Clumsy, terrible at science and in many ways the total opposite of Liz Shaw, Josephine Grant was certainly not the Doctor’s idea of what an ‘assistant’ should be… But for the Third Doctor, exiled to Earth and unable to use the TARDIS, she was perhaps the perfect companion…
After Liz Shaw’s return to Cambridge the Brigadier decided to find the Doctor a new ‘assistant’. Meanwhile one of Jo Grant’s high-placed relatives pulled a few strings, got Jo into UNIT and the canny old Brig decided, in the Doctor’s words, ‘to palm her off’ on him. ‘Well, it won't work, Brigadier!’ the Time Lord thundered. ‘I'll have a properly qualified assistant or none at all!’ The Brigadier shrewdly left it up to the Doctor to tell Jo she wasn’t wanted and of course, he wasn’t able to break the news. A sentence that began with him trying to dismiss Jo ended up with, ‘I can see you're going to be of great help to me…’ and the Doctor had a new companion!
Jo met the Doctor when he was exiled to Earth, loathing his inability to travel beyond what he called ‘one primitive planet in one century in time’. Her breezy, upbeat personality was a tonic for the Doctor but Jo wasn’t just on-hand to cheer him up and tell him how brilliant he was. She was bright enough to take stock of situation and know what needed to be done, such as when she rallied the Doctors during their battle against Omega. ‘Look, if Omega can will up an entire world, well surely you two could will up a small door!’ she chided them. ‘You're a Time Lord, aren't you?’
She was incredibly brave and loyal to the Doctor, never abandoning him and always trying to help, no matter what danger it meant she encountered. That meant going back to rescue him on the Master’s ‘prison island’ in The Sea Devils – a typical act of courage. She was strong enough to resist the Master’s attempt to hypnotise her in Frontier in Space and claimed to be skilled in ‘Cryptology, safe breaking (and) explosives’.
But more than this, it was Jo’s understanding of and fondness for the Doctor that made her such a good companion for him. She also shared one of his most characteristic attributes insofar as whenever there was something she believed in, she would fight for it. This came to the fore when she risked court martial with her attempts to help Professor Jones in The Green Death. As she explained to the Doctor: ‘I've got to go! This Professor Jones, he's fighting for everything that's important, everything that you've fought for. In a funny way, he reminds me of a sort of younger you…’
Jo’s charisma ensured more than one man fell for her. Captain Mike Yates was clearly smitten by his fellow UNIT employee and King Peladon even proposed marriage. Professor Jones was not immune to Jo’s charms and after the couple helped the Doctor defeat the maniacal computer known as BOSS, they became engaged and her time in the TARDIS drew to a close…
The Eleventh Doctor met up with Jo Jones many years later and he discovered she’d lost none of her spirit or joie de vie. She’d spent her life traveling the world getting up to all sorts of trouble - tearing down barricades, flying kites on Kilimanjaro and sailing down the Yangtze River in a tea chest! She may have been older but Jo Jones remained the same optimistic adventurer as she had been when she first bowled into the Doctor’s life and ruined an experiment. ‘I can see you're going to be of great help to me…’ he had said, and time had proven him right.