Jodie Whittaker, alongside surprise guest Mandip Gill, discussed their careers and their time on Doctor Who at London Film and Comic Con Spring last Saturday (26th February) at a sold-out talk
Following an announcement last month, Jodie Whittaker made her worldwide exclusive convention debut last Saturday (26th February) at London Film and Comic Con Spring. The event took place at Olympia London last weekend, with a number of other guests from the Doctor Who universe also making appearances. Most notable among these was of course Mandip Gill (Yasmin Khan), who made her European convention debut following her attendance at Gallifrey One in Los Angeles a few weeks ago. Also joining them at London Film and Comic Con Spring were fellow Doctors Sylvester McCoy and Colin Baker. Former Doctor Who guest stars Sara Powell, Jonny Mathers, and Harriet Walter, amongst others, also attended the event.
Whittaker’s attendance attracted many Doctor Who fans to the event. Those cosplaying the Thirteenth Doctor, as well as other Time Lords and companions, made up a significant proportion of the visitors on the Saturday. The event’s organiser Showmasters even held a meet-up for all those cosplaying the Doctor. An enormous crowd of fans gathered at the Main Stage (myself included!), with the picture being photo-bombed by none other than Jodie herself!
Yesterday a sea of Doctors descended on @olympia_london for the Doctor Who Cosplay Meet, including a visit from The Doctor herself!
— Showmasters (@Showmasters) February 27, 2022
London Film and Comic Con Spring rounded out the Saturday with a sold-out Q&A with Jodie Whittaker. This talk also took place at the event’s Main Stage, and featured a surprise appearance from none other than Mandip Gill! The hour-long panel saw the pair speak about their early careers, as well as their experiences working on Doctor Who.
Jodie Whittaker and Mandip Gill on Their Early Acting Careers
When asked how they first got into acting, Gill said that as a child she was a “little performer”, and that she’d dreamt of being “the first brown person in The Bill!” Whittaker cited her love of the “creature-features” of the 1980s as fuelling her love of cinema as a child. She described her amazement at learning that acting in a film like The Goonies could be someone’s job.
Jodie went on to speak about her early acting career, including her first professional role in The Storm at Shakespeare’s Globe. She said that she felt very lucky to have been given the role after auditioning during her final term at drama school. She described the job as what “dreams are made of”, and the Globe as somewhere she met some of her “closest friends”.
Jodie Whittaker on Being a Part of Broadchurch
Following this, Whittaker was asked about her experience being a part of Broadchurch. Mandip admitted to having tweeted about the show whilst it was airing! Jodie highlighted the fact that viewers had to wait a week between episodes, rather than being able to binge-watch the series, as a real positive. She explained that it added to the show’s “mystery” and enhanced its “genuine jaw-opening moments”. However, she did admit to enjoying binge-watching shows such as Netflix’s Russian Doll, confessing that she was “still there at 4am” watching it.
Whittaker continued, speaking about how, whilst shooting Broadchurch, the actors themselves were deliberately kept in the dark in much the same way as the viewers. She told the audience (without giving away any spoilers) that, when filming the second series, the rest of the cast hadn’t interacted with a particular actor at all until he walked into the courtroom scene they were shooting, in which his character gave his plea, so their reaction to his entrance was genuine.
Her discussion of her time on Broadchurch led Whittaker to admit to one of her pet peeves as an actor, which is people wandering behind the camera and moving in her eyeline. She joked that she’d shout at other people “get out me eyeline!” whilst she was filming a scene.
Jodie Whittaker on Her Role in Attack The Block
Jodie also spoke about her role in Joe Cornish’s film Attack the Block. She described the script as “nothing like [she’d] ever seen”. Whittaker praised Cornish’s attention to detail when it came to making the film, as he’d “storyboarded the whole thing”. She also said that her enjoyment of working on Attack the Block was enhanced by working with so many “people at the beginning of their extraordinary careers”.
