|Place of origin:||London|
|First seen in:||An Unearthly Child|
|Main actor:||William Russell|
|Another memorable moment|
|One more memorable moment|
Ian Chesterton grew up in London during the Blitz in World War II. (AUDIO: The Time Museum) He was raised in the Church of England. (AUDIO: The Flames of Cadiz) As a child, Father Michael taught him the Ten Commandments in Sunday School. (PROSE: The Eleventh Tiger)
The young Ian loved the works of Jules Verne and H. G. Wells, whose stories inspired him to pursue a career in science. (PROSE: The Eleventh Tiger) Ian's hero was Sir Francis Drake. He had seen films depicting the Spanish Armada in which Drake was played by Errol Flynn and Queen Elizabeth I was played by Bette Davis and Flora Robson. (AUDIO: The Flames of Cadiz)
During the 1950s, Ian was a private in the British Army. His national service number was 15110404. (PROSE: The Time Travellers) He served the first part of his national service in Wales, during which time he boxed. (PROSE: The Eleventh Tiger) He later joined the Royal Air Force, serving the remainder of his national service in Malay. (PROSE: The Face of the Enemy)
Months prior to his meeting with the First Doctor, Ian met a gypsy called Rosemary. She told him that he would face many great challenges in the future and that he could change his fate by taking a package from a woman in a café. Ian resisted the urge to change, or alter, his future. (PROSE: The Splintered Gate)
At Coal Hill School
Ian was Susan Foreman's science teacher at Coal Hill School, London in 1963. (TV: An Unearthly Child) His classroom was C3. (PROSE: Nothing at the End of the Lane) At the time, he lived in Fenby Street. His landlady was Mrs Russell. (AUDIO: The Flames of Cadiz)
He was intrigued by Susan's advanced scientific knowledge — she saw simple experiments involving inactive chemicals turning from red to blue as child's play, and also pointed out to him that a problem involving with A, B and C as the three dimensions was impossible without the use of D and E. In talking with Susan's history teacher, Barbara Wright, he found he was not the only one who had noticed.
One evening, as school was finishing, Ian and Barbara decided to follow Susan home as they were concerned about this eccentric behaviour and couldn't get in touch with her grandfather. They followed her back to I.M. Foreman's junkyard in Totter's Lane where she entered and closed the gate behind her. This caused the two teachers to become more concerned for her safety. They followed her into the yard and discovered a police box sitting incongruously amidst the junk. They deduced that Susan was inside and barged their way into the massive control room of the Doctor's TARDIS. (TV: An Unearthly Child)
Travels with the Doctor
The Prisoners of Time information is a little confusing without context from the Zarbi and Animus encounter on Vortis.
Susan's grandfather, the First Doctor, kidnapped Ian and Barbara in the TARDIS, which travelled back in time. The TARDIS landed in Earth's Stone Age. The Doctor was taken by Kal, who had seen him produce fire. The others tried to rescue the Doctor, but were taken to the Cave of Skulls. The Old Mother released the Doctor and his companions and they escaped into a nearby forest. Ian and the others aided Za's injuries from an animal when he tried to chase after them, but were returned to the cave. Ian produced fire for the tribe and devised a way of scaring the cavemen by setting the skulls on fire. The group escaped to the TARDIS, which took off again. (TV: An Unearthly Child)
When the TARDIS landed on Skaro, the Doctor lied about the fluid link needing more mercury, when there was nothing wrong, so he could explore a nearby city. The Daleks imprisoned the Doctor and his companions inside the city, confiscating the fluid link they brought along.
Having escaped, they assisted the Thals in their attack on the Dalek city. The Daleks' power supply was damaged in the attack. The Daleks died and their plans to flood the atmosphere with radiation failed. (TV: The Daleks)
With the fluid link retrieved, the Doctor left Skaro for Earth, using the fast return switch. The spring in the switch was faulty, causing it to be stuck. The TARDIS was sent to the beginning of a solar system and everyone was knocked out in the trip. The TARDIS tried warning the crew about the atoms forming around them when they came to, but the Doctor assumed that this was Ian and Barbara's sabotage of the ship. Once Barbara figured out what was going on, the Doctor fixed the spring, ending the fault. (TV: "The Rescue", The Edge of Destruction)
Still heavily damaged and malfunctioning, the TARDIS found its way to Earth, but did not make it to Ian and Barbara's time, instead landing in the Plain of Pamir in 1289. There, the Doctor and his companions met Marco Polo. Polo took the TARDIS and its keys on his caravan to travel the breadth of Cathay in order to hand it over to Kublai Khan as part of a bargain for his return to Venice. Along the way, Ian discovered the Mongol warlord, Tegana, also part of Polo's caravan, wanted to take the TARDIS for Nogai as part of his plan to assassinate Kublai. In the chaos of Tegana and Polo's duel in Peking, the Doctor and his companions escaped in his repaired TARDIS. (TV: Marco Polo)
The Doctor landed on an island on Marinus. Arbitan asked them to search for the keys to the reprogrammed Conscience of Marinus to regain control over the Voord, as all of his other followers and family members failed to retrieve them. Arbitan trapped the TARDIS in a forcefield, preventing the Doctor and his companions' escape.
