New Interviews with Doctor Who Producer and Cast

New York – March 24, 2010
The Doctor has regenerated into a brand-new man, but danger strikes before he can even recover, as Doctor Who returns for a new rebooted series from BAFTA-winning writer Steven Moffat (Steven Spielberg’s upcoming Tintin, Jekyll, Coupling). With his time machine, the TARDIS, wrecked and the sonic screwdriver, his most crucial device destroyed, the new Doctor has just 20 minutes to save the whole world – and only Amy Pond to help him. Doctor Who premieres Saturday, April 17, 9:00p.m. ET/PT. The Doctor Who premiere episode is an extended version with limited commercial interruption.

This new era of the BAFTA-winning series, which delivered record ratings for BBC AMERICA earlier this year, continues the tradition of rebooting with new lead actors and creative team. Steven Moffat, creator of some of the most frightening and award-winning Doctor Who episodes to date – including the BAFTA-winning episode “Blink,” which starred Oscar nominee Carey Mulligan – takes over as lead writer and executive producer.

For new audiences, Steven Moffat says: “Doctor Who is the adventures of an entirely mysterious stranger from outer space. With a time and space machine that can go absolutely anywhere. It’s literally a television show set in everyplace in the universe, every point in history and in every style and every genre. It’s all the other shows in one. You don’t have to watch the rest of television – this is it.”

The reboot series has the Doctor (Matt Smith) and his new travelling companion, the enigmatic Amy Pond (Karen Gillan), together exploring sixteenth century Venice, France during the 1890s and the United Kingdom in the far future, now an entire nation floating in space. But, the Doctor’s enemies are never far behind him including old nemeses the Daleks and Weeping Angels, plus new foes such as alien vampires, humanoid reptiles and a silent menace that follows the Doctor and Amy wherever they go.

Piers Wenger (Ashes to Ashes) and Beth Willis (Ashes to Ashes) are the executive producers and writers for the new 13 episode series include Richard Curtis (Pirate Radio, Love Actually), Toby Whithouse (Being Human, Torchwood) and Chris Chibnall (Camelot, Law & Order UK, Torchwood). Guest stars include Alex Kingston (ER, Flash Forward), BAFTA-winner James Corden (Gavin & Stacey, The History Boys), Oscar nominee Sophie Okonedo (The Secret Life of Bees, Hotel Rwanda) and Tony Curran (24).

Fans will have a chance to see the premiere early as, BBC AMERICA will present special premiere screenings of the series at target=”_blank”>WonderCon in San Francisco on April 3 and C2E2 in Chicago on April 16.

Ahead of the U.S. premiere broadcast, the BBC AMERICA Original, Doctor Who: The Ultimate Guide, delivers an all-access look inside the universe of the hit drama series. It premieres Saturday, April 17, 8:00 p.m. ET/PT. For more on Doctor Who, please visit the BBC America website.

CREDITS

Cast

The Doctor Matt Smith
(Secret Diary of a Call Girl, The Shadow in the
North
)

Amy Pond Karen Gillan
(The Kevin Bishop Show, Outcast, Stacked)

Guest Stars (in alphabetical order)
James Corden (Gavin & Stacey, The History Boys)

Tony Curran (24)

Arthur Darvill (Little Dorrit)

Iain Glen (Law & Order UK, Resident Evil:
Extinction
)

Alex Kingston (ER, Flash Forward)

Helen McCrory (Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince,
The Queen)

Ian McNeice (Valkyrie, Rome)

Sophie Okonedo (The Secret Life of Bees, Hotel
Rwanda
)

Bill Paterson (Little Dorrit, Law & Order
UK
)

Meera Syal (Jekyll, Beautiful People)

Nina Wadia (EastEnders)

Executive Producer and Lead Writer
Steven Moffat (The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn,
Sherlock, Jekyll, Coupling)

Executive Producers
Piers Wenger (Ashes to Ashes)
Beth Willis (Ashes to Ashes)

