Jenna Coleman’s Doctor Who Christmas Cameo Was Almost Totally Different

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Issues with scheduling almost resulted in a totally different Doctor Who cameo for Jenna Coleman, whose Clara Oswald briefly returned for the festive special, “Twice Upon a Time.”

Rubbing shoulders with Bill Potts (Pearl Mackie) and Nardole (Matt Lucas), Coleman’s involvement had been long rumored, though it’s been revealed that the star’s stacked schedule – you can thank ITV period drama Victoria for that one – almost led to a completely different role for her former companion.

As detailed in the pages of Doctor Who Magazine (h/t Radio Times), Coleman was originally earmarked to appear alongside Mackie and Lucas. However, the stars never quite aligned, as Rachel Talalay reveals:

It would have been such a loss if Jenna hadn’t been able to appear. God knows she’s busy. This wasn’t like, ‘I don’t want to do it.’ This was like ‘I’m the star of a huge show, and you’re asking me to find time to come do this.’

And so, as is often the case, the show’s creators turned to visual effects for an answer, resulting in a clever scene of the Testimony of Bill morphing into Clara. It was all in an effort to allow Jenna Coleman’s companion to bid farewell to the 12th Doctor, before Jodie Whittaker took charge.

Rachel Talalay continued:

Peter had to play to a tennis ball, and so did Jenna, on green screen later, in the [former] Top Gear office in the middle of London, with fire engines going by.

Elsewhere, Steven Moffat recalled the moment he was forced to overhaul the actual screenplay in order to accommodate the change in plans:

I rewrote, and rewrote, and rewrote for everything we could do with Jenna’s schedule. We couldn’t get Jenna to our set. We couldn’t have the three companions there together. But she does make a magical appearance on the battlefield, which we had to shoot separately a few days after the rest of the episode had wrapped.

With Jodie Whittaker now officially in the driving seat (or should that be TARDIS?) Doctor Who is set for a return later this year. Filming is already underway, and we’ll be bringing you all the latest developments as they break.

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