All right, this made me cry… Something about grown men getting a little weepy just does me in:
All right, this made me cry… Something about grown men getting a little weepy just does me in:
Matt Smith gave an interview with Radio Times a couple days ago. Reading the opening paragraph I have to say I’d word it differently… As in “awesome” socks 🙂 :
Matt Smith is sitting in a rather glorious BMW on his way to the ExCel Centre in London’s Docklands. He’s sporting a neatly cut crop, wearing jeans and a jumper from ACNE, a leather jacket from D&G, a scarf from Marc Jacobs and some slightly alarming socks.
As the car gets closer to the gleaming glass and grey steel hall playing host to thousands of fans – marking their hero’s 50th birthday at the three-day Doctor Who Celebration – the current incarnation of the last living Time Lord looks more like his next big role: Patrick Bateman in American Psycho. Which way is he going to play it when meeting the fans? He laughs. “You just have to be yourself. Whatever that is nowadays…”
He can be forgiven for his confusion. This Christmas, when he hands over the sonic screw-driver to Peter Capaldi, he’ll be leaving the Doctor in the best of health – a pain-racked regeneration notwithstanding. On air in over 50 countries and counting – it’s on three channels in the USA – the show has a global audience of some 77 million. When he west cast, as the youngest actor ever to play the part, newspaper headlines were mocking – “Doctor Who?” In the UK, at least, he’s answered that questions.
Since he announced he was hanging up this Tardis keys earlier this year, however, he’s gone for roles so different from the good-hearted saviour of the universe that you assume he’s making a Daniel Radcliffe-style statement: “Don’t think I’m just the Doctor.” He’s already filmed Ryan Gosling’s directorial debut, How to Catch a Monster, and tabloid shots from the set showed him lifting weights like a marine, his much-loved floppy fringe razored off.
This month he’s on stage at the Almeida Theatre in American Psycho, a London stage-musical version of Bret Easton Ellis’s bestseller about a powerful Wall Street banker who moonlights as a serial killer. “It’s a bizarre challenge, especially as I’ve never sung before,” Smith explains. “I thought, why not give it a stab… foolishly. I mean, it’s not like other musicals – which is why I took it. It’s difficult and challenging.”
We’re conducting this exit interview the day before his barnstorming performance in the 50th birthday episode. He only has what remains of the year as the official Doctor. While we’re talking, you can almost feel him moving on.
What’s it like playing the Doctor? “Everything changed. It’s all consuming – and that affects the rhythm of your life. Now, however, it’s settling down a little.” What can we expect from the Christmas episode? “I can’t tell you. It was a great shoot – a sad one for me, but I think it’ll be a fitting send-off and a fitting introduction for Peter.”
Any regrets? “None. I think if I was going to choose to spend a couple of years in anyone’s body, why not live it as the Doctor? He’s going to have more fun than almost anyone else alive.”
The rest of the team is going to miss him desperately. “You will not find anyone with a negative story about Matt,” the show’s writer Steven Moffat tells us. “The producer, Marcus Wilson, gets him on set as quickly as possible because the crew literally works faster when he’s there. He’s the life and soul, greeting the guest actors like the perfect host, even when he’s feel- ing broody, unhappy, tired or sulky.”
Moffat thinks Smith is the most successful actor yet when it comes to capturing the enormous age of the Doctor. “Matt is a youthful envelope but he has an old soul,” he muses. “In real life Matt is very cool. The Doctor would like to think he’s cool, but he isn’t. The Doctor probably thinks he can hang out with Matt and go to the same clubs, but I don’t think Matt would have him along on a night out.”
Certainly, Smith is looking to make some cool choices. He’d love to do a movie with 12 Years a Slave director Steve McQueen or Morvern Callar director Lynne Ramsay – who shoot cutting-edge, offbeat, disturbing films. He’d also like to direct, having tried his hand for Sky Arts’ Playhouse Presents. In January, however, it’s “back to the drawing board – the auditions, the life of an actor,” he puts on a slight American drawl, “because that’s the life we choose.”
He tells us this as the car waits at traffic lights near the convention centre. While he’s talking, a man walks past wearing an impressive Tom Baker scarf. Smith checks it out then winds down the window: “Hey mate… over here… nice scarf!”
The man smiles sheepishly at his friend in a Captain Jack jacket then realises who it is. He dashes over, stunned and gabbling, but can’t seem to make up his mind whether to ask for a photo or an autograph. “Hey man, quick,” Smith urges, hanging out of the window as the driver puts the car in gear. “He’s going to leave, mate,” but the man is almost frozen in shock. It’s not often, after all, that the actual Doctor admires your Doctor costume. “Oh dear…” Smith is stricken as the car starts to move. “We gotta go, dude… bye… see you later.” He flops back on his seat. “That was weird.”
