Mandip Gill spoke all about her time on Doctor Who and interacting with fans of the show at London Film and Comic Con Spring last Sunday (27th February) at a special Q&A interview

Following an announcement back in December of last year, Mandip Gill made her European convention debut last weekend (26th-27th February) at London Film and Comic Con Spring. The event took place at Olympia London, with a number of other guests from the Doctor Who universe also appearing across both days. Arguably the most notable among them was the Doctor herself, Jodie Whittaker, who made her worldwide exclusive convention debut on the Saturday. Joining them at London Film and Comic Con Spring were former Doctor Who guest stars Sara Powell, Jonny Mathers, and Harriet Walter, as well as fellow Time Lords Sylvester McCoy and Colin Baker, amongst others.

Following her surprise guest appearance the previous evening as part of Jodie Whittaker’s sold-out talk, Gill took to the stage once again on the Sunday afternoon for her own solo Q&A. As she arrived on stage, she joked that “I get to talk this time!” Over the course of the hour, Mandip spoke about her experience of being a part of Doctor Who, and meeting fans at London Film and Comic Con and Gallifrey One, as well as answering questions from audience members.

Asked about her recent experiences as a guest at conventions, Gill spoke about how much she enjoyed witnessing the genuine connection between fans of Doctor Who at both Gallifrey One and London Film and Comic Con. She was amazed to find that people who met thanks to a shared love of the show, either at a convention or online via sites such as Tumblr, have remained lifelong friends ever since. 

Mandip Gill Reflects on Her Time on Doctor Who

Mandip went on to speak about how she came to be cast as Yasmin Khan. She explained that initially, she didn’t know exactly what she was auditioning for, although she suspected it could be Doctor Who, as the casting director had previously worked on the show. She was only told the day prior to her first audition with Jodie Whittaker that was in fact auditioning for Doctor Who. Mandip said that the period between that audition and receiving the call telling her she’d got the part felt like “the longest wait ever”, particularly as meeting Jodie cemented just how much she wanted the job. What’s more, even once she was given the part, she didn’t realise what role she’d been given. It was only once she called her agent to ask how many episodes she’d be in that she knew she was going to be a companion!

Gill also spoke about how much she enjoyed working with the rest of the regular cast. She said she felt that their “genuine connection and friendship” came through and fed into their characters’ storyline, as well as helping to carry them through long shoots. She described Jodie Whittaker as the “best lead [she’s] ever worked with”, and that she felt “lucky to have worked with her” and “learnt from her”. 

Gill Reflects on Considering Leaving Doctor Who After Series 12

Following the departure of her original co-stars Tosin Cole and Bradley Walsh, Mandip said that incoming companion John Bishop “fitted in perfectly” as Dan Lewis, and admitted that his becoming a part of her and Whittaker’s established dynamic “could’ve been awkward”. She told the audience that Bishop had “no ego”, and was incredibly willing to ask questions, as he wanted to learn, and that he “threw himself into it”. Gill also pointed out that John had “put a lot of things on hold to do this”, and that he was “so excited to be there”. 

Programme Name: Doctor Who Festive Special 2021 – TX: n/a – Episode: Doctor Who Festive Special 2021 (No. n/a) – Picture Shows: Yasmin Khan (MANDIP GILL), Dan (JOHN BISHOP) – (C) BBC Studios – Photographer: Sally Mais

When asked whether she had considered departing from the series along with Walsh and Cole prior to Flux, she admitted that a “tiny part” of her had thought about leaving. Nevertheless, she explained that she wanted to make a decision that was right for her, and felt that it would benefit her career more to stay on. 

Mandip on Yaz’s “Subtle” Character Development

Once the floor was opened up to the audience to ask any questions they had, one attendee asked Mandip to speak about Yaz’s subtle character development over the course of her time as a companion, and where she is now versus at the beginning of her story. Gill agreed that Yaz’s story arc had felt “natural” and “subtle” to her, with none of her development having felt “forced”. She noted that Yaz has been able to step up more in the most recent series, and has been able to tell Dan what to do as the more experienced companion.

She also felt that Yaz’s friendship with Dan has helped Yaz to unpick what she’s going through, particularly in terms of her feelings towards the Doctor. Gill wondered, would Yaz ever have confessed how she felt in Eve of the Daleks without Dan prompting her to express her feelings? She also expressed how happy she was to have had John with her, both on and off set, particularly as Jodie was so busy most of the time.

