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She helped the Eighth Doctor regenerate, and calls the Twelfth Doctor ‘Boy’. But could Ohila be the Doctor’s mother? We asked Clare Higgins...

‘‘ After I’d done the 50th anniversary one,” Clare Higgins says with a conspiratorial tone, “and then I got the other scripts to go back, I said to a few friends of mine – close friends, close acting friends, ‘Oh, I’m going back to Doctor Who.’ The reaction I got – I won’t name names, but all of them went, ‘Oh. That’s very nice.’ All riddled with jealousy. Honestly!” At this, Clare punctuates the whispered nugget of actor’s gossip with a mischievously wicked laugh.

Speaking to DWM on the phone from her home in Northamptonshire, Clare Higgins laughs. A lot. It’s a deep, throaty laugh full of warmth and humour, that textured voice occasionally giving a hint of her West Yorkshire background. But at any second, you feel it could change in a heartbeat to the authoritarian tones of Ohila, High Priestess of the Sisterhood of Karn, capable of summoning a Time Lord from within a TARDIS like a naughty child. It’s a role Clare has played on and off since 2013’s The Night of the Doctor, the pivotal precursor to the 50th Anniversary Special, The Day of the Doctor. Adding to a lengthy CV of film, television and acclaimed stage performances, it’s a role Clare is happy to admit she adores playing.

“Filming Doctor Who in Cardiff really is the most fun I’ve had on set in a long time,” she says enthusiastically, very much under the spell Doctor Who can still cast after 53 years on TV. Did that take her by surprise? “I’m absolutely gobsmacked by it, and I just didn’t expect that to happen to be honest. But it has, and I’m really, really pleased. To be part of something like this is fantastic. Everybody wants to be in Doctor Who. It’s lovely. It’s very, very popular and it’s got this iconic status.”

When the call to appear in Doctor Who finally came in 2013, Clare didn’t have to think to twice about signing up.

“To be in Doctor Who was on my bucket list. I just thought, well, it’d be great to have done something in Doctor Who, so I just said, ‘Yes, of course’, straight away.”

“Just take a sip of this – it will take away the hurt...”

Featuring Paul McGann’s first screen appearance as the Doctor since 1996, The Night of the Doctor finally gave viewers the chance to witness the Eighth Doctor’s regeneration, taking place on the desolate surface of the planet Karn. Was Clare made aware of the significance of this moment?

“Well, I knew it was the 50th anniversary, but I didn’t have any questions about it. I just thought, yeah, great idea! We were all aware of the history and that it was the 50th and Paul was going to be in it, so great! Lovely to be asked! It was very, very quick, we only had two days to do it in.”

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About Doctor Who Magazine

Contents include: A celebration of the classic Target Book covers, including interviews with artists Chris Achilleos, Jeff Cummins and Andrew Skilleter; executive producer Brian Minchin on casting the new companion; an interview with actress Clare Higgins, who plays Ohila, leader of the Sisterhood of Karn; an in-depth look at immortality in Doctor Who; The Fact of Fiction examines two pivotal adventures – Warriors' Gate and The Night of the Doctor; The Time Team watch The Vampires of Venice; a guide to Doctor Who weddings; comic strip – Witch Hunt part 3, written by Jacqueline Rayner and illustrated by Martin Geraghty; Relative Dimensions discusses cosplay for kids; a review of The Complete Series 9 box set; plus news, reviews, previews, competitions, a prize-winning crossword and the Wotcha column.