The moment shows the fans’ devotion to Smith. Will that help with his cool young movie star ambitions? Some people aren’t sure. “In he UK we love to talk up how big Doctor Who is in America, and it’s definitely bigger than it’s ever been,” says PR guru Mark Borkowski. “But it’s not on primetime television over there – so millions of Americans have never heard of him. He’s entirely at the mercy of the scripts he chooses – America is all about what’s hot now.”
A couple of years ago Borkowski worked with a young British actor – equally young, equally well known on TV – who made a big splash when an equally hot American director selected him as his lead in a new movie. “I was getting five or six calls a day, he was interviewed by everyone and he was offered tickets to the American Open tennis when we were over in New York for the premiere,” he recalls, refusing to name the actor in question.
“But the film was badly reviewed – not a turkey but not a hit. As soon as the first Variety review appeared online, the phone calls stopped. Literally went dead. He had a week to go before the American Open and he couldn’t get anyone to even answer his emails about the tickets he’d been promised. He was devastated.”
Does Smith fear such a rejection? “Of course,” he shrugs. “If you criticise my performance, in the papers or an audition, I can try to convince myself it’s the character you don’t like or the interpretation. The truth is it’s me you’re criticising. It leaves you exposed. That first 30 seconds in the room at an audition – no actor is beyond that.”
Looking for precedence, it’s tempting to compare Smith’s chances with the careers of David Tennant and Benedict Cumberbatch – both made a stab at Hollywood after playing quirky, supersmart men in TV shows penned by Moffat (to a US casting director the Doctor and Sherlock could almost be the same role). Tennant returned to Blighty and Broadchurch, while Cumberbatch has two big films lined up for 2014.
Steven Moffat is sure of Smith’s success. “Benedict and Matt are both fascinating actors – they’re never going to play James Bond, they’re not leading men, they’re not Brad Pitt,” he explains. “They’ll always choose the interesting script over the glamorous part. But that’s good. Stars tend to have very short careers, while Ian McKellen will be working until he’s 80, and they have that quality.”
Smith thinks his footballing experience will help – he played for Nottingham Forest and Leicester City youth teams until injury steered him into acting. “I’m a firm believer in the parallels between sport and acting,” he explains. “Practice is important. Frank Lampard practises sprints his entire career. An actor might work on his voice. But then it’s about expression in the moment – preparation and dedication are fine, but you have to deliver spontaneously.”
It being the time of his passing as the Doctor – of a little death no matter how the soul of his character lives on in another body – we feel it appropriate to ask if he’s had any profound existential thoughts as a result. Does an on-screen death teach you what’s important in life? Is there a point to our existence? He thinks for a moment. “That question starts off on the wrong foot… I think the point is the endeavours we make towards the discovery of our existence through art or love or family. They are at least the things that make us realise we exist.”
He’s declared himself an atheist, but if there was a God and they met – what would he like to say? He laughs. “If there was a God, what would I ask? I’d ask – can I have my money back?” And he bids a warm farewell as the ExCeL swallows him up, moving on into his unwritten future – with no Tardis and no option of ever coming back.
Doctor Who is back on Christmas Day at 7:30pm on BBC1
There was a panel the day before The Day of the Doctor aired, at the Doctor Who celebration in London. Of course BBC America had someone on hand to report. Maybe someday I can get to do one of these things 😉 :
Themes of loss and rebirth loomed above “The Eleventh Doctor” panel today at the Doctor Who celebration featuring Matt Smith, Jenna Coleman, showrunner Steven Moffat, and producer Marcus Wilson.
By the end of Christmas Day this year, two of those names—Smith and Wilson—will have officially departed the show, while the other two will usher in a new era of Who with Twelfth Doctor Peter Capaldi.
But this transition will not occur without a period of mourning. Asked about her saddest moment while on the show, Coleman responded, “Saying goodbye to this one,” pointing at her partner-in-crime, Eleventh Doctor Matt Smith, who will be subsumed in a blaze of regenerative energy and turn into Capaldi in this year’s Christmas special.
Moffat agreed: Matt’s departure would be the saddest moment for him in his three years running the series. After all, Moffat took over the reins of the show as an ultimate fan, and Smith embodied the character he grew up loving. “I’ve worked on many shows,” Moffat said. “Some I’ve created. I’ve never been as emotional about them as I am about Doctor Who.”
But Doctor Who revives itself through constant changes, with companions coming and going, and the Doctor taking on new forms. “You never tire of seeing someone enter the TARDIS for the first time,” Coleman said when asked about why Doctor Who endures.
