Huge secrets about Clara and The Doctor will be revealed in the final episode of Doctor Who (Saturday 7pm). In an exclusive chat with What's On TV, Jenna-Louise Coleman, who plays the Time Lord's latest companion, explains what to be prepared for and about her experiences in the show so far...
The last adventure of the current series is called The Name Of The Doctor and is going to reveal huge secrets... Fans of Doctor Who are going to go crazy, aren't they?
"Yes, it's a huge episode in its own right, but as well as that, it leads nicely into the amazing 50th anniversary episode next November, which guides us nicely into that story. In terms of Doctor Who history, this couldn't be much bigger. What happens to both Clara and the Doctor really bonds them together, and changes the direction of the show forever. It's transformational and revelatory..."
Are you glad this episode is finally going to reveal who Clara actually is? After all, she's died on the Doctor twice before in previous adventures?
"I suppose what's really nice is that all through latest series, because of the mystery about Clara, there's been this suspicion between her and the Doctor. What's been interesting, filming the 50th episode, which obviously is the first episode since the reveal about Clara, is that all of that has been lifted away. Now the Doctor and Clara have bonded closer together by what's happened in The Name Of The Doctor. It feels a lot freer and easier as it's all about those two and spending time together. It's a nice change and it's going to be interesting to see where it goes with Clara and The Doctor from here. I'm interested in people's reactions actually."
Can you tell us anything about where this episode is set and what happens?
"The TARDIS takes Clara and The Doctor to Trenzalore, which is a place that contains a big secret of the Doctor's, and somewhere he should never go to. Something momentous happens to him, making it a very dark and emotional episode. The adventure is all about all of his friends, too - all who care about him such as River Song, Madame Vastra, Jenny and Strax. (lol, all 4 of them) His friends all rally round together and help the Doctor in one of his darkest hours."
Alex Kingston is back as the Doctor's wife River Song? How do she and Clara get along?
"I never want to give too much away, because if you know how they get along it gives you an inkling of where the story is going to go, but it's an interesting relationship. Clara is fascinated by and very curious about this woman who was married to The Doctor and who she knew nothing about at all. There's also a mutual respect, they're both women of the Doctor, in a way!"
Had you worked with Alex Kingston before?
"No I hadn't and she's amazing. She's really fun to have around on set, and brilliant. It's nice having another woman around. It's been the same with Billie Piper on the 50th anniversary episode. It's quite a male crew on Doctor Who as well so it's nice to have another girl about the place."
Richard E Grant is back in this episode, as Dr Simeon...
"Yes he is. The Great Intelligence arrived at Christmas and in The Bells Of Saint John episode so this story has been running through the series. All will be tied together in this adventure. It does come full circle."
Can you explain about The Whisper Men who are controlled by Dr Simeon?
"The Whisper Men are my favourite monsters so far. They're really terrifying, even though with their top hats and weird white faces they're quite stylish in a way. In reality it's actors with white tights over their heads!" (lol yes, we can see that)
Do you feel the next series of Doctor Who is going to be very different to this one?
"Yeah, I think so, there are really big story changes and the show will take a new direction. What's great about the final episode and the 50th anniversary episode is that it really does look back and celebrate so much of the last 50 years, but then things change, which is why the show has lasted so long. It's a show that can change and take all sorts of new directions."
How life has changed for you?
"I don't think I could have been prepared for the experience of being in the show. Not only the filming, but everything that goes with it. In terms of my own life aside from the show, that hasn't actually changed too much, it's just that I spend a lot of time filming in Cardiff and a lot more travelling, which is amazing. I love all that side of it. Matt described the experience as like a freight train, and that's especially true for me as I joined mid-season so everything was up and running."
What sort of reaction have you had from the public since joining Doctor Who?
"It's been really positive, in my little world. People on the Tube and in the street have been really nice. It's been great to go back to work having got last year under my belt and not be the newbie any more. I feel a bit more bedded in, I suppose."
Do you have a favourite episode or scene so far?
"For me it was last Christmas and the cloud scene. Just the idea that you can walk on clouds, among the stars, and up to TARDIS by a spiral staircase, that was quite a special image. I felt like the kid who reads a storybook then gets to be in it! That's how the Christmas episode felt to me. I never had a Doctor Who to watch when I was younger so it's so good for kids and their imagination. It takes you all kinds of places."
Some fans can be very fanatical about Doctor Who and its history. Is that strange to deal with?
"No, I don't seem to get bothered too much. People will ask me about Clara and the mystery and I have to politely say nothing. I haven't done any conventions yet, but I know they're huge. I'm doing Comic Con this summer. I've been hearing so much about it and a couple of friends are going to be there. Matt has said he can't wait for me to experience it because it's quite mind-blowing."
Meanwhile, BBC America released a few more promotional stills from The Name of the Doctor -- by far the most spoilery yet.
Interview source, photo source