Doctor Who Interviews With Cast & Crew

Official BBC Interviews with Cast and Crew of Doctor Who

BBC America and BBC Worldwide have sent along the following collection of interviews and images to whet our appetites for the new series, which will premier tomorrow on BBC1 at 7:20PM and then a few hours later on BBC America at 9/8c.

Peter Capaldi’s 12th Doctor

INTERVIEW WITH PETER CAPALDI (THE DOCTOR)

What is it like working with Pearl?

It was great meeting Pearl – she brought a whole new vigor and excitement to the role of the Doctor’s companion.  She’s not that different to older companions in the sense that she’s a character that doesn’t know anything about the Doctor’s life or about the TARDIS or about Daleks or anything like that so she has to be introduced completely to what goes on in his existence and that’s been a good way of rebooting the show.  It allows people who aren’t experienced in Doctor Who to experience it for the first time.

Is it great to be back and saying all the iconic lines once more?

I think there’s loads of classic lines that are fun to say and I love saying “Time and Relative Dimensions in Space” and “Bigger on the Inside” and “They come from Skaro and will exterminate you.” I think you’re never too old to enjoy saying “TARDIS” although it’s better to say “This is my TARDIS!” I think they’re part of the fabric of the country – they’re in British popular culture which is nice but they will go on and on.

What have we got to look forward to in series 10?

The show is down to the basic elements which are these fairly innocent but independent companions travelling with this mysterious creature from outer space who can travel in space and time and take them to the most amazing corners of the universe where they meet terrible monsters who try to kill them.  That’s at its very simplest level but obviously, it’s more complex and there’s more to it than that but that’s pretty much what we do every week.  Some seasons have been less like that but this season very much follows that model of delivering every week – the mysterious creature takes the companions to an exotic and dangerous place.

What do you need to be a good companion?

Well the companion (and Bill is a very good example of it) is sort of their own person.  They tend to be characters who are fully formed and independent so I think to be a companion in Doctor Who you have to be your own person.  It doesn’t really work if the companion is just an adjunct to the Doctor.  There’s always got to be an element of conflict there, I think.  Whether it be just “Why didn’t you tell us you were taking us to this planet of flesh eating monsters” or whatever – it always needs a little bit of grist in it.

Who is Bill Potts?

Bill comes in very much as a regular human being from the real world to whom all of this stuff is extraordinary.  She knows nothing about it.  But she’s a very clever, bright, funny girl.  I think the Doctor is very taken with her as she’s one of those people who life hasn’t been great to and she didn’t deserve life not to be kind to her.  She has enormous potential and I think the Doctor wants to help her reach that potential.

Can you describe the relationship between Bill and the Doctor?

I think initially he takes her under his wing in order to teach her – to literally improve her mind, but in quite a terrestrial way.  Through that she becomes involved in his extra-terrestrial adventures and the expansion of her mind becomes quite extraordinary.  It’s a kind of teacher-pupil relationship but it becomes more complex than that and I think ultimately the Doctor has to undergo some dramas by himself so I think he becomes slightly worried that he’s swept someone else up into his adventures without quite preparing them.

Are you excited for Matt Lucas’ return in Series 10?

Matt plays quite a crucial part in the show this season.  He’s not there all the time but he is there a lot of the time – I don’t want to give anything away really.  He’s very funny – a great presence to have on set and very talented and has a strange alien quality about him with his pale skin and clear eyes.

Tell us about Episode One

We will meet the Doctor’s new companion Bill – see her in the world she’s used to living in and then plucked out by the Doctor and taken on adventures.  We’ll meet some old enemies along the way and some new ones including a new and strange monster and we get to see Nardole played by Matt Lucas who will be joining us on our travels.

Pearl Mackie as the 12th Doctor’s new companion Bill.

INTERVIEW WITH PEARL MACKIE (BILL POTTS)

What have we got to look forward to in series 10?