Finding an appealing, commanding Doctor has always been a key part of the show’s survival, and Matt Smith seemed almost genetically engineered for the role. Moffat revealed that the production team were “almost certain we were going with someone older, since David Tennant was a young Doctor.” But that’s because they hadn’t met Matt Smith yet, and when he auditioned, he immediately nailed the crotchetiness necessary for playing a 900-year-old. (Moffat boasts that he has the casting tape on his laptop. Will it make its way to YouTube one day?)
Fans, who loved the romance and righteousness Tennant brought to the Time Lord, were willing to give a new actor a chance. Smith, whose hair is finally growing back after he sheared it off for Ryan Gosling‘s How To Catch a Monster, waxed rhapsodic over his rock star reception at the Village East Cinemas for the U.S. premiere of his Doctor debut, “The Eleventh Hour.” “You guys go wild for it over there,” he said.
“I tried to embrace his old crankiness while have a young face,” Smith said.
Meanwhile, Smith says the Doctor is in good hands with Capaldi. “Peter Capaldi is an actor of the highest regard,” said Smith. “Anyone with doubts should watchThe Thick Of It.”
But, of course, before Capaldi takes over the TARDIS, there’s still Smith’s penultimate episode, the much-awaited “The Day of the Doctor.” The panel was mostly mum about the highly guarded plot details of the 50th anniversary episode. Moffat praised Marcus Wilson’s contributions to it: “The 50th looks like a multimillion dollar blockbuster, and it’s all because of this guy,” gesturing toward Wilson. (Wilson, whose final episode is the Christmas special, says he’s sad but “I’m going out with a bang.”)
Meanwhile, Jenna Coleman’s lips are sealed when it comes to revealing former companion Billie Piper‘s role in “The Day of the Doctor.” “I have been told to say nothing regarding Billie,” she told the crowd. “So that will be a big surprise tomorrow night.”
The contents of The Day of the Doctor‘s DVD/Blu-ray have been announced, according to Doctor Who TV:
The Doctors embark on their greatest adventure in this 50th anniversary special. In 2013, something terrible is awakening in London’s National Gallery; in 1562, a murderous plot is afoot in Elizabethan England; and somewhere in space, an ancient battle reaches its devastating conclusion. All of reality is at stake as the Doctor’s own dangerous past comes back to haunt him.
- The Night of the Doctor – mini episode starring Paul McGann
- The Last Day – second mini episode
- Doctor Who Explained
- Behind The Lens
- The Day of the Doctor TV trailer
- 50 Years of Doctor Who trailer
- The disc also contains English subtitles for the hard of hearing, audio description and audio navigation. The main feature contains a 5.1 soundtrack.
Starring: Matt Smith, David Tennant and Jenna Coleman with Billie Piper and John Hurt Written by Steven Moffat Directed by Nick Hurran Executive produced by Steven Moffat and Faith Penhale Produced by Marcus Wilson
Region 1 (US, Canada) – 3 December 2013
Region 2 (UK, Ireland, Europe) – 2 December 2013
BBC America tweeted today that the official air time for The Day of the Doctor is 2:50pm Eastern time on November 23rd. I’ll be there!
There’s also a ton of stuff going on all week, so clear your schedule and get ready to camp out in front of your TV! Since I didn’t book the week off, I’ll need to PVR most of it…
MONDAY, NOVEMBER 18
Doctor Who: The Doctors Revisited Marathon: 9:00am – 9:00pm ET
The First through Tenth Doctor
Doctor Who: Tales from the TARDIS: 9:00 –10:00pm ET An all-new special, Doctor Who: Tales from the TARDIS, features the series’ actors and producers sharing their experiences and memories of the world’s longest-running sci-fi show. The special features exclusive interviews with principal cast members from the show’s 50-year history, including actors who have played the Doctor: Matt Smith, David Tennant, Tom Baker, and Peter Davison, actors who have played companions: Jenna Coleman, Karen Gillan, Freema Agyeman, and William Russell, as well as the current lead writer and executive producer Steven Moffat. The discussion includes how the actors got cast, how the roles changed their lives, how a ‘regeneration’ is recorded, and how filming the show in the 60′s compares to today.
A former rock star and Britain’s popular TV physicist, Professor Brian Cox explores the universe of the world’s favorite Time Lord when he takes the audience on a journey into the wonderful universe of Doctor Who, with the help of celebrity guests. In this exclusively recorded special from the lecture theatre of the Royal Institution of Great Britain, Brian reveals the science behind the spectacle and explains the physics that allows Doctor Who to travel through space and time. Fun, but filled with real science, it’s a special night for Who fans and anyone with a thirst for understanding.
TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 19
Doctor Who – The Ninth Doctor Marathon: 10:00am –11:00pm ET
WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 20
Doctor Who – The Tenth Doctor Marathon: 2:00am –11:00pm ET
THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 21
Doctor Who – The Eleventh Doctor Marathon Part I: 9:00am – 11:00pm ET
The Eleventh Doctor – Matt Smith
FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 22
Doctor Who – The Eleventh Doctor Marathon Part 2: 9:00am – 8:00pm ET
The Eleventh Doctor – Matt Smith
Doctor Who Explained – 8:00pm – 9:00pm ET [http://smhttp.14409.nexcesscdn.net/806D5E/wordpress-L/images/Doctor-Who-50th-Anniversary.jpg]An all-new special, Doctor Who Explained, explores the mysterious and two-hearted alien who is the Doctor. Through exclusive interviews with principal cast members from the show’s 50-year history, including actors who have played the Doctor: Matt Smith, David Tennant, Peter Davison, and Tom Baker as well as actors who have played companions: Jenna Coleman, Karen Gillan, and Freema Agyeman, viewers get an insight to what happens behind-the-scenes of the award-winning sci-fi show.
An Adventure in Space and Time – 9:00pm ET
What do you get when you mix C.S. Lewis with H.G. Wells, and sprinkle in a bit of Father Christmas? An alien Time Lord exploring space and time in a Police Box spaceship called the “TARDIS” (Time And Relative Dimension in Space). Written by Mark Gatiss, the BBC AMERICA co-production, the film stars David Bradley (the First Doctor, William Hartnell), Brian Cox (BBC Head of Drama, Sydney Newman), Jessica Raine (Producer, Verity Lambert) and Sacha Dhawan (Director, Waris Hussein). An unlikely trio of misfits set out to create a genre series that all ages would love. William ‘Bill’ Hartnell, displeased with his career, was presented with a chance to break out of the hard-man roles he’d become known for. And with the instincts of first time producer, Verity Lambert and first time director, Waris Hussein, the Doctor was born. As the success of the show grew, William went from unhappy curmudgeon to beloved television star who relished his career resurgence and found a new lease on life. But all good things come to an end. How will Bill face leaving behind the part that has made him a hero to millions of children? And can the show survive without him? Journey back fifty years through space and time to witness the exciting beginning and untimely end of the First Doctor in this touching drama.
SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 23
Doctor Who – The Eleventh Doctor Marathon Part 3: 1:00am – 2:00pm ET
The Eleventh Doctor – Matt Smith
Doctor Who: The Day of the Doctor – Global Simulcas: 2:50pm ET
The centerpiece of BBC AMERICA’s celebrations is the global simulcast ofDoctor Who’s 50th Anniversary special, Doctor Who: The Day of the Doctor, written by Steven Moffat. The Doctors (Matt Smith and David Tennant) embark on their greatest adventure across space and time. In 2013, something terrible is awakening in London’s National Gallery; in 1562, a murderous plot is afoot in Elizabethan England; and somewhere in space an ancient battle reaches its devastating conclusion. All of reality is at stake as the Doctor’s own dangerous past comes back to haunt him. Starring Matt Smith, David Tennant, Jenna Coleman, with Billie Piper and John Hurt. Last seen as the Doctor on January 1, 2010, this will be the first time David Tennant has reprised his role as the Tenth Doctor. During his reign as the Time Lord, Tennant appeared in three seasons as well as several specials. He was first revealed as the Doctor in the 2005 season finale, The Parting of the Ways. Meanwhile Billie Piper, who played companion Rose Tyler for two seasons following the reboot in 2005, will appear in the show for the first time since featuring in David Tennant’s last episode, “The End of Time” in 2010. The special is directed by Nick Hurran, executive produced by Steven Moffat, Faith Penhale and produced by Marcus Wilson.
Doctor Who: The Day of the Doctor encore primetime broadcast – 7:00pm ET. BBC AMERICA will premiere exclusive Inside Look interviews with Matt Smith and David Tennant during the broadcast. The special will be followed by the premiere of new fantasy-adventure series Atlantis at 9:00pm ET.
The Graham Norton Show with guests Matt Smith and David Tennant – 10:00pm ET
Doctor Who stars Matt Smith and David Tennant make their first appearance together on BBC AMERICA’s hit talk show The Graham Norton Show. Emma Thompson, singer Robbie Williams and comedian Jimmy Carr will also be guests.
SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 24
Doctor Who – Matt Smith Countdown – 9:00am – 8:00pm ET
BBC AMERICA counts down the top 11 episodes from the Eleventh Doctor, Matt Smith, as voted on by fans.
