The Doctor's Companions

Sarah Jane Smith Harry Sullivan Leela
Robot - The Android Invasion
Harry Sullivan
Harry Sullivan
(1974 - 1975)
Ian Marter
 Born in 1944 Ian Marter's acting career started when he left university in 1969 to join the Bristol Old Vic as an acting stage manager. His first professional acting part was as a Russian soldier in The Hostage. He auditioned for the role of Captain Mike Yates but this part was given to Richard Franklin instead. However, he still made an impression and so his first role in Doctor Who was when he played the part of merchant navy officer John Andrews in the 1973 Third Doctor story "Carnival of Monsters". He was then given the opportunity to join Doctor Who in 1974 as companion Naval Surgeon Lieutenant Harry Sullivan. Since leaving Doctor Who Ian Marter then became involved in novelising several Doctor Who stories for the Target range of books including the original novel "Harry's Sullivan's War". He has also novelised several films including "Spash", under the pen name Ian Dod, and "My Science Project". Unfortunately, on 29 October 1986 and before he had completed the novelisation of the 1965 Doctor Who story "The Rescue", he suddenly passed away. This was only 6 weeks after his last work in front of a camera for his Reeltime Picture's Myth Maker interview.
 Surgeon Lieutenant Harry Sullivan was UNIT's Medical Officer who was seconded to UNIT from the Royal Navy. Due to The Doctor undergoing his third regeneration he found himself assigned, by The Brigadier, to look after The Doctor who was behaving rather erratically. After helping The Doctor and Sarah Jane Smith to defeat the threat of Professor Kettlewell's robot he was invited to join them for a short trip in the TARDIS. Harry of course thought that this was absurd and his remarks about the TARDIS bridled The Doctor into to at least having a look inside the TARDIS. He finally accepted so as to humour The Doctor and so found himself whisked away from the UNIT Headquarters and Earth in the 20th century ("Robot").

  Very little was revealed about Harry's pre-UNIT life except that after attending public school he read medicine at Oxford and that he excelled in a variety of sports including cricket, rugby and boxing before joining the Royal Navy. Like the Brigadier he was a fairly conventional person and was very much of the old school. He was also destined to be the very last member of UNIT to join The Doctor in his travels.

  His overall appearance was as a burly young man with curly hair who very much had an old fashion charm. With his zealous enthusiasm he was unflinchingly brave but with a very modest nature. He was unfortunately a bit of a bumbler and he did though tend to be rather clumsy and somewhat accident prone. Even though he was a dashing young naval officer who was also a very good medical doctor he did give the impression that he was like an old fashioned boy's adventure story type hero. He always meant well but he did have a tendency to stumble into danger. He would end up diving into situations without stopping to think which would occasionally land him into trouble. On one such incident he was branded by The Doctor as an imbecile.

  He was very protective towards Sarah, and though it was well meant, he was found by the liberated Sarah to be chauvinistic and sexist. Most of the time he ended up infuriating her especially as he often tended to refer to her as 'Old Thing' much to her annoyance. Despite this, it has been speculated that Harry was half in love with Sarah without consciously registering it, his feelings pushed aside by the knowledge that Sarah mainly saw him as a slightly irritating faithful family friend rather than a potential partner. He was though respected especially by The Doctor who appreciated his medical and practical abilities; indeed, when he was briefly separated from the TARDIS crew due to a malfunction in the Time Ring and landed in the middle of an alien war, Harry won the respect of both sides when he attempted to treat combatants regardless of their allegiance.
The Ark in Space
The Ark in Space

  Despite being well educated he remained a somewhat confused companion and he never fully understood the workings of the TARDIS and its potential. This lack of understanding could be because he only ever travelled in the TARDIS twice. Once to Nerva Beacon, a space station which was also known as the Ark, and then back to Earth again. The remainder of his trips in time and space were carried out by the use of a time ring given to The Doctor by the Time Lords and Nerva Beacon's own transmat system. (Although he did spend a brief period in another TARDIS that the Time Lords provided for the three of them when the Time Ring malfunctioned, before the new TARDIS’s link to The Doctor nearly caused it to suffer a breakdown and forced the Time Lords to reclaim it).

  Despite his time with The Doctor and Sarah being very brief it did however, include a visit to the planet Skaro where he witnessed the creation of the Daleks, an encounter with the Cybermen, a Sontaran the Wirrn and the Zygons. His character was originally brought in to handle all the physical action as it was unclear at the time who would be the Fourth Doctor and if they would be able to carry out the more demanding aspects of this role. As Tom Baker proved that he was fully capable to take on the more physical parts it was inevitable that Harry's time would be short lived. However, he did play a vital role in the events of "Wolfsbane", when he was briefly separated from The Doctor and Sarah when the TARDIS landed in 1936 and he was unintentionally left behind. During his time in 1936, Harry unknowingly befriended the Eighth Doctor during the latter’s century-long amnesic exile on Earth, helping The Doctor overcome an attempted conquest of Earth by a woman who believed herself to be the reincarnation of Morgan Le Fay with the use of the Holy Grail. Since the Grail caused significant discomfort and pain to any evil or unnatural being within its presence, allowing Harry - The Doctor’s ‘sin’ of destroying Gallifrey, albeit to save the universe, caused the Grail to knock him out - to use the Grail to disrupt Morgan’s spells and send her tumbling into a chasm, Harry subsequently being rescued by the Fourth Doctor and Sarah (Who had spent some time a month in the future dealing with the aftermath of the current crisis).

