The Doctor Who Ratings Guide: By Fans, For Fans

Adric

Matthew Waterhouse

Reviews

A Review by Ryu Kirtz 28/7/98

No, it isn't a joke or pretense at post-modernism ("Nightmare of Eden is my favorite story-- isn't it brilliant?") but Adric is my all-time favorite male companion, not that has been a lot of competition.

But then again, as Adric was set to be, that is, an unpretty multi-valenced person with the kind of flaws and virtues that nontelevised people have. That is, you and me. But Adric is even more rare yet. My theory is that the reason fandom rejected Adric so solidly was that he was too real, that he reminded fans of the nerds they were afraid that they were.

Some people are defensive like that. Understandably, but that does not make it untrue.

More ironic yet Matthew Waterhouse was the first regular cast member in the series, to be, literally, a card-carrying fan. He had a letter printed in Doctor Who Weekly, when it was a weekly, even, before he was even cast in the role. In interviews he voices extremely accurate criticisms of the series, pointing out that Logopolis trivializes by its very nature the destruction of two-thirds of all of creation.

What a fanboy statement. After all, it is all just a bit of fun, isn't it?

But then the tendency of Doctor Who is reductive towards such events and the characters who take part in them.While most companions lost their humanity, he maintained his to the end.

The first Adric story I saw was not Full Circle but Earthshock. (My grandmother, who was seventy-two and a Who fan since the sixties, thought Adric was cute -- I couldn't make that up now could I?) When I saw Full Circle and subsequent stories in the states it was gifted with foreknowledge.

Bratty, pretentious and often unthinking: Adric was all these things. But then he was only about fifteen, the same age I was when I first saw Earthshock, and not having the benefit of a public school education. I still probably couldn't watch that scene in Four To Doomsday where Tegan pushes him aside without flinching. I empathasize with him.

Bad acting? I just don't agree. There is the spot of that here and there but as a matter of course? No.

As Matthew Waterhouse himself has said, Adric was not a typical case where a nice TV actor played a typical nice TV character. Instead, himself.

Probably I am outnumbered. Oh well. We all are in the end.


Flawed Character Indeed by Dennis McDermott 3/8/97

Ryu Kurtz contributed a perceptive review and raised many valid points. I think, however, she misses the reason why Adric has been rejected by most fandom.

First of all, Doctor Who is not a serious program. It is escapism. If you want to catch some seriously flawed characters in action, I suggest you watch a performance of Shakespeare (nearly any play will do). The fact is, while we want to identify with the characters on the screen, we also want them to be better than us. We want them to do things we probably would be too frightened to do. In short, we want them to advance the story. Too often, Adric was simply a body, in the way.

In which stories did Adric appear in which he could have been written out of and not have been missed? In every one except Full Circle (the first, and where he probably should have stayed), Castrovalva (where he was brilliantly used by the Master), and Earthshock (in which he was written out). In some ways, he was a victim of the number of people in the TARDIS; mostly, however, he was irrelevant. How many times can you say that about Tegan? Sarah Jane? Ace? Jamie? Or lesser male companions such as Harry Sullivan, Turlough, or Sergeant Benton?

While the stories didn't help Adric very much, neither did Matthew Waterhouse's acting. It is incumbent upon an actor to connect with his audience. Compare Adric to Sergeant Benton. If Adric was Mr. Average Teenager, Benton was Mr. Average Man. If anything, Benton was far less of a character than Adric was. Yet Benton connected with the Whovian audience far more readily than Adric ever did, in spite the fact that John Levene was no more an actor than Matthew Waterhouse was. The difference: as dull as Benton was, he could be counted on to do the right thing. That's what I expect Doctor Who characters to do. Adric you want to slap on the side of the head, curse him out for being so thunderheadedly stupid, and take away his badge of mathematical excellence.


I Come Not to Praise Adric, but to Bury Him by Emily Moniz 21/3/97

This is one companion I absolutely despise. Not because he was "too real" as someone put it. It's because he's so blame annoying! First of all, he insists on being right about everything. This is absolutely impossible. Not even the Doctor is right all the time. Then, he has to know what exactly is going on. I always associate that with a scene from Earthshock. The Doctor is frantically trying to keep the Cybermen at bay. Adric comes up to him and asks him, "Just explain what you're going to do." The Doctor glances at him in desperation. "We are under attack, Adric." Adric still insists, "Tell me quickly." That is sheer stupidity. (But I blame that on the writers. Most of Adric's problems lay in his scripts, not in the character himself.) Third, Adric also strikes me as a male chauvanist. I would surprised Tegan didn't haul off and hit him once or twice behind the TARDIS doors when the Doctor wasn't paying attention. And fourth, he is always eating, or looking for something to eat when he's not badgering the Doctor, Tegan or Nyssa.

