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Ian Chesterton: Misc


Dr Who

Up to date as of January 31, 2010

From TARDIS Index File, the free Doctor Who reference.

Ian Chesterton
Also known as:
Race: Human
Home Planet: Earth
Home Era: 1963
Appearances: Full List of Appearances
Actor: William Russell

Ian Chesterton, knighted as Sir Ian, Knight of Jaffa, was one of the earliest companions to travel with the Doctor. Before meeting the Doctor, Ian was a Science Teacher at Coal Hill School, in 1960s London.



Ian Chesterton was one of Susan Foreman's teachers at Coal Hill School, London. He was intrigued by her advanced scientific knowledge, and in talking with another of her teachers, Barbara Wright, found that he was not the only person who had noticed a strange knowledge in this pupil. One evening, as school was finishing, Ian and Barbara decided to follow Susan home. They were concerned about her, and curious. When they saw Susan enter I.M. Foreman's junkyard in Totter's Lane, the two school teachers become more concerned for her safety. Following her inside the yard, the two discovered a police box sitting incongruously with the junk. Barging their way in, when they discovered that Susan was inside, Ian discovered something he could not believe. (DW: An Unearthly Child)

Ian's scientific mind made him sceptical of anything he had no proof of. When Susan and the Doctor told him that the police box was, in fact, a machine which travels through Time and Space, he was initially sceptical. He felt that the TARDIS was a scientific dream he did not expect to see answered in a junkyard. However, when the Doctor displayed his disgust at Ian's arrogance, and ignorance, Ian stated that he wanted to understand. Once he had proof that the TARDIS was indeed a space-time vessel he accepted this fact, and became the most practical of the travellers.

It didn't take long for Ian's practical side to show. When the travellers landed on Stone Age Earth and ran afoul of the tribe they encountered, it was Ian who struggled to free them from their rope bonds, and Ian who 'discovered' [fire] by rubbing sticks against stone to create friction, in an attempt to win their freedom.

Ian spent a fair amount of time in jail cells, usually in historical settings. (DW: The Reign of Terror, The Romans, The Dalek Invasion of Earth. PDA: The Witch Hunters)

Ian's curiosity about the TARDIS never left him, and he quizzed the Doctor about the TARDIS systems, and how they work, while the travellers were on Skaro. Despite being so obviously interested in science, and its practical applications, Ian was not lacking in common sense. While on Skaro he was acutely aware of Barbara's discomfort. He saw how much she wished to return to the safety of the TARDIS, rather than explore the Dalek City, and stood up to the Doctor in an attempt to ensure their safe return. Once Barbara had been captured by the Daleks, it was Ian who insisted that the travellers could not leave without her. (DW: The Daleks)

Ian, seen here in typically stylish attire, often played a protective role with his fellow travelers

Headstrong and stubborn, Ian insisted that he should be the one to return to the TARDIS for the anti-radiation drugs the travellers needed, despite the fact that his legs had been paralysed in their encounter with the Daleks, and also despite the fact that the Doctor and Susan were the only ones who could unlock the TARDIS doors. Eventually it was this stubbornness which prompted Ian to risk his life to warn the Thals about the Dalek ambush, and later persuade them to give up their pacifist ways and fight for their survival. (DW: The Daleks)

Full of bravery and courage, Ian eventually gained the Doctor's respect. He was treated almost as an equal, almost as a friend, and it was no doubt due not only to his bravery, but also to his headstrong, stubborn loyalty. This loyalty extended to Susan and the Doctor as the travellers grew closer throughout their travels.

The First Doctor often failed (probably intentionally) to pronounce Ian's last name properly, but the two nevertheless came to rely on each other.

Ian revelled in his new life, and new experiences. When the travellers landed in 12th century Palestine, during the Crusades, Barbara was abducted in a Saracen ambush. Ian was knighted Sir Ian of Jaffa by Richard the Lionheart, and sent on an emissary mission to search for her. Ian developed his skill as a swordsman during his travels, but he was also capable of unarmed combat. (DW: The Aztecs, The Crusade)

On a number of occasions, Ian endured the severe test of facing his fears. Not being a great swimmer, he found he had to overcome this when, during a visit to Rome in AD 64 he was sold as a galley slave. His galley sunk in a storm, and Ian, with his Greek slave friend Delos, escaped and made their way to Rome. (DW: The Romans) While searching for Barbara in Palestine, Ian was captured and staked in the desert, daubed with honey to attract ants. Ian's instinctive fear of ants may have been increased with his experiences on Vortis. (DW: The Web Planet)

Despite his obvious enjoyment of his travels, Ian never lost sight of his desire to return to his home, and his own time. When the opportunity arose, Ian and Barbara risked travel in a Dalek time ship to return to 1960s London. When they emerged from the time machine, they were both delighted to be back home, despite discovering that two years have passed since their departure. (DW: The Chase)

Life after the Doctor

Following his departure from the Doctor, he and Barbara got married. However, despite having left the Doctor behind, they did yet again get 'caught up in his world' when they were contacted by UNIT in the 1970s to assist in a temporally related problem. (PDA: The Face of the Enemy)

Ian and Barbara had a son, John Alydon Ganatus Chesterton. (NA: Timewyrm: Revelation, PDA: Byzantium!)

Behind the Scenes

The roles of Ian and Barbara as, respectively, science and history teachers was part of the series' original plan to alternate between science-fiction and historical stories. In one of the original format documents, Ian's age is listed as twenty-seven.


  • The Doctor: "Your arrogance is nearly as great as your ignorance."
Ian: "But I want to understand."
An Unearthly Child
  • "I've seen a colony of ants eat their way right through a house. That size, they could eat their way through a mountain."
The Web Planet
  • Lobos: "You'll achieve nothing if you kill me."
Ian: "Possibly, but it might be enjoyable."
The Space Museum
  • "I'm sorry, but you rattle off explanations that would have baffled Einstein and you expect Barbara and I to know what you're talking about."
  • "I want to sit in a pub and drink a pint of beer again. I want to walk in a park and watch a cricket match. Above all, I want to belong somewhere, do something, instead of this aimless drifting around in space."
The Chase

Possibly apocryphal information

At some point later in life, Ian may have recorded videotaped recollections of his adventures with the Doctor, in particular the adventure with Richard the Lionheart. (DW: The Crusade - 1999 video release in which William Russell narrates missing portions of the serial in character as Ian Chesterton.)

Companions of the First Doctor
Susan Foreman  • Ian Chesterton  • Barbara Wright  • Vicki  • Steven Taylor  • Katarina  • Sara Kingdom  • Dodo Chaplet  • Ben Jackson  • Polly Wright
Other media
John and Gillian  • George, Helen, Alan and Ida Mortimer

This article uses material from the "Ian Chesterton" article on the Dr Who wiki at Wikia and is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike License.


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