On Monday 24th September 2018, The Woman Who Fell To Earth premiered at the Light Cinema in Sheffield in front of the cast and crew of Doctor Who. It was an exciting event and Blogtor Who was privileged to watch Jodie Whittaker in action as the new Doctor.
Most of the storyline is embargoed until the air date. The cast, the new showrunner Chris Chibnall, all pleaded with the audience to keep plot details to a minimum. As such, we are keeping plot details out of this preview, so fans can discover it for the first time themselves.
Everything Is All Brand New Yet Oh So Familiar
A lot has been said about the new Doctor, the new airtime, the lack of old monsters and more. And that is all true. There are a lot of new ideas and approaches to the series, but the episode stays true to its roots. Chris Chibnall wrote this opening episode, and it’s clear that it has been created by someone who loves the show. Doctor Who has been a very emotional experience for the new showrunner and he was clearly moved by watching his creation on the big screen. “It’s very emotional,” Chibnall stated. “I first saw Doctor Who when I was four. To sit here and see that… it’s really emotional.”
Long-time fans will find comfort in the familiar threads that weave their way through the story, while viewers tuning in for the first time will have a welcome introduction to the Doctor and her life. This is a story about discovery. The Doctor finding out who she is. And while her new friends, Graham (Bradley Walsh), Grace (Sharon D. Clarke), Ryan (Tosin Cole) and Yasmin “Yaz” (Mandip Gill) all know each other in some manner, they too are finding their way.
Doctor Who Grows Up
Many themes were running through the episode. Grief and loss featured prominently. Actions have consequences, and some of them can’t be fixed no matter how much the characters or the Doctor would like them to be. There was no reset button and no easy answer to a number of the problems. As a result, there was an added sense of realism that hasn’t been around for a number of years.
Chibnall has already stated that each of Series 11’s episodes feature stand-alone stories. On the surface that looks to be true. But some loose strands appeared in the story that I suspect will bind each episode together leaving a lot of potential to create some exciting paths for these characters over the season.
A Stellar Cast
From the Q&A session that followed the screening, it was apparent that the cast has bonded with each other. There were a lot of inside jokes and teasing on the stage from an obvious camaraderie that has developed over nine months of production.
While there was quite a bit of humour in the show, the characters are played straight, not for comedic effect, including Bradley Walsh’s Graham. In an episode that focuses heavily on the Doctor, we had a few glimpses into the layers surrounding each of the characters. Showrunner Chibnall has written many ensemble programmes before and his script was able to provide enough material for each actor to work with. Mandip Gill, Tosin Cole and Bradley Walsh delivered a brilliant relatable performance, like Rose, Donna and Bill, that are sure to connect to viewing audiences. The guest star, Sharon D Clarke, features prominently in The Woman Who Fell To Earth. She stole the show with her outstanding performance which we will discuss further in the full review.
Visually Stunning Episode
The Woman Who Fell To Earth is a beautifully shot episode and sets the pitch for the upcoming season. The episode was directed by Jamie Childs, the man responsible for Jodie’s reveal clip. Childs is a new and upcoming director who is making his mark in this season of Doctor Who with several credits to his name. He’s certainly taken full advantage of filming in Sheffield and created a visually stunning episode. The view across the city of Sheffield was spectacular on the big screen. I’m looking forward to more of the same especially in the upcoming programmes that were shot on location in South Africa.
I must admit to loving the themes Murray Gold created in the past. I frequently play “I am the Doctor” and “A Good Man” so I’m still mourning the loss of some of those iconic themes. But Segun Akinola is the type of exciting, bold new composer that is needed to refresh the mood. Akinola’s incidental music is a complete departure from Gold’s approach, and it may take some people time to adjust. But I’ve already begun to fall in love again with the music. When the Doctor first appears, the score hits all the right notes and the audience watching on cheered. By the time episode end and the credits had rolled, Akinola met everyone’s expectations including Chris Chibnall.
Jodie Whittaker is the Doctor
Finally, to Jodie Whittaker and her Doctor. She has said that she did not watch any of the previous Doctors in preparing for her role. I am not sure I believe that since there were numerous points where previous Doctors could be seen in her performance. Certainly, she has Tom Baker’s smile, David Tennant’s silent severe pose and Matt Smith’s whirling dervish of energy. Once she stepped out in her costume and smiled, it was evident that the actor and the character had found the Doctor.
Without a doubt, Jodie Whittaker is the Doctor. And she’s brilliant
Doctor Who is Back and in Good Hands. Enjoy the Episode.
Blogtor Who will post more articles from the Premiere including the Q&A with Steph McGovern, Chris Chibnall, Jodie Whittaker, Bradley Walsh, Mandip Gill and Tosin Cole. A full review of Doctor Who – The Woman Who Fell To Earth will be available after the episode airs.