Perhaps it was Davison's Doctor he didn't work well with. I haven't seen too much of him with Tom Baker, so I can't say about that partnership. Don't get me wrong. I wanted to like Adric. I always want to like characters when I see them on television. But when Adric started talking in Castrovalva, when I first started watching, I hated him. He was always bragging about his mathmatical genius. I'd like to ram that little blue metal of his right down his throat.

Somehow, after saying that, I feel much better now....


Adric: A Companion of Two Doctors by Paul X 21/6/98

Adric, a much maligned companion, suffers from schizophrenic character development due to his travels w/ multiple Doctors. W/the 4th, Matthew Waterhouse's performances ranged from acceptable to brilliant. While journeying w/the 5th Doctor, the character degenerated & became barely watchable. The reason for this lies more w/writers, producers, & directors than the actor. Ultimately though, Adric is judged more by his bad moments than his good.

Before the regeneration, Adric was a folly to the infallible Doctor-Romana-K-9 team. The character was introduced with a certain fresh eagerness & unpredictability seen clearly in The E-Space Trilogy & The Return of the Master Trilogy. In these stories, the actor gives solid performances throughout w/ great moments such as confronting the outlers @ their hideout in the opening scenes of Full Circle, scenes w/ K-9 in the void in Warrior's Gate, the Tardis sequences in The Keeper of Traken, & the apocryphal scenes w/ Nyssa in the Tardis in Logopolis. These are the character's best moments. The character was designed to complement th all-knowing 4th Doctor & failed miserably when paired w/ the vulnerable 5th Doctor.

Castrovalva was the turning point for Adric. The program was shifting in a new direction & Adric seemed out of place. Although, Matthew Waterhouse's performance in Castrovalva was acceptable; a more appropriate ending would be to have the Doctor return him to E-space through the recently opened CVE. After Castrovalva Adric was an extra body, often used as comic relief, to relay information to the audience, develop multiple plot lines, or episode padding. Examples included Adric pigging out in The Black Orchid, playing a puppet to monarch in The Four to Doomsday, asking the Doctor stupid questions in Earthshock, & being captured & escaping on several occasions in The Visitation. Here are the cringe-worthy scenes that drive fans to despise the character.

It would be to easy to blame Matthew Waterhouse for Adric's misgivings, but just as the character perished a victim, so ultimately was the actor who portrayed him. Matthew Waterhouse suffered through flip-flopping script editors Eric Saward & Antony Root. After Castrovalva, the character would vary from mathematical genius to adolescent buffoon. Earthshock is representative of this dichotomy; one minute snapping at the Doctor the next acting heroically in the caves, one minute asking stupid questions when the Cybermen attempt to board the bridge the next attempting to crack the codes to save Earth.

The end product is a flawed character & performance. Killing off Adric does not erase the terrible sequences he appeared in during Davison's tenure. The haste in which he was dispersed is symbolic of the character treatment after Castrovalva: inconsistent, awkward, & regretful. I think conceptually Adric was a successful experiment curtailed by program changes. I look favorably upon Adric because of earlier performances. If Baker had done another season things might have been different. Still, I find no fault w/ Matthew Waterhouse & pity him for the disdain fans reap upon him as an inexperienced actor fallen to circumstances beyond control.


Simplify, Simplify by Adrian Loder 4/8/00

When I first began watching Doctor Who, I had not yet reached the age of six. The Peter Davison episodes were being run by our local PBS television station only a few years after they had originally been broadcast in the U.K. As a result, my earliest memories of Dr. Who involve the 5th Doctor, Nyssa, Tegan, a little bit of Turlough and...Adric. Commenting on the first four would be better suited to separate reviews, as the purpose of my commentary here is to reflect on Adric, who has long been my favorite Doctor Who companion.

From many people's statements, both in this fan review page and in other places, Adric would seem to be one of the most disliked companions to have ever accompanied Doctor Who, and I, for my part, have a hard time discerning why. Certainly, a good deal of childhood nostalgia colors my perceptions of Adric, but since I began re-watching Doctor Who over five years ago, I have yet to find much of a problem with Adric. Adric is curious, highly intelligent, ever-probing -- qualities which in excess can be a burden to deal with or view -- but for me, these are some of the things which I value most highly in people. Adric never seemed content to just be as he was; he wanted to know more, wanted to understand, as in the opening episdoe of Logopolis.