Doctor Who: The Doctors Revisited –The Eleventh Doctor: 8:00pm –10:30pm ET
BBC AMERICA celebrates the Eleventh Doctor, Matt Smith, in a new special of Doctor Who: The Doctors Revisited. Matt Smith first stepped into the TARDIS in 2010 and, after starring in the 50th Anniversary Special on November 23, will regenerate in the Christmas special. “The Doctors Revisited” begins with Matt Smith, Jenna Coleman (companion Clara Oswald), Karen Gillan (companion Amy Pond), Arthur Darvill (companion Rory Williams), lead writer and executive producer Steven Moffat, among others, examining the human side of this Doctor and taking a look at how his extraordinarily long life has affected him. The special is followed by the Eleventh Doctor two-part story, “The Impossible Astronaut” and “Day of the Moon,” in which a strange summons reunites the Doctor, Amy (Karen Gillan), Rory (Arthur Darvill) and River (Alex Kingston) in the middle of the Utah desert and unveils a terrible secret the Doctor’s friends must never reveal to him. These were the first Doctor Who episodes to be filmed in the U.S.
The BBC has released a press pack containing the pictures from the previous post and some interviews. I wish I was lucky enough to get these things, but since I’m not actually press… well, no joy for me. HOWEVER, now that it’s out there, I’m more than happy to share it. In the future though if anyone would like to include me on that sort of thing I’d be glad to promote it ;)….:
The Doctors embark on their greatest adventure in this 50th Anniversary Special: in 2013, something terrible is awakening in London’s National Gallery; in 1562, a murderous plot is afoot in Elizabethan England; and somewhere in space an ancient battle reaches its devastating conclusion. All of reality is at stake as the Doctor’s own dangerous past comes back to haunt him.
The Day of the Doctor is written by Steven Moffat; directed by Nick Hurran; executive produced by Steven Moffat and Faith Penhale and produced by Marcus Wilson. It stars Matt Smith, David Tennant and Jenna Coleman with Billie Piper and John Hurt.
INTERVIEW WITH STEVEN MOFFAT – LEAD WRITER AND EXECUTIVE PRODUCER
Question: What is it like being the writer for the Doctor Who 50th special?
Steven Moffat: Since I was a little boy, the idea of writing a Doctor Who story at all was remarkable enough to me. But writing the 50th special was exciting and terrifying – everything that showbiz should be.
Q. So where did the story for ‘The Day of the Doctor’ come from?
SM: I didn’t want this to just be a celebration of 50 years of the past. I wanted it to be a celebration of the mythology of the legend of the Doctor and all that entailed. This should be the first step on the next journey, guaranteeing the 100th anniversary. The story focuses on the most important thing that ever happened to the Doctor. We very rarely do that in Doctor Who as it’s usually about the people the Doctor meets or the companion that travel with him. This time it’s different.
Q. ‘The Day of the Doctor’ welcomes back the shape-shifting Zygons, a monster we haven’t seen since the 1970s. Why did you decide they were the ones to bring back?
SM: The Zygons without question are a design classic. They are superb; brilliant from the voice, to the appearance. Essentially we’ve resurrected exactly the same Zygon as Tom Baker fought back in the 70s. They are beautiful, and it’ll show that the special looks forward to the future of Doctor Who and also celebrates the legend.
Q. At the end of the last series we were introduced to John Hurt as the Doctor. What does John bring to the role and can you tell us anything about his Doctor?
SM: With John Hurt we have serious acting royalty and that was the intent of John’s character. John is one of the most distinguished film stars of British origin, one of the most distinguished actors this country has produced and has now become part of Doctor Who mythology.
Q. There have been Doctor Who anniversary specials before, which are so well loved. How do you think this one will be remembered?
SM: There’s only really been one anniversary special before and that was for the 20th anniversary with ‘The Five Doctors’. ‘The Three Doctors’ wasn’t an anniversary special as it was one year too early, but we remember it that way. I adored ‘The Three Doctors’, it was brilliant, an accidental piece of magic. I also loved ‘The Five Doctors’. I did think that was the one where possibly the desire to celebrate overwhelmed the desire to tell a story. But I can’t really begrudge it that!
Q. ‘The Day of the Doctor’ will be the first time we see Doctor Who is proper 3D. Did you write the script with 3D in mind?
SM: My first impulse was if we’re going to do 3D it had to be part of the plot. We actually have to make 3D part of the story and if at all possible, to try and make 3D a bit scary. I wouldn’t say it’s in every scene, but there is an element of the show that exploits the fact of 3D.
Q. The 50th special will mark the return of David Tennant to the role of the Tenth Doctor, starring opposite the Eleventh, Matt Smith. How was it having two Doctors on set?
