For Doctor Who fans, the Christmas Special is as much a tradition of the holiday as eggnog and uncomfortable conversations with distant relatives. The specials, while often jumping away from the story arcs of either the season before or after, often contain big changes for the show: last year, we saw the regeneration of the Eleventh Doctor into the current Twelfth, played by Peter Capaldi. It’s usually a bittersweet moment for fans, and this year is likely to be no exception: it’s no secret that Jenna Coleman’s departure from the show as Clara Oswald, long rumored to occur this season, is likely to happen in this year’s special. But whether you loved or hated Clara, her separation from the Doctor brings up an opportunity to shake things up for the show, and may be a chance to satisfy some of the fans who were hoping to see a big change when the Twelfth Doctor was revealed.
Since the show reappeared in 2005, we’ve seen the Doctor as a man traveling with a young, beautiful woman almost constantly. While this series has strayed at least from the romantic tensions of previous story arcs, many fans are still waiting to see something truly different for the Doctor-Companion combo. Since, as we know, the Doctor can’t travel alone, and Danny Pink is no longer much of an option, here are some of my favorite rumors and ideas floating around that strange sphere called the internet for who might take Clara’s place:
The first companion to appear on the show was the First Doctor’s granddaughter. Now that we have an older Doctor with us once again, it might be fun to see a grumpy-grandfather sort of dynamic come back. Imagine: Peter Capaldi as that one old uncle who tells the best stories but also kind of scares you. He’s definitely got the energy to match wits with a cheeky kid, and the juxtaposition of some of this Doctor’s darker themes with the innocence of a child might make for interesting chemistry. For an added twist, a wry child genius would be amazing — the Twelfth doctor challenged both by intellectual genius and by the pure elasticity and imagination of childhood.
We haven’t had a proper male companion in some time (Rory as Amy’s lapdog doesn’t really count) and this might be the perfect time for it. After all of the flirtation of Clara and Eleven, it would be great to see The Doctor take on adventures with a brotherly kind of chum, maybe someone sweet, enthusiastic and not great with girls (purely so we can watch Twelve give him truly terrible advice). A late-twenties to early-thirties guy with a small-time job, bored with his position in the world, picked up by the Doctor to explore the universe might bring opportunities for both some fantastic humor and touching moments. We could use a few more young male television characters whose primary traits are kindness, compassion and earnestness, rather than sexual prowess or action skills.
An Older Woman
While I’d love to see the show stray from the young, beautiful women that have been featured lately, there’s no reason we can’t change the dynamic with another female companion. Someone in their mid-fifties to sixties, with the sass of Donna or River but the same great energy as Twelve and a touch more gentility and whimsical kindness, could be incredibly fun. I love to imagine an older woman who takes to the madness of the Doctor’s world with gusto and a bit of roguish wit, perhaps someone with more experience in the world: a woman who has traveled and seen all walks of life in this universe, ready to explore others.
Doctor Who episode “Last Christmas” airs December 25th at 9pm on BBC/BBC America