Perhaps some of the resentment towards Adric comes from the sense that he is aware of his intelligence, or is flaunting it by always asking the Doctor for explanations, as if to say "I know how bright I am, and you're going to know it, too." Compared to Nyssa, also highly intelligent but also more emotional (re: her father, destruction of Traken) and less volatile, I can see, perhaps, how Adric could be grating. The wheels in Nyssa's head usually turned invisibly, or at least more quietly, while Adric always seemed to be thinking out loud.

I have no such problem with that sort of behavior, however, which leads me to the heart of my reflection; that is, that perhaps the series, and its characters, are taken a bit too seriously, sometimes. Personally, I have never made any in-depth analyses of episdoes attempting to identify what sort of role the characters play, whether they are true characters or simply plot devices. Quite honestly, I prefer it that way, as I enjoy the show far more. Sometimes I think that if you go into something like Doctor Who with a fully-loaded brain, more of the series and its actors will be unappealing than appealing. Some people like Adric, some people don't. Doctor Who is not William Shakespeare; I'm not sure how much dissection and logical analysis it can take before the whole thing falls apart.

I have always regarded Doctor Who as more than the children's show it started as, and the preceding paragraph should not be taken as to say that there is no depth in Doctor Who, no room for maneuvering beyond simple like/dislike statements, but sometimes things go a little too far. Since Doctor Who was conceived as a children's show, I will place my trust with my childhood fondness for Adric. That, perhaps, is the truest measure of the show which I could ever have.

Supplement, 28/7/05:

My review of Adric initially chides for overanalyzing and harks back to my childhood as a defense for Adric, but I find as I look on it now that it is a bit of a copout. Watching Adric in the Davison years all over again, I find myself beginning to challenge some of the things people take for granted as being part of Adric's personality. This, and Matthew Waterhouse's performances, are generally the two reasons given for hating Adric. Here's why they're both nonsense:

  1. All the time I'm reading people talk about Adric they always mention that he is childish, selfish, switches sides, and is untrustworthy. Sorry, come again? Let's begin with the untrustworthy/switches sides bit first. There are a grand total of two times I can remember this happening, in State of Decay and in Four To Doomsday. In the first, he reveals to Romana that it was a ploy to try and rescue her, and in the second he's being manipulated/sweet-talked. He can be selfish and childish sometimes, but then, so can the Doctor, of all people. But when he does it it's whimsical and funny, when Adric does it we call it irritating. Granted, when the Doctor behaves that way, in any incarnation, it is usually written in such a way as to make it less offensive, and sometimes, as in The Daleks, we do criticise him for it. Most of the time people divide Adric into his time w/Tom Baker and his time w/Peter Davison, and this does hold up to the evidence. Adric isn't criticised half so much in his time with the 4th Doctor because the character is, frankly, fairly-well played and the character is largely competent and reliable. But is he really so terrible under the 5th Doctor's wing? In Castrovalva he struggles to resist the Master and save everyone; in Kinda though he does have the wonderful spat with Tegan, and screws up by getting into the TSS but he also fakes an allegiance to the enemy and steals the keycard needed to set the Doctor free; in The Visitation he anguishes over having to leave Tegan behind, becomes worried about the Doctor and sets out to find him and manages to do a perfect short hop in the TARDIS - no mean feat - right to where everyone else is waiting; in Black Orchid dances, flirts, eats and that's all; and in Earthshock, though he does ask for explanations at all the wrong times he also helps defeat the androids, risks his life by staying with the Doctor by the bomb to help disarm it, and is responsible for shifting the Cyber-freighter back in time to where it won't result in the destruction of Earth. This is the selfish, backbiting, useless person everyone talks about? Four To Doomsday is the only bad one for the boy in yellow pyjamas.
  2. Matthew Waterhouse's acting is fine. Every so often it's even quite wonderful, especially when paired with complementary characters like the 4th Doctor, Romana and Nyssa. Tegan and the 5th Doctor are bad fits and the character ended up being made more whiny and stubborn, which is the one fan criticism that holds much water regarding Adric's character, and one can't help feeling that either Matthew Waterhouse was less pleased with this, less capable of playing that kind of role, or both. Every so often you get a real poorly delivered line, like the "What's happening?" near the eipsode 2 cliffhanger in Earthshock but consistently terrible acting? Sorry, I don't see it.
  3. It's been said before, I'll say it again - people who were teenagers at the time they first saw or see Adric tend to dislike him because it's a little too close to seeing themselves onscreen. Adric isn't perfect - though the overall criticisms leveled at the character are off base, there are moments and of course the whiny and stubborn nature mentioned above. Some people, no doubt, are simply put off by this, but I suspect the people who really, truly hate Adric, and who overlook the good things, and all the evidence contrary to the common perception of him, saw him at an age when they acted exactly the same. This doesn't make their opinion invalid, but it does mean they ought to lay off a bit, considering.
And then, of course, there is my personal bias - Adric's been my favorite since forever. Seeing that early eighties Doctor Who cast is one of my very earliest memories. Undoubtedly this colors things a bit, but I think that, at the very least, given what has been mentioned above any reasonable, intelligent person would have to concede that Adric is not unequivocally awful, but that there are both good and bad things and where someone comes out on depends on what they are placing the most emphasis on.


