Russell T Davies and Jenna Coleman
Russell T Davies and Jenna Coleman

It’s a double whammy today as we celebrate the birthday of not one, but two of the most influential people in recent Doctor Who history – the lovely Jenna Coleman and the legendary Russell T Davies!

Matt Smith (Eleventh Doctor) and Jenna Coleman (Clara Oswald)
Matt Smith (Eleventh Doctor) and Jenna Coleman (Clara Oswald)

Previously known for playing Jasmine Thomas in ITV soap opera Emmerdale, Jenna Coleman – who turns 30 today – had a somewhat unconventional introduction to Doctor Who. It was announced in early 2012 that she would be succeeding Karen Gillan and Arthur Darvill as The Eleventh Doctor’s new companion, with her debut due to take place in that year’s Christmas special – but, in the opening episode of Series 7, Asylum of the Daleks, she made a surprise appearance as the enigmatic Oswin Oswald, affectionately known as “soufflé girl”. Despite The Doctor’s best efforts, however, she turned out to be a Dalek – and died. She then reappeared as Clara Oswin Oswald in The Snowmen, bringing The Doctor out of retirement to fend off the Great Intelligence – but, again, she died. It was not until The Bells of Saint John that she (now just as Clara Oswald) joined the TARDIS as a full-time companion, eventually discovering that she was born to save The Doctor by splintering herself throughout his time stream.

Peter Capaldi, Jenna Coleman - 'Doctor Who' TV series screening, New York, America - 14 Aug 2014 - Photo by Startraks Photo/REX
Peter Capaldi, Jenna Coleman – ‘Doctor Who’ TV series screening, New York, America – 14 Aug 2014 – Photo by Startraks Photo/REX

Since then, Jenna’s character has played a significant role in the Doctor Who mythos – in addition to fragmenting herself in The Name of the Doctor, she also persuaded The Doctor to find a way to save Gallifrey in the 50th anniversary special, as well as convincing the Time Lords to grant him a whole new regeneration cycle in The Time of the Doctor. Following The Eleventh Doctor’s regeneration into the Twelfth, Clara took some time to adjust, but they soon rekindled their friendship and recklessly flew off on a whole new set of adventures – a toxic relationship that would lead to them together becoming the fabled and dangerous “Hybrid”.

In fact, Jenna has had just as many exits from the show as she had entrances. Clara seemingly left the TARDIS after a bust-up with The Doctor in Kill the Moon, and then she was due to leave in both Death in Heaven and Last Christmas following the death of her boyfriend, Danny Pink – but, against all expectations, Jenna decided to stay on for another year. Clara finally met her end in Face the Raven… only to be rescued by The Doctor in Series 9 finale Hell Bent, a bittersweet tale that concluded with her flying off in her own American diner themed TARDIS with Ashildr/Me as her companion.

As the longest serving modern companion, Jenna has become a fan favourite to many and will be sorely missed now that she has left the show. Like Clara though, she’s already moving on to new horizons, currently playing the title role in upcoming ITV drama Victoria, as well as appearing in the 2016 film Me Before You. We wish her all the best for her future projects – run you clever fans, and remember her!

Christoper Eccleston, Russell T Davies and Billie Piper
Christoper Eccleston, Russell T Davies, and Billie Piper

Now, from the woman born to save The Doctor to the man who resurrected Doctor Who – Russell T Davies, who celebrates his 53rd birthday today. An acclaimed writer, Davies made his name with Channel 4 series Queer as Folk before moving on to other projects such as Casanova (starring Tenth Doctor David Tennant) and eventually the revival of Doctor Who in 2005 with Ninth Doctor Christopher Eccleston. It was quite the feat to bring back a sci-fi show from yesteryear after 16 years of being off the air (not including the 1996 TV movie), but if anyone could manage it, it was Russell T Davies – and he certainly did it in style! Now over a decade into its modern era, Doctor Who has grown into a global phenomenon, all thanks to the work of this dedicated showrunner – fittingly, he was awarded an OBE in 2008 for services to drama, just before announcing his decision to leave the series in the hands of Steven Moffat.

David Tennant, Russell T. Davies and John Sim - Doctor Who (c) BBC
David Tennant, Russell T. Davies and John Sim – Doctor Who (c) BBC

During his 2005-2010 tenure as executive producer, Davies was a busy man indeed – not only did he write and produce four series of Doctor Who (as well as the 2009 Specials), he was also the mastermind behind two of its biggest spin-offs – Torchwood and The Sarah Jane Adventures, both of which would eventually cross over into the main show in 2008 finale The Stolen Earth/Journey’s End. He’s also the man behind some of the most memorable stories from the modern era – premiere episode Rose, Series 1 finale Bad Wolf/The Parting of the Ways, The Doctor and Rose’s goodbye in Doomsday, and of course David Tennant’s swansong The End of Time, as well as smaller scale but just as effective episodes like Turn Left and Midnight. To date, Russell has written for three Doctors on screen – the Ninth and Tenth in Doctor Who, and the Eleventh in Sarah Jane episode Death of the Doctor – and we’re sure fans would love to see him come back to write for another in the future.

Since leaving Doctor Who, Russell has written and produced (along with fellow Doctor Who writer Phil Ford) the sci-fi series Wizards v Aliens, and he has also returned to his roots by exploring homosexuality in the three-pronged Channel 4 series Cucumber, Banana, and Tofu. His legacy in the Whoniverse can be enjoyed not only on DVD box sets but also in The Writer’s Tale, a fascinating and highly recommended book for Doctor Who fans and budding writers alike that documents e-mail exchanges between Davies and Benjamin Cook during the production of Series 4. What else can be said, other than we hope his birthday is as great as the impact he made on the world of Doctor Who!

So today, join us in wishing a very Happy Birthday to both the Impossible Girl and the man who achieved the impossible! Hip hip, Who-rray!


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