Mandip joked during this discussion of Whittaker’s career prior to Doctor Who that Jodie turns up in a lot of unexpected films. For example, she only realised that she was in One Day when she got to the end credits! Gill also spoke briefly about her guest role in an episode of Casualty, which she filmed just before becoming a part of Doctor Who. She recalled a crew member telling her not to go through a particular door, as it led to the Doctor Who set. Mandip reflected that little did she know that seven months later, she’d be on the other side of that door!
Whittaker and Gill Discuss Being Cast in Doctor Who
Following this, the pair went on to discuss their time on Doctor Who. Whittaker recounted how showrunner Chris Chibnall first approached her about the role over coffee whilst they were both promoting the third series of Broadchurch, during which he asked her if she’d consider auditioning for the Doctor. Jodie described the long audition process she went through – “as it should be”, she noted – which really “put [her] through [her] paces”. She also admitted that even now, she still doesn’t know who she was up against for the role.
Both actors recalled the initial chemistry reading they did together, from which point they immediately knew they’d be “best mates”. This led them to discuss the chemistry between themselves and their two co-stars on their first two series, Tosin Cole and Bradley Walsh. Mandip noted that she and Tosin already knew each other prior to joining the show, as they’d previously worked together on Hollyoaks. She also confessed that she hadn’t known who Bradley Walsh was before joining Doctor Who, and had innocently told him that he was “so funny, he should do comedy!”
Gill and Whittaker both spoke fondly of their time working with Walsh in particular, with Mandip joking that “we all called him Dad!” They recalled his immaturity on set, and how he’d distract them on set by juggling or pretending to fall down stairs, saying they had “never laughed so much”. However, they acknowledged that Bradley could nevertheless “turn it off” and be serious when the situation called for it.
Jodie and Mandip Recall their First Week on the Set of Doctor Who
When asked about their first week on Doctor Who, Jodie told attendees that their first few days on set were spent filming the climactic scenes of Series 11’s opener, The Woman Who Fell to Earth, which took place at the top of some very tall cranes.
Both actors recalled how cold and windy the conditions were whilst shooting those scenes, with crew members having to throw towels up to them so that they could dry off. Mandip admitted that she didn’t quite feel like she could complain as she was so new to the job, and so maintained in the moment that everything was just fine!
Jodie and Mandip Reflect on their Experiences on Doctor Who
Jodie and Mandip were also asked about their scariest interactions with the monsters they encountered during their tenure. They pointed to the Weeping Angels as being “so terrifying”, they’d wished they’d been added in using green-screen instead! Both similarly described how scary they found the Dregs, which appeared in Series 12’s Orphan 55, despite having spoken to the actors playing them between takes.
Asked to speak about their final day on set, Mandip confessed that she didn’t cry. Instead, Jodie “cried for her” as the crew applauded them as they entered the TARDIS set for the last time. They also joked that once the cameras had stopped rolling, they tried to steal bits of the set as keepsakes, asking the crew, “what you gonna do?!”
They described the Doctor Who set as “a wonderful place to work”, and spoke of how much the cast and crew had gone through together, particularly during the pandemic. “Everyone worked their butt off to keep it safe,” they said. Jodie admitted how strange it was not to be able to hug everyone goodbye when they left, due to the COVID restrictions in place at the time. Nevertheless, Mandip and Jodie reported that there was “a lot of snot, a lot of tears” on that last day on set.
Whittaker and Gill on Leaving Doctor Who and What’s Coming Next
Both actors were asked if they had any regrets about their time on Doctor Who. Whittaker immediately replied, “God, no!” Gill recalled her recent experience as a guest at Gallifrey One in Los Angeles, saying how shocked she was to find out that so many fans from all over the world watch the show. She admitted that when she first landed her role as Yaz, she didn’t entirely know what she was getting herself into, just that she was in for “a great time”.
