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A companion show is a non-fiction show intended as a complement to another show, usually fiction. You usually get one episode of the companion show for each episode of the main show. There are two main types of companion show, although there is some overlap between the two.

The first is a documentary-style show, offering a look behind-the-scenes of the main show, showing how special effects are done, and with the cast and crew discussing the characters, plotlines, sets and costumes, and anything else the producers of the show want to highlight. The style is similar to the sort of featurette you might get on the DVD of the series.

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The second type is a more fan-based show. The presenters will almost always be telegenic fans or popular former actors or runners-up of the main show who transitioned to hosting, and discuss the latest episode, highlighting their favourite and least favorite moments and characters, as well as commenting on the unfolding storylines and possible theories of how the plot will develop. Expect some audience involvement, by e-mail, text message or telephone. Some shows have a studio audience to lend their comments. In the United States, this practice was popularized by AMC, who introduced such a program as a lead-out for its highly-popular series The Walking Dead beginning in its second season. Other cable series have since followed in their footprints. In North America, these are colloquially known as an "after-show" — especially if they air as a lead-out.

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Reality TV shows sometimes have companion shows as well, although usually some of the elements of companion shows are included in the main show.


Examples

  • In the United Kingdom, Heroes has both types of show. Heroes Unmasked is a documentary (with voice-over by Anthony Head), focusing on different elements (usually different characters) of the show each week, and broadcast after each episode on BBC2. Heroes: The Official Radio Show is a fan-based radio show (with podcast), with fan e-mails read out (and some fans phoning in).
    • For season two, G4 aired an American companion show that, over its run, managed to get most of the cast on. It was called The Post Show.
  • Doctor Who has two companion shows. Doctor Who Confidential is a behind-the-scenes show, and Totally Doctor Who is a children's show, with a mixture of things including games, behind-the-scenes segments and reviews of the episode; perhaps most notably it was through Totally that the series three animated serial The Infinite Quest was shown (with voice acting from Anthony Head). As on October 2011, both shows have been cancelled. In 2014, a much shorter version of Confidential was introduced on the red button channel, called Doctor Who Extra.
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  • Torchwood has its own version of Doctor Who Confidential with much shorter episodes, known as Torchwood Declassified.
  • Hustle has The Real Hustle, a documentary series which focused on demonstrating common scams on members of the public, and explaining how people can protect themselves. It is so distinct from Hustle that it is fairly easy to watch in its own right, and ran for almost just as long as its parent series.
  • Strictly Come Dancing has a weekday BBC2 show called Strictly Come Dancing: It Takes Two, with interviews and behind the scenes footage, among other things. It also features some truly awful puns in its captions. Such as (brace yourself): "The Penny's Dropped" for Penny Lancaster-Stewart after she recently went out of the competition.
  • The second season of 24 in the UK had Pure 24.
  • Lost in the UK had UK Lost (a podcast) while Season 2 was being shown on Channel 4. Presented by Ian Lee and others, it was the fan-based variety of show, including, among other things a discussion of fan theories e-mailed in, including more than a few Epileptic Trees. It also provide updates on The Lost Experience the Alternate Reality Game. When the show moved to Sky, the name changed to The Lost Initiative.
  • Big Brother had Big Brother's Little Brother which features, you guessed it, interviews and behind-the-scenes footage. On top of that there was Big Brother's Big Mouth, which was more of a Talking Dead-type show with celebrity guests and viewer contributions. When the show moved from Channel 4 to Channel Five, they were replaced by a new show, Big Brother's Bit On The Side (also accompanied by its own Saturday-night spin-off, Big Brother's Bit on the Psych, which focused on psychological analysis of the goings-on in the House, and was a remake of the similar Big Brother: On the Couch aired during series 8)
