Doctor Who might have enjoyed spin-off success with the likes of Torchwood and The Sarah Jane Adventures, but fans have long campaigned for the show’s “Paternoster Gang” – Vastra, Jenny and Strax – to get their own TV series… so why didn’t it happen?
The Silurian detective Madame Vastra (Neve McIntosh), her human partner Jenny Flint (Catrin Stewart) and their Sontaran ally Strax (Dan Starkey) first appeared in the 2011 TV story A Good Man Goes to War and were later seen residing in 19th century England.
The idea of this much-loved trio solving mysteries and tackling monsters in Victorian London sounds irresistible – but now ex-Doctor Who showrunner Steven Moffat has revealed why a spin-off never got off the ground.
In a new interview with Big Finish’s Vortex magazine, Moffat explained that while some thought was given to granting the Paternoster Gang their own series, he ultimately resisted it to avoid diluting the Doctor Who brand on television.
“We always thought that we might try and spin them off into something on television but I kept not wanting to fray the output: it’s quite good if Doctor Who is off the air sometimes!” he said.
“Also, at the time I had Sherlock as well as Doctor Who going,” he added.
Happily, Big Finish later stepped in to produce a Paternoster Gang spin-off on audio, with McIntosh, Stewart and Starkey all reprising the roles they’d last played in 2014 TV episode Deep Breath.
The range launched in June 2019, with the fourth and final box-set in The Paternoster Gang: Heritage story arc being released this month and seeing the trio team up with Henry Gordon Jago (Christopher Benjamin), a character first introduced in classic Doctor Who TV serial The Talons of Weng-Chiang in 1977.
All four volumes of The Paternoster Gang: Heritage are available now from bigfinish.com. You can read the full interview with Steven Moffat in the next issue of Vortex, available free from bigfinish.com and via the Big Finish app this Sunday (1st November).
Doctor Who will return to television with festive special Revolution of the Daleks in late 2020/early 2021 – check out what else is on with our TV Guide