Jenna Coleman is a master at handling change. When she signed on to play Clara Oswald in Doctor Who in 2012, Matt Smith played the title character.
Within the year, Smith had left the sci-fi series and been replaced by Peter Capaldi.
There is more change ahead with executive producer Steven Moffat promising to make series 9 “unpredictable”, and Coleman announcing last week that she is leaving the series to play Queen Victoria in new drama series Victoria.
What can fans expect in Series 9 of Doctor Who? It is different in tone to the last (series). The Doctor and Clara are in a place where they know each other again. There is none of that ‘you have a new face’ regeneration thing. It allows us to go on adventures and be best friends and travel through time and space together. Everything feels simpler. But that can’t last forever. As they get reckless, it gets more dangerous.
How hard was it for you to adapt to the change from Matt Smith to Peter Capaldi? It wasn’t hard (but) it was quite a unique experience. Not many show will change their lead actor mid-scene. It was a mixture of emotions. I was so emotional to be saying goodbye to Matt. We had a great time together. I was also aware the show moves on and I was so excited to start with Peter — to see what he does and be by his side as he creates his Doctor. There is not a day goes by that Peter doesn’t make me laugh. I’m so lucky. We’re proper buddies. We get on really well.
How has Clara changed since you first took on the role? She’s grown up. I think she is more independent. She’s got a certain strength. She’s is the queen of multi-tasking. She goes and teaches English and maths and then pops into the Tardis and fights aliens.
Clara is a heroine of sorts. What has been the feedback from female viewers? I have been really amazed by the number of teenage girls. I assumed the fan base would be more boys. I meet so many girls who love Clara — especially from the ages of seven to 15.
The death of Clara’s boyfriend Danny Pink last season was very emotional. How has it affected Clara? Clara’s perspective on life and what she wants has changed. She was split last year between earth life and Tardis life and she tried to have both and failed. Once somebody has gone through that loss … she no longer fears her mortality. Life is short and she wants to experience it all and be with the Doctor.
Michelle Gomez is back as arch-enemy Missy. What is it like working with her? Michelle is magnetic to watch. When you’re working with her, you’re drawn in by her because she’s funny and you like her but you’ve got to remind yourself ‘oh no, you’re the bad one’.
Steven Moffat says he wants Doctor Who to be unpredictable. How challenging is that for you? When I started, Steven’s advice was ‘stand there and face what’s coming at you’. I learnt to be totally present and react to what’s happening around me and not worry about the rest. It has definitely taught me a new way of working. It is pretty physical. You’re always running from something or towards something.
DR WHO, ABC, SUNDAY, 7.40PM
has been surprised that so many of her
fans are teenage girls.