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Graham O’Brien lived in Sheffield with his wife Grace and her grandson Ryan Sinclair. He had once worked as a bus driver.
Graham had cancer. He met his wife Grace, a chemo nurse while undergoing treatment. Once the cancer was found to be in remission, Graham married her and became her second husband.
Whilst returning home after an unsuccessful session of teaching Ryan how to ride a bike, Grace and Graham were trapped when a swarm of Gathering coils attacked their train in search of Karl Wright, a fellow passenger. He, along with Grace, Ryan and Yasmin Khan, helped the Thirteenth Doctor battle both the coil and its controller, Tim Shaw.
Whilst the Doctor recovered at his and Grace’s home, he went around Sheffield to ask if anyone had seen anything unusual. Later, Grace and Graham followed the Doctor’s orders to pose as construction managers and evacuate the construction site Karl worked at, so the Doctor, Ryan and Yasmin could rescue him.
However, the gathering coils were still active, with Tim Shaw using them to damage the crane that Ryan and the others were on. Despite Graham’s protests, Grace climbed up and destroyed the creature by electrocuting it with live cables. However, Grace was also electrocuted in the process and fell to the ground. Mortally wounded, she died in Graham’s arms, after telling him to not be afraid without her. Graham later spoke of how Grace inspired him during their three-year marriage at her funeral and felt guilty that he hadn’t died instead. (The Woman Who Fell to Earth)
Travels in the TARDIS
The TARDIS deposited the Doctor and her companions in 1955 Montgomery, Alabama instead of returning them to Sheffield due to large traces of Artron energy. Graham was initially excited about his first journey back in history and expressed a desire to see Elvis Presley playing.
As the only other white member of the group aside from the Doctor, Graham was treated far better than Ryan or Yaz, whom he from the racism inflicted on them, even coming to Ryan’s aid when Mr. Steele slapped him for returning a glove to his wife Lizzie.
Graham worked to help ensure Rosa Parks began the Montgomery Bus Boycott, using his knowledge of bus drivers to help. He and Ryan encouraged James Blake to leave his fishing spot on his day off after spreading a rumour of a black boycott.
Due to Krasko‘s interference, a distressed Graham was forced to take part in Parks’s famous moment of defiance by ensuring the bus was crowded enough for Parks to be asked to give up her seat. Graham ultimately became the passenger that Rosa Parks refuses to give her seat up to, sparking the boycott. The Doctor later showed her companions a history of Rosa’s life and how she would go on to have a lasting impact on the history of universe by taking them to Asteroid 284996, Rosaparks. (Rosa)
Graham and team TARDIS travelled to the planet Gatan, arriving in the City of Radiant Stone in the midst of war. (The Warmonger)
After helping the Doctor halt a war on the planet Lobos between the dog-like loba and human colonists, shortly before leaving in the TARDIS, Graham finally told the joke he had been itching to use about loba being human’s best friend. When they attempted to return – to retrieve Ryan’s mobile phone – the TARDIS slipped almost six hundred years into the future, where the planet was now ruled by human zealots, served by slave loba, who derived human superiority over loba from this one joke. Graham was now worshipped as “the Good Doctor” while the real Doctor was forgotten. While agreeing this had to be fixed, Graham felt uneasy as the man in charge whose word was everyone’s command but did surprisingly well. Eventually, his intolerance of racism and misogyny caused High Priest Mykados of the Temple of Tordos to denounce him and his friends as charlatans. In the end, the Doctor succeeded in uncovering the lie of the zealots, setting the record straight and brokering a lasting peace between humans and loba. The locals commemorated Graham by naming a bay after him. (The Good Doctor)
The Doctor and her team were tasked with preventing the Genesis Seed stored in the secret Vault 13 within the Galactic Seed Vault from falling into the hands of Deadly Nightshade. (The Secret in Vault 13)
Trying To Return Home
Upon returning home, Graham declined to have tea at Yas’ with Ryan and the Doctor. Instead he returned home, where he imagined Grace was still alive telling him to fix things round the house like she asked. Grieving, he began smelling her clothes despite his vision of Grace telling him it didn’t help. Hearing a noise upstairs, he went to investigate, finding an abnormally large spider. Fleeing back to Yas’, he informed Ryan and the Doctor of what he saw. He joined them to investigate further, giving Ryan a letter from his biological father he found posted at home; though Ryan took it, he dismissed reading it right away. (Arachnids In The UK)
After Grace’s death, Graham grieved by talking about her, viewing it better to talk than stay silent as Ryan preferred. (The Ghost Monument) Struggling to move on from losing her, Graham believed he could find solace by travelling with the Doctor rather than waiting for his grief to consume him while surrounded by memories of Grace in their home. (Arachnids In The UK)
While first skeptical of the Thirteenth Doctor‘s title as the Doctor, (The Woman Who Fell to Earth) Graham grew to use the name, though commonly chose to refer to her informally as “Doc” instead. (Rosa, Arachnids in the UK, The Tsuranga Conundrum)
Graham believed if you wanted to know something, you just had to ask a bus driver. He was also wary about rushing into danger. (The Woman Who Fell to Earth)
Compassionate and against racism, Graham was greatly distressed by his inability to help Rosa Parks from her destined arrest in 1955, not wanting to be party to such an act. (Rosa)
Habits and quirks
While first skeptical of the Thirteenth Doctor’s title as the Doctor, (The Woman Who Fell to Earth) Graham grew to use the name, though commonly chose to refer to her informally as “Doc” instead. (Rosa, Arachnids in the UK, The Tsuranga Conundrum, Demons of the Punjab, Kerblam!, The Witchfinders, It Takes You Away)
Graham became grumpy when his blood sugar was low. (It Takes You Away) Because the Doctor often did not permit snack breaks during adventures, (Rosa) Graham always made sure to have a sandwich with him when he left the TARDIS. (It Takes You Away)
When he and Ryan did something successful together, Graham raised his hand for a fist bump only for Ryan to reject as it was “uncool”. (Rosa, The Tsuranga Conundrum)