Writers
Steven Moffat – Ep 1, 2, 4, 5, 12, 13
Mark Gatiss (Sherlock, The League of Gentlemen) – Ep 3
Toby Whithouse (Being Human, Torchwood) – Ep 6
Simon Nye (Men Behaving Badly, Hardware) – Ep 7
Chris Chibnall (Law & Order UK, Torchwood) – Ep 8, 9
Richard Curtis (Pirate Radio, Love Actually) – Ep 10
Gareth Roberts (The Sarah Jane Adventures, Coronation Street) – Ep  11

Directors
Adam Smith (Skins, Little Dorrit) – Ep 1, 4, 5
Andrew Gunn (Life on Mars, Primeval, Survivors) – Ep  2, 3
Jonny Campbell (MI-5, Ashes to Ashes) – Ep 6, 10
Catherine Morshead (Shameless, Viva Blackpool, Ashes to  Ashes) – Ep 7, 11

Ashley Way (Torchwood, Crash, Personal Affairs) – Ep  8, 9
Toby Haynes (Being Human, Hollyoaks) – Ep 12, 13

Doctor  Who is a BBC Wales production for BBC ONE and distributed
by BBC Worldwide.

SYNOPSES

Episode 1- The
Eleventh Hour – written by Steven Moffat

The Doctor has regenerated into a brand-new man, but danger strikes before he can even recover, as Doctor Who returns for a new series. With the TARDIS wrecked and the sonic screwdriver destroyed, the new Doctor has just 20 minutes to save the whole world – and only Amy Pond to help him.

Premieres
Saturday, April 17, 9:00p.m. ET/PT

STEVEN MOFFAT INTERVIEW

width=”139″ style=”margin-left: 12px; margin-right: 12px; float: left;”
alt=”_DSC5845″
src=”http://www.whedonopolis.com/wp-content/uploads/images/drw/image003.jpg”
/>Steven Moffat is a BAFTA-award winning writer whose career in
television has spanned more than 20 years and produced some of the
UK’s best-loved television dramas in that time. But more than that,
he is a Doctor Who fan who has just been handed his dream job – in
charge of this iconic drama series.


“I suppose
I could say the reason I started working in TV is because I was such a huge
fan of Doctor Who,” explains Steven. “I was absolutely
fascinated and thrilled by the show. I wanted to know how the TARDIS
disappeared, how all the special effects worked and why the Doctor changed.
As a viewer you want to know why he looks different; it’s a show that
compels you to look behind the scenes. In fact, over the years I think
I’ve bought every single issue of Doctor Who Magazine since it
launched.”

But there was a
long period when Doctor Who was not on screen; did Steven ever worry
that he wouldn’t get the opportunity to achieve his lifelong ambition
and write for the show? “I tumbled through the door of
children’s TV, became quite a cool children’s TV writer for
about 48 seconds in 1989 and they basically axed Doctor Who that
day!” says Steven with a chuckle. “After 26 years, just when I
thought I’d finally get to write for the show, I missed out by an
afternoon.”

The
transition
Steven Reads Dr Who Final 2 src=”http://www.whedonopolis.com/wp-content/uploads/images/drw/image005.jpg”
/>to lead writer and executive producer

However, fate
was obviously on Steven’s side and in 2005 Doctor Who was
resurrected and has become one of the biggest shows on UK television under
the guidance of Russell T Davies. “The transition has been strange
and has lasted a long time for me; since I first got an email from Russell
about the job in fact,” explains the Paisley, Scotland born writer.
“We’ve been saying goodbye to each other for two and a half
years now – we’d really better stop before one of us drops dead
in a desperate bid for closure. I hugely enjoyed working with Russell and
every time I came back to Doctor Who during those years it was an
absolute treat. I knew this job was going to be difficult; I was never
under any illusion about it. I could see that Russell was getting tired and
he has acknowledged he is a workaholic. I’ve managed to take up
workaholism, but it never sits quite as easy with me.”