SM: It was eye twisting at times. You don’t quite realise how these two men have become hard wired into your brain as the Doctor. Matt and David got on so well and their interaction on screen is a sublime double act. Matt said to me, “It’s a bit like Laurel and Laurel. It’s like Hardy didn’t turn up”. They are absolutely great together. Sometimes very, very, different, other times in moments they choose together they are exactly the same.
Q. And seeing Billie and David on set together how was that?
SM: Seeing Billie and David standing on set together was quite epic. Billie told me that as she is very good friends with both Matt and David, she felt quite torn and divided. She didn’t know how to deal with both of them at the same time, so if she was talking to one she would stroke the arm of the other.
Q. And finally, where will you be watching the episode on 23 November?
SM: I’ve got two impulses. One is to watch it at home with my friends, particularly friends who made the show. My other impulse is to go out and join the party. But it’s a difficult one. When Matt and I watched ‘The Eleventh Hour’, we watched it many times before it went out. Then came the faithful day, the 3rd of April 2010. Matt came round to my house, my parents and his parents were there to watch the episode go out and have our future decided. Everyone sat down, but Matt and I couldn’t stay in the room. So I might be watching it peering round my kitchen door with Matt.
INTERVIEW WITH MATT SMITH – THE ELEVENTH DOCTOR
Stepping back on to the TARDIS for his penultimate ride, Matt Smith takes on the role of the Doctor in his greatest adventure yet. Here he talks about being part of the epic 50th adventure.
Question: What is it like starring in the 50th anniversary special, one of the biggest years for the show?
Matt Smith: It’s a thrill to be in the 50th anniversary. I feel very proud to be part of it and it’s a credit to everyone who started the show back in the 60s that it’s come this far. It’s a great format and a great idea.
Q: ‘The Day of the Doctor’ marks the return of David Tennant and Billie Piper, and we get the revelation of John Hurt’s Doctor. What was it like working alongside them all?
MS: It was a joy to work with David, Billie and John Hurt. I’ve worked with Billie before and I’d obviously seen all of David’s work, especially as the Doctor. He’s a brilliant actor and a brilliant Doctor. It’s quite strange, I always sort of get that surreal thing of looking and David and thinking, ‘Oh my God, there’s Doctor Who’. And John is acting royalty. Another wonderful Doctor and again, a good bloke. I think looking back over my tenure on this show one of the great privileges has been the quality of actors that you get to work with.
Q: Was there any kind of competitiveness between the different Doctors and companions?
MS: No we’re not competitive, I mean there’s a funny bit in the script between the 10th and 11th Doctors comparing Sonics, so there’s competitiveness in the story, but not off screen. We just had a laugh and it was exciting to see David back in the pin striped suit and the Converse. John only has to move his eyes and he flaws you and Billie’s, Billie. I adore Billie, so we had a great time.
Q: Were there any moments when you were standing on the floor waiting for action to be called and thinking ‘Oh my goodness, I’m actually doing this’?
MS: Of course, there’s always those moments in Doctor Who when you’re going, ‘Wow we’re doing Doctor Who and there’s David Tennant over there and John Hurt over there and Billie over there and there’s a Redgrave over there’. There are a lot of those moments when you make this show. But I think the wonderful thing was there was great down time. I just enjoyed spending time with David and obviously for me as well as I am about to leave the show, it was really interesting to talk to him about that experience and his experience on the show, because it is a very individual experience playing the Doctor. It was quite nice to go, ‘What was that bit like for you?’ and it was just sort of enlightening really.
Q: Moving on to stunts, some pictures have been published of you hanging from a TARDIS in front of crowds in Trafalgar Square. What was that like and did you need to be convinced to go up there?
MS: I was hoisted up over 90 feet, double Nelson’s Column, hanging on a wire under the TARDIS. They used the biggest crane I think they had ever brought to Trafalgar Square. I really had to persuade them to let me go up, but I had the most wonderful view of London. It was raining and really windy, but I loved it and would do it again. It was one of the rare brilliant opportunities that you only get with Who.
Q. As well as being shown on BBC One, ‘The Day of the Doctor’ will be available in 3D to those with a 3D TV and in some cinemas. What was it like filming in 3D?
MS: The rigs for the cameras are much heavier and poor Joe, who is our wonderful cameraman, had a very tough time of it. It was like having a 6-year-old or 7-year-old child on your shoulder all day. There’s just a lot more time, the technical process of filming everything is more laborious.
But also there are a lot of plusses and I’m really excited to see how Doctor Who lends itself to it, because I think as a show and a format it really suits the idea of being shot in 3D. I think it’s good for a show like Doctor Who to be at the forefront of technology and that’s what we’ve always been.
It’s always been at the front of the advancement in film and even with the wobbly sets, at least they were having a go and I think it’s a good step forward. It’s an evolution.
