The will she/won’t she saga of Jenna’s possible departure over the past year has been as much of a rollercoaster ride as her travels through space and time with the Doctor. After a whirlwind of rumours last August we’ve since learnt she had indeed intended to leave during the 2014 Christmas special but then changed her mind. Speculation was rife again this week that series nine, which begins on Saturday, could feature her swan song – but this time there was no last-minute change of heart.
On Friday morning (as predicted by RadioTimes.com) Jenna told Nick Grimshaw on his Radio 1 breakfast show: “I have left the Tardis and I’ve filmed my last scenes”.
So what will be Coleman’s Doctor Who legacy – and that of Clara Oswald, the companion she has played for almost three years?
The “Impossible Girl” began as little more than a plot device but in the last series blossomed into a complex, rounded and likeable character. More than that, though, she may well be about to become the longest serving companion of the modern Who era…
Karen Gillan currently holds that title, having starred as Amy Pond, alongside Matt Smith’s Eleventh Doctor, in 33 episodes between April 2010 and September 2012.
In second place, Billie Piper’s Rose Tyler kicked off the re-imagined Doctor Who in 2005, serving as a full companion for 27 episodes, with two Doctors, between March 2005 and July 2006, and returning as Rose on four further occasions.
So how does Jenna Coleman stack up against them? Well, she made her first, surprise, appearance in series seven opening episode Asylum of the Daleks as Oswin Oswald, who was – there’s no nice way to put this – a bit of a Dalek. She wasn’t exactly a full blown companion but, then again, she was part of the Impossible Girl, scattered through time after future Clara stepped into the Doctor’s time stream (I know, timey-wimey, right?).
Then there was Victorian governess Clara, in 2012 Christmas special The Snowmen, followed by two full series of the Clara we know and (have come to) love. The 2014 Christmas special brought her up to 24 episodes (or 23 if you don’t count Asylum).
So if Jenna wants to be completely sure of becoming the Doctor’s longest-serving companion since the show returned in 2005, she’ll need to stay until episode 11 of the new series, to notch up a total of 34 episodes.
Right now, we don’t know exactly when her departure is timed for but you do have to wonder whether Jenna is aware that there is a record to be broken – and would quite like to sneak it away from Karen Gillan and really seal her place in Doctor Who history…
Here’s how the top three companions shape up so far…
Karen Gillan as Amy Pond
Doctors: Matt Smith
Time in role: April 2010–September 2012
Episodes as companion: 33
Other appearances: 2, as Soothsayer in The Fires of Pompeii (Apr 2008); as vision of Amy Pond in The Time of the Doctor (Dec 2013)
Billie Piper as Rose Tyler
Doctors: Christopher Eccleston, David Tennant
Time in role: March 2005–July 2006
Episodes as companion: 27
Other appearances: 6, as Rose Tyler in Partners in Crime (Apr 2008) Turn Left (Jun 2008) The Stolen Earth/Journey’s End (Jul 2008), The End of Time Part 2 (Jan 2010); as the Moment in The Day of the Doctor (Nov 2013)
Jenna Coleman as Clara Oswald
Doctors: Matt Smith, Peter Capaldi
Time in role: December 2012–present
Episodes as companion: 23 + unknown episodes of series nine
Other appearances: 1, as Oswin Oswald in Asylum of the Daleks (Sep 2012)