The actual
moment of regeneration was, of course, the pinnacle of that transition and
Steven’s first chance to write for the new Doctor. “It was
Russell’s courtesy to allow me to write Matt’s first scene when
the regeneration happened and he was adamant about that. He’s a fan
like I am and he’ll always be motivated by that. He wouldn’t
like to think as a member of the audience that the old writer had written
the new Doctor. In our heads that’s where the new era begins,
that’s what matters to us.”

Casting the
Doctor

Doctor
Who
has already had multiple incarnations on television,
so casting the perfect actor for the lead role presented some interesting
debates. “I had a clear idea, which actually turned out to be
the absolute opposite of what we ended up doing – which always happens when
you get the casting right,” reveals Steven. “I actually
remember at the beginning of the process when I got a little bit cross
while looking at the list of actors as it was full of people in their
twenties. I said to everyone that we couldn’t have a Doctor who is
27. My idea was that the person was going to be between 30 – 40 years old,
young enough to run but old enough to look wise. Then, of course, Matt
Smith comes through the door and he’s odd, angular and strange
looking. He doesn’t come across as being youthful at all, in the most
wonderful way.”

Casting the
new Companion

But alongside
the new Doctor is a brand new Companion, played by Scottish actress Karen
Gillan. What was it about her that made her perfect for the role?
“The challenge with casting the Companion is that there are only so
many people that would actually go through those blue doors. It has to be
someone that loves adventure and doesn’t quite feel at home with where
they are,” explains Steven. “They have to be a feisty,
fun-loving and gutsy person – and now we’ve got Karen Gillan. She was
just exactly right for the role despite inhabiting Amy Pond in a way that
was quite different from how I originally wrote the part.”

The new
Doctor Who stories

An inevitable
question that will be asked of the new series is how it differs from those
that have gone before. “I’ve never done anything differently,
at least not deliberately,” says Steven. I just try and think of all
the best and maddest Doctor Who stories I want to watch, and get them
made – there are worse ways to make a living. You could say that I’m
more into the clever plots; I like the big twists and the sleight of hand.
I like playing around with time-travel but I don’t think it should be
at the front of Doctor Who in every episode. However, I do think it
should happen more often and reinforce the fact he has an odd relationship
with time. For example, no one is ever dead to him. He can’t say
‘I knew Winston Churchill’ he’d say ‘I know Winston
Churchill’. Everyone in the whole universe is still alive to him and
he has no sense of time passing
. I find that all fascinating. If you look
at the stories I’ve written so far I suppose I might be slightly more
at the fairytale and Tim Burton end of Doctor Who, whereas Russell is
probably more at the blockbuster and Superman end of the
show.”

First day of
filming

Despite the
lengthy transition, there finally came the day when all of the hard work was
realized; the first day of filming of the new series. “By accident it
was the most magical beginning. We went down onto this perfect, white
beach,” reveals Steven. “The TARDIS and our two main characters
were there and we could just see that blue rectangle facing us. It was like
a stamp stuck on a picture, it was so perfect! I remember walking down
thinking this is properly magical; we’re not starting with some
secondary characters that end up getting killed by an electric slug, or
something. We’re actually starting with the Doctor and the Companion
stepping out of the TARDIS talking to River Song.”

Where he
would travel in the TARDIS

Steven has, in
the past, described the TARDIS as the best storytelling and plot device that
there is. But if he had his own, where would he choose to go? “I have
no real desire to go anywhere else because I’m genuinely so happy with
my life the way it is at the moment. I’d probably like to go to the
future but stay away from libraries in case I found out when I died; that
would be a bit miserable. I’d like to see what the toys and gadgets
are in the future and all the fun I’m going to miss out on. But most
of all, I’d like to know who’s playing the
Doctor!”

