The Steven Moffat InterviewDoctor Who is back! How has the dynamic of the series changed since series 8?
Steven Moffat: Peter Capaldi returns with his second series as the Doctor - it’s the glory years of the Doctor and Clara. They’ve been through the angst, the Doctor has been through his fear of not being a good man, and Clara has been through her fear that this might not be the Doctor. They’re on equal footing with a new dynamic between them and are relishing the Universe. They’re linking hands and running towards a brand new world of epic adventure on a cinematic scale. They are clearly heroes and loving every minute!
How is the series different from last year?
SM: I think it’s a big, mad and exciting series. You’ll be grinning a lot more, there’s more comedy mixed in with some of the darkest stuff we’ve done – the Doctor’s first big entrance kind of sets the tone.
Why did you decide on re-introducing two-parters?
SM: We’re doing bigger stories and two-parters allow you all those massive cliff hangers. 45 minutes has served us incredibly well, but it’s time to change it up a bit, change the rhythm. It’s not just about being longer, sometimes it’s about going deeper. And you won’t always be quite sure whether you’re watching a two-parter or not - how much longer the jeopardy will last. We’re aiming to be unpredictable.
Tell us about the guest cast.
SM: We have a vast array of guest cast this year that means we can build on the depth of stories - develop intrigue and backstories even further. We have the magnificent, insane and comedic Missy returning; young outstanding Maisie Williams taking up a new role as her character challenges the Doctor in unexpected ways; and of course Osgood is brought back from the dead, the Doctor might be in for a surprise with her… This time he might not be able to trust his number one fan.
Did you have any challenges writing for the series?
SM: We always like a new challenge on the show - bringing adventures set on dangerous alien planets, urban thrillers, underwater ghost stories, journeys that take us from Vikings to the end of time itself, we’re pushing the boundaries once again with the most experimental episode Doctor Who has ever made. I’ve written a one hander for the Doctor, I can’t tell you too much about this, but it’s certainly unique and a big first for the show!
The Peter Capaldi InterviewComing back to film your second series, how has the atmosphere been on set?
Peter Capaldi: It’s been lovely to be back and everything’s been very positive. I think everyone’s been happy to be on set in Cardiff and the scripts are very good and strong. Everyone’s become enthused with the spirit of adventure that runs through the scripts, it’s been exciting!
How are you feeling about this new series? What can viewers expect?
PC: I think they’ll find a lot of thrills, lot of mystery, a reckless Doctor in pursuit of adventure. It’s… hopefully full of spectacle and adventure - it’s not a sitting back, domesticated, reflective series, it’s the Doctor and Clara roaring through time and space in search of thrills. So I think it’s great, it should be a fun watch for audiences at home.
Can you tell us about the opening episode?
PC: The opening episode of the new series is fabulous - the story is going to take us across the Universe into all types of dark, terrifying and funny places. It’s a particularly epic one to start, with lots of old favourites, Missy and the Daleks are returning and particularly for those who are nostalgic with the Daleks of the 60s, there are some special surprises in store.
Has the TARDIS changed?
PC: There’s been a few changes in the TARDIS. As we came to know my Doctor a little bit more, we needed to reflect that more in the environment that he lived in. I don’t think my Doctor fits in with the whole idea of Edwardian time traveller, there’s a kind of resurge of that in the look of the TARDIS as it was, so I wanted to make it a little sharper. There are a few more elegant, 60s, classic design things knocking around as opposed to Edwardian or Victorian.
How has the dynamic changed between the Doctor and Clara since series 8?
PC: I think the Doctor and Clara are really having a good time. They’ve had some conflicts and challenges, but generally if you can weather the storms, you often find that your relationship is much stronger. That’s certainly the case with the Doctor and Clara.
They’re very bonded, they’re like a little gang. The Doctor has realised that he’s 2,000 years old and life is short, he wants to enjoy himself and enjoy having Clara around. She’s very good at trying to help him. He’s still rather impatient with human beings, which some people take as being socially inept, but he just can’t be bothered with them, he has better things to do. But she helps him a lot more, she tries to improve his manners and social skills. But they are very deeply bonded, it’s a very curious relationship, it doesn’t really have an equivalent in television. It’s a non-romantic, but deeply bonded pairing which is strangely full of affection, it’s more deeply felt than simple romantic relationships.
What is his relationship like with Missy in the opening episodes?