Ian and Barbara found a fake key in the Screaming Jungle, and after enduring several traps were told the proper location of the second key by Darrius. The third key was found in a mountain cave and was guarded by Ice Soldiers.
Escaping the soldiers, Ian reached Millennius, where he was knocked out and framed for the murder of Eprin. The Doctor helped discover the true culprit, and Ian was spared execution. The fourth key was found inside the mace that killed Eprin when the man sent to fetch the key was captured.
The Doctor and his companions returned to Arbitan's island, where Arbitan had been murdered. Ian handed the Voord the fake key, which destroyed the Conscience, along with the Voord. They were able to leave in the TARDIS once more. (TV: The Keys of Marinus)The Doctor and his companions arrived in an Aztec temple in Mexico. They went through a one-way passage that prevented access to the TARDIS. Barbara posed as the Aztec god, Yetaxa, with the others as her servants, to find a way back. Ian was declared rival to the warrior Ixta.
Susan was to be punished for denying marriage to the Perfect Victim and Ian to be executed when he was framed by the High Priest of Sacrifice, Tlotoxl, for attacking the High Priest of Knowledge, Autloc. Autloc's faith in Yetaxa was shattered, and he left for the wilderness. The Doctor, Ian and the Doctor's accidental fiancée, Cameca, distracted Ian and Susan's guard to escape. Ian prevented Tlotoxl's murder of Barbara and fought off Ixta. They worked on a wheel-and-pulley system to open the doorway back to the TARDIS. As they departed, the human sacrifice of the Perfect Victim continued as planned. (TV: The Aztecs)
The Doctor landed inside a spaceship in the 28th century, where two crewmembers were suspended in a state resembling death and another, John, had had his mind opened and turned insane, following an attack on their minds by the Sensorites. The Sense Sphere, which the ship had been trapped around, had its aqueducts' water supply poisoned with atropine by survivors of a previous human expedition whose ship had been destroyed.
The TARDIS' lock was taken by the Sensorites, leaving the Doctor and his companions trapped on the spaceship. After the Doctor and his companions resisted the Sensorites, the Doctor, Ian and Susan agreed to go down to the Sense Sphere, where the Doctor worked out the cure for this "disease", which had also afflicted Ian, while the Sensorite scientists treated John. The Doctor and Ian, later followed by Barbara, went to the aqueducts where belladonna had been growing. They found the human expedition and pretended to be a welcoming party for them and that the "war" against the Sensorites was won. The expedition were taken into custody on Maitland's ship. Maitland's ship was free to leave and the TARDIS crew had regained their lock. (TV: The Sensorites)
After defeating the Daleks for a second time in the 22nd century, Ian was saddened to lose Susan, who fell in love and remained to lead Dalek resistance, which left only him, the Doctor and Barbara aboard the TARDIS. (TV: The Dalek Invasion of Earth)
After Susan left, Ian and Barbara considered leaving the Doctor's side when the TARDIS landed in the 1950s, and they spent three months attempting to adjust to a new life. But in the end, they rejoined the Doctor. (PROSE: Set in Stone)
During a visit to 19th century Afghanistan, Ian endured the most painful experience of his life when he was kidnapped by the brutal gilzia cheiftain, Gul Zaheer, who delighted in playing twisted games of torture. Imprisoned for a month, Ian befriend a fellow British prisoner, Symonds and struck up a bond with him, a bond so strong that when Symonds was killed by Gul, Ian didn't hesitate in killing Gul by throwing him into a pit. The trauma he faced in the previous months changed Ian forever, and he was haunted at the fact that he was capable of cold-blooded murder when pushed too far. (PROSE: Mire and Clay)
The Doctor, Ian, Barbara, and Vicki then travelled to 1868, where they attended a lecture by Thomas Huxley. The four of them travelled into the London Underground to investigate a group of missing students and discovered that the Zarbi had populated themselves in there. Travelling further into the sewers, they found the Animus, who had reformed itself and had moved to Earth to take revenge on the human race. Ian was able to kill it by driving a train into it. The Doctor and his companions prepared to leave, but the Doctor discovered that his companions were missing; having been pulled out of time by an entity. (COMIC: Prisoners of Time)
Ian revelled in his new life and experiences. When the travellers landed in 12th century Palestine during the Crusades, Ian was knighted Sir Ian of Jaffa by Richard the Lionheart and sent as an emissary to search for Barbara who had been abducted by the Saracens. (TV: The Crusades)
Despite his obvious enjoyment of his travels, Ian never lost sight of his desire to return to his own home and 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 delighted to be back, despite discovering that two years had passed since their departure. (TV: The Chase) Ian and Barbara explained that their two year absence from London had been due to missionary work in Africa. (PROSE: Who Killed Kennedy)
Life after the Doctor
Adventure with the Eleventh Doctor
Sometime later in the year 1965, Ian and Barbara were pulled into an illusory world, and made to believe they were still at Coal Hill School. They encountered the Eleventh Doctor, who helped them overcome the illusion. Ian was sceptical when the strange young man proclaimed himself to be the Doctor, brushing off his intimate knowledge of their adventures being a result of him being some sort of mind-reading alien. Barbara, on the other hand, was more willing to believe him, citing all the strange things the Doctor had done during their travels. They went with the Doctor to Cornucopia, where they discovered the place in ruins.
