Clara Oswald will have to get used to a less fresh-faced Time Lord eyeing her across the Tardis console when Doctor Who returns for Peter Capaldi’s first series later this year.
But if Jenna Coleman’s companion does find herself missing Matt Smith’s youthful good looks, there’s a new recruit who should make the transition a little easier.
Danny Pink, played by 31-year-old Samuel Anderson, is a fellow teacher at Clara’s school and will appear as a recurring character, if not necessarily a full-blown companion. Anderson has already shared scenes with Coleman in Emmerdale, and while their history doesn’t guarantee chemistry, rumour has it that Danny is indeed intended as a love interest for Clara.
Danny’s apparent part-time status on the show might suggest a dynamic similar to that between Rose Tyler and her stay-at-home boyfriend Mickey. Then again, we could do without another character as wet as Mickey was (at least before his parallel universe adventures) and Anderson tends to play charismatic, slightly geezerish roles (like the womanising “Fingers” in Gavin & Stacey) so Danny could well be a different proposition.
Given showrunner Steven Moffat’s penchant for high-concept characters, it won’t be a huge surprise if there is more to Danny than meets the eye. After all, Amy and Rory turned out to be River Song’s parents, River herself was an assassin specially programmed to kill the Doctor, and Clara, The Impossible Girl, had that whole fragments-in-time-guardian-angel thing going on.
For now, Moffat is staying predictably enigmatic about Danny’s role, and you can almost hear the glee in his voice when he teases: “Very soon now, Sam Anderson as Danny Pink will be entering the world of the Doctor. But how and why? Answers are coming later this year…”
Meanwhile, there’s one other recurring character to consider – Coal Hill School. In 1963, teachers Barbara Wright and Ian Chesterton were drawn into their first adventure in space and time there. Twenty-five years later, the seventh Doctor returned to the same time and place to complete some unfinished business. And this year, we’ll meet Danny Pink there. Could he also find himself travelling back to that portentous year?
Could Coal Hill School in the year 1963 be one of those “fixed points” we’ve heard the Doctor talk about? Only time will tell…