There’s a lot of excitement in store – new and exciting adventures, new monsters and some old monsters coming back.  We’ve got a team that see the Doctor through new eyes.  I think with series 10 it’s a great place to start if you’ve never watched Doctor Who because Bill is so new to the world of Doctor Who – you kind of see everything through her eyes.  So as she learns about it, you can learn about it too which I think is very exciting.  We’ve got some danger in there too – there are some pretty hairy moments but we’ve got some humor as well.  I hope you enjoy it!

What is it like working with Peter?

The first time I met Peter was at the recall for this job in the Soho Hotel.  I met Steven Moffat and Brian Minchin and Andy Pryor (casting director).  Obviously I was reading with Peter.  It was mental – obviously I was sworn to secrecy so I couldn’t tell anyone what I was doing or where I was going so I turned up to the Soho Hotel in a baggy T-Shirt, a pair of jeans and a pair of bright tallow trainers.  We read the first scene (Peter and I) and we read it sitting down.  It’s one of the first scenes in the first episode.  For the next scene he said shall we stand up as we were going into the TARDIS.  So I said ‘OK’ but I’ve been taught for camera auditions you sit down and move your face as little as possible so standing up was new for me.  But obviously it was in the TARDIS so Peter was running around pressing buttons and pulling levers that aren’t there and I didn’t know what was going on.  But luckily Bill’s supposed to be doing that in the scene anyway so that worked in my favor!

What makes Doctor Who unique?

Well it’s been running for such a long time I think is one of Doctor Who’s unique selling points.  One of the ways it succeeds in doing that is the whole regeneration of the Doctor and then bringing in new companions along the way.  It’s a character you’re familiar with but then there are different interpretations of the character so it allows people to relate to the Doctor in different ways and relate to the different companions and everyone’s got their favorite ones – either the one they grew up with or the one they watched when they were older or that kind of thing.  I think in a way what makes Doctor Who so different to all other shows is that it can be completely personal and everyone has their own personal relationship to it.  I think that’s why it’s so successful and lasted so long.

Did you have an idea of the global impact of Doctor Who?

I had some idea that it was a big show.  I didn’t know how many countries it was big in before I got the job.  I knew it was shown in America, I didn’t know it was one of the widely watched shows on Christmas day in America.  It’s massive and has such a massive global following.  Even from Twitter I get messages from fans in languages I don’t even understand which is great but I wish I knew what they were saying!  Going to New York was incredible; I’d never been to New York before.  Going to Comic Con was amazing – there were people dressed up as me already.  It’s super cool – I think the fans on this show are so dedicated to it, it’s amazing, I’ve had such a welcome so far.  People dressing up as me and I haven’t even been on screen yet!

Who is Bill Potts?

Bill is cool – she’s quite young, doesn’t really know much about the world.  She’s very real – she’s not had a very easy upbringing and whilst she doesn’t really let that affect her day-to-day life, it’s there under the surface – she can be quite defensive.  She’s fun, she’s excited, she’s a bit geeky – she quite likes sci-fi stuff, she’s into space and that type of thing so when she does go on adventures with the Doctor and discovers aliens are real and that kind of stuff it blows her mind which is really cool.

Can you describe the relationship between Bill and the Doctor?

It’s quite interesting at the beginning – their relationship is very much tutor/student.  It has an ‘Educating Rita’ vibe about it at the beginning when they first meet each other.  There’s a definite fasciation for Bill in terms of the Doctor – she’s really interested in the way his mind works – he’s supposed to be doing a lecture on science and ends up talking about poetry and he says they’re the same thing.  Clearly his mind works in a different way to anyone else she’s ever met which I think is really fascinating for her.  One thing he likes about her is that she’s not scared about all the things she doesn’t know – she always wants to know more – she’s keen to get involved which is one of the things that draws him towards her.

Are you excited for Matt Lucas’ return in Series 10?

