Doctor Who: BBC Video Looks Back on Clara Oswald's "Greatest Hits"
It's time for another Doctor Who Compilation Video from the BBC on the show's official YouTube channel. This week it's the Best of Clara Oswald as played by Jenna Coleman. Clara was an odd companion. She often felt more like a concept than a person that showrunner Steven Moffat was writing. She was the Impossible Girl who started out as a mysterious figure who kept popping up throughout the Doctor's timeline. She became a puzzle for the Doctor (Matt Smith) to solve and the audience to work through.
She felt like she was written from the outside, a collection of ticks and quirks that came and went depending on what the story and arc demanded. Clara lasted two-and-a-half series on Doctor Who, replacing Amy Pond (Karen Gillen) in the latter half of the 11th Doctor's run.
The problem with Clara was the way she was totally in service to The Doctor. Moffat had a tendency to write female supporting characters who mooned over the nerdy hero. In Doctor Who, companions usually served as the audience surrogates. They are us as we love the Doctor. Moffat tended to write companions as fantasy girlfriends and the Doctor as the nerdy fan's power fantasy. Clara came to embody that somewhat sexist aspect of Moffat's Doctor Who. The women were often in service to the men. Moffat tried to make Clara a character after the Impossible Girl arc ended by giving her a life as a schoolteacher and her doomed relationship with Danny Pink (Samuel Anderson) but it never really felt real, like a series of TV drama tropes tacked on to Doctor Who.
Then in her final season – and the 12th Doctor's (Peter Capaldi) second, she changed again. The show became an allegory about an older man and a younger woman in a co-dependent relationship that threatens to destroy both of them. It's an oddity. Doctor Who is a kid's show but that season tacked on an arc that's a common plotline about a man's midlife crisis. Clara became entitled, narcissistic, and arrogant as she acted like the Doctor's stand-in as she took on the baddies as she did. She ended up paying the ultimate price, dying by making a huge mistake as a result of her addiction to the thrills of traveling with the Doctor.
None of this was Coleman's fault. To watch this compilation video without all the ups and downs of the writing through those entire episodes and seasons is to realise how good an actor she is. She might have one of the most expressive eyes of any companion on Doctor Who. Her large eyes make her look like a real-life version of an anime heroine, only a British one, and the show let her display the range that's put her in good stead in the roles she's played ever since.
We're probably going to get a video compilation of Bill Potts (Pearl Mackie) at some point but they might be running out of modern companions to highlight. You can catch all of Clara Oswald's run on Doctor Who on HBO Max in the US and BBC iPlayer in the