Jodie Whittaker, Mandip Gill, and Chris Chibnall spill the beans (well, maybe one bean) on the Thirteenth Doctor’s regeneration

We’re only days away from the end of the Thirteenth Doctor’s era as Jodie Whittaker says goodbye. Nobody knows exactly how the Doctor’s latest regeneration will play out. However, there’s bound to be tears and drama before the end. Chris Chibnall and his Doctor Who team are notorious for keeping their cards close to their chest. But they have teased a few details about the experience of writing and performing the climax of The Power of the Doctor. And what it was like walking away afterwards…

 

Chris Chibnall and his team at the premiere of The Power of the Doctor,BBC Studios,James Pardon Doctor Who
Chris Chibnall and his team at the premiere of The Power of the Doctor,BBC Studios,James Pardon

On filming the regeneration

Chis Chibnall: “I always knew where we were going”

Chris Chibnall discussed how he approached the regeneration. “Writing it,” he explains, “I always knew where we were going so I knew what I was writing towards. I knew what the final words were going to be, and where everything was going to happen and finish. So I wrote those quite early on and sort of just put them to one side.

“I was on set for the final day shoot, there were a lot of people on set and there was an outpouring of love. It was a very special and very fun-filled day, there was a lot of music being played, Jodie put on playlists. There was a real sort of party atmosphere on the final day, and then we ended with these incredibly emotional final scenes. It was just a great way to finish, I have to say the last few days we had a shooting were just delightful and particularly after coming through quite a challenging year of filming, it felt like everything landed in the right place.

“The production team had done a great job in scheduling the final scenes of that Doctor as the final scenes we were going to film which isn’t always the case and it felt very appropriate, very right, very lovely. It didn’t feel like a sad day, it felt like a very happy day, a sense of job well done and there was so much love for Jodie and Mandip.”

Jodie Whittaker: “I lost it”

Whittaker also talked about the party atmosphere of her last day on set, but also about the high emption. “Everyone was wonderful,” she says. “On my last day there were last scenes with Yaz and the Doctor on the TARDIS but I got in a bit before Mandip to start filming. I was wondering where everyone was, but they got me on set and the cast and crew had lined up and were clapped me and I obviously lost it there. Then we did it for Mandip and I was crying more than her!”

On filming her final shot, she reveals that they did it in one take. “Jen, who was our third AD, had stepped up to step in as the first (AD) that last few days. She said ‘So this is the final time I’m going to call ‘Rehearsal in the TARDIS’ and I lost it. We shot the last moment and it was one take and once the camera team were happy, I could see everyone nodding and making eye-contact and my bottom lip went and I knew it was the end. It was just (the challenge of) being able to articulate to everyone what you think of them.

“It’s not just Mandip, not just the cast, it’s all the phenomenal people you get to work with. It’s lifelong friendships that have been forged in four years and we’ve had the time of our lives and survived a pandemic! At the beginning of our work, we had to be all separate and then at the end, we could all come together. It felt particularly emotional because of where we were at.”

Mandip Gill: “I will remember for the rest of my days”

Mandip Gill describes it as a day of big emotions, saying “Filming the final scenes were emotional, as to be expected. The Executive Producers were on the floor, the atmosphere was beautiful and naturally Jodie and I had real emotions flowing. It will be something I will remember for the rest of my days as we all knew it was the end of a beautiful chapter.”

 

The Thirteenth Doctor (Jodie Whittaker) faces her final challenge in The Power of the Doctor,BBC STUDIOS 2022,James Pardon Doctor Who
The Thirteenth Doctor (Jodie Whittaker) faces her final challenge in The Power of the Doctor,BBC STUDIOS 2022,James Pardon

On what they’ll miss most about Doctor Who

Jodie Whittaker: “I’ll miss the energy of the Doctor”

For the woman at the centre of all this drama, it’s about the once in a lifetime role. “I’m not a method actor,” explains Whittaker. “I don’t stay in character between scenes, but I spent a lot of time before I played the Doctor doing quite emotionally traumatised roles. I’ve played people who lost children, people whose husband had been disabled, things where characters were on the brink a lot of the time. They were major events that I can’t understand, so a lot of the time at work you are always on the moment of devastation. A lot of the time for me filming was amazing and fun to do, but you are always on the brink of upset [with Doctor Who].

“There were four seasons, there was heartbreak, there was fear and there was loss, but my overriding emotion was excitement. I felt like the over-riding thing the Doctor brought was curiosity and excitement. Obviously fear, rage and all those things, but the thing that encapsulated my Doctor the most was that bouncing into things, and that really fed into my evening and my weekend and my year. I was very half-full all day every day, so it bleeds into life.”

 

Jodie Whittaker as the Doctor in The Power of the Doctor,BBC STUDIOS 2022,James Pardon Doctor Who
Jodie Whittaker as the Doctor in The Power of the Doctor,BBC STUDIOS 2022,James Pardon
“It’s knocked fifteen years off me!”

“I’m not someone who sits in character all weekend but you do realise how much that emotional trauma leaves you on the edge of upset when you’ve been doing it for 12 hour days. You don’t quite let it go at the end of the day, without realising. So the reason I can gush so much about this job is because it wasn’t just happiness on set, it fed into everything. I feel like it’s knocked fifteen years off me because I’ve been so energised because I had to be at work that it fed outwards and I’ll miss the energy of the Doctor.”

