It’s hard to believe but Jenna Coleman’s only done a full season and a half of Doctor Who, but she’s already made an indelible mark on the franchise, and the fans really seem to like her too. The solo Q&A with Coleman was one of the last events of Fan Expo this year, she had done a special ticket Q&A with fellow Who companion Karen Gillan the night before, but there seemed to be plenty of questions left unanswered for Coleman the next day.
“It’s such a unique show and a very unique experience on and off the set, and there are only a few us that know that,” Coleman said of doing Who. But is there anything that she looks forward to doing when her time in the TARDIS is over? “The problem is when you travel through space and time, everything else seems kind of dull,” she said jokingly.
Of course, many Doctor Who companions have enjoyed long and varied careers, but Coleman still has series nine to get through, and it launches later this month on BBC, BBC America, and Space. Coleman promised that there would be vikings, Zygons, and the previously mentioned appearance by Game of Thrones co-star Maisie Williams, but she didn’t give up any other specific details. She did say however that Clara would be in a very different mindset when the action picks up later this fall.
“Clara is a very different place since we last saw her, but she’s got a totally new perspective on life,” Coleman explained. “I think what she’s realized is that life is short, so let’s get in the TARDIS and go places and eat it all up. She doesn’t fear her mortality anymore. She’s really reckless and she’s really fearless.”
“This season she’s no longer got any ties to Earth,” she added. “She’s now free to live a TARDIS life, and they both [Clara and the Doctor] challenge each other to be more reckless and it’s going to burst at some point.”
Of course there’s always been a kind of fearlessness to Clara, and the way she made an instant impression on the Doctor when she was introduced halfway through series seven. “She’s got this really practical mind,” Coleman said. “She always asks the questions that no one will ask, and she challenged [The Doctor] and brought him back after losing Amy and Rory. So I think she annoyed her way into his life, and doesn’t let him get away with anything.”
Unique to Clara’s experience as a modern companion is that she got to witness a regeneration between Doctors. “It’s not really the transition that was challenging, but it was a whole new relationship again but with history,” she said of going from Eleventh Doctor Matt Smith to Twelfth Doctor Peter Capaldi. “So I suppose it’s like the start of any working relationship in a really good way. In a really fun way it turned the dynamic on its head.”
“I’ve been really proud to be by both of their sides and see Peter create his Doctor and this year he’s been a firecracker,” Coleman added. “His Doctor’s evolved in different ways.”
One fan asked Coleman if she’d like to Clara stick around for another regeneration, which she would have to since Coleman said that she “never” wants Clara’s story to end. “I think she’s known the Doctor in all forms now, so to her he’s just the Doctor in whatever face he has,” she said. “So i think she would be fine for whatever phase he goes into.”
That comment lead to the coining of the new Clara catchphrase, “Here we go again!” Another fan said Clara needed a catchphrase since the show’s had so many.
But what would Coleman like to see before her time in the TARDIS is over? “I’d love to do an episode like ‘Vincent and the Doctor,’” she said referencing the fifth series episode where the Doctor and Amy Pond go back in time to meet Vincent Van Gogh.
“Actually, we’d go to the Chelsea Hotel in New York in the 60s and 70s when there were so many artists, and poets, and singers,” she added. “It would be great if we [Clara and the Doctor] went there and tried to be cool.”
Also on Coleman’s to do list his her annual New Year’s resolution to take piano lessons, her desire to play Cleopatra and Katherine Hepburn’s part in Bringing Up Baby, and avoiding comical misunderstandings at comic conventions. “Someone was getting an autogtraph and they said, ‘I’m so sorry, I’m just trying not to propose,” she recalled. “I think it was just for the picture and not for real life,” she added before jokingly realizing, “Oh my God, I’m engaged!”
For now, Coleman’s just glad to have been a part, and continue to be a part, of this vaunted sci-fi institution. “You just have so much fun on the job, and as well there’s so much to be amazed by,” she said. “It’s wonderful to be a part of a special show for so long.”
And she’s also around to be the Doctor’s trustiest of companions. “I think it’s such a unique relationship,” she said. “It’s not confined to one kind of love. We are the Doctor and his companion; he’s your my best friend, your father, your annoying uncle… It’s a special kind of love I think.”