‘Doctor Who’ doesn’t always get the companions it wants, but it usually gets the ones it needs. Something about the best laid plans of mice and showrunners, I suppose. Former showrunner Russell T. Davies famously had a different companion in mind for the fourth season (a version of the character would appear in the season opener ‘Partners in Crime’) before fate intervened and Catherine Tate returned to the role of Donna Noble. But that’s not the only time a would-be companion has been cast aside. In the course of a recent chat with ‘Doctor Who: The Fan Show‘, Davies’ recently departed successor Steven Moffat revealed that he had a rather different companion in mind for his penultimate season.
If you followed ‘Doctor Who’ during the Moffat era, you may remember that Jenna Coleman always seemed to be on the verge of leaving the role of Clara Oswald behind. First, it was rumored that she would leave alongside Matt Smith. And though she ultimately did stay on for Peter Capaldi’s first season, that was very nearly where the story ended. Clara was effectively written out at the end of the eighth season in 2014, though she would return for that year’s Christmas special. As originally envisioned, the elderly Clara see near the end of that episode would have been the real thing, rather than yet another ‘Inception’-esque dream layer, and she would have died at the end of the story, marking her final exit from the series.
Obviously, plans changed, and Coleman decided she was not yet ready to leave. But since this was a relatively last minute change, Moffat had already devised a new companion and even worked her into the special in the form of Shona (played by Faye Marsay). And while Pearl Mackie’s Bill Potts was still a year away, Moffat acknowledges that Shona could be considered something of a prototype for the future companion. As he describes the matter:
“I was eyeing up the possibility of writing the part of Shona as the replacement. There’s a commonality between [her and Bill Potts]. I knew where I wanted to go next was a kind of earthy irreverence, I guess, if I put it in the most basic terms.”
Are you glad Jenna Coleman stayed on for a third year or would you have preferred to see Shona tag along in the TARDIS? Let us know in the comments and be sure to check back with ScienceFiction.com for more on ‘Doctor Who’ – including news on the upcoming eleventh season – as it becomes available.