According to director Annetta Laufer in a BBC press release, the amount of time the Doctor and her friends have to reach a solution to the warehouse time loop trap they find themselves in decreases by one minute every time the loop is reset in the Doctor Who New Year’s Eve special Eve of the Daleks.
“From a story point of view – the challenge was keeping track of which time loop we were in, as we were shooting out of sequence and so some time loops could appear very similar. We also had to keep track of what the ‘story time’ was on the clock as each loop lost one minute.”
Showrunner Chris Chibnall also described the time loop conundrum in the same press release.
“In the New Year’s Day special we are in a storage facility in Manchester and ten minutes to midnight on New Year’s Eve and it’s a time travel loop romantic comedy with Daleks, Aisling Bea and Adjani Salmon. The Doctor lands the TARDIS in a place she’s not expecting to land in order to reset it from the damage done to it in the Flux in the previous series. She has to face continuously escaping Daleks in a time loop and save the lives of the two people who are there on New Year’s Eve.”
“It takes a lot of work but also the delight of the decreasing amount of time across each time loop, so each time loop was separately plotted…it took a lot of work and it was really rewarding.”
“These are execution Daleks they’ve got slightly different weapons and have very much come with a very clear purpose for this. They are not trying to destroy the world they are trying to destroy the Doctor in payment for what has been done to the Daleks at the end of the previous series.”
Eve of the Daleks composite synopsis:
Sarah (Aisling Bea) owns and runs ELF STORAGE and is working at the facility – again, on New Year’s Eve. Nick (Adjani Salmon), her only customer, has an odd habit of turning up in the last few minutes of New Year’s Eve every year, desperate to put something in storage – much to the annoyance of Sarah. Same old same old. Except this year, their countdown to midnight will be the strangest and deadliest they have ever known. Why is an executioner Dalek targeting these two people, in this place, on this night? Why must they keep living through the same moments again? Trapped in ELF STORAGE and stuck in a terrifying time loop in a fight against Daleks, they find themselves joining forces with the Doctor (Jodie Whittaker), Dan (John Bishop) and Yaz (Mandip Gill) when the Flux-damaged TARDIS arrives at the storage facility. Will the gang manage to avoid extermination and escape in time to see out New Year’s Day?
John Bishop revealed in the same press release that companion Dan “decides to take on the Dalek and delay them,” providing a crucial diversion.
“It’s like a time loop, in the time loop it finds us in Manchester on New Year’s Eve where the Daleks are about to take out the Doctor forever. The problem that we face is that every time there’s a potential to interrupt them we get caught by them and get exterminated and have to start again.”
Adjani Salmon described his character Nick.
“It’s about a shy and lovestruck character who is trying to build up the courage to profess his feelings for Sarah (Aisling Bea), and that gets interrupted by Daleks! They end up in a time loop where he has to do so before time runs out!”
“After all that he’s been through I think [Nick’s] New Year’s resolution would be to be brave to pursue whatever he wants.”
Constantly opening doors and not ending up where they expected to be, there are five people trapped in the Manchester warehouse with Daleks, but there is one more person with a credit in the episode. Pauline McLynn is credited as playing a character named Mary. Mary remains a mystery but Jodie Whittaker provided a few clues to TV & Satellite Week magazine.
“[Pauline McLynn’s] involvement came afterwards, so I didn’t have any interaction with her, which was rubbish for me! She plays a very important part, but we didn’t get to physically be together.”
Director Laufer summed up what she hopes the audience gets out of Eve of the Daleks.
“What I want the audience to take away with them is a feeling of happiness and a warm glow inside. After all the heavy months we have been through, I think everyone deserves a bit of magic and cheer. So what could be better than watching a Rom Com with Daleks!”
Written by Chris Chibnall and directed by Annetta Laufer, Eve of the Daleks will premiere New Year’s Day 2022 on BBC One at 7:00pm BT and on BBC America at 2:00pm and 8:00pm ET.