Will she stay or will she go? That was the question that raged around Jenna Coleman last year, as fans and press alike speculated whether she would leave her role as Clara in Doctor Who. Tabloid rumour originally had her leaving the show in last year’s Christmas special Last Christmas, before eventually flip-flopping to the right answer that she would be staying on for series 9. According to Steven Moffat himself, though, the truth is that Clara was originally going to be written out at the end of series 8 finale Death in Heaven.
“That was her last episode,” he tells Doctor Who Magazine. “And then she asked me if she could be in Christmas? So I said, ‘Okay, I’ll write you out in Christmas.’ She came to the read through and did the ‘write out’ version – and again changed her mind.”
“But the truth is I never wanted her to go. I didn’t really want Death in Heaven to be her last episode. And with Last Christmas, I’d already written the alternative version where she stayed, and I preferred that version. For Christmas Day it’s a bit nicer. Frankly, I didn’t want to lose her. She’s an amazing actress, and she never stops working to make Clara better. I was very happy to go the extra mile to make sure we could keep her.”
Coleman’s decision to stay on for the entirety of series 9 sets to make her the longest serving companion of the modern era. Explaining why she stayed at a post-screening Q&A last year, she said, “I couldn’t walk away with the story being unresolved, there’s so much more to do and I think [Clara and the Doctor] have finally just reached a point where they really understand each other.”
Elsewhere in Doctor Who Magazine’s huge ten-page interview with the showrunner, Moffat reflects in-depth on the triumphs and challenges of series 8, reveals what’s next for the Doctor in series 9 and laments on the toll that fame as TV’s most well-known and discussed writer can take on him.
Doctor Who Magazine 484 is out now