Rumors began to circulate in the last few days that the new series of “Doctor Who” will be the last for Jenna Coleman. Coleman, 29, has appeared on the series since 2012 as a character mostly known as Clara Oswald.*
The rumors further state that she is to appear in a lavish ITV production on the life of Queen Victoria. Adding further grist to this particular mill is the acknowledgement earlier this year by Coleman and “Who” producers that she had intended to leave at the end of the previous season, only to change her mind at the proverbial last minute.
So why is there a big old “maybe” in the title of this piece?
First reports of this seem to be coming from The Mirror, a UK tabloid. And let’s just say that UK Tabloids are tad “unreliable” every now and again. Then I saw a similar report on the BBC News site and figured the story was confirmed. After all, “Doctor Who” is a BBC program, right? They should know, right?
But, when I checked the actual story on the BBC News site, I noticed that they listed the original Mirror report as the source of the story. They quote ITV as saying that it was not making “any announcements about casting presently” for the Victoria series, and then noted that the BBC had also declined to confirm Coleman’s departure.
So. There it is. She’s definitely probably leaving after this season. Maybe. To play Queen Victoria. Possibly.
If this all turns out to be true, I won’t be terribly surprised. As it goes, 3 years is a fairly long time for a companion in the “Who” series. Coleman herself seems to be pretty level-headed about the realities of the job. In an interview with the venerable Radio Times, she stated, “You’re in Doctor Who knowing it will never last…you want to make your time count and enjoy the adventure for the fleeting time you’re here.” No doubt she’s also aware of the awkward post-“Who” typecasting various actors have met after leaving the show. Interviewed by the UK paper The Telegraph in 2013, Carole Ann Ford, the first-ever “Doctor Who” companion, was asked if she felt the show had destroyed her career. Her reply? “Yeah. In no small way. Definitely.”
Coleman had a great run, taking what was essentially an awkward plot-device and turning it into a genuinely memorable character. She’s more than done her bit. As I said, I won’t be surprised if she does hand in her TARDIS key, but I’ll be sorry to see her go. And that’s not something I thought I’d be saying when she first appeared back in 2012.
But I’ll also be relieved. Coming and going. Ending and starting again. Having just arrived, you’re already leaving. Yet always continuing. That’s the natural order of things in “Doctor Who.” Jenna Coleman is definitely leaving, and that’s grand news that I’m not sure is in fact, a fact. Yet. But I am sad about it. And also oddly happy.
Rumor is that definite confirmation will come Friday morning, so… we shall see what we shall see.
*I say “mostly” because, due to the conceit of her being “scattered” through the Doctor’s timeline, Coleman first appeared as an impossibly spunky space cadet named Oswin Oswald. Then she was a victorian governess named Clara Oswin Oswald. Finally, she appeared as modern-day Clara Oswald and has pretty much remained so for the rest of her time on the series. Unless you count the part where she rather brilliantly impersonated The Doctor. Which I do.