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 the fourth and final part of our extensive interview with Christel Dee she shares her thoughts on Doctor Who, Steven Moffat, Peter Capaldi and the future….
First Impressions of Peter
Peter Capaldi was announced as the Twelfth Doctor back in August 2013 in a specially televised reveal to the world.
BlogtorWho: What was your reaction when you heard that Peter Capaldi had been cast as The Doctor?
Christel Dee: It was a bit of a departure, going for somebody of his age, I have to admit. In the beginning, I had no doubt about it, I thought this is the perfect choice. I know some people at first were unsure thinking that he was a bit too old. As with any Doctor, there’s always going to be a backlash, to begin with. I resisted against David Tennant in the beginning, believe it or not. He came along and I went, “Who the hell is this guy? How dare he just swan in and take Christopher Eccleston’s place?” But I watched him and after his first series, he became my favourite Doctor. That is what always happens. It’s a big event. The show is cared about so deeply by people and that’s why people have such strong opinions.
The Doctor Who Fandom
BlogtorWho: As a fan yourself how do you reason with such a passionate fandom which can be both positive and negative?
Christel Dee: Doctor Who is a funny fandom because it’s so opinionated, and people are very protective of it. I think that’s a lot to do with the fact that it is over 50 years old. There are so many different versions of the show. There have been so many different Doctors. It’s gone in all kinds of different directions. I think everybody feels like they know what type of version of Doctor Who they like, and they feel like that’s what it’s meant to be like. That’s why when the show changes, a lot of the fans resist that change. It is a little ironic for a show that is all about change.
Fans resist change because it’s not their Doctor Who anymore, but that is the beauty of the show. That is why it’s been able to continue for 50 years because it does keep changing, it does keep renewing itself. As a fan, you have to accept that. I had to accept it when Matt Smith came along. The show was different. It wasn’t any less good, it was just different. I still enjoyed it, but it wasn’t the same as it was when David Tennant was in it, and I just had to accept that. But then it was also amazing.
There were so many new fans. It had gone global! Steve Moffat took Doctor Who to America. With Matt Smith’s era, the fandom just boomed. Suddenly it was a much bigger beast.
The Critics and Steven Moffat
Multi award winner Steven Moffat has been the show runner on Doctor Who since 2009 when he took over from Russell T. Davis. Before taking on the huge responsibility he wrote such episodes as ‘The Empty Child’ (2005), ‘The Doctor Dances’ (2005) and of course the wonderful ‘Blink’ (2007) which starred Tenth Doctor David Tennant. Moffat, along side writer and actor Mark Gatiss are the brains behind the hugely successful ‘Sherlock’ TV series starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman.
BlogtorWho: The internet sees a lot of criticism, particularly surrounding Doctor Who. Do you think it has become a lot more venomous?
Christel Dee: Yes, as fans we moan about writers and Steven Moffat when we don’t like something. Having met Steven so many times, he’s such a lovely man. As a fan, because you don’t have this connection with him, and you’ve got an online space to vent about Doctor Who, people do say whatever they want.
I see it all the time. But I think if you knew the man if you knew how hard he works, and how hard he’s trying, you wouldn’t say those things. If you knew him, you wouldn’t say those things.
BlogtorWho: He’s got one of the hardest jobs in the world.
Christel Dee: Yeah, could you do it? Could I do it? I couldn’t do it. You ask those people who are saying all those nasty things about him, “Well could you do a better job?” No, of course, you couldn’t. He works so hard and he has to try and please all those people. At the end of the day, you just can’t.
It goes back to this thing of people having their own ideas about what Doctor Who should be. You set yourself up for disappointment if you think, “This episode should be this way.” You’ve just got to be open, I think. Yes, there may be some episodes that you are less keen on and that’s fine.
I think Doctor Who fans just need to chill. I know Doctor Who fans care, and I care massively too, but I’ve had to teach myself to take a step back. I’ve done the same, I’ve scrutinised and moaned and it’s just not worth it. It makes it less fun. I know I’ve got a different perspective because I’ve met the people behind the show, I know how hard they work, so that’s changed my perspective. At the same time, we stress out about it so much, because we just want it to be good. It’s just because we care, I get that.
