The all-new season of Doctor Who doesn’t premiere until later this year on BBC America, but in the meantime, the cast and creative team headed down to Comic-Con for a presentation and panel, and to debut footage for the show’s loyal and dedicated fans. This season will see the last days of the Ponds, with Amy (Karen Gillan) and Rory (Arthur Darvill) returning for their final rollercoaster voyage with The Doctor (Matt Smith), and then see a dramatic turn of events when The Doctor meets a new companion, played by Jenna-Louise Coleman.
During this interview, showrunner Steven Moffat and producer Caroline Skinner talked to the press about being half-way through in shooting this new season, what fans can expect from the upcoming episodes, how epic it is to say goodbye to Amy and Rory, how emotional the read-through was for the final episode with The Ponds, why New York was the perfect place for their farewell, what makes time travel into the past more fun than time travel into the future, and how the introduction of Jenna-Louise Coleman’s companion has changed things. Check out what they had to say after the jump.
STEVEN MOFFAT: Just over half-way through.
How’s it going?
MOFFAT: Brilliantly! It’s looking absolutely great, I think.
So, how many more times can Rory die this season?
CAROLINE SKINNER: Well, I can’t possible tell you that!
What can fans expect from the new season?
SKINNER: It’s absolutely huge! It’s a big old heartbreaking farewell to Amy (Karen Gillan) and Rory (Arthur Darvill). It’s amazing because they’re the longest serving companions from the modern show. I’m fairly new to it, but you know Amy and Rory, and you love them. You loved being with them on the Tardis. It’s an epic thing to do, to say goodbye to them, as characters on the show and as actors.
And you’ve already filmed that?
SKINNER: Yeah. It was the most emotional read-through that I’ve ever been to, reading that script. It’s a huge, beautiful piece of writing that Steven did. By the end of that read-through, we all sat around the table, and Karen had some big speeches to do and Matt [Smith] had some big speeches to do, and we were getting closer and closer to the end of the script. By the end of it, pretty much everyone was crying. Steven was, of course, pretending to be really manly and not crying, but we all knew that inside he was weeping. And then, we went to New York and shot it, and there were some really big scenes that we did out there. It just felt very special and filming it out there gave that story a huge amount of scale. We finished the episode and it’s had a great reaction. Everyone who’s watched it has really felt that level of connection with the story and with the characters. Also, it’s a hugely emotional piece of drama.
Why New York for their final farewell?
MOFFAT: Because I was in New York when I thought of the story I wanted to do, and I think it fit with the weeping angels. Visually, it was a good place to put them. It was more about that.
SKINNER: Also, it’s a city that has such scale and romance. It gives the episode a real atmosphere and a very different tone for Doctor Who. The other episodes before this one are Amy and Rory’s last adventures, but they’re all huge adventures. They’re fun and they’re big, and it felt as if you wanted to do something and say something really phenomenal for their final story. They’ve been with us for such a long time, and it felt as if New York was just the right place to do that. It had a real magic about it.
SKINNER: It’s both Amy and Rory. For me, it’s probably very different than for Steven. It’s my first [season] on the show, and I just completely fell in love with Arthur and Karen, as actors and their characters, just working with them. It just feels like it’s a big thing to do. It’s a big five episodes. And, there are so many other things that happen in those five episodes that I’m really proud of them, as pieces of work. There’s a level of emotion, across those five, with their relationship, and with their relationship with Matt’s Doctor, that just feels very special. They feel very unique.
In the last couple of seasons, there have been a lot of episodes set in the past. With the new companion in the second half, could you see there being some future episodes?
SKINNER: It’s possible!
MOFFAT: Time travel is always more magical somehow when you go into the past. Traveling into the future is something you do, every day. You’re just not going to get very far. So, I rather like the past travel. You will be seeing adventures in the future. It’s a time travel show. But, I always think the magic of time travel is actually going back. Those are the unrecoverable days.
MOFFAT: I don’t know if I would call them themes, but I would say that there is a goodbye, and there’s a hello. Those are huge phases of anyone’s life, especially with someone like the Doctor who’s so alone and so models himself around the people he meets. It’s so much a response to what they need or want him to be, so it changes the show a great deal with that. Maybe, to some degree, it’s quite a simple story because that’s such a big and emotional thing with the end of a friendship. Just that sentence is a horrible thing to say.
So, how has the introduction of Jenna-Louise Coleman’s companion been and how is the tone different?
MOFFAT: We’re well into the Jenna-Louise Coleman era. The biggest difference is that what you have with The Ponds now is a crack team. They’re brilliant at being Doctor Who companions. They really know what they’re doing. They’re the A-Team. They’re sorted. Also, they’ve gone quite a long way past the stage of thinking the Doctor is completely marvelous. They are virtually at the point that they are his mum and father-in-law, technically, but they treat him like a big kid they have to look after. There is an element of babysitting. So, when you first meet him, you think, “Wow, what a guy!,” but eventually you think, “He’s still here?”
MOFFAT: She brings out a very, very different side to the Doctor. I think it’s going to be a slightly surprising story.
SKINNER: It feels very different, watching the episodes as we’re filming them. Making TV is all about alchemy. I think the dynamic is really surprising. People really enjoy it.
Was it challenging to have the goodbye and then the hello, back-to-back?
MOFFAT: Without responding to that, I will say that those aren’t challenges that are difficult. That is the meat of the story. That’s what you’re looking to right. That’s a gift, when you get to do things like that. Endings are great. You don’t know if you like a story until it’s over. You don’t know if a book is good, until you get to the last page. It’s sad. It can still let you down. If it went wrong at the end, you would think, “That wasn’t good.” Endings are so important. Endings are vital. A story is an ending, and how you get there. That’s a gift, to get to do that moment. And then, there’s the beginning of another story.
With the 50th anniversary next season, are you open to the idea of bringing in past Doctors, and is there one you would specifically love to bring back?
MOFFAT: I’m not answering that! I’m just not! I’m not telling you!