Best of 2015 Awards: The Winners (Part 3)

Connor Johnston presents the third set of results from Doctor Who TV’s “Best of 2015” Polls.

Best Male Guest Actor of 2015 – Jami Reid Quarrell (Colony Sarff / The Veil)

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Given how prosperous and fruitful the list of recurring and returning personalities were throughout the series, it’s no secret that as a result the line-up of short-lived guest actors were naturally less influential than most years. This is incredibly apparent upon looking at the list of male selections for Series 9, with very few being offered the chance to cement their characters in the memories and affections of audiences. Regardless of the series’ dependency on recurring actors however, there still remains a handful of confident performances in this category that most definitely deserve the credit they receive today. Among the highlights are both Arsher Ali and Zaqi Ismail who portrayed the characters of Bennett and Lunn respectively in “Under the Lake / Before the Flood” and who each seized a strongly developed role and made the most of their opportunities in bringing their characters to life. Similarly, Reece Shearsmith’s portrayal of Rasmussen impressively transcended the quality of his episode, as well as the list of comedic personalities in “The Husbands of River Song” confidently contributing to the fun-loving atmosphere of the episode. Despite some strong competition, today’s award has been won by Jami Reid-Quarrell with 23.21% of the vote, who portrayed the roles of both ‘Colony Sarff’ and ‘The Veil’.

I think it’s often understated how much work and commitment goes into perfecting the physicality of a particular monster or alien. Regardless of how daunting the challenges that sat before him were, Quarrell powered through to present 2 of the most eerie and sincere villains of the series, with a level of diligence and attention to detail that is seldom seen among most actors. On more of a symbolic level, this award is also a testament to the actor’s creative abilities in contributing at realisation stage in bringing both Colony Sarff and the Veil to life.

Best Female Guest Actor of 2015 – Sophie Stone (Cass)

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Unlike the list of male guest stars, the selection of female guest stars for the series is far stronger in terms of narrative prominence and impressions made on the audience. “The Zygon Invasion’s Colonel Walsh played by Rebecca Front was a promising and confident character, however could have easily benefited from an extension to her role in the story. Personally I also favoured the casting of Elaine Tan as Nagata in “Sleep No More” who definitely carried the majority of my dwindling praise for the episode, as well as T’Nia Miller’s incarnation of the General whose presence and potential was unmistakable in the few minutes of screen time she was given which I hope is stretched extensively in the future. It will come as little surprise to most however that today’s winner is the exceptional portrayal of Cass by Sophie Stone in “Under the Lake” and “Before the Flood” with 71.66% of the vote

It was incredibly moving to see the show not only make tremendous use of a deaf character, but also a deaf actress and have her main merit in the episode be her natural leadership skills and intelligence. Cass and the treatment of her character reminds us that Doctor Who intertwines an enormous amount of social commentary to its episodes by portraying a society that is accepting, undiscriminating and celebratory of each individual’s value to the universe – a society we can only wish inspires our own. As the episode continued I remained impressed with the level of justice that the show paid towards Cass’ character. Her actions in “Before the Flood” specifically proved that her disability was not a vulnerability, rather a strength that quite literally saved the day on more than one occasion. The justice that Toby Whithouse’s scripts awarded the character would only have been recognisably thanks to the efforts and talents of Sophie Stone who simply excelled at every situation – be it danger, defence or even a romantic relationship. Cass ticked so many boxes for so many people, and her victory today is totally reflective of the impact she’s had on the fanbase. Truly inspirational stuff.

Best Recurring Actor of 2015 – Maisie Williams (Ashildr/Me)

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One of the greatest aspects of the ninth series was the striking balance it achieved in delivering a level of fresh and innovative storytelling while maintaining a level of familiarity with a stunning line up of recurring and returning characters. Among the villains we saw both Davros and Missy return with a remarkable opening storyline that not only added to but did justice to their existing legacies. The series also saw an abundance of friends re-join the Doctor and Clara in their travels including UNIT’s Kate Stewart and Osgood, Series 8’s Rigsy and of course the enchanting Alex Kingston as River Song. Now we cannot stress how nail-biting the results for this category became given that the victory was only claimed by the smallest margin of 1 vote. 1 VOTE PEOPLE! Beating Michelle Gomez who just fell to second place by… did we mention… 1 VOTE… today’s award has been sent the way of arguably the 3rd lead of the series; the incalculable Maisie Williams for her profound and layered performance as the immortal ‘Ashildr’ with 23.67% of the vote.

Introduced as a voice of naivety and innocence in “The Girl Who Died”, it was a cocktail of the Doctor’s grief and hubris that kick-started the journey for a character that I personally felt was one of the most well-realised in the history of the show. In “The Woman Who Lived” we saw how Ashildr’s immortality had created somewhat of a mirrored dynamic between the Doctor and herself. Both characters are burdened with incredibly long lifespans, both have loved, both have saved as well as taken lives, both have suffered incredible loss and incredible loneliness – and most significantly both have felt trapped in a life that left them craving more – the only difference being the Doctor had the ability to escape while Ashildr was forced to consume every wavering second. It’s the originality of Ashildr’s character journey that I think impressed me the most throughout the series. We’re not watching a character develop as we normally would with Ashildr, given that every time we meet her we are bypassing a good 300-500 years of her life. We aren’t given the reasoning to how her role or attitudes has developed – we’re simply shown the character she’s become and allowed to fill in the blanks ourselves. At each step, Maisie Williams captured the impossibility of her characters situation with ease, and cemented herself as one of the most memorable characters of Capaldi’s tenure.