A Review by Victoria Fox 16/10/00

Adric is one of my favorite companions of all time on Doctor Who. Out of all the companions who ever sacrificed themselves for the Doctor, Adric was certaintly the noblest. Not being from Earth, he really had no love for the planet but realized that it was up to him to save it. Not only was Matthew Waterhouse one of the youngest and most refreshing companions, he was one of the most inquisitive companions. Many reviews have complained about Adric's thirst for knowledge but I loved it. Adric had a wonderful relationship with Davison's Doctor. Companions are supposed to travel with the Doctor and help the audience identify with the situation. Instead of a totally accepting or scream-when-you-see-a-monster kind of companion, Adric vocalized the questions the audience had in their minds. How does such and such work? And why is the Doctor going to such and such planet?

I also very much enjoyed the dynamics between Adric, Nyssa, and Tegan. Most of the time, Tegan seemed to merely tolerate Adric's naivety, which helped her character develop into that kind of relationship she would later have with Turlough. And I always felt that Adric had a crush on Nyssa, which was adorable (especially in Black Orchid). When Adric died, I was crushed. Earthshock was certaintly a big story, but when it all came down to the Doctor, Nyssa, and Tegan seeing the ship Adric was on blow up, I was as crushed as Nyssa. As she had to bury her head in Tegan's shoulder, I had to hold my head in my hands. It was one of the best companion exits in the history of Doctor Who. Long live Adric!


A Review by Stuart Gutteridge 20/2/04

Ok, we know he's possibly the most irritating companion in Doctor Who, played by one of the lesser talents, but he`s still a potentially interesting character. The biggest problem with Adric is Matthew Waterhouse, his acting range consists of three facial expressions and little else of merit. Similarly, the writers don`t seem to know what to do with him, as he is often sidelined or captured. Initially Adric does seem to be blessed with potential and he does work better with Tom Baker`s Doctor than Peter Davison`s (maybe it's an age thing?). Orphaned and an outsider because of his mathematical prowess, he looks to the Doctor as a mentor in his fourth incarnation. In his fifth, bickering and frustration appear to be the name of the game.

GREATEST MOMENT: It has to be Earthshock, simply because sacrificing himself is the best thing Adric could`ve done.


Monkey face... by Joe Ford 23/6/04

It seems petty for me to start a review that puts Adric in the spotlight to point out that not only is he one of the least popular companions the Doctor travelled around with but he has the crappiest name of them all (I would even prefer to be labelled Dodo than Adric) and just saying it aloud brings back hundreds of cringe-inducing scenes to the front of my memory. I realise it is supposed to be an alien name... but Adric? It's nerdy, crass and totally uncool. If you joined a new school and spotted that lone, spotty, ugly kid who sits in the corner and obsesses over Star Trek - his name would be Adric (erm, or Joe but he didn't have spots!). Go on... roll the name around your mouth a few times... Adric... Adric... purge all the filth from your life and feel it coming together and expelling in that loathsome name.

Strangely enough Adric is not the least effective companion to travel with the Doctor. This may give you a clue to the average of decent companions there were. Hmm, Susan, Katarina, Dodo, Tegan, New Ace, Sam Jones, C'rizz, I would rather hang out with Adric than any of these people. He may be a flawed character played by an inexperienced actor but he still shines brighter that this dull bunch. There were moments, just moments, diamond in the rough moments (like the Nyssa bits in Arc of Infinity) where Adric manages to break free of his geek mould and make you proud to be watching him rather than wanting to ram a pair of garden shears down his throat and display him as a piece of new age art. These moments coupled with his ingenious exit from the show help to score him a scraping pass, only just.

