Now Series 10 of Doctor Who has drawn to a close so too has Doctor Who: The Fan Show – The Aftershow. Every week they have brought viewers to their YouTube channel interviews with cast and crew, moments after the latest episodes have been screened in the UK. BlogtorWho sat down to chat with the presenter Christel Dee about Doctor Who, cosplay and the Fan Show. In this extensive and at times very personal four part interview Christel discusses her career, her background, her sexuality and of course, her Doctor – Peter Capaldi…
In Part Two of this extensive interview, Christel Dee reveals her role on Doctor Who: The Fan Show, describes a typical day at work, talks about the After Show, interviewing and her love of Cosplay…
For those that don’t know Doctor Who: The Fan Show is a YouTube series found on the official Doctor Who YouTube channel. Every week, they talk about Doctor Who and its many spin-offs with special guests including cast and crew.
BlogtorWho: You started as a presenter and researcher for the Fan Show but this year you became Assistant Producer too. What does that involve?
Christel Dee: It makes my job bigger. Now the After Show is over, I’m going to be producing episodes of The Fan Show. There’ll be bigger projects that I work on together with my boss, but there’ll be other projects that I take on myself, that I’ll oversee basically.
BlogtorWho: It is a full-time job then? What makes up a typical working day.
Christel Dee: So my job is also to come up with the social media plan for an episode, so Chris and I come up with all the tweets. What I’ll do is on a Thursday or Friday, I’ll come up with what we’re going to tweet for the episode, with this picture or this GIF. My boss will look at it then and give his opinion.
I’ll also spend about three hours transcribing the episodes for close captions on YouTube, so people can watch them in other countries. I sit there with headphones on and it takes about three hours to do about 3,000 words. That’s every week as well.
Then a lot of my job is really hands-on as well. So if we get to go to the studio, I’ll be loading stuff into cars, getting there, unpacking, setting up and then sitting down doing the interview. It’s a lot. It doesn’t stop really. It’s not like I stroll in and do the interview.
BlogtorWho: I imagine some people do think you just turn up and do an interview.
Christel Dee: Yeah, and people are not wrong for thinking that, because I would too, but people think that’s all I do. People think that and say, “You’re so lucky, what a cool fabulous life you have.” Yes of course, yes I know, it is amazing what I do. I still pinch myself over it every day.
BlogtorWho: But that is only a small part of your job?
Christel Dee: About 90% of my job is answering emails. I mean the things that you see, the final product is 10% of what I’m doing as my day job. The rest is not glamorous. Sometimes a film shoot is cleaning stuff off the floor or sitting there for hours transcribing episodes. It can be a range of things. The exciting things are the things that people see. For that exciting thing to happen there’s a lot of work around that, prep work. I sit in an office four days a week, and then one day a week we actually film videos.
Your Screen Partner in Crime Luke Spillane
BlogtorWho: So what’s Luke Spillane’s role in the show?
Christel Dee: Luke works at BBC Worldwide as well, he works five days a week and he’s a channel manager of Doctor Who.
BlogtorWho: Can you explain exactly what that is?
Christel Dee: Basically BBC Worldwide have various YouTube channels, which are Doctor Who, Sherlock, Top Gear, BBC Earth, Brit Lab and others. Luke’s job as a Channel Manager is to upload the videos, plan when those videos should be uploaded, what the title should be, what you should put in the metadata, what should be in the description and he makes the thumbnails as well. So yeah he manages the Doctor Who channel basically.
BlogtorWho: Sometimes you borrow him for the Fan Show too?
Christel Dee: He’s great and does some comedy. He’s very good on camera, massive Doctor Who fan, so he’s a great addition to the team as a presenter.
The After Show
The After Show began with series 10 of Doctor Who, appearing on YouTube immediately after each episode premiered on BBC One. Each episode featured interviews with cast, crew and guest stars including acclaimed British actor David Suchet.
BlogtorWho: For the After Show how far ahead of the episodes transmitting did you have to be?
Christel Dee: We tended to watch the episodes roughly about two weeks in advance. So we film a week, week and a half in advance. We filmed on a Thursday or Friday and it gets edited by the next Thursday or Friday for that Saturday.
BlogtorWho: Does somebody else do the editing or are you involved in that as well?
