For a while now (well, over a year—I’m the ultimate procrastinator!) I’ve wanted to blog about what makes Doctor Who different from other shows. It’s not just that the main character changes regularly into another person, or that conflicts are usually solved without the hero resorting to violence, or that the time travel format allows for a wider range of storylines, from straight historical to the wildest sci-fi. I’m thinking more of the community of people involved, both in front of and behind the camera (or the desk), and even the fans themselves. A recurring theme of both primary actors and visiting guest stars is how welcomed they feel.
Jodie Whittaker, on filming during the pandemic: …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!
Jacob Anderson (Vinder from Flux) asked the difference between Doctor Who and other sets he’d been on: It actually feels like walking into somebody’s family home. Everybody knows and cares about each other and you can tell that this is a group of people who have spent a lot of time with each other and would choose to continue to. There are some people who have been working on the show for fifteen years and you feel that, but you can also feel Jodie and Chris’ influence on the environment. It’s just a really welcoming, comfortable, warm place to work.
He went on to talk about the fans: I tend to hide a bit whenever there’s any type of announcement but in the immediate announcement I saw some really nice “Welcome to the family” type tweets from Whovians, “Welcome to our crazy family, it’s going to be an adventure!” I really appreciated that and thought it was really nice.
Adjani Salmon (Nick from Eve of the Daleks) from an interview: It felt like we were welcomed into a family… The entire Doctor Who clique is like a family and a unit. It feels like a family working together and when we were in a high pressure environment it was still this synergy of everyone working and moving and getting it done.
And in a Tweet: Working on Dr. Who was like going to a friend’s house for the holidays. Everyone was so welcoming and friendly.
The cast also seems great at keeping their spirits up and being responsible while working through the pandemic. No whining, no complaining, just acceptance of what must be done. In an interview with the Sunday Times last year, Jodie said: We’ve had to be very cautious with filming because we have a duty of care to everyone involved. Things are slower but it hasn’t dampened our energy on set. Everyone’s in the same boat: the world has to carry on during the pandemic while managing the risk.
[Previous comments of Jodie’s regarding the COVID crisis have appeared on this blog; see last year’s January 14 post.]
NEXT TIME: How the Doctor Who community supported each other during lockdown.