As far as the character is concerned I could almost agree with Matthew Waterhouse, the writers just did not know where they were going with the guy. Strangely enough his debut season saw him at his best, showing some individuality and intelligence. When he stows away on board the TARDIS it is almost like a little family, you've got the broody Dad, the bossy Mother, the irritable kid and the pet. But in a trade that seems entirely unfair, the Doctor loses his missus and dog and end up stuck with the brat. Shockingly even this manages to work and the Adric of Keeper of Traken and Logopolis is quite a likable chap, bouncing off the dominating fourth Doctor extremely well. Surely it cannot be a coincidence that the character degenerated when Eric Saward came aboard? All of a sudden Adric is no longer the newbie and is patronising to those who are, even the new Doctor who seems unable to stick up for himself. He selfishly thinks of himself before others, threatens to betray the Doctor left, right and centre and starts making stupid mistakes (getting into the TSS). In the space of one story, Castrovalva to Four to Doomsday, Adric becomes the spoilt brat we all imagined he could be. In season nineteen instead of being the mature old timer he should have been, easing Tegan and Nyssa into TARDIS life, he switches loyalties in every story, sulks and moans and generally rubs people up the wrong way. If they were trying to emulate a family atmosphere in this season they succeeded perfectly, except this is a family even more dysfunctional than my own sorry bunch.

At times it is as though the writers are trying to concentrate on his negative characteristics. Let's see a few examples: Adric and Tegan's spat in the last episode of Kinda where he is deliberately trying to get a reaction out of her, insulting an Australian is never a bright idea and his cheap pot shots deserve a response. Adric's whinings at the beginning of Earthshock come entirely out the blue, moaning that nobody likes him in the way that only brats do and end up causing the very thing they are complaining about. He stands in the console while the Doctor and co go off exploring and spits smug insults at them while they cannot hear them. The writers could have some fun with an immature character, you know a real Bart Simpson style charmer but Adric rarely seems anything but petty and his sulky tone and weedy appearance seem to confound these efforts.

Why did they stick him in those horrid yellow pyjamas? He wore the same clothes in every story even when he would stick out like a sore thumb... if there was ever an outfit you would not want to people to notice it was that smelly tunic. And for Christ sake what is up with that desperately sad pudding bowl haircut? Yes I know everyone's mum makes them suffer the same insult attracting hairstyle (or was it just me?) but the second you have any sort of choice (and let's face it he must pass the odd barber in his travels) you shave it all off and go for the hard man look (or was that just me too?). We get it, Adric is a complete DORK, he stays in his room doing maths sums when the rest of us would be masturbating but for mercy's sake do you have to point it out with such... subtleness with his appearance?

The Adric/Tegan relationship represents the nadir of companion hatred. Rarely have two opposites been forced to bunk and rather than mining the comedy gold in the situation (there was an opportunity for some hysterical misunderstandings between the two of them, what with one being an alien) they decided to play their differences with a straight face and the two of them rubbed up against one another like sandpaper. Which lead to moments of glorious drama like their row in Four to Doomsday with Tegan so sick of his inherent brattiness she actually beats him up! When Adric is thankfully splattered across the face of the Earth Tegan is balling her eyes out on Nyssa's shoulder... erm why? She hated the bastard as much the rest of us! She never kept a secret either! The severe lack of chemistry between them leaves their domestic scenes flat and lifeless and you have to wonder why they keep bringing up their friction without any satisfactory pay off.

I want to take this moment to say some nice things about Adric because so far I have made it appear it would be more enjoyable to share travels with an amalgamation of Jim Davidson and Adolf Hitler (urgh...). Go watch Keeper of Traken, those early TARDIS scenes between the mighty Tom and Waterhouse, there is real chemistry there. Waterhouse is wise enough to behave in the presence of Baker and his underplaying works a treat. "And as for your handwriting...", "My handwriting? What about my handwriting!" the fourth Doctor knows how to keep this brat in check! Similarly they rock in Logopolis, Adric a silent observer to the Doctor's preview of his death. They really feel like father and son, like Adric is learning something from the Doctor and appreciating it. I have to admit I rather like him in Castrovalva too, tricking the Master and helping to guide them from the maze that town becomes. He's rather fun in Black Orchid where he flirts a bit with Nyssa, the only real time you could imagine something kinky happening between them (but she would have to prise off the pyjamas... eek!). When Adric behaves sensibly and maturely he can be a lot of fun. Shame it never happened too often.