Christel Dee: It depends. For the After Show, we have got George Shankster who is our DOP (Director of Photography), he does all of the camera and lighting work and also edits the Fan Show. He’s been a regular editor on the Fan Show’s but for the After Show, he edited all of those. Whilst George was editing, my role was mainly writing scripts and questions for the guests appearing on the After Show.
BlogtorWho: Would you have access to the episode scripts too?
Christel Dee: Quite often because we would get to see the episodes quite last minute. I never used to read the script but I’d read through, put down my initial thoughts, watch the episode, and get down some more thoughts. Then we’ll format those into questions. My boss would then sit down and go through them with me.
BlogtorWho: To Doctor Who fans you’ve still got one of the best jobs in the world.
Christel Dee: Yeah and of course it is. But I think people don’t realise that there is all this other work that goes into it. I think people do think I just turn up and get given the questions, I say them and I go home.
BlogtorWho: That would just make you a generic presenter for hire?
Christel Dee: That’s what I’m not, I was hired for my expertise. I was hired because I’m a fan, but I was also hired because I know something about Doctor Who. I know something about the industry. I know something about making videos. I know how to write scripts. I know how to do an interview. All these things came together. If that was the case, then they would have had a separate researcher, they would have had a presenter for hire. I think Doctor Who fans, they’ll see through it if you’re not a fan. The video where I’m crying at Peter Capaldi, what if that was a presenter for hire? They’re not going to cry at Peter Capaldi leaving, are they?
For Fans From Fans
BlogtorWho: Of course the whole point of the Fan Show is to connect the fans with the show?
Christel Dee: Having fans present the show, we hope that that brings people closer. It’s not removed, if you had people that weren’t fans, then why would you watch it? I mean I wouldn’t watch it.
Interviewing the Cast
BlogtorWho: Do you still get starstruck when you are interviewing?
Christel Dee: Yes, I do definitely. I think even with Peter Capaldi I still get a bit because he’s the Doctor, you know? I’ve lost count of the amount of times I’ve met him now not just for interviews but at various different things. It still doesn’t wear off. So I do but hopefully not as much as I used to because you also realise that these people are just people.
BlogtorWho: So that’s changed a lot from when you were meeting the stars at conventions?
Christel Dee: When I used to go to conventions I used to spend 50 quid, for a picture with David Tennant and I would get incredibly star struck. Then once you start working with these people you realise that they’re just people like you. It demystifies what they are. With celebrities, there is a veil of mystery around them. I think people think they’re like higher beings.
BlogtorWho: Is there anyone who you’d put in that category?
Christel Dee: The Pet Shop Boys to me are higher beings. My heroes are the Pet Shop Boys, they’re higher beings, and whenever I’ve me them I’ve been incredibly star struck. It’s what they mean to you. I’m sure that if I started working intimately with the Pet Shop Boys, and got to know them as people, it would change that. But I wouldn’t want that to change because I enjoy the Pet Shop Boys being somebody that I look up to.
BlogtorWho: Did you ever feel that way with Doctor Who people?
Christel Dee: Yes, I did look up to these people as these mystical creatures, anyone that worked at the BBC actually when I was at college were like mythical creatures. But here I am now working five days a week on the show. When you’re in it, it changes it because it is a job like any other job. You’re meeting people and you have to be professional. You are working on a day-to-day basis with these people and you can’t sit there just dribbling and staring at them. You have to get on with your job.
The hardest was my first interview with Peter Capaldi. I look back on it now and from a presenter perspective, I think it’s a terrible interview because I barely asked him any questions. I look at him and go, “Yeah, mm-hmm. Yeah, mm-hmm.” It’s not as good as the interview that we did two years later, where I’m a lot more experienced and maybe less star struck.
BlogtorWho: What were your thoughts at the time of that first interview?
Christel Dee: In my head, I had built up Peter Capaldi to be this amazing God. It was only a few months earlier that I went to Odeon in Leicester Square and watched him wave from a balcony at the Deep Breath premiere. Here I was six months later at San Diego Comic Con, interviewing him. I was bricking it that day, absolutely bricking it. There was no reason to because he’s such a lovely man. Having met him a few times I don’t brick it so much. That first interview though, I might look calm but I am absolutely bricking it inside.
BlogtorWho: Is there anyone else you have felt like that with?
Christel Dee: Nowadays I’ve got a job to do, and I’ve got to tease information out of people. I want them to be relaxed with me as well, and so you just have to remove who they are from your mind. But Matt Lucas. I watched him in Little Britain when I was 12, or something ridiculous like that.