Matt’s brilliant – he’s a great guy to have around.  He’s always upbeat – we both really like musicals so we spent a lot of episode one singing various musical theatre tunes at each other.

How do you deal with the physical side of working on Doctor Who?

I think yesterday I walked about 3 km! I’ve done a lot of running – not as much as I thought, actually, but we haven’t filmed the whole series yet so there may be a lot more to come.  But it’s cool I like the physical element of the role – I did quite a physical show before this so I think it stood me in good stead for running away from monsters.

How does Bill learn to deal with all the extraordinary things she sees when she’s with the Doctor on his adventures?

I think she jumps in and is happy to get involved.  She asked a lot of questions – she’s very inquisitive and she’s very smart so she calls the Doctor out on a lot of things that he hasn’t necessarily had to answer for a while so I think that’s the way she navigates through things – by asking him what’s going on an assessing his answers and she says things how she sees them.  She has an open and honest nature which is how I think she gets through.

Nardole and Bill Potts

INTERVIEW WITH MATT LUCAS (NARDOLE)

Has Nardole changed now he’s a regular traveler in this series with the Doctor? If so how?

I feel he has. He’s more textured, more three-dimensional. You couldn’t go through a whole series with him being as cartoonish as he was in The Husbands Of River Song. That episode was played for laughs because it was a Christmas Special. We get to learn more about him and why he’s there. He has a purpose.

 

What’s his relationship like with the Doctor now? 

They bicker. He works for the Doctor, but he’s never afraid to take him on either. He’s not shy in saying when he disagrees with something, and sometimes he’s just grumpy because he hasn’t had enough sleep. He definitely prefers the quieter life.

 

How does he feel when Bill joins them in the TARDIS this series? 

As far as Nardole is concerned, the less drama, the better. So when a human comes on board he’s not exactly delighted. He doesn’t look up to humans either. He thinks they’re of little consequence (he’s right). I think Nardole wants to stay focused on the task he’s been given and doesn’t appreciate the distraction for the Doctor that Bill provides.

 

What’s the dynamic like between the three?

As the series goes on, I think Bill and Nardole find they have more in common and challenge the Doctor more. Nardole grows to appreciate Bill and what she brings to the TARDIS. The Doctor has grown weary of Nardole but as the series goes on, I think he comes to appreciate what he has to offer.

 

What were your filming highlights this series? Were there any funny or bizarre moments on set?

Michelle Gomez makes me howl with laughter. Pearl can do any accent. Peter is a font of knowledge. And the crew are the best I’ve ever worked with. We’ve been together for ten months and we laugh a lot now. I think I drive everyone mad. My silliest moment was in the TARDIS, in a scene with Peter and Pearl. I was in my own world and hadn’t realized that the camera was turning. Peter and Pearl are acting away and I’m just reclining on the dashboard, playing about with buttons and then I start just chatting with Pearl about what I was up to at the weekend. Meanwhile everyone else is cracking up.

 

Who are your favorite enemies/villains from this coming series? What was it like to film opposite them? 

Not saying. My lips are sealed. Okay then Mondasian Cybermen.

 

Do you prefer the ‘going back in time’ or the futuristic adventures?

Most of my adventures have been in the future. I enjoyed episode ten when we went back to 2nd century Aberdeen, though the Brecon Beacons in November is probably the coldest place I’ve ever filmed.

 

What has been the reaction by Doctor Who fans to both Nardole and yourself?

Threats of violence, for the most part. But I know where the Doctor keeps his sonics so I’ll be okay.

Doctor Who Executive Producer Steven Moffat

INTERVIEW WITH STEVEN MOFFAT (LEAD WRITER AND EXECUTIVE PRODUCER)

What have we got to look forward to in series 10?

