The Doctor, his assistant and Dr Who’s head writer Steven Moffat gives us an insight in to the monsters and adventures that we can expect from the new seventh series.
Steven Moffat chats…
So it is back with a bang and with Daleks from every decade. Why did you decide to kick-off the new series with a Dalek filled episode?
“We’ve been off the air for longer than usual, so it was an easy decision to come back with Doctor Who at its most iconic and that means Daleks. Lots and lots of scary Daleks. There have been many monsters to face the Doctor over the years, but only one that can sum up the whole series just by being there. Also, it’s my first go at writing for them. I LOVE the Daleks, and I’ve held off till now. But I had what I thought was a good idea, and couldn’t resist any longer!”
What else can we expect from the new series?
“We have, I think, our biggest range of stories EVER. We’ve got the return of the Daleks AND the Weeping Angels – both of them poll-topping Doctor Who adversaries – in cracking new stories, we’ve got Dinosaurs on a spaceship (it’s what you’ve always wanted), we’ve got a glorious western with a Cyborg Gunslinger, the most unusual invasion Earth story EVER, and location shooting in New York for the Pond finale.”
Are there any new monsters to look out for and star guest appearances?
“There’s a terrifying Cyborg in the old West, and wait till you see what’s invading Earth in episode 4. There’s never been an extra-terrestrial incursion like this one!! Guest stars include David Bradley, Rupert Graves, Stephen Berkoff, Mike McShane, Ben Browder, Adrian Scarbourgh and Anamaria Marinca.”
As well as filming in and around Cardiff, you ventured abroad to Spain and New York for episodes 1, 3 and 5. What was it like to shoot in those locations?
“I don’t think I’ve ever worked on show before that’s had foreign location shoots on three out of five episodes – it’s quite astonishing. We have snowy mountains for the series opener, New York for the finale and along the way a full-blooded Western shot on location where all the best cowboy movies come from – Spain. Location shooting at this level is such a blast of fresh air for the show – wide open spaces and wide open skies! It’s easy to say “movie scale” but that really is what we’re delivering.”
We know to expect Amy and Rory’s departure in episode 5, why was it decided that this should be the time for them to go and with an episode featuring the Weeping Angels?
“The story of the Ponds hasn’t even begun to end yet – they’ve got loads more adventures with their mad friend the Doctor ahead of them, and we’ll see more of their lives and Time Lord-complicated relationship than we ever have before. This more than any other, is the year of the Ponds. But, yes, it’s true, I cannot lie – somewhere out there, the Weeping Angels are waiting for them…”
What are you going to miss most about the characters and Karen and Arthur?
“Amy and Rory have been with the Doctor since I took over show, they’re part of the landscape for me. It was just traumatic to consider a future without them. Amy is everything I admired (and sometimes feared) about strong, clever, reckless women, and Rory is the man I’d like to be – so strong he never has to show it. Karen and Arthur have become friends, and I still can’t get my head round the fact that I’ll never find them on the set again. Brilliant performers and warm and lovely people – the best of the best.”
Matt Smith chats…
Donning the compulsory tweed for the third time, Matt Smith gets ready for more adventures through space and time as the Doctor. Here he talks about his hopes for the new series, what fans have to look forward to and saying goodbye to the Ponds.
“Asylum Of The Daleks is going to be a cracker, states Matt as he talks excitedly about the opener of the new series. Steven has written and absolute belter and we have made the Daleks scary again, something I am not sure we got right before.”
With Asylum Of The Daleks featuring Daleks from all of the decades, does Matt have any favourites?
“Absolutely! The blue and white ones from the 1960s, I think they are from the Troughton era… they are just kind of groovy, smaller but fantastic. And the lovely Barnaby (Edwards) who operates them. The day we filmed with all of those Daleks there was such an excitable atmosphere on set from cast and crew alike. It was a brilliant few days at work!”
With five big adventures for the Doctor and his companions, this series it is set to be epic. We have five of the most exciting standalone episodes, with everything from Daleks to dinosaurs and of course, the fall of the Ponds, explains Matt. So does he have a preferred episode?
“Well I love Asylum of the Daleks and episode 5, but I am immensely proud of all of them.”
The second episode sees viewers taken on an incredible prehistoric adventure with the unusually titled Dinosaurs On A Spaceship, so what did Matt think when he first heard those four words?