Chris Chibnall: “I will miss the madness of making the show”

For showrunner Chris Chibnall meanwhile, it’s the sheer variety of storytelling that only Doctor Who can provide. “I think the thing I will miss the most is the madness of making the show,” he says. “Because you can be shown the design for a monster one minute, then you’re in 1950s America, the next moment you’re getting the rushes in – you get to do things on Doctor Who you don’t do anywhere else. And the visual effects teams are amazing.”

Mandip Gill: “I will miss Cardiff and the crew”

Mandip Gill says what she’ll miss most is the team that she got to be part of while playing Yaz. “I will miss Cardiff and the crew there. They work so hard and are truly like family. I can’t emphasise how enjoyable my time has been on Doctor Who. Working long hours in all sorts of terrain with your mates is not really working for me. I am most proud of the atmosphere on set I helped to create. There were some very tough days but staying upbeat and positive can really help the rest of the cast and crew in difficult times. Jodie unknowingly has set a very high bar as ‘number one’ and I will work hard to follow suit.”

 

Doctor Who - Series 11 - TARDIS
Many of the TARDIS’s iconic roundels were distributed to cast and crew when the set was dismantled (c) BBC

On taking their own mementos from the set

Mandip Gill: “The TARDIS was dismantled in seconds!”

Mandip Gill collected some souvenirs of her time on Doctor Who, but a little too early, as it turned out. “So, I definitely heard someone say we can take stuff!” she promises. “As soon as we heard that, the TARDIS was dismantled in seconds! I took a sphere that was glued down but with the help of the runners it was soon in my possession and hidden from anyone I thought would steal it off me. Then we heard they still had scenes on the TARDIS to film – imagine my face because I am not naughty.”

Chris Chibnall: “I have a roundel of the TARDIS!”

With the current TARDIS console room being disassembled for good, Chris Chibnall went home with one of the most popular momentos. “Yes I have a roundel of the TARDIS,” he reveals, “quite a few of us do! I have a few little gifts that I was given, a front plate of the TARDIS – the plaque on the front. I didn’t take a lot, because I have a lot from the past couple of years! Weirdly the thing you take most are the memories and you kind of can’t explain those. That sounds really sentimental but it’s really true, it’s not the objects, it’s the experiences and the people.”

Doctor Who - Series 11 - TARDIS
The TARDIS console’s mini-TARDIS: now in the possession of a certain Ms Whittaker! (c) BBC
Jodie Whittaker: “I’ve got my costume and my sonic!”

Quite rightly, the Doctor herself has gotten to keep hold of some of the most iconic elements of her era. “I’ve got my costume, my sonic, a Cyberman!” she begins. But there’s more: “When I fly the TARDIS,” she continues, “I flick a switch and what spins inside is a mini TARDIS that lights up so that spins and then I pull the handle down – I’ve got that too.”

 

Mandip Gill and Jodie Whittaker are ready to watch the 60th anniversary on their sofas with the rest of us,BBC Studios,James Pardon Doctor Who
Mandip Gill and Jodie Whittaker are ready to watch the 60th anniversary on their sofas with the rest of us,BBC Studios,James Pardon

On sitting at home to watch the new Ncuti Gatwa era as normal viewers

Chris Chibnall: “I said to Russell: ‘Please don’t tell me!’

Chris Chibnall made maintaining secrecy about future plot twists a top priority of his time as showrunner. And now he’s thrilled to be on the other side of the veil of silence. “I’m really looking forward to not knowing anything,” he says. “I’m already enjoying it. And in fact, I had to say to Russell on a couple of occasions, ‘Please don’t tell me!’ I’m lucky enough to have seen the full ending of The Power of the Doctor and even the tiny bit of the end just made me thrilled about and excited and desperate to see more about what comes next. It’s a delightful prospect!”

Mandip Gill: “So excited to see their stories”

For Mandip Gill, she’s anticipating Davies crafting some unique new stories for incoming Doctor Ncuti Gatwa and his companion or companions. “I am so excited,” she says. “It will be really interesting to see their stories as I know some of our episodes were specific to my heritage, such as Demons of the Punjab and Tosin Cole’s [heritage] in Rosa, so it’ll be interesting to see theirs. Also to see them up against new and returning monsters will be fun to watch!”

Jodie Whittaker: “I can’t wait to go ‘You are kidding me!

The final word goes to our Thirteenth Doctor, herself, Jodie Whittaker. “I’m really excited to not know any spoilers!” she exclaims. “There was two big events for me – knowing O turned into the Master and that Whovians would be like, ‘OMG!’, and that I dig up a TARDIS and I turn round and Jo Martin is the Doctor. Knowing those two things were coming in one season and they hadn’t been leaked was the most fun. So now I won’t get to know those things before they come out, so I can’t wait to go, ‘You are kidding me!’. I cannot wait to see it in real time, and I don’t have the stress of keeping the secrets.”

 

Doctor Who: The Power of the Doctor, BBC Studios 2022 ,James Pardon Thirteenth Doctor Jodie Whittaker regeneration
Doctor Who: The Power of the Doctor, BBC Studios 2022 ,James Pardon

Doctor Who returns with The Power of the Doctor this Sunday on BBC One at 7.30pm and on BBC America at 8pm ET

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