10 Scene Stealing Clara Moments
Guest contributor Connor Johnston picks out ten of the best.
It is approaching 2 years since the stunning and talented Jenna (then ‘Louise’) Coleman graced our screens for the first time in Steven Moffat’s “Asylum of the Daleks”. Since then we’ve been privileged with twelve episodes jam-packed of Jenna goodness! Firstly, a little history on the birthday girl! Born in Blackpool, Lancashire in 1986, Jenna Coleman first discovered her passion for acting at a very young age and utilizing her talents in combination with her friends created the theatre company “In Yer Space” at the Arnold School in Blackpool.
At the age of 19, Jenna received her first big break in the television industry when she was cast as the troublesome, murdering teenager; Jasmine, in the British soap-opera “Emmerdale” – a role she kept for over 4 years and equating a massive 170 episodes. Her role as Jasmine Thomas opened up many more doors across the wide world of British television including a short but sweet role in “Waterloo Road” and other television appearances including the “Titanic” mini-series, “Room at the Top”, “Dancing on the Edge” and “Death Comes to Pemberly”, as well as a short yet substantial role in the major Hollywood blockbuster “Captain America: The First Avenger” in 2011.
All this of course cultivated to the undoubted pinnacle of Jenna’s career so far, being cast as the most recent companion in the show we all know and love, “Doctor Who”, as the ever mysterious Clara (at times ‘Oswin’) Oswald.
Clara Oswald has continued to capture the affection and attention of Whovian’s everywhere, as moment by shining moment she has secured a spot for herself in each of our hearts. Her courage, her attitude, her wit, her expression and in particularly the gravitas and investment Jenna puts into her portrayal of the role is what helps Clara manage to steal the show every time she walks on our screens. In honour of the beautiful Jenna Coleman’s birthday, I’ve decided to list my top 10 Jenna moments, in which she captures the essence of Clara and the attention of the audience with such class that never fails to impress! Let’s begin…
“I am Oswin Oswald. I fought the Daleks and I won!”
Our first glimpses at Jenna’s capabilities came in the form of a surprise role in the Series 7 opener “Asylum of the Daleks.” I’m sure many of you who, like me, were keeping up to date with as much news as possible (including knowing that Jenna had already been announced as the next companion) can sympathise with my own personal experience of screaming in disbelief and excitement at the sight of Jenna’s reflection through the oven window, a whole five episodes before she was due to debut.
It was Oswin’s bravery in this heartbreaking moment, when her whole reality came crashing down in a fiery ball of burnt soufflés, that really was the aspect of the scene that impressed me the most. Her complete selflessness in a horrific situation reminded us that at times, even the Doctor needs a hero, and on this day, Oswin was just that. Overcoming her pain and fear she transitioned inspirationally from a broken victim of the Daleks atrocious crimes to the strong, victorious Oswin that sacrificed herself so the Doctor may live. Her final message echoing out through time and space, destined to become the most quoted line in the Whoniverse since the infamous “Spoilers”, yet still having a powerful effect on both the Doctor and the Audience. “Run you clever boy…. and remember.”
The second time we met Oswin, now known as Clara, was in the 2012 Christmas Special “The Snowmen”. Overrun by curiosity, Clara was determined to not let the Doctor dismiss her so easily.
Being taken to Madame Vastra for the “One word test”, Clara was faced with a near impossible challenge of trying to stress her desperation for the Doctor’s help to the Paternoster Gang, by answering Vastra’s questions with only one word per response. For some reason I get the impression that Clara wasn’t the first to face the test to meet with the Doctor, (images of Chloe Webber answering “Lonely” and “Kookaburra” at the questions from Vastra spring to mind), but obviously she was the most successful. This scene showed how intelligent Clara is, and that she can work tremendously well under pressure. It’s an extremely entertaining scene and watching Vastra and Jenny’s excitement levels rise at the prospect of fishing the Doctor out of the dark thanks to Clara’s fast and smart thinking is a real joy! Not to mention the sass! “Words” put the Lizard right back in her place!
“Everyone’s scared when they’re little”
“The Rings of Akhaten” is the only episode in this list that is awarded 2 spots due to the enormous role it had in character development for Clara, rewarding her such depth as a person so early on in her first series. Throughout this scene, the themes of loss and faith are exhibited perfectly by the death of Clara’s mother, and the exploration of the impact that her mother has had in shaping the woman Clara is today.
This touching scene behind the TARDIS doors between Merry and Clara continues to be not only one of my favourite Clara scenes, but of Doctor Who ever, because it was the moment that I fell in love with Clara and the moment, again so early on in her original run, that I knew I had a new favourite companion. Summoning the wisdom of her mother Clara tells Merry the story of when she got lost as a child and her mother being there to calm her down. She not only inspires Merry, but gives her the strength and confidence she needs to perform for the God of Akhaten, and just proves why a goodbye scene at the end of this perfect episode between the two would of made it even… perfect-erer. It’s scenes like this that show how kind and caring Clara is with children, as they are present in a lot of her life, and it’s what makes me hope that one day we’ll get to see Clara with her own child – In either a cameo return maybe ten years after she eventually departs the show (if she doesn’t get Moffat’d that is) or in a Kardashian inspired Doctor Who Spinoff “Clara <3’s Porridge” set to premiere on BBC Three NEVER.
