Exciting times lie ahead for Doctor Who fans. Exciting, and also, potentially, very upsetting as we bid a sad farewell to the Doctor’s companion, Clara Oswald (Jenna Coleman). With just three episodes remaining in season 9, showrunner Steven Moffat has said that fans can expect all three to “cliffhanger into each other in quite a major way,” building to a big climax in the season finale, ‘Hell Bent’, when the Doctor will return to Gallifrey to come face to face with the rest of the Time Lords.
The Doctor Who season end, along with the departure of Coleman, leaves us with several questions about Clara’s replacement. When will the Doctor get a new companion? Will they be male or female? Will they be a character we already know?
Moffat has addressed some of this in a recent interview with Digital Spy, revealing that actually, the development of the Doctor’s new companion is still in the very early stages. (That puts paid to the idea that they’d be revealed in the Doctor Who Christmas Special, then!) In the same interview, both Moffat and Capaldi revealed that it will take the Doctor a long time to get over Clara’s departure (possible death?).
“It’s thrown him,” Capaldi remarked, while Moffat added “It’s going to knock him for six. I mean, it always does. It always half kills him, I think, but it’s going to be pretty bad this time.”
Moving on to talk about the new companion, confirming that it will be a totally new character (ruling out Maisie Williams’ Ashildre or Ingrid Oliver’s Osgood), Moffat said he has already been to the BBC to talk about:
“The kind of person we are going to find and how that’s going to change and inflect the show. That’s even before we have a name for that person, so it’s really quite early stages.”
Explaining that the tone of Doctor Who is driven by the companion, Moffat said that he needs to consider the casting very carefully:
“It’s not casting a supporting character. It’s a lead or a co-lead and it will become their story. This isn’t trivial. This isn’t just slotting somebody else into that part; this is starting a new story.”
Moffat was also asked if he had considered having more than one companion for the Doctor, similar to season six, when Amy and Rory joined the Doctor in the TARDIS (played by Karen Gillan and Arthur Darvill). Moffat didn’t answer directly; instead he merely stated that “Anything is possible, there is no set formula for this at all.” However, Capaldi was more vocal, saying that he thinks the Doctor works better if he only has one companion.
As a viewer, it’s sometimes easier to focus on the Doctor with one companion rather than a whole group. It’s certainly interesting to see how the Doctor reacts to multiple companions at once, seeing him one on one with someone he has chosen to trust gives audiences the chance to see the subtle nuances of his character and personality traits that we would otherwise have missed.
Matt Smith’s Doctor was more upbeat and sociable, and so it made perfect sense, in a way, that he wanted both Amy and Rory along for the ride. Capaldi’s incarnation is darker, more melancholy and introspective, and he often puts on a front when dealing with the task in hand.
Remember in ‘The Zygon Inversion’, when Clara asked the Doctor what it was like when he thought she was dead? His answer, “The longest month of my life,” was perhaps the most vulnerable admission we have seen from Capaldi’s Doctor so far. It was a quiet, simple moment between the Doctor and his companion and it leads us to agree with Capaldi: that just having the one companion allows the Doctor to be seen in sharper relief and for the show to be more focused.
Regarding Doctor Who season ten, Moffatt wouldn’t give anything away apart from saying it’s business as usual and that he’s already talking to writers, but we do know that Capaldi is confirmed to return as the Doctor. How many episodes the season will be, or when exactly it will come to air, remains to be seen.
Doctor Who season 9 continues with ‘Face The Raven’ on Saturday, November 21st, on BBC1 and BBC America.
Source: Digital Spy
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