PC: I wouldn’t say their relationship has changed since he saw her last. Missy’s role is slightly different, but you’ll have to wait and see!
With a wealth of different sets and filming days on locations, would you say they enhance the look and feel of the episodes?
PC: I think the design of the show is always really, really important and it gives a great cinematic feel to the show. It expands it, makes it not simply domestic, but quite cosmic and big. It’s good to have spectacular sets and locations, because it adds more physical texture to the show and opens it up more, it’s all pretty cinematic.
Have you got any favourite moments from playing the Doctor?
PC: For me, obviously to get to play the Doctor, the whole things is a delight. Some of my favourite moments are when we reveal something of the Doctor’s more alien nature. For instance, in ‘Kill the Moon’ when he’s able to look into time and read it, and communicate that, I think that was fun to do.
What was it like to battle Daleks from the different decades in episode 2? Any favourites?
PC: I don’t have a particular favourite, but I do like to see the little old ones, they’re very sweet as they’re quite small. But actually they’re still strangely brutal, nasty little pieces of work, but are rather handsome and classy. They were great fun and do what is expected of them, you get a whole group of them together in the opening episode. I think we had about 20 of them in the studio so that was very exciting. Once you had them all moving, it was very funny watching Hettie (Macdonald) directing them, because she was directing them like actors - ‘you’re getting upset at this moment, have a look at your friends’ - and they’d look at their friends and then she’d say - ‘you need to look nervous now’ - and they’d actually be able to convey nervousness - it was actually very, very clever. It was like being in a Dalek theme park, with a free ticket, so that was fun.
The Jenna Coleman InterviewHow are you feeling about this new series?
Jenna Coleman: Really excited, a lot of the stories are very self-contained two-parters, it’s a lot more space bound and it’s all about adventures and time travelling. The amazing benefit of doing them, is not only do you get more time to explore the story but also at the end of the first part you get to create a huge cliff hanger. Clara and the Doctor are really united, they’re strong together and are just enjoying travelling and doing and seeing as much as possible. It’s very adrenaline fuelled and full of reckless adventure, with them throwing themselves head first in to it.
Clara seems to be more determined and focused on time travelling, do you see that she’s moved on since the last series?
JC: In a way she’s cutting ties with earth more and more. Since losing Danny I think her perspective has changed on life and in a way she’s lost fear of her own mortality a bit. When that happens there’s a sense of freeness. She doesn’t fear her own mortality anymore going in to adventures, so there’s nothing holding her back. So when that happens it can be quite dangerous, as much fun as it is, but I think there’s definitely something in that for Clara, she’s losing herself in the position.
It seems like the Doctor and Clara are more alike than ever before… would you say that’s true?
JC: There’s an ease between them, a shorthand, and she is becoming more and more like him. I think they’ve always been a lot more similar than perhaps other Doctors and companions have been. I think she quite wants to be like him, but the more time they spend together the more doctorly I suppose she’s getting and more independent of him. There are quite a few stories in this series where you see us parting ways, where we’re covering different bases and then you see us coming back together, they’re a proper team. I think they’ve been through so much together, they know each other so well that they’re entwined.
Working with guest cast in each block, how does the dynamic change on set for yourself and Peter?
JC: The two of us are always behaving as stupidly as we do, and it’s been lovely having Michelle back, she’s always a laugh. Maisie is wonderful, I was a really big fan of hers before she came to Doctor Who, she fits right in so it’s been really great having her join us. One of the most wonderful things about the show is every episode feels so different, it feels like a whole new show in a way.
What has been your favourite episode from this series and why?
JC: Episode 11 will be really unique and the Viking episode was so much fun to film. The scripts for episodes 7 and 8 are really strong, Peter Harness has done such a good job with those. They feel like quite different Doctor Who episodes - tense, they feel very relevant, provoking, and clever.
You have great looks this series - do you have any input in to what you wear?
JC: Practically with Doctor Who there are so many different looks, my idea for Clara is very much a school teacher who rides a motor cycle, in a retro 60s style but also sci-fi. The aim was to merge all those elements together for Clara’s look.
In episode 1 the Doctor is lost and you’re contacted by your greatest enemy, Missy. How do Clara and Missy work together to save the Doctor without killing each other?
JC: I think it’s because the peril that the Doctor’s in is so great that the only thing to do is to put differences aside and work together. I think in a way, Clara’s quite fascinated by Missy, but disgusted at the same time. That’s partly to do with how Michelle Gomez plays her, she’s so magnetic that you can’t help but like her, even though you’re supposed to hate her. It’s one of the really clever things she does. Clara and Missy actually end up getting on, but remembering they don’t like each other again.