“Stephen, you are a genius! It’s Doctor Who in a nutshell. I have always wanted to do a dinosaur episode, he continues, so I was very pleased to get the chance. And the Director Saul (Metzstein) has done a fantastic job, with David Bradley playing a cracking villain. I think it is such a fun episode with a wonderfully crafted script by Chris Chibnall.”
During this series Matt Smith’s Doctor gets faced with a lot of new challenges. Not only did he get to live out many a childhood dream of becoming a cowboy for the day by riding a horse in the western themed episode, A Town Called Mercy, but he also got the once in a lifetime opportunity… to ride a dinosaur.
“More painful than you can imagine, Matt gives us an insight in to just what that was like, I had to wear padded trousers! Dinosaurs are a lot lumpier than horses, so it was a painful couple of hours, a laugh though and definitely worth it as it’s going to look great.”
As the most ambitious series to date, locations play a key role in creating scale and meeting that ambition. Travelling to the Spanish mountains for episode 1, Almeria in Spain for episode 3, A Town Called Mercy, and New York for the Pond’s departure in episode 5, Matt believes they really help transport the viewer and the character, commenting that…
“There is only so much CGI can do. We were in the middle of a western village, which was brilliant for Doctor Who, adding to the imagination of it all. And I am such a fan of New York, and we got to use some properly iconic locations, like Central Park. There is nothing quite like running through Times Square trying to shoot a scene.”
As well as visiting new locations and facing new monsters, Matt got his first taste as Doctor of what it is like to be on the receiving end of one of the show’s most widely known formulas, a change in companion.
“It was terribly sad and I do miss them as they are such great chums, Matt shares his thoughts on his last days on set with Karen and Arthur, we knew it was coming, but just didn’t believe it. It is one of those things like when you are on holiday and you suddenly realise it is Friday and you are going home on Monday. But that is what the show is about, evolution and regeneration, and we now have Jenna who is lovely and great.”
So did he agree with Steven’s choice to send them out in an episode with the Weeping Angels?
“Oh absolutely, I think I can speak for all of us when I say that the Weeping Angels are one of our favourite monsters. The fact that they don’t speak just makes them crueller. And with the last episode set in New York and to have River back, it all just made sense. I really think, Karen and Arthur go with a bang and tear!”
Stupid dancing, stupid faces and stupid everything, is how Matt sums up what he will most about having Karen and Arthur on set.
“Being ridiculous, there were points when we wouldn’t even have conversations, but just make noises at each other. We had a laugh and that really informed the energy and spirit of the show. The relationship between our characters on screen and off screen really blurred!”
Renowned for his pranks on set, Matt gleefully explains how much he used to enjoy making Karen scream.
“I used to hide in her trailer a lot and just jump out at her and she is a real screamer. Or I would dance really close to her face, which would also make her scream! It was very much like a brother and sister relationship with Arthur and I pranking her like older brothers!”
Karen Gillan chats…
It’s Karen Gillan’s last series as Amy Pond. Having travelled through space and time for three years, she is about to hang up her TARDIS key. Here she gives us a glimpse at what is to come in episodes 1 to 3, from Daleks to Dinosaurs, and some thoughts on her departure.
“It was AMAZING! We have totally made them scary again. I expect everyone to be watching from behind their sofas, I know I will…” Karen is talking excitedly about the return of the Doctor’s most fearsome and famous enemy the Daleks. The opener to series 7, Asylum Of The Daleks, will feature the most Daleks ever to be seen on screen and from the different decades, including a special appearance form Russell T Davies’ Dalek. !I am so pleased that he now owns an official Dalek, it was a real honour to act opposite him and I think he is going to go far!” she says rather cheekily. “I think my favourite is the 1960s Dalek with the white and blue armour, she continues, there is something more menacing about them as they are smaller and they just look so original. If I was going to own one, it would be one of those,” Karen concludes, “I would keep it in my kitchen.”
This series has been done in really interesting way with five stand alone epic episodes, like a movie a week, all building to the departure of the Ponds! We actually kick-off the series with Amy and Rory’s relationship in a sticky situation; it is less than marital bliss.
“Those scenes were really interesting to do,” she explains, “because they created such a different on-screen atmosphere between Amy and Rory, something that the viewers wouldn’t have seen before. That is the good thing about Doctor Who, it gives you the chance to shift the character, and you never know what is going to happen from episode to episode.”