So, as a
life-long Doctor Who fan, who is his favorite Doctor? “The one
with the two hearts that travels in the TARDIS… And word on the
street is, he’s never looked finer.“

MATT SMITH
INTERVIEW

width=”345″ style=”margin-left: 12px; margin-right: 12px; float: left;”
alt=””
src=”http://www.whedonopolis.com/wp-content/uploads/images/drw/image007.png”
/>It may be the eleventh time an actor has taken on the iconic
role of the Doctor but Matt Smith hasn’t let that stand in his way of
creating his very own vision for the character. Here he explains what it
was like to land the role and talks about his dream trip in the
TARDIS.


“It was
quite weird news to receive” says Matt Smith, the youngest actor to
play the title role of hit show Doctor Who. “I mean at that
point it was a piece of information I couldn’t share with anyone so it
didn’t feel tangible, but needless to say I was very pleased.”

“I
actually ended up walking around London listening to Sinatra on my
iPod,” laughs the 27 year old as he tries to explain the moment he
found out he had won the much coveted role of the Doctor. “Funnily
enough my mum had texted me to say she thought I should play the Doctor a
week before my agent asked me to audition so she was delighted I got the
part. I was also abroad when it was announced on the BBC and my phone went
mad – the bill was enormous!”

Taking on the
role of the Doctor

Spanning five
decades, Doctor Who has been a part of British culture for nearly 50
years. Since its successful return in 2005 both Christopher Eccleston and
David Tennant have played the title role and made their own mark on the
eccentric Time Lord. Now it’s Matt’s turn to give his own
portrayal of the iconic character; a challenge which some young actors may
have shied away from. “I think these things are only as intimidating
as you allow them to be” explains Matt. “It’s a real
privilege to join such a successful show; it’s a bit like joining
Manchester United (soccer team). It’s good to be part of something
strong and long may it continue. Plus I couldn’t have inherited the
role from a nicer man. I guess it’s like anything really, the more you
do something the less daunting and intimidating it
becomes.”

First day of
filming

However, Matt
admits his first day of filming, which took place on a beach in wet and
windy conditions, was both daunting and challenging. “It was very
tough because we were up against the tide and could only film until
3pm,” reveals Matt. “It felt like being in a twilight zone
because there were so many people watching and dozens of paparazzi around!
It was nice that Karen was there as well though,” he continues,
“because we were both going through the same experience. We were also
surrounded by Doctor Who fans and every time I had to nip to the
toilet they followed me. I’ve now learnt this is the norm on
Doctor Who!”

The new
TARDIS will be a surprise

Central to the
story is the TARDIS which transports The Doctor across time and space to a
wonderful array of worlds and universes. The TARDIS is a living creature
and regenerates along with the Doctor in the opening episode of the new
series. The details of the new TARDIS will remain an on screen surprise for
viewers but Matt confesses he was like a boy in a candy store when he first
set foot in it. “It’s like a Ferrari, Lamborghini and Porsche
all molded into one!” exclaims the excited actor. “It’s so
incredible because the TARDIS is an icon of our cultural history and
suddenly I’m the one who’s flying it. I am quite clumsy though
so I kept breaking parts of the console and the poor production team had to
keep fixing it,” chuckles Matt. “But the TARDIS is a magic
concept and it provides a constant source of wonderment and adventure for
both the Doctor and the viewers.”

What to
expect from the bow-tie wearing Doctor

There have been
10 previous incarnations of the Doctor, each with their own traits and
quirks, but what can viewers expect from this bow-tie wearing Docto
r?
“He is still the same man but I think my Doctor is a bit more
reckless; he’s a thrill seeker and addicted to time travel,”
reveals Matt. “He is the mad buffoon genius who saves the world
because he’s got a great heart, spirit and soul but he also
doesn’t suffer fools. I hope all of these things come across but I
think I’ve also injected a bit of my own personality into the role. I
also helped choose the Doctor’s costume which was great fun. Steven
was very keen the outfit isn’t seen as the overriding factor of the
Doctor’s personality but we still needed to find something that felt
right. We tried on lots of things but kept reaching a dead end and we
dismissed a number of items including a long leather coat, a long blue coat
and some short punky stuff! But then one day I brought in my braces and a
tweed jacket and it went from there. Soon we had the whole outfit although
something still felt like it was missing and I asked if I could try on a
bow tie – at that point the execs all bowed their heads in concern but
luckily when I tried it on we agreed it worked and it has sort of become
the signature of my Doctor now. ”

