Looking for of our Review of Episode One?
So, as well know, it’s confirmed that Doctor Who returns to BBC One and BBC iPlayer at 6.25pm on October 31st, and we’re very excited at Critical Popcorn for this one!
In what sounds like a concise, full arc over 6 episodes, it just feels right for the next phase of Who, and also for showrunner Chris Chibnall and where he works best. Below, we’ve got the first words from the man himself, plus insight from Matt Strevens (Exec Producer), Jodie Whittaker (The Doctor), and Mandip Gill (Yasmin Khan), with more coming later today from John Bishop (Dan Lewis) and Jacob Anderson (Vinder). But first, here’s some all-new character stills!
As the excellent Whittaker returns for her final run as the Doctor, we’re bring promised this will be an epic six-part adventure which will take the Doctor and her friends to the edge of the universe and beyond, in a battle for survival. As well as the return of the Sontarans and the Weeping Angels – the new series of Doctor Who tells one story across a vast canvas, with a host of new monsters and creatures as well. It’ll also feature a host of acclaimed British acting talent including Rochenda Sandall, Annabel Scholey, Craig Parkinson, Kevin McNally, Sam Spruell, Robert Bathurst, Steve Oram and Thaddea Graham.
We’ll go from Liverpool to the depths of space, via the Crimean war and a planet named Atropos – which shouldn’t even exist- fighting old foes and new creatures from beyond our dimension, the Doctor and company face a race against (and through!) time to uncover a universe-spanning mystery: what is the Flux?
In case you haven’t seen it yet, here’s the synopsis for the opening episode on 31st October: Chapter One: The Halloween Apocalypse
A universe-spanning adventure in space and time starring Jodie Whittaker, Mandip Gill and John Bishop. On Halloween, all across the universe, terrifying forces are stirring. From the Arctic Circle to deep space, an ancient evil is breaking free. And in present day Liverpool, the life of Dan Lewis is about to change forever. Why is the Doctor on the trail of the fearsome Karvanista? And what is the Flux?
When asked about his vision for S13, Chibnall had this to say:
My vision for the series was (to create) a massive story – bigger than we’ve ever told with Jodie’s Doctor. And to start with an episode that feels like a finale and carry on from there and play out the rest of the story. I wanted it to be really epic, to be fun with lots of cliff hangers, to be surprising, and to really do things we hadn’t yet done with the Thirteenth Doctor…
He also gave this little insight on the Ravagers:
They are a couple of characters who we meet who are creatures of another dimension who have a history with the Doctor – but I even think with this I am giving too much away!
Matt Strevens, exec producer, offered up his insight on the filming of S13 and all the challenges:
It’s been amazing. It’s been a long journey – we thought when COVID hit to be honest we didn’t know whether we’d be back and how we’d make the show so it was brilliant to be back, to start filming again and to get the team back together again. We had a small delay due to COVID so it was lovely when we all got back on the TARDIS. It’s been amazing actually and we’ve managed through all the challenges of the last year. The fact that we’ve gotten this far seems slightly miraculous but it’s brilliant and an amazing testament to the cast and crew. It’s brilliant to be back, it’s been a real thrill.
And regarding what’s in store, Strevens added:
Series thirteen evolved quite late in the day, we had a plan for what we wanted to do and then the pandemic hit and what we realised was that there were certain things we wouldn’t be able to do in the normal way, as we had for series eleven and twelve. So rather than be compromised – as what you want for Doctor Who is for every series to be bigger and better than the last, you don’t want to rest on your laurels – Chris came up with the brilliant idea of going, “Why don’t we just do something different for our era, wouldn’t it be great if we told one big story?” We knew we wouldn’t be able to do the same number of episodes in the time that we had so he came up with the fantastic idea of this overarching narrative. Each episode has the same bang for its buck, each episode has the story of the week, we’ve still gone for that filmic quality for each episode, but much more than the previous two seasons we’ve tied it together with a massive overarching story for the Doctor and huge jeopardy for the Doctor. It picks up on a lot of the things the Doctor learned about herself and her history at the end of series twelve. I can honestly say it’s not like the previous two series. It’s huge in its scope and its scale and the jeopardy. Also we’ve really tried to go as big as could with the visuals as well, in terms of CGI and in terms of the design of the series, we really tried to pull out all the stops so when you watch the show, whether it’s in five years’ time or whenever, no one will be able to say, “You made that during a pandemic!” We didn’t want that to impact on the experience for the audience.
And a little more insight regarding the guest appearances this time around:
For me it was a real joy to welcome Craig Parkinson, who I’ve worked with very briefly on Misfits, but I’ve always followed his work and career – I think he’s a wonderful actor. For him to bring his unique qualities to one of our greatest characters of the series, it was just a joy to watch him work. Kevin McNally, I’ve watched him for years and I’ve always thought he’s an exceptional actor and talent so to have his gifts was just wonderful. He’s such a detailed actor, he has so much fun with it
and there’s a wonderful quality to his performance. Mandip and John who got to spend the most time with him relished working with him and bounced off him, the whole dynamic between those three actors was taken to another level and that was a joy. The wonderful Annabel Scholey who plays Claire, was so delightful to have around. I was blown away that Jacob (Anderson) was available (for the role) and then we realised he was a massive Doctor Who fan. Obviously Chris has worked with him previously but seeing his delight and childlike glee when he had that costume on for the first time, that was a joy to see! He’s a wonderful actor to work with, so humble and so kind. The atmosphere on set with our guest actors, all of them have been absolutely glorious. Craige Els as Karvanista goes down as one of my favourite characters of all time, he’s an exceptional actor and it was a joy. More than ever we’ve been able to build an ensemble we haven’t been able to build before as we’ve been largely episodic so by the end of it the Doctor Who family feels properly expanded. Not only do you have a new companion in Dan (John Bishop) who is amazing, but the whole family grows substantially which is the biggest thrill out of Doctor Who: Flux for me.
