting point; instead, he cracks open a window, and then very conspicuously leaves out the front as the Master intended. Once out of sight, he circles back and climbs in the open window, ready to confront the Master as he walks in the door, momentarily surprised. "You didn't really think you could fool me with a fake telephone call, did you?" admonishes Benton. "It's the oldest trick in the book!"

The Master soon turns the tables again, but it says something about Benton and his potential as a Companion that he's able to outsmart the Master even that far. The Doctor could really use more Companions that think a bit before rushing off into certain peril (or trip and twist their ankles - something I don't envision Benton ever doing). I suppose it might have been hard to write for Benton off-planet and make it work, since part of his charm is how he keeps everything down-to-earth (harder to do if you're not on Earth...). And I suppose he mightn't have gelled quite as well with Four as he did with Two and Three. But I just can't get enough of him.

Too bad it's all moot.



Lyger's picture

Benton was awesome. He would have made a great traveling companion.

By Lyger --

RZ-007lc. Side of Republic.

In "Timelash," the Sixth Doctor and Peri discover a painting of the Third Doctor and Jo Grant on Karfel. After the Doctor identifies himself, a Karfelian says, "Just the two of you this time?" -- indicating that, on his previous visit, the (Third) Doctor brought along Jo...AND SOMEONE ELSE. This could've been Capt. Yates or the Brigadier...but like you, I prefer to think it was Sgt. Benton.

This is a "Missing Adventure" that needs writing, methinks.

By Christopher Gil... (not verified)
mrfranklin's picture

Now THERE's a bit of fanfic that makes my heart go pitter-pat! :D

By mrfranklin
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