For Doctor Who Series 11 has assembled, Chris Chibnall himself aside, a brand new team of directors and writers. But who are this new team? In our last director profile, we look at the career of The Tsuranga Conundrum Director Jennifer Perrott.
Jennifer Perrott is an Australian director with a twenty-five year career prior to her work on Doctor Who. Regularly working in both the UK and her native Australia, she’s split her CV between solid episodes of series requiring speed and precision, and highly personal projects showing a strong eye for imagery and psychological drama. Experience ideal for an episode like The Tsuranga Conundrum.
Her career started in the UK with episodes of Hollyoaks. Perrott was an early director of the soap opera following the misadventures of the young people of Chester. She then moved onto episodes of evergreen daytime soap Doctors and Echo Beach. The latter, a metatextual soap oddity, only lasted one season but had the inventive concept of being paired with a drama about the chaos of its own production, Moving Wallpaper. Each episode of Moving Wallpaper saw Ben Miller’s increasingly unhinged producer desperately trying to get Echo Beach successfully filmed. This was then followed by the actual episode of Echo Beach.
Back in Australia, she took the helm on a number of episodes of Home and Away. Set in the beach town of Summer Bay, the long-running soap opera still continues to be broadcast on Channel 5 in the UK.
Jennifer Perrott’s award winning short films on powerful topics show off her range and talent
Perrott has also written and directed a number of powerful short films on subjects she’s passionate about. She comes from a military family, with a father who served in the Vietnam War. The Ravens was a particularly significant project for her. It follows a family eagerly awaiting the return of the father from war only to discover him greatly changed by his experiences. Anchored by popular Australian actor Jeremy Lindsay Taylor, The Ravens won praise from Australian veterans groups. The depiction of living with PTSD helped open discussion of the issue. Meanwhile, Perrott donated profits from the film to veterans charity RSL DefenceCare. The short was also rewarded with a huge number of awards at film festivals around the globe.
Other short films include Breathe, which Perrott also wrote and directed. It tells the story of a boy dealing with grief postponed when his father refuses to allow him to attend his mother’s funeral. Another award winning piece, Flight, from a script by Alison Down, features a man on the verge of suicide. However, he finds him distracted by the goings on in the building opposite his jumping point. Perrott also directed Stacked, starring a pre-Doctor Who Karen Gillan in a tale of the exploitative world of the glamour model.
Throughout these films, Perrott’s feel for emotional truth in her casts’ performances shines through. They also feature strikingly beautiful images throughout.
The Tsuranga Conundrum sees Perrott bring her passion and vision to Doctor Who
Perrott is directing two episodes of Doctor Who this series, including tonight’s The Tsuranga Conundrum. With its stark white corridors, futuristic fashions and far future location, it’s set to be a modern cousin to the design of classic serial ‘The Ice Warriors’. It’s certainly the most explicitly ‘science fiction’ episode so far this season. The keenness of Perrott’s eye is in evidence from the trailers alone. Expectation is therefore high for a visually exciting and polished episode.
Following Doctor Who, Perrot’s next project is the upcoming Gentleman Jack, acclaimed writer Sally Wainwright’s series about Anne Lister.
The Doctor Who adventure continues…
Doctor Who continues this Sunday at 7pm GMT on BBC One and at 8pm EST on BBC America with The Tsuranga Conundrum by Chris Chibnall. Series 11 stars Jodie Whittaker (The Doctor), Mandip Gill (Yasmin Khan), Bradley Walsh (Graham O’Brien), and Tosin Cole (Ryan Sinclair).
The Tsuranga Conundrum guest stars Brett Goldstein, Lois Chimimba, Suzanne Packer, and Ben Bailey-Smith, and is directed by Jennifer Perrott.
“RISK TO LIFE: ABSOLUTE.” Injured and stranded in the wilds of a far-flung galaxy, The Doctor, Yaz, Graham and Ryan must band together with a group of strangers to survive against one of the universe’s most deadly — and unusual — creatures.
The first four episodes of Series Eleven, plus the ten previous seasons, are all available on iPlayer’s Doctor Who page.