It’s a silly show at the end of the day, we take it so seriously. It is about a space man in a time travelling wooden box that can go anywhere. It’s a silly show, and we shouldn’t take it too seriously. Just enjoy it.
BlogtorWho: Like you said, it’s a silly show, but there are things that people can relate to in it. To some people, it’s their life. Doctor Who has helped them through difficult times.
Christel Dee: Oh yeah, I know. That’s amazing. I think it’s the most powerful TV show there is. I think it’s because it’s relatable. Because of the things that it touches upon, life and what’s important, what it means to be human. I think that’s why you get these amazing speeches coming from the Doctor because it’s what he’s about. It’s also a commentary on who we are.
The Doctor is very inspirational. I’ve always found the Doctor as a character to be inspirational. People say he’s an outsider, but we all feel like outsiders. I think you could say the Doctor attracts outsiders, but we’re all outsiders at the end of the day. Everyone feels like they’re an outsider.
I think Doctor Who especially attracts people who do feel that. The Doctor is somebody who runs away. He’s running away from his own people, a life that he doesn’t agree with. He has an appreciation for life and the Universe, a sense of wonder. But he also sees the good in everyone as well. He never makes any judgments; he always takes people as they are. As David Suchet said he has a very strong moral compass. He’s such a good role model, he’s so amazing.
He’ll say these wonderful things, and you just go, “Oh my god, yes, of course, it is that way.” Then that is coming from writers like Steven Moffat, like that wonderful speech on time in ‘The Pilot’. Outside of everything I’m very interested in metaphysics, I like metaphysics and philosophy. I like exploring all of these subjects. I’m constantly astonished by the amount of metaphysics stuff that’s in Doctor Who. I must ask Steven this if he’s even aware of it. That theory on time not being linear. A great analogy, time as buildings, like a city spreading out, time is happening at once. I think that’s fascinating. The fact that those are the Doctor’s words. But those are Steven’s words, he wrote that. What a mind!
BlogtorWho: He’s also created some very different versions of the Doctor, particularly of the Twelfth Doctor. The character has changed a lot over three series.
Christel Dee: During Series 8 and Series 9, I feel like a lot of the Doctor’s character and what he did was driven by Clara, the companion. I think we saw a bit of a role reversal in that Clara was leading the way. She became too powerful. I know that was the direction they wanted to take it down; they wanted to make her this control freak.
It didn’t work for me as a fan. I feel like Bill worked a lot better because the Doctor should be the one showing you the wonders of the Universe. The Doctor’s the person you want to fly away with. The Doctor’s the one at night you dream about going on adventures with in the TARDIS. The Doctor should be the one who is exciting and fun, not somebody who’s moping around being miserable. I feel like in Series 8 I say he was having an existential crisis, Series 9 he was having a midlife crisis. In Series 10 he’s back to just having fun.
Personally, Bill works a lot better for me than Clara does, just because the excitement, that sense of wonder wasn’t in Clara in Series 8 and 9 because she’d done it all. Her character had got too powerful. She was playing the Doctor, and the Doctor was following her around. It wasn’t interesting.
BlogtorWho: That’s not what Doctor Who is about. It should be Bill, the companion, asking questions but she’s also not afraid to confront the Doctor.
Christel Dee: That’s what Bill does in ‘Thin Ice’ when she witnesses her first death. At the end of the day, it’s about very human responses to the Doctor’s world. The Doctor is an alien, he sees things differently. So from a human perspective, if you’re seeing people die, you’re reacting differently to a Doctor who’s seen it thousands of millions of times. That’s where that comes from, and I think the thing that Clara didn’t do was ask the questions because she knew it all.
Yes, she thought she knew it all. That’s why those questions didn’t happen, you didn’t get those wonderful moments. The whole appeal of the Doctor’s world is that it is amazing but dangerous too. You want to see that through the companion, but the companion has to act like you would. The companion has to be amazed and has to be shocked because they’re the way in for the viewer. If the companions are not reacting like that, then how are you meant to? If they think, “Oh okay, this is all a bit normal, isn’t it? It’s boring,” then the viewer will too.
