‘Doctor Who’ writer on possible Ian Chesterton return

Doctor Who writer Gareth Roberts is keen for original companion Ian Chestertson to return to the show.

Actor William Russell played teacher Ian alongside the First Doctor in 77 episodes from 1963 to 1965.

The character was referenced in last year’s 50th anniversary special, ‘The Day of the Doctor’, as Coal Hill school’s Chairman of the Governors.

Doctor Who Coal Hill School

The school has featured heavily in Doctor Who‘s current season, most notably in last weekend’s ‘The Caretaker’, written by Gareth Roberts.

Speaking exclusively to CultBox, Roberts revealed: “I just thought [including Ian in ‘The Caretaker’] would be too much of a distraction. I think that’s an episode all of its own. I thought, particularly after the 50th, where there were lots of references to past Doctor Who, sometimes you need to just put your foot on the accelerator and keep going forward.”

Doctor Who The Caretaker cast

Asked if we could see William Russell return in a future episode set at Coal Hill school, the writer commented: “I’d love to see William Russell back in the show! That’s so rich and so fertile for someone to do. You’d have to explain it enough so that everyone would get it.”

He added: “There’s a tiny reference to that first year of Doctor Who in ‘The Caretaker’ which is the Coal Hill motto, on the wall of the parent’s evening: “a great spirit of adventure”, which is what the Doctor says about Ian and Barbara in ‘The Sensorites’. I thought that was a nice nod in the background.”

> Read our full interview with Gareth Roberts.

Season 8 continues on BBC One next weekend with ‘Kill the Moon’.

> Here’s everything we know so far about Season 8.

Would you like to see Ian Chesterton return to Doctor Who? Let us know below…

  • What needs to be explained is how tje doctor hasnt clocked that its the same school

    • skepticalhovian

      He has! His reference to “lots of artron energy” in the area, for example.

    • Probably the same reason he didn’t clock what was happening in Day of the Doctor – it had been a few hundred years, and he forgot…

  • yes I would love to have the Ian character back.

  • RickCB

    Oh yes, definitely! 🙂

  • Jan Jašek

    Ian and Barbara where actually one my favorites. It’s sad that Jacqueline passed away 20 years ago. William will be 90 in few weeks though, so it would definitely be a nice gift to him and to all of us who remember them. It could be just a short cameo just like Tom Baker made for the anniversary episode.

  • Charlton

    Ian and Barbara were brilliantly written characters for the time, just as much as the Doctor was. Susan not so as they just made her do the same thing in every story which was the reason why she left.

    But in Sarah Jane Adventures it is mentioned that apparently Ian and Barbara married and have not aged since 1964 (for some stupid reason).

    • Roan Van Slooten

      Maybe we’ll need the guy from An Adventure in Space and Time

  • Dr_Syn

    One thing I still hold against RTD is that he never got the Brigadier
    into the show before Nicholas Courtney died. I bet Moffat makes the same
    mistake with William Russell.

  • Ren

    I really hope they stick with the Sarah Jane Adventures story of what happened to Ian and Barbara. But William Russell needs to make a cameo too….

  • Friend of the Ood


  • Jami

    Yes please! More classic companions and villains! Ian, even if for just one episode. The Celestial Toymaker and his sister Hecuba too (though obviously they’d have to cast new actors for the roles – wouldn’t it be evil if Hecuba was to return in the form of Donna Noble?!). Maybe even a regenerated Susan Foreman.

  • Marcelo

    Sure! Ian and a regenerated Susan!

  • Matthew Tygert

    ABSOLUTELY! All for reunions, and this one would be a doosey. What a shock Ian would be in for! “Who are you? You’re too young to be him, you must be someone else”

  • Crumpler

    In the sarah jane adventures – death of the doctor,she referenced Ian and Barbara and said they haven’t aged since the sixties.I hope the writers remember that if they write an episode with him.

  • Rob W

    I don’t like the idea that everything should cross over so the fans can go “Oh wow it’s those things at the same time!” but the Doctor reuniting with his first companion as an old man sounds like a really rather lovely one. That’s a unique opportunity.

    It’d overwrite that wonderful moment in The Sarah Jane Adventures where she says he and Barbara haven’t aged a day, but I love the idea of Clara finding out the twinkly-eyed old governor used to go out on adventures with her best friend.

    Regrettably, I expect Clara might leave at Christmas – she’s already surpassed the standard one series for a companion – so I fear we might never get that chance.

    • John Gallagher

      But so did Amy an Rory – so Clara could go on – but as you say – I suspect she’s out at Christmas – would be great to have Mr Russell show up at the wedding (yeah another Doctor Who wedding LOL) of two of his staff members and have The Doctor and Ian recognize each other.

      THAT would be cool 🙂

  • kidneys

    I would love to see Ian again! 🙂

  • Per Gøran Henriksen

    yep this needs to happen

  • John Gallagher

    He is on the staff at the school – he has to make an appearance – and maybe one last journey with The Caretaker LOL

  • Kev Smith

    with the knowledge that we Know that Chesterton is a governor at coal hill Ian must know that the doctor is around and his curiosity must be pricked by now, Jo grant is around somewhere also…in the world of the doctor he is bound to bump in to old friends, so this isn’t a revisit to the past but are parts of the story that makes these “log entries” as I call every episode of doctor who…they are to me Tardis Logs…..there are a few around on present day earth alive, Tegan, Jo, ian, Polly, Dodo, Victoria, mike yates, john Benton, to name a few…As for others…the monk must still be alive somewhere, he wouldn’t have got involved in the war, as could Omega make a return, with the doctor anything is possible…sadly a lot of the old school are gone..but we have big finish also…

  • Magicary De Portalezka

    Yes! I would love it! I watched the old episodes of the first doctor (and now I’m seeing the second’s ones)! Then It would be great!

  • Grady Glover

    It would be amazing to have one of the VERY FIRST companions return to the current series. Do it before it’s too late!!