This is the official interview with Jenna Coleman for the Doctor Who (2000s) Series 8 which the BBC released today.
Jenna was Matt Smith Doctor’s companion last year but now her character has to deal with change in the form of Peter Capaldi’s Doctor.
The pieces gives an update of her character Clara, her thoughts on how she copes with two different lives and, of course, the Doctor’s dramatic difference.
How is Clara feeling about having a new Doctor?
It unbalances her and throws everything up in the air. She has gone from feeling safe – in moments of danger the Doctor would catch her – and thinking she had it all sussed, then suddenly this new guy comes along who she can’t quite access in the same way.
He’s removed, he’s not as patient, and he’s much more alien and enigmatic. It’s really hard for her. Her best friend is a changed person, and it is a very difficult for her to accept that and move forward.
What is Clara’s relationship like with the Doctor?
It’s interesting because it’s a really changed dynamic. It’s very funny, there’s a lot of bickering. There’s no one that can wind her up as much as this Doctor can, because he’s just a loose cannon. He has this mad curiosity.
It puts Clara out of her comfort zone and totally out of control, so we see the control freak in her really ramp up. What I think is really good about it is that it’s an unlikely friendship.
Even if she wanted to leave she can’t, because she’s bonded to him. He absolutely infuriates her. He annoys her. No one else can wind her up quite like it – but she just loves him. The friendship is strange and charming.
Would you say the tone of the show has changed this year?
It feels different. The pace is different, and the tone. It’s definitely darker, but again I think it’s because the Doctor is much more removed and not as accessible to humans. The show feels complex, and the Doctor is complicated. He’s this heroic figure who can’t quite accept he’s a hero.
The audience and Clara are getting to know him again, but the Doctor is also getting to know himself. There’s definitely this element of beginning again as there always is with a regeneration. He’s much more of a tough cookie, and there’s a fierceness to it now I think.
Peter is just so dynamic as well, he’s a firecracker. That is really interesting for Clara, because when they go on these adventures – yes it’s fun and it is full of adventure – but actually it is dangerous as well. The risk-taking is heightened.
What is in store for Clara this series? Do we learn anything new about her?
You see a lot more of her home life. Clara lives a double life, spending time at home, being a teacher, and then sneaking off and having these mad, wonderful, magical adventures with the Doctor. Actually, it is quite exhausting for her.
She’s trying to keep a lid on it, and she arrives back at school soaking wet with seaweed on her shoulder for example, and she has to explain that.
It’s a theme throughout the series, lying and why we lie, lying to protect someone you love. It’s this web of lies that she gets herself tangled in.
How have you found working with Peter?
It’s been a joy. He’s so funny and so generous. He was looking after me on his first day, which is testament to the type of man he is. He is the epitome of grace. He is that kind of man that takes care of all of those around him.
Despite all of that, he’s just so skilled and so brave and bold in the choices that he makes, and really clever and dynamic.
What I love about him is that he’s so prepped and immersed in the job, but then at a moment’s notice he’s not afraid to abandon any plan and try something else.
He’s a fearless actor who is generous to those around him. We just have such a laugh as well. We’ve laughed the whole way through the series together.
Did you find yourself showing Peter the ropes?
There’s silly, basic things you can do, like “there’s the canteen”. Silly things like that. What I really wanted to do was be as open as possible to change from the start, and also just make him feel supported and that he could try anything.
I’d be up for trying anything. It was about being totally open with each other and trying to get that relationship as soon as possible so that we could get the best out of it.
Also to allow him to really be able to explore, because that’s the kind of actor he is. He’s very explorative on set as well, so just being as responsive as I could to that so he could explore and find his Doctor.
It’s been amazing to watch actually, especially watching episode one, and to see where he’s got to now having just finished the series. It’s a massive growth.
What can you tell us about Clara’s relationship with Danny?
She meets a man called Danny Pink, a teacher, who’s charming and lovely. He’s that perfect boyfriend and is very supportive, but he doesn’t know anything about this double life she lives.
She tries to hide it from him while at the same time falling in love. She becomes very torn between the two. It’s almost as if she’s having an affair, without having an affair, but the lying becomes more and more.
Basically she’s trying to manage the two, and have these two men in her life.
It becomes quite a hurtful thing and quite a hard thing for her because she’s totally torn between them, and trying to have both at once without being able to do it successfully.
What’s it been like working with Sam Anderson?
He’s a dream. I think he’s going to be really popular in the show. He’s very laid back, very cool and collected, and he plays the trumpet in-between takes as well on set! He’s lovely.
I do feel sorry for his character though, as he’s got this girlfriend who is completely stressed every time she comes back from being with the Doctor.