Doctor Who
Peter Capaldi as the Doctor and Jenna Coleman as Clara in "Doctor Who." (BBC America)

‘Doctor Who:’ Glory days for Clara, Doctor

“Doctor Who” returns this week. Are you ready for the glory days of Clara and the Doctor?                                           

That’s what Jenna Coleman, who plays the Doctor’s companion, Clara Oswald, called the adventures of Season 9, which debuts at 8 p.m. Sept. 19 on BBC America with “The Magician’s Apprentice,” the first of two parts.

In it, Clara joins forces with an unlikely ally: Missy, aka the Mistress, the newest incarnation of the Master (Michelle Gomez). They search for the Doctor (Peter Capaldi), who has disappeared. Over the two episodes (“The Witch’s Familiar” airs at 8 p.m. Sept. 26), the Doctor and Clara will face not only Missy, but the Daleks. Old friends will pop in to help them, too. And the Doctor will play guitar.

Glory days indeed.

Coleman’s description is even more poignant now that she has announced this is her final season after playing Clara for three years.

While Coleman is leaving the TARDIS, it’s doubtful Capaldi would want to leave the show any time soon. He’s having so much fun he sometimes comes in on his days off, as he did to watch Coleman and guest star Maisie Williams shoot a scene on a spaceship.

“Jenna had a spacesuit on, and she turned around in this spaceship was full of Vikings,” he said giddily at San Diego Comic Con. “With all the horns and stuff! And I just thought, ‘This is so great! This is not work.’ ”

So how will Season 9 show the glory days of Clara and the Doctor? During San Diego Comic Con, Coleman and Capaldi talked (separately) about how their characters will get along this season.

Doctor Who
Michelle Gomez, Peter Capaldi and Jenna Coleman in “Doctor Who.” (Simon Ridgway)

What’s different about the characters?

Peter Capaldi: Having regenerated you probably have to rediscover who it is you are. It’s not just a case of changing your face, you have to figure out what nature you have. I think that the Doctor has done a lot of that. But I don’t think it ever finishes because that’s the nice thing about “Doctor Who” is that he’s constantly developing as a character as he discovers more about himself.

But I certainly think that he thinks that even at 2,000 and a half years old that life is short. And the universe is fabulous. And when you have the toy box of the whole of time and space, you should explore it and have fun.

He and Clara are sort of a little gang of two, running around the universe, running towards danger—really going after adventure and having a great time. Of course being as its “Doctor Who,” a great time has to be paid for in the end.

Jenna Coleman: I think since she’s lost Danny, she’s kind of cut ties a little bit to Earth, her perspective has changed. And all she wants to do is travel and have fun and meet some aliens and enjoy everything time and space has to offer. So it’s kind of a freedom and an adrenaline-seeking high that she’s always running towards, which obviously creates some danger along the way.

Doctor Who
Clara (Jenna Coleman) and the Doctor (Peter Capaldi) in “Doctor Who.” (Simon Ridgway)

How is their relationship?

Capaldi: I think [their relationship] remains complicated. I think initially Clara probably felt, “This is my best friend and now he’s become the guy with this face [gestures to his own] who has poor social skills and is rather impatient and just wants to get on with traveling around the universe. Do I want to be around him anymore? Is it worth it?” And I think she’s decided that it is worth being around him.

I think the Doctor is deeply, deeply bonded with Clara. … He knows things about Clara’s future that even she doesn’t know. That’s informed his decision to try and stay with her. They have a lot of fun with her trying to improve his social skills and try to make him more palatable to those human beings he’s impatient with.

They have a great relationship. It’s a very unusual relationship for television. It’s romantic in an old sense in that two people are really crazy about each other and would really miss not seeing each other but they’re not romantically involved.

Coleman: He’s totally with her. They’re both pretty reckless; they’re both having the time of their lives living in the TARDIS—nothing to lose, seemingly. So yeah, it’s definitely got that reckless abandon about it.

[Their relationship is] solid, yeah. … They obviously disagree. I’d say they’re kind of much more on an even keel. There’s much more give and take. She can tell him off and vice versa and they’ll kind of forget it and carry on. It’s a really lovely relationship. They’ve definitely found their groove together.

Losing Danny has made Clara reckless. Why is the Doctor?

Capaldi: The universe is very dark and inevitably that is where he will end up. Inevitably he will have to fight, he will have to face terrible things. So rather than walking around going, “Oh God, I’ll have to face something terrible,” I think he’s decided, “I’m going to [enjoy this.]”

I think he’s a very joyful character. I think he can find the joy just in sitting in a car pack watching the sun coming up, feeling the wind. These are amazing and sort of beautiful things to him. He’s impatient with people who don’t get that.

Doctor Who
Clara (Jenna Coleman) and the Daleks.

When you do leave the show, how would you like to see Clara go?

Coleman: I have no idea. I really don’t. The problem is she loves the doctor so, so much, I have no idea what it would take to make her leave. [Laughs.] When you’ve seen all of time and space and been given all those opportunities, how do you go back to your own life? How do you go back to just teaching? It kind of opens up your eyes to the universe. So really I don’t have any idea.

Doctor Who Season 9: 2-part episodes