In all seriousness though, I’d like to think if Clara’s mother ever got to see this scene, and see the woman Clara became, and how much she impacted her daughter’s life – that she’d be overwhelmed with pride, and that thought never fails to warm my heart.
“The most important leaf in human history”
The second scene from “The Rings of Akhaten” that makes its way onto the list is of course Clara’s epic gesture of bravery at the climax of the episode. When Clara and the Doctor first saw that Merry was in trouble a very strong rule was put in place between the two: “We never walk away”. The race to save Merry was also quite an obvious link to the 11th Doctor’s first adventure with Amy Pond back in 2010’s “The Beast Below”, where he laid down the law quite quickly : “We never interfere in the affairs of other peoples or planets… unless there’s a crying child involved!” If nothing else it’s nice to see that the Doctor’s advice is consistent!
After getting Merry to safety, Clara sits back and watches as the Doctor does his best to destroy the Parasite Gas Planet Entity – and then she sees the young Merry’s need to do anything she can to aid the man she’s only just met. It’s a mixture of remembering the Doctor’s earlier advice and the awe she has for Merry’s actions that inspires Clara to not “walk away” and travel back to the Pyramid for one emotional, powerful, courageous and intelligent attempt at defeating the Parasite God to save the Doctor and the thousands of people in danger. The fact that she can be so selfless and put herself in danger just at the chance she might save someone is inspirational in itself, but its Clara’s touching tribute to her own mother’s life and death that earns this scene and this epic speech a spot on the list.
“We’re all ghosts to you…”
Once in every companions run, there comes a time when they each question the Doctor’s position and apathy to all the death around him. They all have to learn that they themselves are temporary in his life, and that everything ends – And the reason the Doctor has to remain in a sense distant to this fact was addressed perfectly by River Song in 2008’s Silence in the Library:
When you run with the Doctor, it feels like it’ll never end. But however hard you try you can’t run forever. Everybody knows that everybody dies and nobody knows it like the Doctor. But I do think that all the skies of all the worlds might just turn dark if he ever for one moment, accepts it.
The difference between Clara’s confrontation and any other companions, was that Clara was gutsy enough to force an answer out of the Doctor, not accepting his aloofness and following him down continuing to ask the tough questions. Clara’s “strength” has been, and will continue to be, mentioned a lot in this article – mainly because I believe it to be her second best quality. The reason this scene from ‘Hide’ is so special is because we see a vulnerable scared Clara, affected by the death of the Earth and feeling so insignificant in the grand scheme of the universe. We get another small glimpse of this part of Clara in “Cold War” when she pleads to Skaldak and asks him to remember his “that last battle and “his daughter” in a moment of desperation – and if that scene had possibly lasted for a smidge longer it would of earned a spot on this list as well. These two scenes highlight what I believe is Clara’s best quality – her humanity
“If we’re going to die here, you’re going to tell me what they are”
I think a lot of people may sympathize with me when I say that after Asylum of the Daleks, and again more strongly after The Snowmen, and then again in The Bells of Saint John I fell in love with Jenna-Louise Coleman and by extension, Clara Oswald – but It wasn’t until “Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS” that Clara she really proved to everyone that she was worthy of this privileged life with the Doctor.
In this episode Clara excelled in character development. She was witty and funny, honest, brave, finally familiar in her new life with the TARDIS and she was at times terrified. But that didn’t stop her from being a strong willed companion. We watched and sympathised with the innocent Clara as she travelled and discovered with awe, the beauty and massiveness of the TARDIS, surprised at every turn and probably secretly impressed with the magnificent machine. In this scene Clara showed the audience that she had guts, and wasn’t afraid to stand up to a higher power (in this case the Doctor) and demand to know the truth. A great man once said “It takes a great deal of bravery to stand up to your enemies, but a great deal more to stand up to your friends.” It’s this moment that we see a real depth in Clara’s character, the gutsy, strong and brave girl that can not only hold her own in a difficult situation, but also very easily regain composure over herself to do what needed to be done.
“One day you meet the Doctor….. “
A bit of a strange choice I’ll admit, but I think that Clara’s wit, charisma, intelligence and curiosity are never more perfectly captured than in this little “Mini episode/prequel” to “The Name of the Doctor”. Playing on the title of a 1991 American romantic comedy (Which did wonders for the Whouflle shippers **shudders**), “She Said, He Said” is a perfect example of a mini episode, capturing the best of both the Doctor and of course Clara in one short scene.
This short scene gives us the inside look into the way Clara’s mind works – how she is constantly in awe with this brand new life, the wonders of the universe given to her on a silver platter! Who wouldn’t fall in love! Not to mention the fact that Clara is determined not to let this wonderful life in the TARDIS replace the life she has on earth, a testament to her values as a person. This is because she realised PEOPLE DEPEND ON HER. She doesn’t want to abandon the people she cares for, be it at first the Maitlands and now her students – knowing that if she indulged in completely full time travelling it would be extremely hard to return to normal boring reality, and wouldn’t be fair on the people in her life. It’s Clara’s strength to not fall in love with this sensational life and this sensational man that is truly explored brilliantly in this scene that earns “She Said, He Said” onto the list.
