Death of an Imaginary Friend

They have counselling services in place simply for when some hair-gelled bimbo boy leaves a manufactured so-called ‘pop music’ group, so presumably Social Services are on red alert and all A&E leave has been cancelled for the rest of the year now.

Why?

clara rip

Because Clara Oswald has been killed of course. Yes, the Dr Who companion who has to rank among everybody’s top three favourites (Joe Grant and Leela as well, if you’re asking) is no more. She went heroically, she went bravely, but there seems little doubt that she has indeed gone – as the quantum shade plunged through her chest in a most distressing fashion.

And so it’s tough out here in our Clara-less world, because we care about our imaginary friends don’t we? Especially the brave ones killed in the line of duty – still miss you Kate even though Ziva helped make NCIS bearable – they are important to us. Even if a world where random, senseless, lethal violence can now visit you at a music concert or eating in a restaurant, we still care so much about made-up people.

But why?

Why do we mourn the death of an imaginary friend? One could say it’s the writer’s fault. After all, it’s the writer’s job to make us empathise fully with their characters, or at least sympathise or even antipathise (can you antipathise? can now) with them and when they get it right we feel a real sense of loss (or joy) when a character departs. That is why we get so cross when it’s carried out in a cavalier fashion, especially by somebody who had nothing to do with the character’s creation. I didn’t watch Alien 3* for something like 15 years because I had heard that ‘they’ had killed off Newt and Hicks in the opening credits! How dare they?! They weren’t ‘their’ characters to kill off like that and they undermined the pay-off of the marvellous ‘Aliens’ film. And I don’t care if the gril playing Newt was 6 years older and not even acting any more – we have writers to take care of those problems.

You have to be careful how you behave towards your characters because they matter to people. I’m not saying that we all have to be like Arthur Conan Doyle and rescue Holmes from the waters of the Reichenbach Falls because of public demand – that would be wrong. However, Clara is the ‘Impossible Girl’ and who knows how many different versions of her there are out in the galaxy that could usefully bump into the doctor again?

That’s what I’m telling myself anyway. Got to go, I’m late for the counselling service.

*then I wish I hadn’t bothered.

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nicelystrongoak

Author and scriptwriter, Terry Newman

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