And on the ‘Flux’ itself….
So Flux is the title of the series in fact, this is the first time we’ve titled this series as it’s one epic story. It’s kind of the biggest nemesis that the Doctor has ever faced. It’s a huge destructive force but quite what it is and why it’s become unleashed will become apparent as you watch the serial unfold. It’s quite awe-inspiring and terrifying and the way it’s realised on screen will be I think quite breath-taking for the audience.
And, so very importantly, Jodie!! Who was initially asked, how it was filming, during everything:
We started filming late because of COVID so starting was a tentative time because none of us had shot during the pandemic. So knowing it was my last I knew it would be very different because we weren’t able to travel, we couldn’t be tactile in that way we were. But what was immediately reassuring is as soon as you got on set, no matter if the logistics or the face of the show seemed different because of masks and all of that, all of the heart and all the love was still there and it was still great fun. We were able to be safe as we could be and as caring as we could be and not lose the atmosphere on the set. It was such a pleasure to be around people, so I was delighted! It was emotional to start with because you hadn’t seen anyone and everyone has gone through so much to get to the first day, and you want to make sure you’re not the person to make a mistake as the domino effect can be so catastrophic on the set. Also it was the longest time I hadn’t seen Mandip!
Did you approach anything differently coming to a serialised story?
I don’t think so. As an actor you’re so used to things changing so the change between serialisation and episode arcs doesn’t change your approach in any way – I could not quote what happened in what episode as I can see the whole story in its entirety. I just know we all start on a journey, where we go and how it pans out. The thing that’s most different is that it’s been almost twelve months (of filming) and it requires a different type of stamina than I’ve ever had to find before.
Are you excited for how it will be for audiences to see the story portrayed that way?
Definitely. Obviously for Whovians (the story) has played out in many different ways over the years, and I think it for us it was great to have had the experience of both. It was definitely the right decision for us to start series eleven, my first series, in a way that was a jumping off point for anyone that hadn’t watched it before. And this series certainly doesn’t exclude people that haven’t seen it but it gives reason to go back and rediscover, it also has those brilliant cliff hanger moments and that, as actors and for the characters, it gives lots of different layers you can bring to it. You don’t want to play the end note in the first episode because you know you’ve got this journey to go with a particular beat or particular emotion. Even with the serialisation it’s still very episodic and each episode has its world that is different from the rest. There may be characters you see again but you certainly feel like you are taken through many different worlds and times like you would in our previous seasons.
Were there any special moments that stood out for you filming series thirteen?
For us, getting to know John (Bishop) has been wonderful. He came in at one hundred and ten (percent) with his energy and enthusiasm. He’s been so much fun to be around he’s been a massive team player. For us, we were still grieving Brad (Walsh) and Tosin (Cole) and for him to come in and not to fill anybody’s shoes and be his own person…we found a new dynamic which felt brilliant and it felt so comfortable. I think the way you meet Dan and that whole introduction; those are really fun scenes. I think all the early scenes with him and Karvanista has been really fun to shoot. I’ve been lucky to enough to work with new people but I’ve been lucky enough to work with people I’ve worked with before. This is the third time I’ve worked with Jacob, I’ve worked with Annabel, we’ve played sisters before, and this was so lovely just to spend time with her. Thaddea Graham, I’ve never
worked with Thaddea and she blew me away from the read through – just from Zoom I was like, “That girl is phenomenal.” And that’s the thing, it can be your first interaction with people or it can be and old friend stepping on set but what you always get at the end is that it’s like you’ve all known each other for years. Like I was in Kevin McNally’s company for about ten minutes and I felt like I’d known him for twenty years. We’ve had to put certain safety precautions in place, but it hasn’t in any way dampened that kind of camaraderie. Other highlights are we’ve so many ensemble scenes, we’ve had some brilliant scenes with the likes of Craige Els, Craig Parkinson – we can feel so many people in a scene and it can feel really epic, it’s been great.
Have you gotten used to being spotted everywhere by the fans, three series on?
I’m really lucky, as whenever I have a reaction it’s always really joyous and everyone is really warm and welcoming. The fans are the show – there’s no way a show can last this many years without a loyalty and a fan base and you don’t have the show without them. To have those interactions when you have them is wonderful.
What journey does the Doctor have this series?
From where we’ve left her, I think self-discovery is the biggest journey the Doctor goes on this
How would you describe the series in three words?
A self-discovery rollercoaster!
And, finally, for the moment, Mandip Gill had this to say about Yaz’s journey in S13:
Yaz continues to go from strength to strength in terms of independence in Space during this series. She can be seen to be taking charge in adventures without the Doctor but naturally at times is out of her depth and asks herself, “What would the Doctor do?” I very much enjoy these struggles as it naturally shows that no matter how many adventures she goes on she will always need the Doctor.
And the filming of Flux as a whole entity:
Filming one serialised story for me personally has been great. I did love the stand-alone episodes but this way feels like I have longer to explore relationships with other characters such as Vinder played by Jacob Anderson and Jericho played by Kevin McNally. Both characters are seen in several episodes and so Yaz is able to develop a much deeper relationship with them that doesn’t end at the end of an episode. On a personal level I have really enjoyed having such amazing guest leads around for a longer period of time and sharing this experience with them.
How would you describe Series 13 in three words?
An emotional rollercoaster.