Introducing… a new regular feature of this blog, “Who’s Next”, in which I consider and speculate about potential future incumbents of the Doctor and Companion roles. With the companion position coming up for grabs after Jenna Coleman leaves at the end of Series 9, speculation about the next impressionable young lady the Doctor will take under his wing is particularly timely, so potential companion candidates will be the focus of this series at first.
I’m beginning this series with probably the most unlikely name, Maisie Williams, only because her character is making her (first) appearance in this week’s episode, The Girl Who Died. Whether her character will ultimately prove to be companion material, and providing she doesn’t get killed off, will, of course, become clear over the next two weeks.
It goes without saying that Maisie is a wonderful teen actress. She plays my favourite character in Game of Thrones, the badass tomboy Arya, and her talents as displayed in Thrones and her other work have seen her receive voluminous critical acclaim, not least from the great Peter Capaldi himself, whom she has described as an “idol” of hers. Apart from Game of Thrones, I’ve seen Maisie in one other production, the made-for-TV docu-drama Cyberbully, practically a one-hander, in which she was a captivating and magnetic presence for 60 minutes. It was Cyberbully that prompted executive producer Brian Minchin to consider Maisie for Doctor Who, after all, and I can’t argue with that reasoning.
The opportunities with Maisie’s character consist in whatever extraordinary quality her character is revealed to possess. I realise I’m engaging in what will most likely prove a futile exercise in second-guessing the Maisie mystery here, but Maisie’s character seems to carry some kind of celestial importance. At the very least she’s not just an “ordinary girl”, given she appears in two completely different time periods. My tentative wager is that she’s a Time Lady/Girl, evidently one known to the Doctor. One thing I’m hoping for in the next companion is a departure from the familiar, i.e. someone who isn’t an “ordinary” 21st Century British girl. Even an unordinary 21st Century British girl would be nice. But a Time Lady would make for an exciting change and a whole new dynamic. I can see an interesting master-apprentice dynamic between Capaldi’s Doctor and Time Maisie as the Doctor imparts his vast accumulated experience to the young, unformed Time Lady.
The snag, of course, is that Maisie plays an important main role in Game of Thrones, and her commitment to what I’m sure is the demanding filming schedule of Game of Thrones would surely preclude her from taking on a main job in Doctor Who. And there’s no question of her giving up Game of Thrones for Doctor Who; honestly, as much as I’d love to see Maisie as a Doctor Who companion, I’d much prefer her to continue playing Arya. For this reason Maisie is an unlikely candidate.
But there’s still a possibility. If the rumours about a full series of Doctor Who not being produced in 2016 are true (and it’s increasingly looking like they are), then here lies an opportunity for a Maisie companion. Whether it’s a split-series like Series 7, or a miniseries like Children of Earth, or a handful of Sherlock-esque feature-length episodes, the reduced filming commitments may well accommodate Maisie’s Thrones schedule. And if whatever happens in 2016 is successful, Maisie may well want to come back for 2017 (presumably a full series), especially given that production of Game of Thrones may be stalled at that point due to the need for George R. R. Martin to actually write the material for forthcoming series (although I don’t know much about this situation; correct me if I’m wrong).