The timelines converged on Sheffield on Monday when the cast and crew of Doctor Who S11 materialised to launch Jodie Whittaker on her maiden TARDIS voyage as The Doctor.
Whittaker – who told Yahoo Movies she had “fallen in love” with the show – was among the audience at a press screening of her debut story, ‘The Woman Who Fell to Earth’.
Afterwards, she was joined by new showrunner Chris Chibnall and co-stars Bradley Walsh (Graham), Mandip Gill (Yasmin) and Tosin Cole (Ryan) for a Q&A, hosted by BBC Breakfast’s Steph McGovern.
Here are 13 things we learned about the Thirteenth Doctor’s upcoming adventures…
Wearing Peter Capaldi’s costume helped Whittaker find her way into the role
“The thing that’s really helpful about episode one is being in Peter’s costume for 95 per cent of it,” she said. “I was literally in someone else’s shoes. I felt as if I was continually trying to discover things, and I suppose settle in. From the moment the Doctor finds what she wants to wear, it feels for me that the electricity is all connected back. I felt I could get into my own skin.”
‘The Woman Who Fell to Earth’ is the first episode of Doctor Who Bradley Walsh has seen since 1969
“My background of Doctor Who was watching William Hartnell and Pat Troughton,” he explained. “As soon as it got to colour, I stopped watching it, as I was too busy playing football. So that’s the first whole episode I’ve watched since Pat Troughton finished. And it’s fantastic. I’m thrilled with it, I really am.”
Peter Capaldi, Matt Smith and David Tennant all gave Whittaker advice – but she can’t remember what it was
“I had wonderful conversations with Peter, Matt and David – but I can’t quite remember them, because I was so hyper, and anxious,” she admitted. “But I do remember them saying, ‘It’s a journey like no other, and you’re going to love it, and it’s going to go so quick, so just try to be present, and enjoy it’.”
Sheffield is now the centre of the Doctor Who universe
“Sense of place is really important – particularly with a new Doctor; you want to ground it in a home,” explained Chibnall. “I lived in the city for a year, so I knew how cinematic it was, and how awesome the people were as well. It gives you a different humour – people saying it as it is!”
Filming in South Africa was amazing
“We went there because we wanted scale,” said Chibnall. “We’ve got quite a lot of scale in Sheffield, but there are different types of landscapes in South Africa. There are a couple of different worlds we’ve done there.”
And very, very hot
“It was amazing for us, because it was January and it was boiling, and everyone else was freezing,” said Whittaker. “I had to wear a leather jacket, and I was so hot,” added Gill. “But we were warned by the costume designer that if you take it off in that episode, you have to keep it off in Cardiff! So we kept it on. And we’d all agreed that, because we were so cold filming the first episode, we wouldn’t moan when we got to South Africa.” Cole didn’t even complain when he got sunstroke. “He just went very quiet,” said Whittaker.
Mandip Gill and Bradley Walsh are not natural runners
“In ADR I realised that my legs were chafing together,” revealed Gill. “I’d eaten way too many marshmallows in South Africa, and put on a couple of pounds. The next time it came to doing a run, I made sure my thighs were apart.”
“If there was an award for best run, it would be Brad,” added Whittaker. “It’s all going on. It’s like he’s waiting to save a goal. You’re amazed that his body’s taking him forward, because it looks like he should be crabbing to the side.”
That isn’t Walsh’s real hair
Producers wanted Graham to look older and greyer than the 58-year-old actor, and dyeing his hair wasn’t an option because of his “other job” – hosting ITV quiz The Chase. So he wears a wig throughout the series.
Even Doctor Who fans don’t recognise Mandip Gill
“There was a lady the other day reading Doctor Who Magazine opposite me,” she revealed. “She’d offered me chocolate and told me she loved Doctor Who. I thought, she’s obviously recognised me! But she hadn’t. So I read the whole article over her shoulder. So far I’ve had one picture, then nothing.”
The Doctor is NOT from Yorkshire
“Throughout the audition process, it never felt wrong to use my own voice,” said Skelmanthorpe-born Whittaker. “But it’s certainly not a Yorkshire character. It’s a body with a voice, and that voice is mine. I think if I was from London and I’d chosen to do a Yorkshire accent, it would have a meaning behind it in a way that it doesn’t in this instance, because it’s me. I’ve got to say my Ts and Ds – that’s the note I get a lot. And I do get broader and broader throughout the day.
“I take my hat off to David [Tennant], who transformed his voice as well as doing a phenomenal Doctor, because it requires an extra thing, with this kind of vocabulary and this amount of lines, whereas I was lucky I could use what I’ve been given.”
Whittaker did all her own stunts in ‘The Woman Who Fell to Earth‘ – including one HUGE one
The actress said not having to worry about dialect helped her concentrate on other aspects of playing the Time Lord.
“Episode one is all me. I’m really proud of that. I have a really amazing stunt double, but in this it didn’t need a professional. It just needed someone daft enough to do it. I was bricking it, but I love the pride in watching it, knowing I did it all.”
Tosin Cole really likes to nap
“Tosin gets tired,” revealed Whittaker. “I mean, he’s a grown man, and he naps every lunch time. He’ll literally zone out halfway through a conversation: ‘Right, I’m going to my trailer for a nap.’ Even if I’m midway through an absolutely hilarious anecdote.”
The new series is going to be fun, and thrilling, and scary – and emotional
“I hope it demonstrates everything you’ve come to love about Doctor Who,” said Chibnall. “There’s fun, there’s monsters, there’s action-adventure, new characters and an amazing new Doctor. There’s a new adventure every Sunday, and these guys go on big emotional journeys across the series. It’s exceeded what I hoped it could be.”
Doctor Who returns to BBC One at 6:45pm on Sunday, 7 October.