Cliff was a brilliant Welsh biologist and mycologist. He published a paper on DNA synthesis which the Third Doctor admired for being advanced relative to the 20th century Earth standard. He became a Nobel laureate.
By the 1970s, he lived at the alternative community known as Wholeweal, or "the Nuthutch," where he studied fungi. He was especially interested in the overlooked nutritional value of fungi and thought they might solve the problem of world hunger. Like the rest of the Wholeweal community, he opposed Global Chemicals and protested against them at a public announcement by their director, Stevens.
He first encountered Jo Grant in his laboratory, just as she accidentally ruined one of his experiments. Although he treated her gruffly initially, Cliff gradually fell in love with Jo. By the time that Global Chemicals had been defeated, he asked her to marry him, to which she agreed, having already pulled some strings with her influential uncle to have Wholeweal provided with UN funding. (TV: The Green Death)
The two honeymooned in the Amazon while looking for obscure fungi. (TV: Planet of the Spiders) They had some "adventures" for which the locals blamed the Metebelis crystal given to Jo by the Third Doctor, so she sent it back to him. (PROSE: An Overture Too Early)
One account mentioned they had a son together but had divorced by the 1990s, (PROSE: Genocide) having began to drift apart due to the influence of the crystal. (HOMEVID: Global Conspiracy?) Another stated that they had seven children and thirteen grandchildren by 2010, and remained together. (TV: Death of the Doctor, AUDIO: The Sacrifice of Jo Grant) While Jo attended what she thought was the Doctor's funeral, Cliff was picketing an oil rig in the Ascension Islands. (TV: Death of the Doctor)
When she was sent back to 1972 by a pocket of temporal instability, Jo told the Third Doctor she was married to "a very wonderful man". Before ostensibly sacrificing herself to mend the holes in time, Jo assured herself that Cliff and their children would understand. Kate Stewart later saved her from the Time Vortex. (AUDIO: The Sacrifice of Jo Grant)
Arriving at his and Jo's home, Clifford brought in a plastic daffodil, aghast at yet another contributor towards pollution, but Jo recognised it as belonging to the Autons. They rushed outside to see around a dozen Autons advancing up the street. After returning from the house having unsuccessfully attempting to contact UNIT, Jo informed him that she had defeated the Autons by jacking their signals with the twins' electro hip-hop music. (WC: Return of the Autons)
Behind the scenes
- Katy Manning was not fond of the Cliff character and did not think that Jo's marriage would have lasted. She said in 1993 at the annual PanoptiCon fan event that she would be willing to reprise her role as Jo only if Jo was divorced from Cliff. However, the two characters were still married when Manning guest-starred in The Sarah Jane Adventures seventeen years later. Russell T Davies did not want to contradict the happy ending presented in The Green Death. Ironically, the home video release Global Conspiracy? was the only Doctor Who story to feature Stewart Bevan reprising the role of Jones until Jo Grant Returns, and illustrates the two as separated.