  It was after the Zygon's failed attempt to invade Earth that he decided to stay behind now that he was back in present day Earth. The Doctor though did offer him a lift back to London in the TARDIS but he declined much preferring to make his own way there. However, The Doctor and Sarah caught up with him again during the Kraals invasion of Earth . It was also during this story The Doctor and Sarah also encountered an android replica of Harry created by the Kraals.

The Sontaran Experiment
The Sontaran Experiment
However, it was not until a much later story that the Brigadier revealed, to the Fifth Doctor, that Harry had eventually been transferred from UNIT to work for NATO ("Mawdryn Undead"). He has also appeared in the novels "System Shock" and "Millennium Shock", set in 1997 and the last days of 1999 respectively, where he has become a member of MI5, collaborating with the Fourth Doctor and Sarah in "System Shock" and The Doctor on his own in "Millennium Shock" to defeat the Voracians, a race of artificial life forms seeking to turn humanity’s machines against the people of Earth and create a new digital age. On both occasions, Harry proved himself to still be a capable companion despite his current age being in his mid-fifties, managing to escape attacking Voracians despite their superior physical strength and participating in various escapes and break-ins in The Doctor’s company.

Harry's status in the modern series is unknown, but a brief reference was made to him in The Sarah Jane Adventures, when Sarah Jane Smith briefly contemplated naming her newly-adopted son after him or The Brigadier (She eventually decided to call her son Luke), a later episode of the series including Sarah mentioning that Harry had saved thousands of lives with his work on vaccines (Suggesting that he either returned to medicine full-time or continued his research in his spare time while working at MI5). During a new Zygon attack after the UNIT/Zygon peace treaty began to break down ("The Day of The Doctor"), Kate Stewart - the Brigadier's daughter - revealed that a naval surgeon working for UNIT had developed an anti-Zygon nerve gas after their initial invasion left various Zygon corpses (Although this gas was taken by 'someone with a TARDIS') ("The Zygon Invasion/The Zygon Inversion"); although Kate didn't identify the surgeon by name at first, the fact that this weapon was known as 'Sullivan's Gas' makes it obvious that Harry was the one responsible.

Memorable Moment
Television Stories
Format Story Doctor Fellow Companions Season Episodes
Television Robot The 4th Doctor Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart, Sergeant Benton and Sarah Jane Smith Season 12 4
Television The Ark in Space The 4th Doctor Sarah Jane Smith Season 12 4
Television The Sontaran Experiment The 4th Doctor Sarah Jane Smith Season 12 2
Television Genesis of the Daleks The 4th Doctor Sarah Jane Smith Season 12 6
Television Revenge of the Cybermen The 4th Doctor Sarah Jane Smith Season 12 4
Television Terror of the Zygons The 4th Doctor Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart, Sergeant Benton and Sarah Jane Smith Season 13 4
Television The Android Invasion The 4th Doctor Sarah Jane Smith Season 13 4
Total Stories:   7 Total Episodes:   28
Other Stories
Format Story Doctor Fellow Companions Season Source
Book A Device of Death The 4th Doctor Sarah Jane Smith Season 12 The Missing Adventures
Book Nanomophosis The 4th Doctor Sarah Jane Smith Season 12 The Big Finish Short Trips
Book Wolfsbane The 4th Doctor and The 8th Doctor Sarah Jane Smith Season 12 The Past Doctors Stories
Book To Kill a Nandi Bear The 4th Doctor Sarah Jane Smith Season 12 The Big Finish Short Trips
Book (17:15) The Last Broadcast The 4th Doctor Sarah Jane Smith Season 12 The Big Finish Short Trips
Book The Dragons of Prague The 4th Doctor Sarah Jane Smith Season 12 The Big Finish Short Trips
Book The Last Thing You Ever See The 4th Doctor Sarah Jane Smith Season 12 The Big Finish Short Trips
Book System Shock The 4th Doctor Sarah Jane Smith Season 13 The Missing Adventures
Book UNIT Christmas Parties: Ships That Pass The 4th Doctor Sarah Jane Smith and UNIT Season 13 The Big Finish Short Trips
Book Millennium Shock The 4th Doctor Sarah Jane Smith Season 14 The Past Doctors Stories
Book Mutiny     Season 14 The Big Finish Short Trips
Book Hello Goodbye The 4th Doctor Sarah Jane Smith
The Big Finish Short Trips
Book The Eight Doctors of Christmas
The 1st Doctor, The 2nd Doctor, The 3rd Doctor, The 4th Doctor, The 5th Doctor, The 6th Doctor, The 7th Doctor and The 8th Doctor 
Susan, Jamie, Zoe, The Brigadier, Jo Grant, Sarah Jane Smith, Leela, K9, Adric, Nyssa, Tegan Jovanka, Turlough, 2nd Romana, Peri, Dr Grace Holloway and Chang Lee
The Big Finish Short Trips
Book Harry Sullivan's War     - Miscellaneous Stories
Book The Man From DOCTO(R)    
The Big Finish Short Trips
Total Stories:   15
A Member Of
Parts of this article were compiled with the assistance of David Spence who can be contacted by e-mail at
Who's Who The Fourth Doctor Who Episodes
Who's Who The 4th Doctor Who Episodes

KJ Software
Who Me

The Seasons Press to go back to the previous visited page References
Doctor Who is the copyright of the British Broadcasting Corporation. No infringements intended. This site is not endorsed by the BBC or any representatives thereof.