Jodie, meanwhile, described her role as the Doctor as the “biggest, wonderful gift”. She said how wonderful it has been to be a part of something “so much bigger than you”, and that it has been “wonderful to be in it, but not the biggest part of it”. She said that meeting other Doctors has made her feel part of “a lovely little club”, with her immediate predecessors Peter Capaldi, Matt Smith, and David Tennant having given her some advice before she was announced as the Thirteenth Doctor. All three actors told her that “the time will go so fast”, but that she’d have “the time of [her] life”, advice which she said has rung “very true” for her.
Asked what they had planned next after Doctor Who, Whittaker gave the very Eleventh Doctor-esque response that “I’m cooking!”, which received a huge applause from the audience. Conversely, Mandip confessed that her life hasn’t been nearly as eventful as of late, saying that she’s been spending her time “relaxing, attempting to cook – but not like that!” She said that she has been auditioning, but also spending a lot of time “staying in [her] flat”. She joked that this was “payback” for her having spent much of lockdown on set rather than at home.
Jodie and Mandip Discuss Their Costumes on Doctor Who
Following this, Jodie was asked to speak about her costume as the Doctor. She described the process of creating her look as a “huge collaboration” with costume designer Ray Holman. It was a process which a lot of thought went into – there was “nothing accidental about any of it”, she said.
The same was true of the other costumes we’ve seen the Thirteenth Doctor wear over the course of the last few series. Jodie revealed that the more formal ensemble she wore in Series 12’s Spyfall was a homage to a similar outfit she wore as Anna in 2016 film Adult Life Skills. She also noted that the bright red colour of her prison boiler suit in 2021 New Year’s Day special Revolution of the Daleks was her own choice.
However, Whittaker did confess that there were some aspects of her costumes that she struggled with. One of these was the scarf she wore during 2019 special Resolution, which made her wonder how previous Doctors were able to keep up with so much “scarf maintenance”!
She also admitted that one regret she had about her regular costume was just how cold it was! Jodie described her coat as “paper thin”, and that she would always wear thermals underneath her clothes where possible. Additionally, she said that she sometimes regretted not choosing full-length trousers as part of her costume, admitting that she’d sometimes only shave the part of her legs that were visible! Mandip, on the other hand, said her priority when putting together her costumes was warmth, saying she wore heated socks whilst filming in the cold Cardiff weather.
Both actors recalled the police uniforms they wore for a scene in recent episode Once, Upon Time, in which the characters find themselves trapped within their past memories. Whittaker and Gill revealed that they filmed themselves in their uniforms doing a slow walk to the theme tune from The Bill. We can only hope the rest of us get to see that video one day!
Whittaker and Gill on Their Favourite Doctor Who Guest Stars
Jodie and Mandip also spoke about the variety of guest stars they worked with throughout their time on Doctor Who. Whittaker highlighted Stephen Fry (who played head of MI6 ‘C’ in Spyfall) as one of the guest actors she was most excited to work with. Gill joked that Jodie would follow him around on set, asking if he’d like a cup of tea? Both actors also recalled how much they enjoyed working with Kevin McNally during Flux, throughout which he played Professor Eustacius Jericho, describing him as “so cool to be around”.
Lastly, they also spoke about John Bishop, who joined the show in the previous series as companion Dan Lewis, and how well they all got on. Whilst on the set of Doctor Who, they said that as a fan of the show, he was “so excited to be there”, and that he “couldn’t believe he was there”. They also recalled that people of all ages would constantly recognise John wherever they went, much like previous companion Bradley Walsh, without knowing who either of them were!
Doctor Who will return this spring with Legend of the Sea Devils.
Legend of the Sea Devils finds the Doctor (Jodie Whittaker), Yaz (Mandip Gill) and Dan (John Bishop) in 19th century China, where a small coastal village is under threat – from both the fearsome pirate queen Madame Ching (Crystal Yu) and a monstrous alien force which she unwittingly unleashes. Will the Doctor, Yaz and Dan emerge from this swashbuckling battle with the Sea Devils to save the planet?