The Paternoster Gang was a detective group who solved crimes in Victorian London in Doctor Who. The team consisted of Vastra the Silurian, her human wife Jenny Flint, and the Sontaran Commander Strax who served as their butler. The three have helped the Doctor and his companions on a handful of adventures and have even encouraged the Doctor to resume his universe-saving career after reaching one of his lowest points. The trio were major fan-favorites, and every time the Doctor met with them, it felt like the latest episode in a series following them as well as the Doctor. A TV series centered on them always seemed like the perfect spin-off, but it unfortunately never happened.
Vastra, Jenny, and Strax added a lot to Doctor Who while they were on, including heart, humor, and the feeling that important events did indeed happen in the world that the Doctor wasn’t involved in. Unlike many other Doctor Who characters, they totally had plenty of adventures that didn’t involve the Doctor, time travel, and Daleks. Imagine how fun it would have been to see the wacky adventures of a lizard woman, an alien obsessed with war and violence, and a surprisingly badass maid as they solve science-fiction-based mysteries in Victorian London. It’s so ridiculous that it would be a must see. It would easily stand out over other sci-fi series and feel like it’s own entity outside of Doctor Who.
Fans have wanted this spin-off for years, but we instead got Class. Class followed students at Coal Hill Academy who had to battle monsters at their school while also dealing with personal drama. Sure, the Doctor appeared in one episode, but it otherwise focused on characters who haven’t appeared in Doctor Who before. It didn’t need to be a spin-off and could have been its own separate series. The main problem with it, though, is that it just wasn’t very good. It was surprisingly boring for something that sounds like an exciting watch. As a result, it only lasted eight episodes.
There have been well-received Doctor Who spin-offs in the past, like Torchwood and The Sarah Jane Chronicles. Both of which focus on characters made popular by Doctor Who. They manage to expand the Doctor Who universe while also feeling like their own entities. These have proven that a spin-off can definitely work, so why not give the Paternoster Gang a shot at one?
The Paternoster Gang did receive their own spin-off in the form of audio-books for those who can’t commit to reading or watching TV, but that’s not good enough. We need to see a war-hungry potato alien and a mystery-solving lizard lady on screen. Since they’re all outstanding fighters, the action would be most fun to actually see as well. Plus, aliens, monsters, and robots in Victorian London makes for a fun and whimsical aesthetic. I’m sure the audio-books are fine, but it doesn’t allow Vastra, Jenny, and Strax to live up to their potential since they were originally created as TV characters.
As out-there as a show about these three seems, it would actually have a pretty approachable premise. Every episode has the team solving a different monster-centered mystery. The characters already bring romance, comedy, drama, and action to the table because of their experiences in Doctor Who. In less than ten episodes, they became fan-favorites, so they already come with a fanbase built in. It would have been easy to write, easy to attract viewers, and an absolute joy to watch.
Steven Moffat, the Doctor Who showrunner when the Paternoster Gang was on, has said there were discussions regarding spinning them off onto their own series, but he felt that a Doctor Who series doesn’t always need to be on and that it can take breaks after the season. He also was working on Sherlock at the time, so his hands were pretty full. He probably could have put someone else in charge of the Paternoster Gang series, but alas, it was a missed opportunity for the BBC.
It’s pretty sad that these unforgettable characters never got the series they deserved, but perhaps it is possible to one day see them again, either returning to Doctor Who or in their own show thanks to the infinite reboots in modern media. At least we’ll always know that Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer’s shiny red nose was a tactical disadvantage thanks to Strax.