INTERVIEW WITH DAVID TENNANT – THE TENTH DOCTOR
Last seen in his pin stripe suit and Converse trainers in 2010, David Tennant returns as the Tenth Doctor in the 50th anniversary special. Here he talks about rivalry between the Doctors and coming back to the show.
Question: What is it like being part of the 50th in one of the biggest years for the show?
David Tennant: It’s very exciting to be around for the big celebration episode. I think since I left the expectation had been that I’d end up in this special, because there is a precedent for old Doctors coming back for a visit around the anniversary time. I was thrilled because it’s a huge thing for Doctor Who and it’s a huge thing for television in general. So few shows run beyond a few series and 50 years’ worth is quite a legacy, so I’m very honoured to be part of that.
Q: What is it like working with Matt and Jenna, was there any rivalry or competitiveness between the two sets of Doctors and companions?
DT: It’s funny, I think people almost expected Matt and me to be at loggerheads, but we’ve really enjoyed it. I guess when you‘ve played a character for a long time you kind of feel like you know how they’ll react in most situations. It’s delicious to be handed a situation that’s completely new and a character meeting a version of himself is not something that you come across in a lot of drama. So to get to play that with someone as talented and as quick and brilliant as Matt is nothing short of jolly good fun.
Q: You’ve probably seen some of the previous anniversary specials, but how do you think this one compares to them?
DT: It’s very hard to be objective about something you’re in, especially when you set it up against things that you experienced as a child. But I certainly remember when ‘The Five Doctors’ was on, it was electrically exciting. That was of course in the day when we didn’t even have a video player. You couldn’t revisit things, so the chance to see old Doctors that I had never seen on the telly at all, acting with the current was fantastic. I hope that this will have some of that buzz for today’s generation.
Q: Do you still watch Doctor Who?
DT: Of course, I watch it every time it’s on along with the rest of the nation.
Q: How did you find filming in 3D compared to 2D?
DT: Our job as actors remains the same really, but you’re aware that there’s a whole extra layer of technical stuff that has to be dealt with and the cameras are bigger. We shot a lot on this hand held camera, which was quite trying for Joe our intrepid camera operator who has this enormous thing that he has to lug around and navigate around the set; he did it brilliantly. But it causes some headaches for the camera teams and for the post production side of making it. We’re not doing too much novelty weaving into the lens for the 3D effect, but it gives it an extra zing.
Q: What was it like working with Billie again?
DT: It’s always lovely to see Billie and to be on set with her is a particular joy. She’s one of my favourite actresses and one of my favourite people, so I was very happy to be in the same room as Billie.
Q: Where will you be watching the episode?
DT: Wherever I am in the world and whatever I’m doing, I’m sure I will make time for the Doctor Who 50th anniversary special.
Q: During filming did you ever have a pinch yourself moments thinking, ‘God I’m back’ or anything like that?
DT: I think the thing with filming Doctor Who is that there is so much excitement around it and there’s so much enthusiasm for it that often the lead up to getting here is more of a delight then shooting it. Because once you’re on set there’s a script and there’s lines and you’ve got to get the scene shot and they’re the pressures that filming always has. Really, you’re just trying to film the scenes the best you possibly can, so you sort of put aside the idea that you’re making something that is a moment in television history. The pressure of that would sort of paralyse you really.
INTERVIEW WITH JENNA COLEMAN – CLARA OSWALD
Back in the TARDIS, Jenna stars as companion to the Eleventh Doctor, played by Matt Smith. Having met more Doctors than any other companion, this time she comes face-to-face with more than one Doctor at once.
Question: What is it like starring in the 50th special, one of the biggest year’s for the show?
Jenna Coleman: It’s fantastic. I feel really spoilt to be honest and lucky to be in the show in the first place, but also to have come in at this time. Whilst we were filming it felt very celebratory and special. Working with David, Billie and John, I feel really pleased to be part of the whole thing.
Q: What was it like working with David and Billie, was there any competiveness between the different Doctors and companions?
JC: I think there’s a competitiveness in them that kind of brings out the best in the Doctor. You see it on set that they are so totally different Doctors, but they just complement each other. They make fun of each other mercilessly.
Q: What were your thoughts when you first heard about John’s character?
JC: So not only do we have David back, we also have John Hurt starring as the Doctor, which is massively exciting. And again the three of them complement each other totally, and it utterly works. It’s great to see all of them together.
Q: There are some big stunts in this episode. What was it like filming in the TARDIS dangling from a crane in front of crowds in Trafalgar Square?
JC: It’s one of the major stunts that we did and one of the big opening sequences at the beginning of the episode. We actually filmed it in a couple of stages including at St. Athens airfield where me and Matt were in the TARDIS being swung from side to side. Then in the second half, we were actually lowered down into Trafalgar Square. I think it will be quite an iconic image, it certainly felt like that on the day. Although I didn’t get to the do the really high stunt in Trafalgar Square, which I was devastated about and was kind of stood around begging people to go up, but I got to do the end of it.