The Doctor
and Amy’s slightly mad relationship

Joining the
Doctor on his adventures throughout time and space is new Companion Amy Pond
played by redheaded beauty Karen Gillan and Matt admits the pair of them
found it difficult to remain serious when filming scenes together. “I
always used to look forward to us being in make up together, we would just
make each other crack up. I think that’s important because it forms
part of the energy of the show,” explains Matt. “I also think
the Doctor and Amy share a slightly mad relationship; she’s a handful
and he likes the fact she challenges him and can sometimes act a bit
bonkers. The way they are introduced to each other is truly magical and
they form a deep affinity for one another.”


Filming in
Croatia and being pummeled with freezing cold water

Throughout this
series Amy and the Doctor go on some truly extraordinary adventures.
“I loved filming the vampire stuff in Croatia which doubled up for
Venice,” reveals Matt. “I had to climb a huge bell tower with a
rain machine pummeling water at me. It was freezing cold but I absolutely
loved it! I also enjoyed filming part of episode 10 when I was yanked
through the air on a harness after being hit by an invisible monster.
However, my favorite scene to film was in episode one when I ate fish
fingers and custard with the character Amelia. Luckily they were actually
breaded cakes so it wasn’t quite as bad as it sounds. I had to eat a
lot of them but it was an enchanting scene so it was worth
it.”

KAREN GILLAN
INTERVIEW

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alt=””
src=”http://www.whedonopolis.com/wp-content/uploads/images/drw/image009.jpg”
/>The regenerations of the Doctor are a staple part of the
mythology of Doctor Who, but across the past five decades there has
been another constant in the series; the changing faces of his companion.
Now Karen Gillan, born in Inverness, Scotland, becomes the latest actress
to join the Doctor in the TARDIS. Here she discusses landing the enviable
role, the production team’s continued use of secret anagrams
(Torchwood was an anagram used for labeling Doctor Who tapes
on older seasons) and making her mother cry…


“It was
one of the strangest experiences ever; it was a really weird
feeling,” exclaims Karen Gillan about her casting as Amy Pond.
“I found out on the day of my second audition with Matt, so at least I
didn’t have a really long wait. It just didn’t feel real, and I
couldn’t believe it!”

But auditioning
for Doctor Who is unlike any other audition for the excitable, down
to earth actress: “I knew that the audition was for the part of the
Companion, but I wasn’t allowed to tell anyone about it. They even
had a code name for the role because it was so top secret. The code name
was ‘Panic Moon’; an anagram of Companion which I thought was
really clever.”

The secrecy
around being cast as Amy Pond

Even after Karen
discovered she had been cast as Amy Pond the veil of secrecy was not
lifted: “I wasn’t allowed to tell anyone that I got the part
but my boyfriend was with me when I found out so there was rather a lot of
screaming!

“I decided
not to tell my parents as I didn’t want to spoil the surprise but
when I finally did tell them I made a special day of it and my mom took a
day off work. She just couldn’t believe it when I told her. She was
doing the dishes and she literally stopped in her tracks and cried.
She’s a huge fan of the show, has been a fan for years. She even has
Dalek bubble bath at home!”

A newcomer to
the industry via the Highlands of Scotland

Part of the
interest in Karen was due to her being a relative newcomer to the industry,
so how would she explain her life so far to the public? “I’m
from Inverness in Scotland, right up in the Highlands. When I was 16 I
moved to Edinburgh to study acting and I stayed there for a year, then at 17
I decided to move to London to continue my acting career,” she
reveals. “I also did a little bit of modeling for two years which I
enjoyed. I met some great people and it was a really fantastic
experience.”

