I’m Back — with Doctor Who News

…the bits that didn’t make it into the January issue of the Gallifrey Guardian, that is.

Series 14 news (may contain spoilers):

Auditions for the Fifteenth Doctor’s companion were held on September 24 and pre-production officially began on September 26. The director for the first filming block was Dylan Holmes Williams. Principal photography began in December. Filming occurred on December 5; the exterior of the Thirteenth Doctor’s TARDIS was visible in photos posted on official Doctor Who social media. Russel T Davies wrote in DWM that Episode Two “contains the words Liverpool, legions, and non-diegetic” and the first line of Episode Seven’s script is “INT. COFFEE BAR, USA – DAY, 1947.”

Scott Handcock’s Production Diary in Doctor Who Magazine reported that Sam Care is the cinematographer working with director Dylan Holmes Williams on Block One. Some pre-filming location scouting was reported in November in “urban environments” and a “sporty location” which required life jackets. A photo at a coastal location on a particularly stormy day was described as “the most stunning, perfect location to open an episode.” The cast participated in a block One read-through on November 30. Agency casting calls requested trendy types and smart-looking business types. Block Two filming will include the holiday special with Ncuti Gatwa’s full-episode debut as the Fifteenth Doctor. Mark Tonderai will direct Block Two, consisting of at least two episodes.

Millie Gibson said Ruby’s haircut is “a bit punky, a bit spiky.” Jane Trantor, executive producer, said: “Ruby’s one of those girls that will go to a charity shop and pick the best item off the rack.”

Dylan Holmes Williams directed two episodes filmed in December. Block One was produced by Chris May with production coordinator Sandra Cosfeld and editor Tim Hodges. Script supervisor Scott Handcock, in his recurring column for DWM, wrote that there are monsters in Block One which are difficult to describe without referencing enemies of the Fourth and Seventh Doctors. Pam Downe, the costume designer for the 60th anniversary specials, continues as costume designer for Series 14. Claire Williams is the new hair and make-up designer; she worked with Ncuti Gatwa on Sex Education.

Jane Tranter described one of the sets used for the new season: “…the ceiling height in the studio where we’ve built the new TARDIS [interior] set is higher than Pinewood’s 007 Stage!” Producer Phil Collinson said that after that, filming moved out to a “far-flung location further west in Wales.” Filming occurred at the White Cross Inn in Groeswen, Wales, and at the locks at Cardiff Bay Barrage. Ncuti Gatwa posted a few photos on Instagram of filming on a very cold night in Penarth on December 17. He captured a break between takes with several actors wrapped in warm clothing; one person appeared to be wearing a Santa hat. Gatwa and Millie Gibson were filmed on Cardiff Bay Barrage in Penarth on December 16 and 17, by a production crew described by the local paper as “70-strong” and “very large.” The shoot required a floating pontoon towed into one of the entrance locks in the Barrage and safety boats were present in case anyone had to be rescued from the frigid water.

The first images of the Fifteenth Doctor and his companion Ruby Sunday in costume were release by the BBC on December 17. Gatwa and Gibson shared a video of themselves in costume at a car park at Alexandra Head, located above the north end of the Barrage. See it here:  YouTube Shorts

A set was created at Capitol Shopping Plaza in Cardiff on January 3, with large posters advertising a political party named Albion and the slogan “Bigger Better Bolder Britain.” Fans have been speculating about the use of the word “Albion” which, as one put it, “is becoming a recurring word in Who” [see comics and audios]. Albion was the earliest known name for Great Britain. Radio Times reported that the Boots store was transformed into a campaign office for fictional politician Roger ap Gwilliam, who appears to be played by Welsh actor and musician Aneurin Barnard.

RT’s source, a Twitter thread, placed the episode in 2046 and stated Millie Gibson as Ruby Sunday was seen on set wearing glasses and Albion gear. Another fan tweeted that “a blonde actress [not Gibson] and a man with an orange cap” were filmed outside the campaign office. Extras wearing business attire and clothing with the same campaign slogans lined up inside the shopping center. In the evening, the crew filmed a scene indoors of a victory party with signage saying “2024 General Election” and maps of London with election results. Actors playing campaign supporters were heard cheering “Roger! Roger! Roger!”

A Twitter post of a photo supposedly taken of the inside after filming ended showed a close-up of a desk with what appears to be a cube from “The Power of Three.” [As I have been unable to confirm this with any other source, it may be a hoax. – jl] Filming moved outdoors again later in the evening, showing a sign with an unusual logo and the words “…ZONE POWERED BY LEOWN CORPORATION.”

The production moved to Swansea University Bay Campus in Wales for filming from January 4 through 7. The film crew shot a scene involving two actors encountering a giant slug-like monster with tentacles and a segmented carapace. The campus was set dressed with signs which said “FINETIME,” “DIAMOND PLAZA,” and “ARCHITECT HIGH C.C.ARBROATH.”

OTHER NEWS (no spoilers):

Doctor Who has earned another entry in the Guinness Book of World Records, this time for the longest gap between TV appearances of an actor playing a television character—57 years and 120 days. That record is now held by William Russell, for his portrayal of First Doctor companion Ian Chesterton, who was last seen in The Chase, June 26, 1965 until The Power of the Doctor screened on October 23, 2022. Doctor Who already holds a number of Guinness World Records including the most consecutive sci-fi TV episodes ever (871 so far); the Largest Gathering of People Dressed as Doctor Who Characters, at the La Mole Comic Con in Mexico City in 2016; and the world’s largest-ever simulcast of a TV drama for 2013’s broadcast of The Day of the Doctor.

Peter Capaldi and Ncuti Gatwa both attended the Scottish BAFTA awards, Gatwa because he was nominated in the Actor Television category and Capaldi to accept the award for Outstanding Contribution to Film and Television. The award is one of Bafta’s highest accolades and is presented to people who have made significant contributions in either major feature films or network television programs. In his acceptance speech, Capaldi gave a shout out to Gatwa and revealed that Steven Moffat was looking for a new Doctor Who when they met for the first time at the Scottish BAFTAs.

Rumor: The episode budget for Doctor Who could triple due to the recent deal between BBC and Disney, according to Broadcast. Industry executives speculate the budget may rise to £100m, with the existing £1-3m per episode budget tripling to £10m in 2023. Spin-off series are also rumored to be a possibility, with The Mirror reporting that Cybermen, Daleks and Weeping Angels may get their own Marvel-style spin-offs with money from Disney. Sontarans and Sea Devils were also mentioned in the article. The BBC, contacted by The Mirror for comment, said it was too early to comment on any plans. The Mirror further claims that new sources of funding (not related to the Disney deal) have allowed the BBC to animate more lost episodes to mark the 60th anniversary, beginning with the Season Four stories The Smugglers and The Underwater Menace. The BBC also plans to colorize certain stories from the Hartnell and Troughton eras for broadcast next year, likely to include An Unearthly Child.

And now, leftover photos (yes, there are spoilers). For details, see your January issue of the Gallifrey Guardian.

Most of the photos are from the BBC/Wolf Studios and, as usual, my primary source was cultbox.uk — thanks!