But in answer to your question, I don’t really get star struck to the point where I’m incapable of doing my job, but there will be times where in my head I go, “Oh my god.” That’s good because I think if I was doing this job and I wasn’t still amazed by what I was doing, then it would be time to go.
BlogtorWho: I can imagine Michelle Gomez being a bit of handful.
Christel Dee: Michelle Gomez, she’s quite challenging. Lovely, but she’s Michelle Gomez. What will happen is you’ll ask her a question and you won’t get the answer you expect, you’ll get something else. It’s a bit awkward at times. But it’s funny. She’s great. She’s so lovely. Really funny and very sweet. Yeah, I love Michelle.
BlogtorWho: You also interviewed the legend that is David Suchet.
Christel Dee: What a gent. Gorgeous, lovely man. David Suchet, I think he’s one of the most mesmerising people to talk to. What I really loved about him was he’s got this sort of enigma. He was such a pleasure to interview actually because you just ask him a question and he’ll consider it, and then he’ll go into telling you this story. He really took his time. He’s got this most amazing, resonant, deep voice as well. You just think, “I could listen to you for hours. You are amazing.” Yeah, it was so lovely to interview him.
BlogtorWho: That definitely came across in your interview. Is Steven Moffat similar?
Christel Dee: He is somebody I could listen to talk all day long. He talks like he’s writing. Any interview that you do with him or any kind of Q&A on stage, he can be very poetic. His words have weight, and I like interviewing him because he’s just such a fabulous talker. I could genuinely listen to him talk all day.
BlogtorWho: When he needs to be then he’s the show’s boss. But on other occasions, he can be there as a fan.
Christel Dee: He’s got different sides to him, and I think you have to. If you’re the boss of Doctor Who people are going to be listening to you, wanting to approach you, wanting to speak to you, and he does it all brilliantly. He steps into the shoes of show runner, and boom, there he is, Steven Moffat. He’s got this sort of amazing on-stage persona when he’s speaking as well. Actually, I think he’s got a future in stand-up comedy. When we went to the premiere of The Pilot, he walked on stage, grabbed the microphone and just started making jokes. Great timing and there was a punchline to everything.
Cosplay is a way of immersing and expressing yourself in what ever genre of TV, film, comics of your choice. It has a huge following all over the world. A lot of time, effort and money goes into creating some outstanding costumes
BlogtorWho: On The Fan Show you’ve been able to showcase your love of cosplay too. How long have you been interested in cosplay?
Christel Dee: I started cosplaying many years ago. I went to my first convention when I was 14, 11 years ago now. Went to my first London Comic Con MCM, it was called MCM Expo back then, in October 2006. I went with a friend from primary school who I’d stayed in contact with throughout secondary school. Back in primary school, we were into comics but Manga and Japanese Anime. That was my thing. My friend said, “Have you got a costume?” I said, “What do you mean costume?” “Well, you got to go dressed up.”
BlogtorWho: So because it was your very first con you had no idea about the cosplay side?
Christel Dee: None at all. So I ripped up an old Halloween outfit and made a ninja costume. I think I maybe have one picture of it, but I can’t find it. So I went to this convention and it blew my mind. So many people were dressed up as all these characters, and of course, there was plenty of Doctor Who cosplay there too. I was into Doctor Who at the time, but I didn’t realise there’d be people dressing up as Doctor Who characters. My eyes were opened to this huge world, outside of the conventions, liking what I liked. Being a geek at school there was nobody else really who was into that same stuff. I had one friend in secondary school who liked Doctor Who a bit, but there was no one who was going to conventions and stuff. Going to the conventions meant that suddenly I met loads of people who were like me, and I made so many friends through that. I was going to five or six conventions a year.
BlogtorWho: Do you still manage to get go to that many these days?
Christel Dee: I don’t go to as many now. Throughout University I was still going to conventions but when I started working I stopped going for a year or two. It’s quite expensive to do, it’s an expensive hobby. When I left Uni I was a bit poor so I stopped doing costumes for about two years. But now I’ve got back into doing them. Yeah, I’ve done loads of Doctor Who characters, obviously, and things like Ghostbusters.
Next time Christel reveals her very personal story, accepting her sexuality and why Bill Potts resonated with her so much…
If you missed part of this 4-part interview catch up now at….
- Interview by Diane Malkin
- Article by Bedwyr Gullidge