Solving The Paternoster Problem
Guest contributor Alex King suggests what to do next with the trio.
Although they seem to have a bit of a love them/hate them quality, the Paternoster Gang are generally highly regarded recurring characters from the Moffat era. Making 5 appearances since 2011 in the actual show, the Paternoster Gang have proved that they are worthy of coming back and having more adventures. However, with some sources claiming they will not be in Series 9, “Deep Breath” could have been the last time we will ever see them. Some may be happy to hear that but I personally love them and feel that it would be a great shame if we never saw these characters again. In this article, I am going to suggest some possible ways how the adventures of Madame Vastra, Jenny Flint and Strax the Sontaran could continue outside the main show.
A CBBC Spin-Off
The most common suggestion is a spin off on the CBBC channel. I feel that this is also the most likely, due to the fact that Madame Vastra, Jenny, and particularly Strax have proved to be immensely popular with young children. Since Elisabeth Sladen’s tragic passing in 2011, there has not been a designated “children’s” version/spin-off of Doctor Who, and that’s a great shame. With the Capaldi era being far darker already than Smith’s ever was, I feel that children, particularly younger children, need a way to enjoy the Doctor Who universe that is suitable for their age group (I’d rather hear a child running around a playground screaming “Sontar-Ha” than “Don’t cremate me”). I’m all for the Doctor Who team taking as many risks as possible, (In fact I actually try and encourage it), but I think in order for them to do this, they need a backup series so they don’t lose their younger audience. I feel that the Paternoster Gang would work extremely well in a children’s drama series of 12×30 minute episodes.
However, for a CBBC series to actually work there will have to be some slight changes. First off, I would feel the sexual aspects to the characters will have to be toned down. While I wish for all people young and old to be accepting of other sexualities, I feel that the BBC could teach it to children in a much better and more effective way than using a lizard. I wouldn’t want them to get rid of the Vastra/Jenny relationship completely, as it would be out of character, but I feel that a Paternoster Gang show would work best for children if it mainly focussed on adventure.
Secondly, as the Paternoster gang are detectives, crimes would have to be minor (no violent and gruesome murders) and you couldn’t really have Vastra eating the criminal at the end of each episode. I think ‘The Crimson Horror’ is a perfect tone for a spin-off and I think that if that story was used as a guide for the show, it would go down extremely well with the younger audience.
Another suggestion is a Paternoster Gang Movie/TV special. This idea has more recently been backed by the fabulous Neve McIntosh (who plays Vastra), and given potential plans to make a Doctor Who movie, I must say I’d much prefer a Paternoster film than an actual Doctor Who one. A movie/TV special could be used as a pilot/test for a potential spin-off, and as a movie would most likely not air primarily on the CBBC channel, it can probably be made slightly more edgy than a CBBC spin-off could ever be (Which I would personally prefer). I would say that a TV special would be more likely than an actual feature film, as I don’t think a Paternoster Gang film would generate the same amount of income as an actual Doctor Who film. However, I would say that a 60-90 minute TV special around Easter or New Year would be a both plausible and enjoyable way to go with the characters.
A Big Finish audio series for the Paternoster Gang is another possible scenario. Considering Big Finish are now making adventures with other characters who originated in New Who (Kate Stewart and Torchwood), it could be only a matter of time before Paternoster Gang audios are announced. I see no reason why a Big Finish audio series couldn’t work, either in a series like the Fourth Doctor audio adventures, or in a box set, (possibly containing three audios, one focussing on each character). However, since I feel a lot of the Paternoster Gang’s humour is visual, they would have to substitute this. I think the Paternoster Gang would work well on audio, I could personally listen to Never McInstosh and Catrin Stewart all day, and you never know, they could always run into Jago and Litefoot.
I personally feel that the Paternoster Gang are worthy characters to return, whatever form it may take. I believe that we haven’t seen the last of Vastra, Jenny and Strax and would be over the moon if they were to get their own film, television, or audio series. But what do you think? Are these suitable formats for Paternoster Gang adventures, or would you prefer a comic or novel series? Or do you just wish these characters were avoided like the plague? Let me know in the comment section below.
Thank you for reading.