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Outgoing Doctor Who showrunner Steven Moffat has revealed that Carrey Mulligan turned down an offer to return to the TARDIS as a regular companion. Before Moffat took over as showrunner at the start of the Matt Smith era, he penned numerous scripts under the watchful eye of his predecessor in the position, Russell T Davies. Moffat wrote episodes for Christopher Eccleston and David Tennant’s iterations of the iconic Time Lord, including the seminal season 3 installment, “Blink”, which is widely regarded as one of the best Doctor Who episodes of all time.
“Blink” cemented Moffat’s position as a firm fan favorite and the top choice to take over from Davies as showrunner, which of course he eventually did. The episode introduced the sinister statuesque villains known as The Weeping Angels, which Moffat revisited a handful of times in the years that followed. “Blink” was light on Doctor-centric action, with Mulligan taking a starring role as Sally Sparrow, a young English woman whose friend is zapped back in time by a Weeping Angel. Fans loved her performance, and many thought that she should come back to the show.
And now, Moffat has revealed that an offer to join Team TARDIS full-time was extended in Mulligan’s direction. But, as Moffat has recalled in a new interview with the Radio Times, the actress turned it down:
“Oh my God, Carey Mulligan! It’s funny but Blink, I say immodestly, is a very famous episode of television and yet Carey Mulligan, who was the star of it, I’m almost certain wouldn’t even remember being in Doctor Who. I don’t think she was much of a fan, or anything. They liked her so much, they said, “Do you want to be the next companion?” but she said no. God, she was amazing.”
This presents an interesting ‘what could have been’ moment for
Doctor Who fans. In “Blink”, the Doctor was David Tennant and his companion was Freema Agyeman’s Martha Jones.
Mulligan was asked to reprise Sally Sparrow as Martha’s successor, but she turned the gig down. In lieu of Mulligan, the powers-that-be asked Catherine Tate if she wanted to reprise the role of Donna Noble, who had previously appeared in “The Runaway Bride”, a Christmas special that preceded season 3. Tate accepted the offer, and Donna came back as the main companion for season 4.
However, as much as it’s intriguing to ponder what a full season with Sally in the TARDIS might have looked like, it’s worth remembering that Doctor Who season 4 wound up being brilliant anyway. Donna’s adventures with the Doctor threw up numerous unforgettable episodes, including emotional installments like “The Fires of Pompeii” and “Planet of Ood” and scary thrill-rides like “Midnight” and “Forest of the Dead.” Donna’s arc came to a tragic end at the close of the season, with Tate pulling off a wonderful and multifaceted performance. If Mulligan hadn’t turned down the companion position, fans might have missed out on some truly compelling stories.