JNT has gone on record saying he hired Matthew Waterhouse because he had an interesting face. Stomach churning would be my opinion but each to their own. He also mentioned that all the others were terrible actors in comparison. They must have been bloody AWFUL if this was the best they could come up with. Waterhouse looks extremely awkward on screen, directors mentioning he couldn't even work with his markers and often ruined shots. When he is not talking Waterhouse kind of freezes or pretends he is doing something, either way he looks like he never looks relaxed or convincing. He says much of his dialogue in a stained voice that makes you want to thump him, and pouts like the youngest kid in the family who never gets his own way. Waterhouse takes the deficiencies in the script and magnifies them.

But as with all these things irritating Adric is far more memorable than he deserves to be because of his dramatic and exciting exit. Such emphasis is placed on his death, the entire story seems to be built around that one landmark moment that sees the monkey faced Alzarian go out in a blaze of glory. Where is the justice? Ask fans how popular companions Leela and Sarah left and they shrug their shoulders but ask them about Adric and their eyes light up instantly. The irony, that everybody is trying to save him, including him when we all know he has to die to allow history to continue uninterrupted, builds a tension rare in the series. The death itself is superbly directed, Adric for five brilliant seconds becoming the most memorable companions of all. Shame these striking moments happen to be his last... or rather thank whichever deity you believe in.

Adric was a loser, plain and simple but he is something of a legend for being present over so many transitory stories and having such a climatic exit. Until Jar Jar Binks graced the big screen he was easily the most annoying character ever...


Adric the Alzarian. Everyone has a pop. by Steve Cassidy 1/4/05

Never has a companion been so maligned. I cannot think of a single companion, with the possible exception of the JNT madness that was Melanie Bush, that the knives have been out for as much as Adric. For as many years as I can remember the Alzarian tyke has been drawing venom from fandom. And I'll hold my hand up, I've spat out words of malice occasionally when he appeared on screen. Was he the wrong companion at the wrong time? Does the entire blame lay at the hands of Matthew Waterhouse's acting ability? Did the scriptwriters have absolutely no idea what to do with him? Did his character decline begin when the mighty Tom Baker left?

Well, there was definitely a need for a male companion in the TARDIS. When they work, they work extremely well. Jamie McCrimmon is often cited as one of the best companions ever, Steven had the flash of a hero about him and Ian Chesterson, well, Mr Capable enters outer space and outer space is soon put in its place. But there had never been a male teenager in the TARDIS, never a young lad that the other young lads watching could relate too. This was a character aimed squarely at the demographic who watch the show. A fourteen year old boy who stows away and comes along for the ride. He loses his family in Full Circle (or what's left of it) and joins another one aboard the TARDIS. However, it soon becomes the family he didn't sign up for and he doesn't fit in. He becomes surplus to requirements and has to leave in a very final way.

However the character was envisaged like no other. He was meant to be a street-urchin, a scamp who could provide comic relief with the Doctor. But instead he evolved into an exceptionally sensitive brainiac, a boy mathematician whose disposition teetered on obnoxiousness. He wouldn't be able to get up to derring-do like the other tearaways, he was a misfit from the very beginning. He would rather have his head in a book of algebra then go "crabbing for apples". And I use that old fashioned term because in many ways Adric was a very old fashioned character. There was nothing 'hip' about him - he was almost Enid Blyton in his portrayal. An earnest old man with a plum in his mouth who has a child's body. And he was just catching the last of the waves for that kind of character. Anyone who remembers children's TV in the seventies may remember the countless BBC dramas with kids who brayed with accents that would make the Queen look common.

But the character is linked to Matthew Waterhouse's portrayal - which often swings between adequate and woeful. There are flashes of good stuff in his two years stint ie I like his spunk when captured by the Master in Castrovalva and anyone who who doesn't feel sympathetic to his final moments in Earthshock must be made of stone. But in between there were some pretty duff bits. His "there you are.." when he pilots the TARDIS to the manor house in The Visitation is embarassing. And his spats with the problematic Tegan during Four to Doomsday are surely the nadir of all companion scenes or are at least on a par with Melanie Bush schweeming....

But watching these scenes there was something I noticed about Adric. There is an inner steel within him. A lesser person would have shut up around Tegan and not fought back when she starts her diatribes. But he gives as good as he gets, bettering her once or twice with "You could have got a better job..." when she brings up her lack of qualfications. Tegan and Adric were possibly the worse people in the world to be put together in close confinement. The teenage Adric absolutely adored the Fourth Doctor, K-9, second Romana combination and then within a few weeks he finds himself with a Doctor who has less time and patience then before and he is now way down the pecking order. He now has to share his space with an older sister and an evil stepmother replica. Life suddenly turns for the worse and not knowing what to do he starts to metaphorically lash out.