BlogtorWho: Bill’s reactions to things like the TARDIS are very human. Do you think the viewer can relate more easily?
Christel Dee: How would you act if you met the Doctor, genuinely, if you met the Doctor, and you saw the TARDIS? You would think it’s a knock-through because you’re putting all your human logic in it. You wouldn’t just go “Oh, it’s big on the inside” straightaway.
BlogtorWho: That line, “But they’re made of wood”, and the whole scene really. The comedy when she’s stood at the window, he sneaks off, puts the lights on and bang.
Christel Dee: Bang, what a beautiful moment. Chills. There were a couple of emotional moments for me in that episode because there are these key things that come up in Doctor Who again, and again, and again. First time in the TARDIS, and also the, “Do you want to come with me?” It’s the bit where the Doctor is standing outside the TARDIS, and the door is open and Bill runs in. That is the magical moment. You just think that is the beginning of a whole new set of adventures.
Peter Capaldi’s Regeneration
Peter Capaldi will leave the show on Christmas Day 2017. He will feature opposite David Bradley as he reprises his role as the First Doctor William Hartnell. Capaldi announced he was leaving Doctor Who on January 31st, 2017 on BBC Radio 2’s ‘An Evening In With, Jo Whiley’.
Blogtor Who: On an episode of The Fan Show you recorded your reaction listening to Peter Capaldi break the news that he was leaving the show. You were pretty emotional.
Christel Dee: It was genuine. I knew that he’d done it on the radio, but I couldn’t bring myself to listen to it on the night because I happened to be out. I looked on Twitter and saw that he was leaving. I thought, “Oh no, I can’t. I just feel too emotional. I can’t listen to it.” The next day, when we filmed the reaction piece, Luke my colleague went, “You have to listen to it. Listen to it on camera, so we get your reaction.” I thought, “Oh, go on then.” I knew it was going to get me emotional, but the bit that got me was the bit where Peter Capaldi gets upset himself. That’s what made me emotional.
Peter Capaldi, he is my Doctor. I say my Doctor is David Tennant because he got me into Doctor Who, but then I also feel like my other Doctor is Peter Capaldi.
He’s the Fan Show’s Doctor. He’s been the Doctor while all this amazing stuff has happened and he’s been very kind to us. He’s such a lovely man and that’s why I get emotional about it. It’s not just the type of Doctor he is on screen, and the Doctor he portrays; it’s also who he is, how important he’s been and how lovely he is as well. I also look up to him as a role model as well.
BlogtorWho: I imagine you are not looking forward to seeing Peter Capaldi regenerate then?
Christel Dee: Oh my god. When Peter Capaldi goes I will be a mess. I’m going to try and film it if I can, put a GoPro on. With Matt Smith I was teary, with David Tennant I cried my eyes out. I was absolutely bawling. I think it depends on what kind of regeneration Peter Capaldi gets because it might be sudden, or it might be elaborate with a big speech. We just don’t know yet. I’m sure it will be emotional either way.
I think if it’s Steven’s last he has to throw everything at it. I’d like it to be a bit like how Russell did his last one.
BlogtorWho: Are you looking forward to Christmas?
Christel Dee: No I’m not because it’ll be Peter Capaldi’s last. I don’t want it to happen, but I was the same with David Tennant, I remember that. I just didn’t want it to happen at all. But it’s part of the show, and that’s what it’s all about. I’m just going to really miss seeing Peter Capaldi as the Twelfth Doctor.
Chris Chibnall’s Era
Writer Chris Chibnall will take over the reigns of Doctor Who from Steven Moffat for series 11. Chibnall is best known for his work on Doctor Who spin-off ‘Torchwood’, episodes of Doctor Who such as ’42’ and ‘The Power of Three’. His work also covers the acclaimed crime drama ‘Broadchurch’ which stars ex-Time Lord David Tennant.