I am quite scared of rollercoasters, but when you’ve got a camera pointing at you and loads of crew then you kind of just tend to be really brave. That’s one of the thrills of the show.
Q: What differences did you find filming in 3D compared to 2D?
JC: Loads of differences. Well for a start the cameras are massive, so you kind of can’t miss them and they’re really heavy for the poor camera operators. The framing is quite different and when the
Doctor points you can kind of really react to it. I just think the show lends itself so well and there are so many moments in it that will work really well in 3D. On the first day I saw Matt in the TARDIS in 3D and it felt like the world was coming right out at you.
INTERVIEW WITH JOANNA PAGE- QUEEN ELIZABETH I
Welsh actress Joanna Page takes on the role of Queen Elizabeth I and talks here about playing the monarch with an accent and filming romantic scenes on top of a mountain in Neath.
Question: What’s it like being part of the 50th, one of the biggest years on the show?
Joanna Page: It’s amazing being part of the 50th anniversary. I just remember getting an email asking if I’d play Queen Elizabeth I, which in itself I couldn’t believe because she’s so iconic, even in the history of Doctor Who. I’ve always wanted to be in Doctor Who and now to be in it and playing Queen Elizabeth I is absolutely fantastic, so exciting.
Q: And what did you do when you first found out about the news?
When I first found out about the news I phoned my mum and my dad and obviously, told my husband and then I sat down and read the script, because I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it. I just couldn’t believe that they had sent it to me as it was like gold dust. There were all these rumours in the papers about what’s happening, and so and so is coming back and I just thought I’m actually going to know what happens. I’ve never done a job where you have to keep a secret before and it’s been really difficult, but also really exciting because you know and no one else does.
Q: You’re playing royalty; can we expect a Queen Elizabeth with a Welsh twang?
JP: Well it’s very funny being one of the most well-known Welsh people and having to stand up and say, ‘How dare you, I’m the Queen of England’. That did make me laugh, but no, I’m playing her with an English accent. But John Hurt said she actually wouldn’t have had a very English accent, because there were so many different influences.
Q: What was it like working Matt, David, Billie and Jenna?
JP: It was quite scary working with Matt, David, Billie and Jenna because they’re iconic and they’re these major characters that I’ve watched and are part of Doctor Who history. It’s really funny acting with them because you look at them and they’re almost like cartoon characters because you see them so much and you’ve watched them and you believe them.
It’s just been fascinating and working with the two Doctors is brilliant because it’s the same character, but seeing how the two boys just play them completely differently and how they work off each other it’s really funny. After reading the script and then hearing it all in the read through it just all came to life and I thought, ‘Wow this is going to be fantastic’.
Q: There’s a little bit of romance between Queen Elizabeth and the Tenth Doctor. What was is it like filming those scenes?
JP: Filming the romantic scenes were quite difficult because my first day was on top of a mountain in Neath. It was absolutely freezing, it was blowing a gale and David, the Tenth Doctor and I, are having a picnic. So I’m lying across him and he probably couldn’t breathe, because I’ve just got this massive costume on, and he’s feeding me grapes as I’m just desperately shivering. You’ve got to try and play it romantic and relaxed, when actually you’re freezing cold. I think our lips were turning blue and I stopped feeling my hands. The next day, because it had been so cold with the wind my hands were bright red and all blistered because they were so chapped. So everyone is probably jealous, thinking she gets to kiss the Tenth Doctor and it’s all romantic, but it’s not; my lips were numb and my hands were chapped.
Q: Where will you be watching the episode?
JP: I’m going to be watching the episode in my living room. My husband has been asking for ages if we can buy a 3D TV and I said no, but now after putting on the glasses myself, it’s fantastic so I’ve said we have to get a 3D TV. So we’ll be watching it in the living room with all of my family round and then I’ll probably go to the cinema and watch it as well.
The official synopsis for the 50th Anniversary special has been released by the BBC:
The Doctors embark on their greatest adventure in this 50th anniversary special. In 2013, something terrible is awakening in London’s National Gallery; in 1562, a murderous plot is afoot in Elizabethan England; and somewhere in space an ancient battle reaches its devastating conclusion. All of reality is at stake as the Doctor’s own dangerous past comes back to haunt him.
Written by Steven Moffat…
Directed by Nick Hurran
Executive produced by Steven Moffat and Faith Penhale
Produced by Marcus Wilson
Stars: Matt Smith, David Tennant and Jenna Coleman with Billie Piper and John Hurt