Doctor Who: The Power of the Doctor — stunts, encounters and regeneration

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A BBC press release with Doctor Who showrunner Chris Chibnall and some of the main cast of The Power of the Doctor revealed a few more details about the Doctor Who BBC centenary special.

According to Chibnall, the pre-credit sequence is the longest ever done – “like a mini movie in itself.”

“Stunt-wise, the opening sequences were really fun because they involved all of us at all different competence levels,” Jodie Whittaker (the Doctor) revealed. “You have got Dan falling out of the TARDIS but then smashing his landing. There are a lot of iconic costumes that even the fandom who haven’t even seen the episode are recreating. Someone at Comic Con turned up in my orange astronaut costume.”

“We did loads of wire work for walking on the roof of the [bullet] train,” Whittaker continued. “The suits were hot, and we had to have fans pumped in but they had to be turned off and then the screens would steam up. So, you had that critical moment where they’d scream ‘film’ and then the steam would come up. You go, ‘It’s not as easy as it looks!’”

Mandip Gill (Yasmin Kahn) did all her own stunts for the special and described one of her difficult stunts.

“…climbing up the ladder was… so difficult. It was wobbling everywhere so my look of sheer panic and distress is real.”

“There’s a bit where [Dan’s] nose gets stuck in the [space] helmet,” John Bishop (Dan Lewis) said in the interview.

“My main interaction is with the Cybermen,” Bishop added.

“I think at the start Dan is committed to his time with the Doctor and with Yaz,” Bishop continued, “but then there is an incident that makes him question where he really needs to be and what his next steps should be. It takes him a little bit by surprise as well.”

“The former companions who are on Earth have managed to get in contact with each other and [Tegan] and Ace know that something is happening, and that the activity is likely to be alien,” Janet Fielding (Tegan Jovanka) revealed in her interview. “And they are investigating…”

Chibnall was asked whether he always want to bring back past companions.

“It was more to do with being asked to do a centenary special, that I thought there had to be something from the past that felt strong, unique and different to what else we’d done during Jodie’s time as the Doctor. So it was just a brilliant opportunity, and as soon as we knew we were doing that, that was one of the things I wanted to do.”

“Those characters and those actors came to mind as I think they’re representative of certain times in the show’s history and they are both incredibly strong and vibrant characters. There are so many to choose from and in a way you want to do all of them but actually, I had to just pick two! And what both of them said separately was ‘Oh I think, Tegan would get on well with Ace’ and then ‘Oh I think Ace would get on really well with Tegan’.”

A final confrontation between the thirteenth Doctor and Sacha Dhawan’s Master sets in place the events that lead to the Doctor’s regeneration.

“…being told [Sacha] would be part of my final episode was an absolute joy for me,” Jodie Whittaker remarked. “I don’t feel as it would have served my Doctor to not have the moment of resolution and heartbreak with him.”

“What I love about Sacha’s Master, and what I think is important, is that he’s so broken and actually it’s not just two-dimensional evil. It’s got so many layers and there’s such a vulnerability to him that it makes things much more complicated for the Doctor. That he cannot let the Doctor survive is the most heartbreaking thing.”

“There was a massive stunt that I wasn’t allowed to film where [The Master] yanks the Doctor back,” Whittaker continued. “That was Linda, my double. Sometimes I’m gutted I’m not allowed to do things, but I didn’t miss out on being dragged over a quarry. I was fine with that!”

“There is a line that the Master says to the Doctor, ‘This is the day you die’,” Sacha Dhawan said of the Master’s line heard in the trailer for the special. “In fact, it’s the day that puts both their lives on the line because The Master has no real control over its outcome, which makes it all the more terrifying. The Master will set out his master plan with plenty of room for spontaneity and chaos. He’s really pushes the dial to its limits, because the truth is, he has nothing left to lose.”

According to Chibnall, there are “lots and lots of Easter eggs” in the special. “Some are visual, some are verbal, some are so deeply buried that only few people will recognise them!”

He added the episode has “more visual effects shots than any episode in Doctor Who history.”

Chibnall spoke of the thirteenth Doctor’s final scene.

“I always knew where we were going so I knew what I was writing towards. I knew what the final words were going to be, and where everything was going to happen and finish. So I wrote those quite early on and sort of just put them to one side.”

But there is a portion of that final scene, the regeneration, which Chibnall hints wasn’t written by him and was filmed later.

“I’m lucky enough to have seen the full ending of The Power of the Doctor and even the tiny bit of the end just made me thrilled about and excited and desperate to see more about what comes next.”

Jodie Whittaker summed it up with this statement.

“If you haven’t seen Doctor Who before this special will be sure to hook you in for your new Doctor.”

Written by Chris Chibnall and directed by Jamie Magnus Stone, the Doctor Who BBC centenary special, The Power of the Doctor airs 23 October, 7:30pm on BBC One.