The recent news that former Doctor Who companion Alex Kingston is returning for her role as River Song in this year’s Christmas special may make a bit more sense now as current companion Jenna Coleman is rumored to be leaving the series. British tabloid The Mirror broke the news of Coleman’s choice to leave the traveling Time Lord to star as the young Queen Victoria in an upcoming ITV drama.
It’s thought that Coleman has finished filming her episodes. She is listed on each episode’s synopsis and credits up through Dec 5th’s “Hell Bent” but the Dec 25th Christmas show calls only for current Doctor Peter Capaldi and the aforementioned Kingston. The Mirror cited an unnamed source who claimed Jenna locked in the new series, called Victoria, some time ago but it’s been a closely guarded secret (something the less-polite American press would never stand for).
It should be noted that the largest American news outlets have not yet picked up the story, and Coleman’s camp and ITV have declined to comment on the rumors. The BBC referenced information from writer Stephen Moffat following last season, when the season finale cliffhanger left viewers wondering if Coleman would return. Moffett confirmed that she had asked to be written off the show and that was scheduled to be her last episode until she asked to be included in the Christmas special. “So I said ‘OK, I’ll write you out in Christmas,’” Moffat said. “She came to the read through and did the ‘write out’ version – and again changed her mind.”
Could Coleman finally be ready to go? Perhaps. In an interview with Radio Times last week she said, “You’re in Doctor Who never knowing it will never last. It’s constantly regeneration, so you want to make your time count and enjoy the adventure for the fleeting time you’re here.” The actress has been the longest running companion on the current iteration of the show, having played the character for three years against Matt Smith’s Doctor and now Peter Capaldi.
The Victoria series is being written by British novelist Daisy Goodwin in her first screenwriting role. Prior to publication the author studied at Columbia Film School and founded Silver River Productions. Her first novel titled The American Heiress (My Last Duchess in the UK) recently make the NY Times bestseller list.
On her Facebook page the author has been chronicling her thoughts and opinions as she researches the woman she considers the most inspiring queen. “[I]t is Victoria rather than Elizabeth who should be the inspiration to today’s women. Victoria was the first woman in the world to have it all, a passionate marriage, nine children, an unofficial role as the shop steward for European royalty and as the Queen /Empress she was the most important monarch (let alone woman) in the world.”
Victoria will be an eight episode series covering the Queen’s life from ascending the throne at age eighteen. It is expected Coleman will play the character during her early life before handing the role off to an older actress.