Doctor Who: who is Clara?

Feature Andrew Blair 9 May 2013 - 07:00

Andrew looks at some likely (and unlikely) theories to answer the question running through Doctor Who 7b: who is Clara Oswald?

This article contains spoilers for the current series, and finale, of Doctor Who.

Maybe, by making us ask this question, Steven Moffat is giving us a subtle clue: Clara is Who, ie. The Doctor and/or Valeyard. Probably not though. Let's be more scientific about this*.

We first saw someone looking very like Clara through the medium of an insane Dalek, formerly Oswin Oswald, with leet haxor skillz and a position of Junior Entertainment Manager on a starliner in the future. Then, in the past, we saw Clara Oswin Oswald – governess and barmaid – whose date of birth is the 23rd of November. In Clara's 101 Places to See book she misses out the number 23. WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?

Sorry, I just spat on you there. Anyway, she also misses out 16.

Finally, we see Clara Oswald: made of win. 'Oswin'. A nickname she gives herself that hasn't really caught on. It's an anagram of 'winos' though. Write that down. Might be useful (it won't be useful).

This Clara is from the present day, is a nanny, and develops leet-ish haxor skills during the events of The Bells of St John. During this story we discover that she was given the number for the TARDIS phone by a woman in a shop, and wants to travel.

The Doctor then follows her for a bit, because his moral compass has become slightly skewed of late, and establishes that her mother died when she was a teenager. So far, so-inviting-comparisons-with-the-soon-to-return Rose Tyler. The Doctor then visits Emma Grayling in Hide, and the psychic tells us that Clara is normal. However, she then does some shifty eye acting which lends this scene a sense of enigma. Finally, in Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS we find out that Clara has no inkling of anything unusual, and is very forgiving of strange men shouting insane things at her if they're good at hugging.

So, given that, what possible explanations do we have for the issue of who and what Clara is? And how can I tie it in with the news that Alex Ferguson is retiring? Let the speculative gibberings of a caffeine-deprived hack commence:

1. Clara is Rose's daughter

Rose and Ten/Sitting in another dimension/nothing sexual rhymes with that.

Anyway. Rose and Ten are coming back, but when we saw Rose depart in Journey's End she had a leaving gift of a human version of the Doctor, which is only creepy if you stop and think about it for any time at all. Still, if they did have a baby, it might be able to regenerate/survive death/get fractured through time due to the all-powerful force that is narrative necessity. That's why Clara's reminiscent of Rose, because it's her old Mum, gertcha? 

File this one under unlikely though, as it'd require quite a few explanations. For starters, the hair colours are all wrong.

2. Clara is Jenny

Remember Jenny? She of the surprise-regeneration and exploring of the universe after the Doctor and Donna thought she was dead? Played by the daughter of Trillian from the TV version of Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

Steven Moffat reportedly suggested that the Doctor's daughter survive the events of Stephen Greenhorn's second Who script. To what end? We haven't seen her since, maybe it's time for a return. However, this is even further back than Journey's End, and in an episode that is not as popular or well-remembered, and should have been called Hell Hath Fury, with more explosions and action by HAVOC.

3. Clara is Susan

This one's more likely (it's all relative, Susan would probably have an acronym to describe it). It's the anniversary year, and the Doctor's granddaughter Susan was the titular Unearthly Child in the very first episode. Furthermore, she already has regenerative properties, and was probably involved in the Time War. This allows for temporal shenanigans to occur more easily, so she can re-occur throughout history in the manner of Scaroth in City of Death.

This does mean that we need to explain why the Doctor can't recognise his own granddaughter, especially given Time Lords' ability to recognise each other, his taking Clara to the Rings of Akhaten as he did with Susan, and Susan's telepathic abilities. I expect that line'll take Matt Smith three seconds to deliver.

Still, if she's reunited with her grandfather, that'll be things coming full circle. We just have to ignore Clara's parents, and also the bit where she kisses the Doctor in The Snowmen (not a euphemism).

4. Clara is a trap

The Great Intelligence is lurking, with its fondness for snow-themed traps and possession, and the Doctor has a 'shard of ice' in his heart. A showdown is due on Trenzalore. 'Does an impossible girl hold the key?' is in the official synopsis.

If you're as powerful as some of the Doctor's enemies, it's not completely outwith the realms of overly-complicated nefarious scheming to distract the Doctor with said impossible girl by planting her across time and space, the lure of a companion who ticks all the boxes – a variant on the idea posited in the Eighth Doctor Adventures by Lawrence Miles, and Paul Abbott in his abandoned 2005 episode. Perhaps knowing that we were going to go into a frenzy of speculation about her identity, the identity of Clara is just a big red herring? It would make the Doctor's obsessive behaviour over the mystery all the more galling, knowing he'd been taken in.

5. Clara is one of River Song's children from the Data Core in Silence in the Library

Well, if River Song is returning in The Name of the Doctor in a post-library timezone, why the hell not? If she is a child created by a computer program, it follows (if you squint and don't poke at it much) that Clara would be a computer expert. Maybe her book of 101 Places to See turned up in the library, with a shelf code of 16.23.

6. Clara is literally everyone who has ever existed in the universe apart from the Rani

Because she definitely isn't the Rani.

As ever, we invite you to use your communication skills below. Here's hoping that we're all totally wrong in order to preserve some element of suspense.

*In a feature about Doctor Who I reserve the right to make up the science as I go along.

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