Best Lead Actor of 2015 – Peter Capaldi

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It’s no secret that at the heart of Series 9’s success was the charismatic dynamic between its 2 lead actors – Peter Capaldi and Jenna Coleman. The relationship between the Doctor and Clara, in addition to being quite crucial to the series’ narrative, really defined the tone of the run. As their attachment grew stronger and stronger so to did the feelings of impending doom for what the future would hold for the pair. 2015 also saw a range of unorthodox challenges test the abilities of both actors. For Jenna Coleman, this entailed portraying the villainous Zygon doppelgänger Bonnie in “The Zygon Inversion” and “The Zygon Invasion,” as well as having to tackling Clara’s emotionally straining death on Trap Street in “Face the Raven”. Regardless how impressive Jenna’s work on her final series was however – quite predictably taking out today’s award has proven too steep a challenge with Peter Capaldi taking out the top spot with a whopping 83.85% of the vote.

There can be no overstating how phenomenal Peter Capaldi’s performance (and by extension the characterisation of the Twelfth Doctor) was across the entire year. Both “Heaven Sent” and “The Zygon Inversion” stand out as era defining moments with Peter’s abilities and confidence in the role sky-rocketing the sincerity and power of the scripts. Similarly “The Witch’s Familiar”, “The Girl Who Died” and “Hell Bent” showcased his moving portrayal of grief and understanding of what qualities the Doctor holds at his core. Peter Capaldi simply is the Doctor – and one can only pray that our exposure to his talent and personality doesn’t find it’s end for many years to come.

Saddest Episode of 2015 – Face the Raven

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If I’m to be completely honest, while Series 9 delivered an array of heartfelt and touching moments – there can be no other real contender for the saddest episode of the year than “Face the Raven”, who claims victory with 50.43% of the vote. Of course the main reasoning for this result is the heartbreaking death of Clara Oswald, brought upon herself in taking the chronolock from Rigsy. There is compassion and heroism in her actions to assure that Rigsy survives for his wife and for his daughter, there’s the Doctor-like intelligence in the fabric of her plan (which granted what she knew, is quite clever) – but there’s also an impulsion and recklessness. She’s heroic, but she’s also too self-assured, too confident in the face of tremendous danger, which is inevitably her downfall.

Perhaps this was why the circumstances of Clara’s death made it so profound and moving – that something as mundane as an error of judgement fuelled by compassion, heroism and most importantly by an illusion of indestructibility, was her undoing. It would be almost ironic if it wasn’t such an appropriate and fitting conclusion to her character’s development. It’s not specifically triumphant or bombastic – but simply remains character-driven and dependent on such a strong level of sincerity in both its manner of storytelling and actor’s performances. In an era like Clara’s where character development, emotional investment and the Doctor/ Companion dynamic form such a crucial and rewarding list of characteristics… there really couldn’t have been a more satisfying and moving death. Jenna Coleman has not once faltered in her portrayal after almost 4 years – but in “Face the Raven” she exceeds her impossible benchmark with a performance that is especially breathtaking. The true selflessness of Clara’s character is that even in her final moments Clara’s mind is on the Doctor and not on herself. She literally uses her last breaths to order him to not take revenge on anyone, and to not let whatever journey ahead change him. It’s one final, bittersweet and touching moment watching the control freak in action…. And it’s absolutely heart-breaking. Clara Oswald’s finest moment, is one of her last.

Funniest Episode of 2015 – The Husbands of River Song

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One has to wonder how something as diverse as Doctor Who finds the time and devotion to channel so many genres of television simultaneously and never feel inconsistent or staggered. As well as the scares, the tears and the enthusiasm the series spawned, 2015 also saw a great amount of laughter and comedy compliment the darkness of the series impeccably. One of the many things I’ve always admired about the show is its ability to intertwine humour in its storylines and not have it cheapen or hinder the drama of the greater narrative – there really is no such thing as an ‘empty romp’ in Doctor Who. Between the Doctor making his hysterically fan pleasing entrance by rocking an electric guitar aboard a tank and Missy’s quick-witted banter in the opening story, to the Doctor’s good intentioned efforts to training a village of inadequate Vikings and of course the banteriffic dialogue from Sam Swift – there really wasn’t a lack of chuckle-worthy material from this year’s run of episodes. However, once again unsurprisingly the award goes to the 2015 Christmas Special, “The Husbands of River Song” with 61.79% of the vote.

The humour of “Husbands” excels on various levels. For one there’s the clever, quick-witted banter of which the show has become an expert of in recent years that appeals to the fast thinkers of the audiences through the snappy remarks, as well as the more flirtatious and riskier innuendoes that were sure to see snickers from the more playful and mature fans. The greatest favour that “Husbands” had in grasping proper British comedy was undoubtedly the immaculate comic timing of its guest stars, namely in the way of Matt Lucas and Greg Davies, as well as both Alex Kingston and Peter Capaldi who remain delightfully entertaining as usual. Highlights include: Almost every word to escape from Alex Kingston’s mouth, the Doctor’s ‘introduction’ to the TARDIS and Nardole’s hilarious portrayal.

Join us again tomorrow for the next set of results.