So he does what any other teenager would do - he sulks and pouts. But there is something else here. Something which didn't occur to me until I found out about Matthew Waterhouse's private life. Something which gave me a new take on Adric and made him appeal in a more sympathetic manner to me.

Was Adric a gay teenager?

There is the usual teenage angst but also something else here. Despite his squabbles with the Fifth Doctor he adores his company, Tegan and Nyssa are almost dismissed as "only girls". Adric is a boy's boy - he worships the Doctor, the closest relationship he had in the world was with his brother. He comes alive in male company as with Hindle in Kinda or even Monarch in Four to Doomsday. And he is obviously troubled. The petulance and sulks many put down as teenage angst, but what if they were inner turmoil? What if he knew he was different and was fighting it? Adric was a natural outsider. His mathematical excellence made him different from the other children on Alzarius and there may have been other reasons too. But the symptoms I describe fit ALL male teenagers of his age. This is all massive speculation, but it has made me look less harshly at the boy.

And then there is his early death. He goes out in a blaze of glory - one companion in season 19 had to go and it was him. To be frank two companions really needed to go - not just him. Tegan should have been left behind in Time-Flight - Nyssa could have happily carried on with the Fifth Doctor in a sort of Romana 3 way until the arrival of Turlough in season 20. But Ian Levene was knocking on JNT's door complaining that Adric had to go - fan opinion had turned against the teenager. And finally we get a really good leaving story. Season 19 is far from being my favourite but Earthshock stands out as a orchid amongst the weeds. The stories either side were soft flowery things - Earthshock is as hard as nails mainly due to the fact that it is a good old base under siege story amongst the day-glo colours of the JNT era.The shock of this story compared with what came before and after was like being doused with cold water.

What is the legacy of Adric? Well, to be honest it is not good. It's almost fashionable to damn the character and Matthew Waterhouse's performance. But occasionally that damning is justified as Mr Waterhouse was just starting out in the acting world. He has more than made up for it since with a career and life in North America - but he just seems unable to escape Adric. Maybe people are too hard on the actor and character and to me it is the first real example of JNT's woeful decisions and it occured in his much-praised season 18.

Matthew Waterhouse was a massive Who fan and for his tenure to be held up to ridicule so much must hurt. The man laughs along with the comments on the Earthshock DVD but it isn't the most auspicious start to an acting career. To be continually reminded of what you were doing at eighteen cannot be very enjoyable. So come on folks, let's give Adric a break. Unfortunately for the actor concerned Adric still remains an outsider.

Shame really...


A Review by Charles Mento 18/1/06

Well then. I've written about and others have written about Adric for so long now... I mean I am amazed that he has 9 reviews, more than any other companion on the TV show or in the novels within the character review page. That is amazing. Thumbing through recent fanfic on the great Teaspoon and an Open Mind fanfic area, one can see stories that treat Adric with respect and even put him in danger and in important parts of the story, rather than the dismal and appaling stuff that used to go around on the newsgroups (some such nonsense about Nyssa trying to kill Adric, Adric dying over and over again, and other stories that treated him as if the Doctor hated him). There are even, dare I bring it up, Slash stories with Adric. Stories with Adric seem to be diverse, but I won't go into all of them. I have a timeline that mentions every one I've ever found; I'll have to dig that up. They fall into a few major categories: These include stories that take place between the actual episodes as he traveled with the Doctor (four and five) and stories that take place between the actual gaps in stories (or not as the case may be). Not all of these stories are available online. I seem to recall a full zine called Adric's War, about Adric falling to Earth and getting involved with UNIT and some kids there. There were also two stories with the Tom Baker Doctor and Adric meeting and helping a kindly girl who turned out to be the Master's atoning daughter. Another, I believe in a newsletter, contained Adric's ghost meeting the afterlife Doctor, who looked like the Tom Baker Doctor. Other stories detail his survival (or the ramifications of his non-survival). I prefer the survival factor. I think it sad that he died and stayed dead.