Having two females that are very close to the Doctor is interesting for Clara to witness, because the Doctor and Missy are enemies, but they are also very ancient friends. They have a past and history that they cannot even touch upon, or even understand how you can like or be in love with somebody that has repeatedly tried to kill you throughout time and space.
I also think it’s interesting for Clara to operate under a female Time Lady, she’s so used to running with the Doctor that to be with a Time Lady is quite a new experience for her. Somebody who is so maniacal is quite fun. You think you’re safe and within 30 seconds you’re literally being pushed down a cliff.
You’ve done a few stunts in the series - can you tell us about them?
JC: I’ve done a lot of hanging upside down this series - upside down on a cliff in Tenerife was new, but surprising, it looks so easy but it’s not at all. It was tricky because we could only do it in minute spurts, filming the scenes. I also had a scene where I was hanging outside of the TARDIS too, so it seems to be one of my specialities this series!
The Michelle Gomez InterviewYou’ve re-joined the Doctor Who cast and reclaimed the role of ‘Missy’ for series 9… What was it like being back on set?
Michelle Gomez: It felt so good to be back, especially as I thought it was all over for Missy at the end of series 8. But then, of course, she is the Master, after all, so anything can happen, even dodging death. I'm still in a state of shock at actually being in a show I watched avidly as a child.
How did you feel when you were asked to return?
MG: I was thrilled to be asked back, it's not every day one gets to travel through all of space and time. When they asked me to return, it's not that I had to think too hard about it, of course I said yes. And I'd say yes again if it came to it, but nothing's a guarantee so I'm aware this year might be her last. But I sincerely hope not.
You appear in the opening episodes with Clara, tell us about it…
MG: The dynamic between Missy and Clara takes on a whole new shape and not one I had imagined. There is something not quite right about it that makes for slightly unnerving viewing. Missy gets bored very easily. You can imagine her and the Doctor in the classroom. Missy using her intellect even then to cause mischief and disrupt.
Tell us about your relationship with Clara in these episodes.
MG: Our relationship shifts greatly from where we left off in the last series. Dare I say there might be a hint of respect there? Perhaps not quite respect. More a healthy dose of circumspect, from both I guess.
Shooting in a large cinematic location abroad in Tenerife, what did the location add to the scenes?
MG: There’s a sense of opera about that strange volcanic landscape - grand and loud in its infinite vastness, which provided us with a perfect backdrop for our needs. It had a harsh but strange beauty, almost lunar. Which was kind of the point.
Tell us about your relationship with the Doctor in these episodes…
MG: They are still opposite magnets repelling mostly, but at times they also attract. There is an undeniable shorthand that comes with a lifelong friendship. A friendship that at some point went very wrong. They are both from the same place eons ago, so the weight of that history they share is the bedrock of their relationship.
Can you describe your character ‘Missy’? Tell us how she’s developed since series 8…
MG: Missy is a force of nature. She is a fearless, slightly psychotic killer whom you can't help but like just a little bit. She's very honest in her role as the Master. This is how she sees it - they both kill. The Doctor feels bad about it, she doesn’t. To her the Doctor hides behind his remorse whilst she thrives in the power to destroy. She has many tools to do this, but so far we have seen but a few. Reading minds, hypnosis and moving obstacles just by thinking about it are to name but a few. She doesn't bake much. Well, not in the conventional sense.
Currently the Doctor Who team has a strong Scottish feel with Peter, Steven and yourself as part of the crew… What feedback have you received from your home town?
MG: Go Scotland!!!! When asked recently what does Gallifrey look like, I replied ‘Glasgow’, I'm sure that went down a storm. I think they are very proud. It's a Scottish take over with Peter, Steven and I all from Glasgow. The Weegies will take over the world.
You live in New York and there’s a big Doctor Who following in America - are you recognised when you’re in the US as much as the UK?
MG: I’d say around the same amount. Which is not much at all. Missy and I have a very different dress sense so the fact I'm not wandering around in full Victorian garb means I get to walk around pretty freely.
What do you think Doctor Who means for British drama and its identity overseas?
MG: It’s a product that reaches across the seas and touches people across the world. It ignites their imaginations with brilliant storytelling that all the family can enjoy. There aren’t too many of those shows around anymore which makes it all the more special.