Doctor Who’s Jenna Coleman has joined calls for the show to be returned to its traditional teatime slot.
The 29-year-old, currently on screen in her final series as the time traveller’s sidekick, backed complaints from star Peter Capaldi and other key figures about the scheduling.
One of the most “wonderful” aspects of Doctor Who was that “there’s not many programmes that you can watch as a family”, she said.
Doctor Who’s Jenna Coleman and Peter Capaldi (Ian West/PA)
Asked if she thought it should be aired earlier, she said: “I think so. It is a family show and it should be watched as a family.
“But it’s not really for me. I don’t deal with the TV schedules.”
She said the show was “really good for kids because of the imagination it inspires and the creativity”.
The BBC insisted the show remains “at the heart” of its Saturday schedule and is Britain’s highest-rated drama series among children – but stressed that many viewers choose to watch it via a “catch-up” service after its scheduled broadcast.
Jenna Coleman (Jonathan Brady/PA)
Peter recently suggested it was being “used as a pawn in a Saturday night warfare” and urged that it be brought forward to “a time that’s reasonable” for youngsters to watch.
“I feel it’s a shame they’re not given that opportunity,” he said, and executive producer Steven Moffat called the scheduling “not smart”.
When Russell T Davies revived the much-loved programme in 2005, it was broadcast at teatime.
However, the current ninth series has been given the post-Strictly Come Dancing time slot, meaning episodes are finishing at 9pm.
Jenna insisted a concern that her role in the highly-popular show could define her career was not behind the decision to leave after three seasons – one with Matt Smith and two with his successor Peter, the 12th incarnation of the cult character.
Their predecessor David Tennant said in an interview for ITV’s The Jonathan Ross Show that he suspected the first line of his obituary had already been written because of his time playing the role.
“That never worried me. It never has,” said Jenna as she appeared at the huge Doctor Who Festival at London’s ExCel centre where around 15,000 fans gathered – many in highly-elaborate costumes.
“I look at the bigger picture. I don’t think you can really base your decisions on ‘if I stay another year what will my gravestone say’?
“It was more a personal decision of how do I want to spend the next year, how much am I enjoying my time on this job, how much do I love working with Peter, how good are the scripts that Steven is providing and is it the right time to walk away?
“I stayed another year because it wasn’t.”
Jenna Coleman in Victoria (ITV)
She did not rule out a return – but said it would certainly not be anytime soon and laughed off a suggestion it could be as the first female doctor.
“Clara would like to think of herself as The Doctor – minus the 2,000 years of experience that he has. She’s got a long way to go.”
She said she would miss the close relationship built up with Peter – saying it was very much like the “unlikely friendship” between their characters.
The Time Lord (Peter Capaldi) and his companion (Jenna Coleman) (David Venni/BBC)
“In the way that Clara and The Doctor are, it’s such an unlikely friendship, but we are really similar and we love each other. He is a lovely man and a really great friend and it isn’t every day you get that. It’s quite rare.”
Jenna is next on TV screens playing Queen Victoria in ITV’s drama, Victoria, about the monarch’s early life.
Doctor Who continues on BBC1, Saturday, November 14, 8.15pm.