NOTE: This interview was carried out before the announcement on July 16th that Broadchurch actress Jodie Whittaker would take on the role of the 13th Doctor.
BlogtorWho: Chris Chibnall will, of course, be the next to use the concept of Doctor Who.
Christel Dee: I’m so excited to see what he does. When Chris Chibnall comes along, he’s going to be able to put his own stamp on it. That template, it can turn into anything. That’s what is so amazing.
When whoever this new Doctor is that comes along, it’s going to be so interesting to see firstly, what kind of person they pick, because I think wouldn’t it be amazing to have somebody completely different. As in a person of colour or…
BlogtorWho: A female Doctor? How do you feel about the possibility of a female Doctor?
Christel Dee: I will always come back to the actor. Male or female, regardless of ethnicity or age, it should simply be the best person for the role. I think whatever type of character they’ve envisioned; you should pick the best person to fit that role. Aside from that, I don’t have any strong opinions of really who it should be, as a male or female. But if it is, then I think that would be really interesting, it would be really new and something different.
We’ve had 50 years of a white man. 13 white men. I’m sure they’ll choose the correct person for the job, but I would maybe be a little bit disappointed if it was another white man. I would find it really refreshing as a fan to have somebody who is not a white man. I think it would be really lovely. Whether that’s a female Doctor, or not, I’m open to it. I’m sure Chris Chibnall has got his head screwed on and he knows what he’s doing.
After 50 years of the show, I don’t think now’s the time to play it safe. Yes, the show fits a template, but it still has relatively stayed within confines of what we’ve got, in a sense. But then there are some things which shouldn’t change. What if you got rid of the TARDIS? You couldn’t do that.
BlogtorWho: What else do you think should not be changed in Doctor Who?
Christel Dee: Personally as a fan, the things that need to stay the same are the theme tune; obviously give it a new mix but the theme tune must stay, and the blue box. I think the TARDIS is iconic. You have to keep that. But I think you can do what you want with the logo, for example. The logo has changed a lot over the years. I’d be expecting to see a new logo for Chris Chibnall’s era.
BlogtorWho: Is there anything else besides the Fan Show for you in the immediate future or is that where you’re focusing?
Christel Dee: Not at the moment. It’s not like I haven’t wondered about what I’m doing next. It still remains open, I think. Now the After Shows is out of the way there’s a big opportunity here for me to step up and gain more skills, hopefully as a producer. You just don’t know what’s going to happen. There probably will come a time where I decide I want to do something else, but I don’t know.
At the moment we are in quite an exciting time because we’ve got a new Doctor and a new showrunner coming in. I want to stick around just to see what that’s like. I think there’s an amazing opportunity there. Whether that’s with the fan show or whether that’s making other videos. No decisions have been made but I’m excited for what that could mean for us.
If there wasn’t a series, if Doctor Who was ending now, obviously I’d go do something else now. We’ve got this amazing new period coming up. I’m sure I’d be kicking myself if I decided to go do something else now.
I’ve often thought about when I am going to stop doing Doctor Who. It’s like anyone who plays the Doctor, there will come a time where the Doctor will say “I’m going to move on now”. There are some days when I think, “Maybe I will move away from Doctor Who.” Then I can’t. It’s been such a part of my life for so long, I’m now doing this amazing job, and there are still so many opportunities. As long as there are new opportunities, there are things that keep exciting and challenging me, then I’ll continue.
Blogtor Who would like to take this opportunity to thank Christel for her time and for talking so opening and candidly about her work and life. We wish her every success in the future.
If you missed any part of this 4-part interview catch up at….
- Part 1 – Exclusive: Doctor Who The Fan Show’s Christel Dee Talks Candidly to BlogtorWho
- Part 2 – Doctor Who The Fan Show’s Christel Dee Talks After Show, Cosplay & Interviewing
- Part 3 – Doctor Who The Fan Show’s Christel Dee Opens Up on Bullying, Her Sexuality & Some Wise Words
- Interview by Diane Malkin
- Article by Bedwyr Gulledge