One last little thing that this prequel achieves is to draw on some similarities between the Doctor and his companion, one of Moffat’s little treats for the switched on audience members – They are essentially both a mystery. We met the Doctor in 1963, and from the get go, a mystery surrounded him … “Doctor Who” exactly. In 2013, 50 years on, we met the original Clara Oswald, and from the get go, a mystery surrounded her… “How is she possible?” The reminder of Mystery being such a strong theme in both these character’s personal arcs is what raised anticipation and excitement for the finale – You get used to not knowing… but we learnt the truth. The day we went to Trenzalore.
“Run. Run you clever boy… And remember me”
Undoubtedly one of the biggest revelations of Who History, “The Name of the Doctor” was the episode that included the answers to the Impossible Girl arc, as we finally found out how different versions of Clara could exist over all of time and space.
Almost killed, almost tortured and almost kidnapped, Clara had already been through a lot the day they went to Trenzalore, but watching her best friend and her hero, get tortured as his life was torn apart moment by moment in front of her proved to be the tipping point. As all the pieces of the puzzle began to click together for both the audience and Clara, we all finally realised what needed to be done. Clara Oswald made the impossibly brave decision to splinter herself into echoes throughout the Doctor’s time stream, believing completely that she would not survive. Clara Oswin Oswald, the Impossible Girl, making the greatest sacrifice and running always to save the Doctor – the moment where she went above and beyond to earn the words we’d all memorised so very well…
Run you Clever Boy… and remember me!
“…Be a Doctor”
In “The Day of the Doctor”, Clara had an important role in essentially being the only companion of the special. This meant that all the normal roles she had as a companion had to be multiplied to cover all 3 Doctors. These were of course; to be his partner, his confidant, to help him and to stop him, and most importantly to be his friend.
In this scene, arguably the climax of the entire special- the Doctor’s stand ready to destroy Gallifrey, but its Clara’s humanity and heart that persuades them to find another way. It’s this scene here that shows no matter how many times Clara and her echo’s saved the Doctor from his enemies or his isolation – probably the most difficult job is to save the Doctor from himself, and from giving up even when the wrong solution seems like the only option available. Her words resonating with not only the Doctors but also the audience too immensely. The Warrior, the Hero and the Healer…. The three men in one. reminded of the promise they made all those long years ago…
Never cruel or Cowardly… never give up… never give in.
“His name is the Doctor…”
Clara as a character has never been more likable than in the two 2013 specials. Not only had Jenna completely found her feet, but she’d also gained a massive amount of confidence in the role. Now this is not to say in the slightest that Clara wasn’t exceptional in her original series run, but I’m not sure if it was experience or simply personal growth, but everything in these two episodes just felt so right. This was never more evident in her most recent appearance in “The Time of the Doctor.”
Throughout the whole episode the quality of Clara’s performance was consistently magnificent, as it became clear that she was losing her Doctor, and more importantly – Her friend, which posed the question, maybe some real life emotions became visible through her dialogue. Following the excruciating heartbreaking scene of Clara reuniting with the aged Doctor heightened emotionally by the terrific recycling of Murray Gold’s “Four Knocks”, Clara is left in the basement of the clock tower and like the Doctor, is struggling to find any hope for his survival, but unlike him will not accept his death as a definite solution. Summoning up all the courage and hope she can master, Clara begs and almost demands that the Time Lords help this great man change the future. Besides from being a defining scene for Clara, this also finished the entire “Doctor Who?” arc… and who else but Steven Moffat could end a 3-4 year arc by essentially having one of his newest characters say “It really doesn’t matter what the answer is” and have it be so very rewarding! Even now Clara is still always running to save the Doctor.
This list could easily go on forever, but a few scenes that really shouldn’t be ignored are…
- “Remember that last battle, Skaldak? Your daughter” Where Clara tries to convince Skaldak to show mercy and not launch the nuclear missiles by reminding him of the importance of the individual and of each soul’s worth.
- “I’ve got computing stuff in my head” The fun first glimpse of the great banter between Clara and the Doctor that followed throughout Series 7.
- “Well I’ve got a chair!” Because chairs ARE useful!
- “Your orders come from me!” When stuck with inferior equipment, be it a punishment platoon or a Doctor tied to a chair, Clara still excels throughout the whole episode leading the attack against the Cybermen in a position of authority.
And so we reach the end of this tribute to the impossibly beautiful Jenna Coleman. 12 Episodes down (including 3 specials) and Clara has continued over and over again to excel in both character development and in the audience’s opinion. And so I hope you’ll all join me in wishing Jenna a massive HAPPY BIRTHDAY for today! May she continue to dazzle and inspire us for many seasons to come! Attached below is a tribute video to Jenna’s time on the show so far, in honour of our Impossible Girl!
Many Happy Returns Jenna!