When the attackers (calling themselves "the Hunters of the Burning Stone") attacked, the Doctor got their attention by claiming to possess the item they sought, allowing Ian to attack their leaders from behind and finally convincing him that he really was the same man he once knew. Barbara was then kidnapped by Miss Ghost, and the creators of the metal the hunters sought, the Prometheans, appeared. The Doctor demanded to know why he, Ian and Barbara had been brought to Cornucopia, to which the Prometheans replied that it was Ian and Barbara they needed, not the Doctor. The Doctor and Ian escaped the Prometheans with the help of Horatio Lynk. Horatio took them to Miss Ghost's home, where they found a doll that the Doctor recognised as belonging to Annabel Lake. Horatio was then attacked by the Prometheans. The Hunters arrived soon after. Referring to Ian as "teacher", they removed their helmets to reveal themselves as the Tribe of Gum.
The Prometheans revealed that they visited primitive worlds and granted them the gift of their psychic metal, and that they had witnessed Ian, Barbara and the Doctor's encounter with the tribe of Gum, and given the tribe the psychic metal after the TARDIS departed. The Tribe became the Hunters, who travelled through time and space in search of more of the metal. The Hunters then blasted Ian, Patrick and the Doctor with psychic energy. Ian and the Doctor were shown Patrick's memories: shortly after a repelled Cyberman invasion in the early 21st century, Patrick lobbied for a new branch of MI6, one dedictated to space travel and defence against alien threats, to be formed. He trained his daughter to become one of the branch's agents, giving her an alien suit capable of phasing through solid objects. The Doctor, realising the Prometheans were feeding on Patrick's psychic energy, shut down Patrick's conscious mind. The Prometheans then turned their attentions to the Doctor, forcing him to relive his most terrifying memories.
The Doctor was able to overcome the onslaught, and the memories changed to the moment during their time in prehistoric Earth, when Ian persuaded the Doctor not to kill someone. The Doctor told Ian that he helped him to be better, and revealed that he had been inspired by Ian and Barbara to take on more human companions. He also told Ian of the many deaths he brought about, particularly those of the Time War. Ian reassured the Doctor that he was a good person, and the two finally escaped the psychic realm. They then discovered that the Prometheans craft was a "Neural Extractor", which the Prometheans used to regress humanity to the level of cavemen, so that they would once again worship the Prometheans as gods. The Doctor, Ian and Patrick were then picked up by Barbara and Patricia. Once onboard their ship, the Doctor admonished Patrick for turning his daughter into a weapon, with Patricia retorting that she was honouring her fallen mother, and telling the Doctor to think of a solution himself. When the Doctor was unable to, Ian encouraged him, and he suddenly hit on a plan, departing in the TARDIS.
As the Tribe of Gum instructed the primitive humans to worship the Prometheans, the Doctor returned, having planted the of the TARDIS throughout human history, and using that image to alter the neural platform, reversing the effect, destroying the platform, and "locking" the minds of the human race from being altered again. Incensed, the Tribe of Gum, at the Prometheans' urging, attacked the Doctor. Ian and Barbara landed their ship on a fragment of the neural platform, and convinced the Tribe to stop by telling them of love and sacrifice, and how the Doctor protected the people of Earth for years. When the Tribe of Gum ceased their assault, the Prometheans attacked Ian and Barbara. The Tribe of Gum then turned on the Prometheans. Both sides were destroyed in the ensuing struggle. Ian and Barbara returned to their own time, and married, with the Doctor attending their wedding. (COMIC: Hunters of the Burning Stone)
Ian became a science lecturer at a university, and gained a professorship, specialising in astronomy, as well as a wide range of other fields. (PROSE: Who Killed Kennedy) However, despite having left the Doctor behind, they again got "caught up in his world" when they were contacted by UNIT in the 1970s to assist in a temporally related problem. (PROSE: The Face of the Enemy) Ian and Barbara had a son, John Alydon Ganatus Chesterton, who later became a pop singer under the name "Johnny Chess". (PROSE: Timewyrm: Revelation, PROSE: Byzantium!)