How Amy
compares to previous Companions

Since Doctor
Who’s
return in 2005, there have been a number of memorable
Companions for the Doctor. How does Karen feel Amy compares to those that
have gone before? “Well, for a start Steven has written a brilliant
character. I do think Amy is different from previous Companions because
she’s very equal to the Doctor. She doesn’t take his word as
gospel and she’s always happy to challenge him. If he tells her to do
something then she won’t necessarily do it, she might go off and do
her own thing which can sometimes create a rift between the two of them!
They are best pals though and it’s a very up and down relationship
because the
y are both very passionate people.”

Amy and the
Doctor’s relationship

So is it fair to
say that we will see some conflict between Amy and the Doctor? “The
Doctor is definitely an alpha male and Amy is an alpha female, so when they
meet, they combust. They have quite a turbulent relationship but
it’s also really passionate and they care about each other. Amy can
really hold her own against him and Steven’s written some great
one-liners. It’s a great relationship.”

How Karen
feels about Matt as the Doctor

And Karen feels
Matt, as the youngest actor to play the Doctor, has risen to the challenge
admirably. “I think Steven said it perfectly; Matt manages to be old
and young at the same time,” explains Karen. “That’s the
great thing about the Doctor; he has the energy and mischief of a young
child as well as the wisdom, age and intelligence of someone a lot older.
Also, with Matt’s performance in particular, he’s so believable
that he isn’t human. He has all these things that he does that make
you really believe he is an alien or a Time Lord you’re drawn in by
that.”

EXECUTIVE
PRODUCERS INTERVIEW

Piers Wenger
and Beth Willis have taken on Executive Producer duties, alongside Steven
Moffat, from the outgoing Doctor Who team of Russell T Davies and
Julie Gardner. Here they reveal the challenges they have faced with taking
on such a hugely successful series and why it’s so important for
Doctor Who to evolve.


“It has
definitely been a big challenge taking on this show because we love it so
much and why tinker with something that has been as popular, successful and
brilliant as it has been?” says executive producer Beth Willis.
“But at the same time we are terribly aware we have to look forward
and work out how the show is going to survive in the future. In 2005 the
team looked at what was fresh and new then and we have to do a bit of that
ourselves. Looking at the episodes we’ve filmed so far we’re
starting to see the impact of those changes; what the team has managed to
achieve is pretty thrilling.”

Fellow Executive
Producer and Head of Drama for BBC Wales, Piers Wenger, agrees and adds;
“The thing which is most important to us is telling a good story at
the end of the day; that’s always the thing the audience is going to
be most demanding about. Beyond that, any changes we have made have been
motivated by giving the show the best production values money can buy.
It’s the nation’s favorite, and that means it deserves the
best.”

The marks of
the new era

The advances in
technology over the past five years have inevitably enabled the program
makers to use more sophisticated techniques and create awe-inspiring visual
effects. However, a new lead writer and Doctor are undoubtedly what viewers
will feel mark the dawn of a new era for the hit series. “The fact we
have Steven Moffat writing it and Matt Smith starring in it gives the show
an inevitable element of change,” explains Beth. “However, the
one thing that hasn’t made us scared about this change was reading
Steven’s scripts. I felt deeply honored and excited to be in a
position to be working with such great scripts. It doesn’t really
matter what color you use, where the camera is or how you position a light;
Steven and Matt are brilliant which has made mine and Piers’ job much
easier.”

Piers, Beth
and Steven are all certified Whovians

Renowned as the
most dedicated and passionate fans in the world, it seems Whovians certainly
have a lot to look forward to. But would Piers and Beth consider themselves
part of the loyal following? “Steven, myself and Piers were some of
the most excited people in the country when we found out Doctor Who
was coming back in 2005. Well, in truth, Steven was probably the most
excited, but Piers and I weren’t that far behind him!” laughs
Beth.

“I’ve always been a fan and I was even accused
at the age of eight of shoplifting a copy of Doctor Who Magazine from
my local newsagents – completely wrongly I hasten to add,” confesses
Piers. “I was accused of it probably because I was in there all the
time reading them!”

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