Series 10, sort of, begins the show again.  The first episode is called, quite mischievously, “The Pilot” – it introduces everything you need to know about Doctor who and tips you into the universe.  It takes our characters; the Doctor and Nardole (whom we already know) and Bill (who we’re about to meet) and throws them into the Universe.   They’re not equipped to deal with it, they’re not armed or wearing armor – they’re just flung into that universe and told to deal with it.  They become heroes because they hit those moments where there is no alternative – being a hero is about the time you need to become a hero.  It becomes the purest, most innocent version of Doctor Who in a way.  It is a brand new person, Bill – walking into the TARDIS – where will the TARDIS take us – open the doors – walk out and there’s a monster – fight it.  It is storybook simple.  Of course, that story complicates as it goes on because the Doctor is a much more complicated man than he first seems.  But it’s Doctor Who at its purest I would say.  Everything you need to know about Doctor Who is explained in that first episode – the cloaking device, the chameleon circuit, the ‘bigger on the inside’ – all of that is there and you even get to see the Daleks.  The idea was just to introduce Doctor Who properly – the story starts here.  You need to know nothing before this point.

Knowing that this was your last series – how did you go about planning series 10?  Were there any themes and ideas that you absolutely wanted to get in?

The fact that this was my last series had to be removed from the mix.  The fact that this is Peter’s last series matters to the show – the fact that it’s mine doesn’t matter.   I didn’t approach it all with regards to what I wanted to do with Doctor Who.  More than anything what I wanted to do was begin again and if I had any sentimentality about leaving then it would be that – leave like it’s all just beginning.   I wanted to move forward – Doctor Who is never more Doctor Who then when it exists in the moment – right now – and that’s the sort of hero the Doctor is. He’s a hero in a moment.  He’s not a hero when he’s wandering around the universe, he’s not looking to be amazing or to save people, he’s wanting to go and look at steam engines or go to a library or go and have lunch with Marie Antoinette or something.  But the moment arrives and the Doctor always rises to the moment – there is a time that he is a hero and that’s the important thing –when the moment comes he steps up to the plate.  Not until then.

The Doctor Vs A Dalek

What new and returning monsters do we have to look forward to?

By nature, I’m just excited about all new monsters but we’ve got some wonderful stuff! We’ve got a serpent that lives under the Thames in the shape of the Thames which now that you realize it, the Eastenders title sequence has always clearly been about a giant snake.  We’ve got the emojibots which are small, cute and communicate by emojis and turn you into skeletons so that’s brilliant.  We’ve got the most shiver-making creatures in Mike Bartlett’s episode – not going to tell you what they are because the show teases you a bit about what’s going on but I guarantee there are moments that will make you go “URGH!” as I’ve been looking at some of the effects for Episode 4 and you think “Oh my god are we putting that on television?!” It’s really properly gross and magnificent.  We’ve got a new enemy, which I won’t talk too much about but we call them “The Monks” though that’s not really their name.  We’ve got a fabulous Scottish creature care of Rona Munro “The Eater of Light”.  The Ice Warriors are back with a new wrinkle and of course Missy is there – always with Peter Capaldi’s Doctor – he’s up against Missy, tested and teased and entranced by his oldest friend and wickedest enemy.

How important is Peter’s input when casting the companion?

Peter’s input is massively important.  They are going to be a working unit for months – they are going to see more of each other than they see of their significant others when they’re playing these parts so you’re practically marrying them.  Professionally and personally it’s important that they work together in ways that are interesting on screen and off screen.  You’re casting a friendship.  Also, Peter’s input is massively helpful because he plays the Doctor – he knows where that show is – he knows it better than anyone else other than actors who have also played the Doctor.  He knows what it takes to be in that show and the sort of person who has the grit to get on with it and the inventiveness to play with it.  So we listen very carefully to what Peter has to say about that.

What struck you about Pearl Mackie in her audition? What do you think she has brought to the role?

