As many of us expected, Faye Marsay’s character from Last Christmas, Shona McCullough, was due to take over in the companion role after Jenna Coleman left the series. And yes, Clara Oswald was going to die as an old woman at the conclusion of the festive episode…
In the third part of its interview with Steven Moffat, now-former showrunner, Doctor Who: The Fan Show delved into the departure of Jenna; Moffat revealed:
“I was eyeing up the possibility of writing the part of Shona as the replacement… There’s a commonality between [Shona and eventual replacement, Bill Potts]. I knew where I wanted to go next was a kind of earthy irreverence, I guess, if I put it in the most basic terms. I hadn’t got a fully formed character but I was messing around with that.”
He went on to say that he’d managed to convince Coleman to come back for Christmas 2014, and that the readthrough script had her dying in bed. But after that readthrough, Steven followed Jenna into a side-room, and he recalls:
“She thought she was ready to go and I think in my heart I knew she wasn’t ready to go and she said, ‘I’m not sure I’m actually ready to go’. And I said,’ well, if you’re not ready to go from a job like this and a show like this, you shouldn’t go. It’s too damaging, it’s too emotional, it’s too big to leave before you’re ready – you mustn’t do that’.”
This meant that Clara continued on as companion throughout Series 9, before leaving in Face the Raven (2015) and Hell Bent, via a cameo in Heaven Sent. Pearl Mackie’s Bill Potts joined the TARDIS in The Pilot (2017) and departed in The Doctor Falls, before cropping up for a bit in Twice Upon A Time – alongside a certain Ms. Oswald.
And so there we go – the road not taken.
Do you think her dying peacefully with the Doctor by her side would’ve been more fitting? Would you have liked to see Shona in all time and space? Or are you fearful it’d mean Bill never existed?