Why Shona McCullough Should Return
Guest contributor Luke Gwalchmai explains why Faye Marsay’s character deserves a comeback.
In Last Christmas, we were introduced to the lively Shona McCullough. On the whole, her appearance in the special seemed to be received rather positively, with quite a few people calling for her return. In a recent interview, Faye Marsay said that while she would love to come back, there has been no talk of an impending return. In this article I would like to express to you all why I feel she should return and battle monsters with Peter Capaldi’s Doctor again.
She’s An Interesting Character
Shona was definitely someone to make her feelings known and her presence felt. She wasn’t afraid to speak her mind and call the Doctor (and Santa) out when she isn’t on board with something. She is a very different character from Clara too, though they do share some similarities. So she would be a nice addition to the current pairing in that she’d add something different to the current dynamic, and mix it up a bit so it doesn’t become stale and repetitive.
Shona is also a very analytical person, as shown by her grilling of Santa and his elves in order to determine if they are real or not. She asked a number of questions throughout, trying to make sense of everything that is going on around her. While she did end up getting a bit distracted in the banter with Santa and his elves, she still had the right idea to find out if they’re real. She is a very smart character too, I like how she never really believed that Santa was real, and while she could argue with the Doctor and Santa etc… as soon as the situation got serious she was smart enough to listen to someone who was obviously more intelligent in these kind of situations, but not without offering her own input too. Shona is a very brave character; there can’t be many people who’d walk into a room full of creepy alien creature that attach themselves to your face and digest your brain!
I enjoyed Shona’s presence in Last Christmas because she provided quite a lot of the comic relief in the quite dark episode. Her dry wit and top notch banter suited Capaldi’s Doctor perfectly and they are a great match in that respect, as they bounced off each other quite well.
She is also a very real character that a lot of people can relate to. I must admit, I did feel sorry for Shona by the time the episode was over. This is because it seemed as though her “gobby” act was, on the whole, exactly that – a bit of an act. While she does seem like the kind of person who would be confident in everyday life, and still be quite outgoing, seeing her in her own time gave off the impression that she is quite a lonely person. If this is the case, then it would seem as though she was being so gobby and talking so much during the dream state because she doesn’t have many people to talk to outside of it, and was making the most of having someone to talk to while she could.
She was also desperate to stay in touch with the Doctor, Clara and the other ‘scientists’ she was working with. The fact that she works in a shop, yet dreamed that she was a scientist could also suggest that she’s not too happy with her current position. She seems to be a casualty to the mundane life in the real world and is in need of some excitement in her life. There appear to be quite a lot of layers to Shona’s character, and I feel that we only scratched the surface in Last Christmas.
A More Human Companion
Given how Peter Capaldi’s Doctor is quite abrasive and, for want of a better word, uncaring around pretty much everyone except Clara means that the audience needs someone there to provide some human emotion to proceedings, and give us a character that we can relate to and see this crazy universe through. For the majority of Series 8, Clara did a pretty good job of that to be fair to her. But her character does appear to be developing and changing into something more akin to the Doctor than a companion.
Now I’m not saying that Clara isn’t a good audience surrogate, because it would appear as though she still is to a lot of people. But her experiences over the last series have the potential to harden her as a character, and if that is the case, then I feel we would need someone like Shona in there to counteract the similarities between the Doctor and Clara.
Shona’s also a very different character to Clara. Bringing in someone new would bring in that fresh enthusiasm for the wonders of the universe that you only get with a new companion. Clara has been travelling with the Doctor for quite a while now, so it would be nice to get a new take on the universe, and see the excitement through someone else’s eyes again. It’s like the Doctor once said “You make all of space and time your backyard what do you have? A backyard.” Once you are used to the surreal experiences of travelling with the Doctor like Clara is, sometimes you need someone new to remind you how amazing and completely bonkers it actually is!
Shona does share some similar traits with Rose and Donna, in that she doesn’t appear to be overly thrilled with her current life and would relish the opportunity to do something to give her life some excitement and give her the chance to be something more. She has already shown that she is a brave character, and I think she wouldn’t lose that quality if she travelled with the Doctor.
Also, it would be nice to have another human companion travelling with the Doctor and Clara because it would give Clara another human to connect with and be able to talk to about how things are affecting her in a way that she can’t really do with a Doctor who hasn’t got a lot of time for that side of things. She would give Clara a friend who would understand what she is going through, and would be able to sympathise with her and form a real bond with. We got hints of this in Deep Breath I feel, where Clara seems to look to Jenny to help her come to terms with what’s going on, given that she’s the only other human with them. Plus Jenny, like Clara, spends a lot of her time with aliens for company, so it must be nice to have another human to talk to who is going through something similar! Someone who understands her a little bit more, and give her someone she can talk to in ways that she can’t do with another human without sounding a bit mental.
So I would like to see Shona return as I feel it would be beneficial to Clara’s character, and she has a lot to offer on the human emotion side of things. Also, I’ve always preferred to have more than one companion at a time personally, as I feel the dynamic between a trio of character offers something much different and gives the audience another character to relate to. I prefer watching how three of them form a bond as a three, and in separate pairs. I definitely prefer a TARDIS trio if I’m being honest with you.
Faye Marsay is a Great Actress
One of the main reasons why I feel that Shona should come back is capabilities of the actress who played her. Faye Marsay is an extremely talented actress, who is more than capable of holding her own alongside Peter Capaldi and Jenna Coleman for a series.
In Last Christmas, she showed us a really likeable character in Shona, but made her a layered character with great depth in a short time. She did very well in the more emotional points in the episode, giving an at times understated performance in moments like when she’s asking for everyone’s number, or asking Santa if she can stay longer, as you can tell she is hurting inside, desperate to stay in touch with everyone, but doesn’t go overboard with the emotion.
She had very nice chemistry with both Capaldi and Coleman, and did extremely well. Plus, she’s very good at humour, and has great comedic timing which she displayed numerous times throughout the Christmas special.
Outside of her role in Doctor Who her TV credits include The White Queen, Fresh Meat and Glue. If you haven’t seen any of her other work, I would personally recommend that you do, because she is a very, very good actress who is very capable and versatile.
Her Hilarious Dance Moves!
With moves that could rival Matt Smith, we were definitely introduced to Shona in a brilliantly comedic way. Not only was the music a very clever way of keeping her mind occupied, the fact that she chose to dance, even though she didn’t have to was brilliantly hilarious and made her a likeable and endearing character. In what was in reality an extremely tense moment, and a terrifying thing for Shona to do (enter the room full of dream crabs), turned into a lovely funny moment for those watching. Imagine how much funnier it looks without the music (well, you can see in the image)!
This scene also showed that Shona isn’t one to shy away from the spotlight; given that the others were watching her, and she didn’t actually need to dance, which just brought more attention to herself! It shows that she’s confident and doesn’t mind being the centre of attention, and this was a brilliant way to introduce her.
To sum up, I really like Shona. I think Faye did a brilliant job of developing her across the special and Shona is a very well rounded character who anyone can get behind and root for. She a very funny woman, and would provide some great comic, light-hearted relief that Doctor Who should always have; she’d provide some quality banter! I think there is much that could be done with a character like Shona, and while she does share similarities to other companions, she is still very much her own character who is more than capable of offering something completely different to anyone else.
I think Faye Marsay would be terrific given the opportunity, and is definitely talented enough to hold her own next to Capaldi and Coleman, and stand out on her own. I found Shona to be interesting, compelling and a very real character who has all the making of a great companion. She could become a real hero in the Doctor Who universe. I think she’d be a great fit alongside Peter’s Doctor and Clara and I hope to see her again in the future. Thank you for reading.