Absolute vitality and edginess is what came through the door with Pearl Mackie.  A completely different voice for the show compared to Jenna’s voice.  You sort of wanted to know straight away what she would make of the Doctor, what she’d think about him and in a way what she’d turn him into because the Doctor’s quite responsive, he’s quite responsive to the people around him – I think he just broods in the TARDIS on his own when he’s got no one to impress.  So, when someone moves in and inflects his life it’s about: how does he make her laugh? How does he impress her? How does he live up to her dream of him?  He’s very, very responsive.  I don’t think any of his various friends have realized how responsive he is to them, how much of the way he lives and the way he fights is about them.  Pearl (Bill) is now what he cares about.  So, with Pearl’s style, her edginess, her modernity – you’ve got to ask what is the hatchet-faced, eyebrow ferocious Doctor going to turn into when he’s face-to-face with that quizzical smile?

Who is Bill Potts?

I started in a very simple way with Bill. I wanted her to be somebody who asked a different bunch of questions of the Doctor.  An odd thing about Doctor Who is that most of the characters in Doctor Who, who meet the Doctor and encounter alien invasions and alien planets don’t seem to have watched any movies.  They seem to be surprised at what a time machine is or what an alien is… except if you lived in this world you’d know – you’d have seen it in movies all the time. So she has a different bunch of questions – what are the questions that a real person flung into the Doctor’s life would ask?  So I’ve set this challenge to all the writers – what is she going to ask him? The moment you open that up it starts to define her where is the toilet on the TARDIS – that’s a really reasonable question.  Why is the TARDIS, apparently called the TARDIS if that’s the spelling and those initials could only work in English? How can he claim to be from another planet if that’s the case? The very first thing was a knowingness and an irreverence – a knowingness about the genre that she’s part of in a way (or that the Doctor is part of) and an irreverence in the sense of “I’m not going to stand back and let you get away with saying your name is the Doctor” – what does that mean?  That was a way in and particularly when we put that idea together with Pearl Mackie it just became a different sort of person.  The moment you know you’ve got a character is the moment you can’t define them very easily – you define them as a character at the beginning but as they develop there’s something else.

Can you describe the relationship between Bill and The Doctor?

A good, strong student-teacher relationship IS a friendship it’s just a particular kind of friendship where one knows a lot more than the other and one is more energetic and enthused than the other.  I think the student-teacher model is a good model of what the Doctor and companion relationship is – he’s the man that understand the universe – she’s the one that feels it.  He’s become inured to all the wonder and reconnects with that through Bill’s eyes and Bill doesn’t get to see the universe at all unless the Doctor opens up his blue doors so they provide a nourishment of each other. They are both friends and he is her professor.

Are you excited for Matt Lucas’ return in Series 10?

I’ve been thinking for a while with Peter’s Doctor that he should have a butler, a valet, an assistant.  He would want somebody to fetch and carry and do complicated tasks for him – he’d want a little expert on hand and I was already thinking about that and had quite a different idea of who that was going to be.  And then absolutely coincidentally Matt Lucas who had been in The Husbands of River Song in a tiny little role said he had really enjoyed it and would like to come back if we ever wanted him.  So I pondered this for a few days and said to Brian Minchin (executive producer) that it would be mad to not make something out of this he’s such a popular actor, he’s so brilliant and charming and he’s already in place albeit decapitated …so we brought him back.  He is the Doctor’s go-to guy.  He’s not quite, as we have seen in The Return of Doctor Mysterio the bumbling oaf he likes people to think he is – he’s slyer, more devious, more useful and he has a very shady past.

‘Doctor Who’ series 10 premiers on Saturday at 7:20pm on BBC1 and at 8/9C on BBC America. 

Ian Cullen is the founder of scifipulse.net and has been a fan of science fiction and fantasy from birth. In the past few years he has written for 'Star Trek' Magazine as well as interviewed numerous comics writers, television producers and actors for the SFP-NOW podcast at: www.scifipulseradio.com When he is not writing for scifipulse.net Ian enjoys playing his guitar, studying music, watching movies and reading his comics. Ian is both the founder and owner of scifipulse.net You can contact ian at: ian@scifipulse.net
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