Gill on Her Potential Return to Doctor Who and What’s Next for Her

Mandip was also asked if she would ever consider coming back to Doctor Who in the future, to which she responded, “one million percent”. She explained that as the show is constantly changing, she’d love “a piece of that cake” and to see what people do with the series in the future.

Another audience member asked whether there were any other Doctors Gill would want to work with. She expressed a particular interest in working with Matt Smith, as she loved how “random” the Eleventh Doctor could be. Mandip said she would love to see how he works, and who came up with which aspects of his character.

Matt Smith is the Eleventh Doctor - BBC Studios
Matt Smith is the Eleventh Doctor – BBC Studios

Asked what was coming next for her, she admitted that she was still unemployed at the moment, although she still has press to do for the two upcoming Doctor Who specials that are due to air later on this year. She joked that she’ll “take whatever comes up”, as there’s “only so much time I can spend mooching around the house!”

Mandip on her Favourite Episodes of Doctor Who

Gill went on, in response to another attendee’s question, to speak about the episodes of Doctor Who that were her favourite to work on. She highlighted Series 11’s Demons of the Punjab as a particular favourite of hers, as its subject was close to home for her personally, as well as for her character. She noted how interesting it is to learn more about the events covered in the episode, particularly through the lens of science fiction.

Doctor Who - Series 11 - Episode 6 - Demons of the Punjab - Yaz (MANDIP GILL), Hasna (SHAHEEN KHAN) - (C) BBC / BBC Studios - Photographer: Ben Blackall
Doctor Who – Series 11 – Episode 6 – Demons of the Punjab – Yaz (MANDIP GILL), Hasna (SHAHEEN KHAN) – (C) BBC / BBC Studios – Photographer: Ben Blackall

Mandip also pointed to Rosa as another of her favourites for similar reasons. She described filming the scene recreating Rosa Parks’ refusal to give up her bus seat to a white passenger, with Vinette Robinson portraying Parks, as “very emotional” as it “felt so real”. Gill said that Rosa was the episode she felt proudest to have been a part of, especially now that she has heard that people have since used the episode for educational purposes in schools, and that she has re-watched the episode many times herself.

Doctor Who - Series 11 - Ep 3 - Rosa - Rosa Parks (VINETTE ROBINSON)
Doctor Who – Series 11 – Ep 3 – Rosa – Rosa Parks (VINETTE ROBINSON)

Gill Speaks about Yaz and the Doctor’s Dynamic

Mandip was then asked about the Doctor and Yaz’s dynamic, and whether its evolution was pre-planned, or whether it evolved over time? She admitted that she wasn’t aware of whether showrunner Chris Chibnall had planned out the direction that their relationship would go in from the very beginning. Nevertheless, she said that her real-life chemistry with Jodie had fed into it, as well as the fan works that the writers had seen on social media exploring the relationship between the two characters.

She also explained that there was an effort to build upon aspects of previous stories, such as the moment in Arachnids in the UK where Yaz’s mother asks whether she as the Doctor are “seeing each other”, to make sure that Yaz’s confession to Dan in Eve of the Daleks “didn’t come out of nowhere”.

Mandip Reflects on the Impact of Yaz’s Story on Impact on Queer Doctor Who Fans

Following on from this, Gill was asked how she felt queer Doctor Who fans had been impacted by Yaz’s storyline. Mandip said that her interactions with fans over that weekend had taught her a lot, and opened her eyes to just how much it means to people to see themselves represented in Yaz’s coming to terms with her sexuality, and confessing her feelings for the Doctor in Eve of the Daleks. She confessed that she didn’t realise that so many queer people hadn’t seen themselves represented on television sooner, and was sorry that was the case. She affirmed that TV should represent reality, and also help to educate people about others with different experiences to their own.

 

Mandip went on to speak more about the fan works she’s seen that’ve been produced by fans of Doctor Who, saying they “blow [her] mind” and that she’s “so impressed” by them. She expressed how much it means to her to see how much people car about the show.

Gill Speaks about Her Final Day on Doctor Who and the Next Doctor

Lastly, Mandip reflected on the end of her time on Doctor Who. Although she was unable to go into too much detail, she told attendees that there was one particular shot that was filmed on her final day that really “hit [her]”, which she described as “beautiful” and “epic”. Asked who she thought should be the next Doctor, she simply said she felt that there are “very few people who can play the Doctor”. “I couldn’t do it!” she admitted, saying that the role requires “a certain type of person”.

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?

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