But it isn’t all upset for the Ponds, as the adventures continue in episode two with Dinosaurs On A Spaceship, written by Chris Chibnall. “That was a crazy filming adventure,” exclaims Karen, “with all the adventures that I have been on through-out the show that was perhaps the most surreal! There was a lot of running from things we couldn’t see, which is always fun, BUT a couple of the cast got to ride a dinosaur. And Mark Williams comes along for the ride as Rory’s dad Brian Williams, He was so fantastic, naturally funny and such great casting, you could totally imagine Rory having a dad like that. This series has some great guest stars, characters and of course monsters,” she teases.
Guest stars making their Doctor Who debut are James Bond baddy, Steven Berkoff, Jemma Redgrave and Ben Browder. Alex Kingston as River Song makes her return in episode 5, just in time to say goodbye to Amy. While the majority of the filming was done in the home of Doctor Who, Cardiff, the cast and crew found themselves in the perfect spaghetti western location of Almeria, Spain, giving Toby Whithouse’s episode 3, A Town Called Mercy, a truly authentic western feel.
“So much fun,” claims Karen, “using a location that had actually been the set for other westerns made everything feel so much, well, realer. In the episode Amy Pond gets her hand on a gun, something Karen agrees that she really shouldn’t be let anywhere near. Definitely, Amy Pond should be nowhere near a gun,” exclaims Karen. “I remember for a previous episode I had to fire a gun with blanks, followed quickly by Rory shouting ARGHHH as though I had hit him. I completely forgot this when action was called, so when I fired and he shouted I really thought I had shot him! It was awful! In this episode when she gets hold of a gun you can see the fear on the faces of the other characters, but they weren’t acting, I genuinely think all of the actors including Matt and Arthur were in fear for their lives!”
Featuring an alien with a score to settle A Town Called Mercy also reveals a different side to the Doctor as Amy claims, “So this is what happens when you travel alone.”
“In the series we see a slight shift in the Ponds’ relationship with the Doctor, Just as any relationship changes when it matures,” explains Karen. “We get to see a glimpse of what Amy and Rory do when the Doctor isn’t around and how the adventures and time away from home has affected their own relationships with friends and family. I think the Doctor also begins to realise how he has changed Amy and what happens when he isn’t there, and at first he doesn’t really understand it. There is a really sweet moment in episode 5 when the Doctor notices Amy is wearing glasses,” she hints.
Following the Western the series takes us to Amy and Rory’s house and a deadly outbreak, before heading to the final episode of the Ponds, shot in New York and with the return of the Weeping Angels.
“Matt used to hide in the cupboard of my trailer and jump out of me and I used to go flying back against the wall in absolute shook! He must have done it like a hundred times and I fell for it every single time! But honestly even with the bruises, it really was the biggest and most exciting time of my life. I wouldn’t change it for the world! I always knew that Steven had an ending for Amy Pond and when I met with him a year or so ago it was kind of like, so what are the plans for the character and we both said that she should go at this point. It was such a fantastic mutual decision and completely the right time for Amy to leave. I will miss her, but I can’t wait for fans to see what happens.”
Early episode preview…
Episode 1: Asylum Of The Daleks – Kidnapped by his oldest foe, the Doctor is forced on an impossible mission – to a place even the Daleks are too terrified to enter… the Asylum. A planetary prison confining the most terrifying and insane of their kind, the Doctor and the Ponds must find an escape route. But with Amy and Rory’s relationship in meltdown, and an army of mad Daleks closing in, it is up to the Doctor to save their lives, as well as the Pond’s marriage.
Episode 2: Dinosaurs On A Spaceship – An unmanned spaceship hurtles towards certain destruction – unless the Doctor can save it, and its impossible cargo… of dinosaurs! By his side a ragtag gang of adventurers; a big game hunter, an Egyptian Queen and a surprised member of the Pond family. But little does the Doctor know there is someone else onboard who will stop at nothing to keep hold of his precious, prehistoric cargo.
Episode 3: A Town Called Mercy – The Doctor gets a Stetson (and a gun!), and finds himself the reluctant Sheriff of a Western town under siege by a relentless cyborg, who goes by the name of the Gunslinger. But who is he and what does he want? The answer seems to lie with the mysterious, Kahler-Jex, an alien doctor (yes another one!) whose initial appearance is hiding a dark secret.