I think Gary Russell is foolish for bringing back and "saving" Melanie but staying clear of Adric, especially now that Matthew Waterhouse is returning to the fold of Doctor Who outings and conventions and signings and such. I did submit a story about a returned Adric, a sort of Peter Pan-like character, saved and changed by aliens to rescue suicidal teens on Earth and other sad people in an 8th Doctor story that has him and the Doctor stopping a gun massacre at a high school. I submitted to the Audio line but who knows what happened? I also wrote a story called Paper Cuts, a 4th Doctor-Adric tale of parasites/symbiotes that latch onto paper and make it multiply. I wrote it in response to the various paperwork that invades our lives from college on ward. But I veer off topic. We have 4th Doctor stories, 5th Doctor stories, Adric survives stories, Adric ghost stories, Adric illusion stories (the worst kind as the hint that Adric is alive but they turn out to say he's not), older Adric stories, alien Adric stories, and probably others I've not yet found. Adric survived in the Fasa role playing guide books, especially in the Master one(s).

I wanted to go on about the merits of Adric but it has been done before by me and others, probably better by others. I just don't get some of the more popular companions. I mean they scream and the acting is appalling especially when it comes to... well, why go on about it. Compared to Ace, Jamie, even Sarah Jane, Susan, Barbara, especially the appalling Victoria and the cringeworthy Zoe, Adric is so much more, storywise. Here is a companion who is curious, who doesn't always fall down (but admittedly he does), does not scream all the time (again, he does once in a awhile maybe?), and who has a natural curiousity about the universes he's in. He's not always trying to leave like Tegan, nor is he this cliche mystery like Turlough. He's also not the Doctor's cipher like Nyssa is. He is not always arguing with the Doctor such as Peri was. He's not annoying on the ears like Mel. Clearly Leela has an edge on him in that she can take care of herself and Adric's knife-throwing skills clearly came from the fact that State of Decay was really a Leela story first. They could have made more of the fact that Adric was an alien and has alien powers, more like a Marshchild than anything else or given him knife skills like Leela but in a fight he's really not up to past male companions such as Ian, Steven, Jamie and Ben. But I think I like that fact too. It made him different. It also made him far too much like the Doctor (especially Doctor Five). That's probably one of the many reasons Davison wanted Adric to go: Adric's far too complicated for a show that Doctor Who was in the 1980s but again, it is why he stands out.

He whines, he says things that put down females, and he's against the Doctor on occasion. Yeah, he does all of those things. But why? In Four To Doomsday, he's hurt the Doctor pays more attention to Nyssa and Tegan and takes Tegan along instead of him. This may have something to do with why he sides with Monarch, the old guy is paying attention to him. However if one watches, Adric is still intensely loyal to the Doctor and in the end it is Adric who helps save the day while Nyssa is captured or sick or something and Tegan has ineffectually stolen the TARDIS. I doubt Adric really believed any of what he said about women and girls but who knows? His culture was not the most enlightened, one should recall and he was intensely jealous. All human emotions and justified in a character, rather than the old Sarah Jane one of gawking and making quips (see the silly things she says in Pyramids of Mars, even the Doctor is annoyed at her). Adric helped Monarch but in the end he helps the Doctor. As for the vampires, he was just faking that he was on their side. And the Master breaks through his defenses and uses him in Castrovalva against Adric's wishes. But again, it is Adric who saves the day in that story as well as in others such as Keeper of Traken. Someone can mention the scripts treating him badly. I think it was more the continuity editor as well as the makers of the show. Eric Saward is as much to blame as JNT for the Adric downfall. JNT should have stuck by his creation of Adric but since other issues come into play I don't want to go into any of that.

I detest stories such as the audio one with the Cyberman's creation that claim Adric cannot be saved or that he is dead and leave it at that. It just makes it all so sad and makes the Doctor guilty of favoritism. He, as his 8th self, is able to save Grace and Chang Lee, so he should be able to save Adric. And if Rose is able to bring Jack back to life, the Doctor should be able to sacrifice himself to save Adric in a similar fashion... if he could. All of this can be debated endlessly and I haven't the time now.

Adric is a companion who lives on even if he is not in the tons of novels and audios that Nyssa, Sarah, Leela, and even Romana (underused in many cases and in a bad way in the cases that make her a first class villain -- in the novels, I believe). In a way I am glad he is not, it would cheapen him. In at least one novel he is in, he is treated well... Cold Fusion, the one with the 7th Doctor and the 5th Doctor. He's never been in a 4th Doctor novel, even if he's been in a 4th Doctor short story for Marvel's comic magazine and in quite a few of the Short Trips stories, where he's treated decently. Divided Loyalties, the Gary Russell story with the Toymaker, treats Adric horribly, even saying that he has BO. Give me a break.

Adric may not be everyone's cup of tea but as a character that can move a story along and make one care about a faulted deeply troubled character who can rise above his own shortcomings, he has few equals in the Doctor Who universe.