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She killed Clara Oswald! How could she? We tracked down writer Sarah Dollard to put a Chronolock on her. (Actually we didn’t. We’re too nice.)


Fittingly, Sarah Dollard meets DWM in a Trap Street pub, on an unremarkable Central London side-street we’d never noticed before.

It’s 14 October 2015, five weeks before the Australian writer’s Face the Raven airs on BBC One and melts the internet. Because we really don’t want to forever become The Idiots Who Got Overheard In A Public Place And Breached Doctor Who Security, we settle in a shady nook, eye our fellow drinkers with caution and only employ the pre-agreed codename for Clara Oswald.

Oh my God, Sarah: you killed Kenny!

“I know!” she says, with comically incredulous horror. “I’m a terrible person, I hate myself. I had tears streaming down my face the first time I wrote it. Then I made myself cry every time I edited it. I mean, I am a big ‘sook’, so that in itself was no judge of quality... but I’m also very proud that it made [showrunner] Steven Moffat emotional on the train when he read it.”

It’s fair to say that, aside from canny fans who became suspicious after hearing the Doctor would be alone in the following episode, the majority of viewers were shocked when Clara’s dead body hit the Trap Street cobbles – especially as they didn’t know a time-extraction was on the cards two episodes later. At one point during the development of her first-ever Doctor Who episode, Sarah herself was similarly blown away to discover that it would depict the actual death of Jenna Coleman’s character. Read on, for the full story behind how Clara Oswald came to Face the Raven…

Sarah’s Doctor Who début followed years of working in various roles on the likes of Neighbours, Merlin, Primeval and Being Human. Originally titled Trap Street, her episode was once positioned earlier in the 2015 series. It also started out as a standalone tale, which featured neither Clara’s untimely demise nor Ashildr, played by Maisie Williams.

Sarah had her first Doctor Who pitch meeting in late July 2014, then “spent a long time pitching and re-pitching. It wasn’t until January this year that I was actually hired. Even when they’ve said, ‘Yes, do that story’, you go through a lot of versions of that story before they say, ‘We trust you, you’re on board and we’d like you to do an episode’.”

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About Doctor Who Magazine

The 2015 Christmas issue! Contents include: Preview of The Husbands of River Song; Peter Capaldi interview; Interviews with Greg Davies, Sarah Dollard, Peter Harness, Rachel Talalay and Donald Sumpter; Review of 2015; the Watcher's Christmas Quiz; Strip – The Dragon Lord part 1.