    • The Canadian version of the show started the Big Brother Side Show in season 2, where previous houseguests Peter and Gary talked about the events in the the house and interview the most recent evictee.
  • Trope-within-a-trope: companion shows typically have punning titles: Strictly Come Dancing: It Takes Two, Dancing on Ice: Defrosted, Space Cadets: The Satellite Show, Hell's Kitchen: Extra Portions and so forth. Naturally there are exceptions: Dancing on Ice Exclusive was particularly uninspired example.
  • The Xtra Factor for The X Factor
  • Britain's Got More Talent for Britain's Got Talent
  • The Apprentice - You're Fired for the UK's The Apprentice
    • The companion show for The Restaurant punned on this with The Restaurant: You're Fried!.
  • I'm a Celebrity, Get Me Out Of Here! Now! for I'm A Celebrity, Get Me Out Of Here! (since re-named Extra Camp)
  • After AMC's attempts to lead-out of The Walking Dead with reality shows failed, Talking Dead with Chris Hardwick debuted as a companion, discussing the new episode after it aired. After it did unexpectedly well, AMC decided to have the last episodes of Breaking Bad have another Hardwick-hosted show called Talking Bad lead out of that.
    • In 2017, after The Walking Dead wrapped up for the season, they decided to keep the show around as Talking with Chris Hardwick (which is more of a straightforward interview show with a single guest) rather than put it on hiatus until Fear the Walking Dead returned.
  • The ill-fated Fox Reality Channel had American Idol Extra, which typically featured an interview with the most recent eliminated contestant, as well as behind the scenes segments and guest performances by past contestants.
  • Parodied by The Late Late Show with James Corden, when CBS was airing reruns of its primetime dramas to fill the void between the end of Late Show with David Letterman, and the premiere of The Late Show with Stephen Colbert. A few June 2015 episodes featured a cold opening sketch entitled Talking Mentalist, where James and his guests discussed the rerun of said show that CBS had just aired.
    • It even got a companion show of its own, Talking Talking Mentalist, where Corden's bandleader Reggie Watts talks about the last episode of Talking Mentalist.
      • Hardwick himself made a cameo when it became Talking Hawaii Five-0. Corden returned the favor by appearing as a guest on the aforementioned Talking with Chris Hardwick on April 30, 2017.
  • Vikings has Real Vikings, a documentary series that focuses on outlining the real-life history and folklore that inspired the historical drama.
  • After Trek, hosted by Matt Mira, discusses the preceding episode of Star Trek: Discovery on CBS All Access with members of the show's cast and occasionally real scientists and scientific advisors for the show, and is also available on Netflix.
  • Brian W. Foster hosts Talks Machina, the aftershow for Critical Role on Twitch and Project Alpha. The show has a very informal atmosphere as Brian and the cast of the show all know each other in real life. Standard moments include Brian introducing the show by checking "Are we on the internet?", making self-deprecating jokes about his own life, and deliberately mispronouncing words and the names of guests. Viewers can submit questions for the cast to answer, and Alpha subscribers get an extra section at the end dubbed Talks Machina After Dark. Prizes are given to fans for the best art and gifs based on the most recent episode.
  • The Great British Bake Off: The fifth series has introduced an accompanying show called The Great British Bake-Off: An Extra Slice, in which Jo Brand and a couple of guests console the eliminated contestant and discuss the week's show.
  • AfterBuzz is an entire podcast network dealing in these.
  • Until 2018, domestic broadcasts of the Indian Premier League cricket had a post-game-type show called Extraaa Innings T20, which mixed typical analysis from panelists into a talk show with tons of celebrity guests (from Bollywood actors and even the wrestling tag team The New Day — though this particular character overlap is justified as The Big E's father played cricket in Jamaica) who were cricket fans. When a new broadcaster took over in 2018, they disposed of it as part of an effort to appeal more widely to actual fans, rather than the aforementioned show's attempts to dress things up for casual viewers.
  • The Last Leg began as this for Channel 4's coverage of the Paralympic Games, but proved so popular that it was kept on and simply broadened its focus.

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