According to a rumour which Sarah Jane Smith shared with her friends Clyde Langer and Rani Chandra, Barbara and Ian had become professors at the University of Cambridge by the 2010s and reportedly had not aged since the 1960s. (TV: Death of the Doctor) Other sources suggested that Ian and his wife had aged. (PROSE: Untitled (DWM 169), AUDIO: The Five Companions, (TV: The Crusade)
Sometime in the 2010s, Ian had become the Chairman of the Governors for the school he originally taught at when he met the Doctor, the Coal Hill Secondary School. By this time, Clara Oswald, a companion of the Eleventh Doctor, was also a teacher here. (TV: The Day of the Doctor)
In their old age, Ian and Barbara mostly kept their stories to themselves, knowing what people were thinking when they found out the truth. Ian once told someone about his adventure during the Crusades. (HOMEVID: The Crusade)
Ian and Steven Taylor, among others, were later brought to an alternate Death Zone on Gallifrey. There he met the fifth incarnation of the Doctor, who now looked younger than him. He also met fellow companions Sara Kingdom, Polly Wright and Nyssa for the first time and encountered Daleks and Sontarans. According to this account, Ian Chesterton hadn't met the Doctor since his departure from his first incarnation, nor he was privy to the concept of regeneration. (AUDIO: The Five Companions)
Ian was fiercely loyal and would stand by any decision made by the rest of his group even if he disagreed with it himself. Like Barbara, Ian was keen to return home, (TV: The Daleks) prompting him to depart from the Doctor's company at the first chance. (TV: The Chase) He usually put others' interests before his, especially Barbara, whom he always looked after. (TV: The Daleks, The Keys of Marinus)
On a number of occasions, Ian endured the severe test of facing his fears. No great swimmer, he had to overcome this when, during a visit to Rome in AD 64, he was sold as a galley slave. His galley sank in a storm and Ian, with his Greek slave friend Delos, escaped and made their way to Rome. (TV: The Romans) While searching for Barbara in Palestine, Ian was captured and staked in the desert, daubed with honey to attract ants. (TV: The Crusade) Ian's instinctive fear of ants may have been increased with his experiences on Vortis. (TV: The Web Planet)
Although Ian was essentially a moral character and had stopped the Doctor from killing the caveman Za with a rock on their first adventure, (TV: An Unearthly Child) he was willing to kill if necessary. Having been forced into hand-to-hand combat, Ian accidentally killed the Aztec warrior Ixta when he fell over the side of a pyramid. (TV: The Aztecs) Ian threatened Lobos, saying that killing him might be enjoyable, though he may have been bluffing. (TV: The Space Museum) Ian developed his skill as a swordsman during his travels. He was also capable at unarmed combat. (TV: The Aztecs, The Crusade, COMIC:Hunters of the Burning Stone)
He was well-acquainted with music artists who were popular with his students such as John Smith and the Common Men (TV: "An Unearthly Child") and even danced to "Ticket to Ride" by the Beatles. (TV: The Chase)
Ian continued to wear parts of his Coal Hill School attire whilst travelling. (TV: The Daleks) His black and emerald green-striped tie (the school colours) was destroyed when the Doctor tested acidic water with it. (TV: The Web Planet) He wore a pinstripe shirt on one occasion. (TV: The Chase)
After visiting 13th century China, Ian received a Chinese-style gown. (TV: Marco Polo) He continued to wear it on Marinus. (TV: The Keys of Marinus) He also dressed for various historical occasions, including donning a toga with his hair (which almost always remained in its "square", early 1960s styling) combed forward by Barbara (TV: The Romans) and taking the guise of an Aztec warrior, complete with a bird-headed helmet. (TV: The Aztecs)
Behind the scenes
- The roles of Ian and Barbara as, respectively, science and history teachers were 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.
- In the early 1990s, William Russell reprised the role of an aged Ian for a series of links in BBC Video's restoration of The Crusade.
- Ian and Barbara are the only regular companions from the "black and white era" to meet a "new series" Doctor, having had an adventure with the Eleventh Doctor in the comic story, Hunters of the Burning Stone.