Series 12 once again sees new writers and directors join the Doctor Who team. Over the coming days Blogtor Who will be finding out more about these new faces and just why we should be excited to have them on board.
BAFTA nominated director Jamie Magnus Stone takes the helm on four episodes of Jodie Whittaker’s second season of Doctor Who. In fact, having directed both the Series 12 premiere, Spyfall Part One, and the finale, he’s likely to be regarded as defining the 2020 vision for the show.
These are Stone’s first full episodes but he’s not a complete stranger to the world of Doctor Who. Back in 2013, he directed two mini-episodes that appeared during the 50th anniversary. One, Clara and the TARDIS, focused on the strained relationship between Clara (Jenna Coleman) and the Doctor’s time machine. The brief comic one-hander featured the irascible ship folding time back in on itself. And in the process sending multiple Claras around the ship bickering as they looked for their vanished bedroom. The other, The Last Day, followed a new trooper as he witnesses the day the Daleks finally broke through Gallifrey’s defences.
But he’s also been a director whose shown innovation and a keen eye in his own work. He marked his early career with a strong creative urge drive him to write his own material to direct. The resulting shorts demonstrate a mix of whimsy, big ideas and visual flair that establish him as natural Doctor Who material. Even his earliest film, Fritz, taps directly into the best kind of madness. After all, how many films have a boy discovering an ancient WWII German soldier living in a bunker under his bed? Meanwhile The Pitts exists in a similar Jeneut style continuum. It’s a tale of a cash strapped couple digging a steampunk powered silver mine beneath their suburban housing estate.
In both his self-created projects, and his TV directing jobs, Stone shows a keen instinct for genre storytelling
But later shorts Skyborn and Orbit Ever After feel like they could have ripped directly from a Doctor Who pitch meeting. The former is a post Apocalyptic tale of hope between father and son. A father obsesses with building a flying machine to show his son the blue skies above the ash and dust. While Orbit Ever After is a love story between teenagers trapped on ramshackle space stations with opposing orbits. But what lengths will they go for even a moment together? Starring Thomas Brodie-Sangster (Human Nature/The Family of Blood) and Mackenzie Crook, it garnered a BAFTA nomination for Stone.
Other work has including directing Tripped, the science fiction comedy from Jamie Mathieson (Mummy on the Orient Express, Flatline, The Girl Who Died, Oxygen), in which two teenagers find themselves hunted across the multiverse. Somehow an inter-dimensional assassin is so irked that he’s determined to kill them in every single timeline. And it was also Stone behind the camera for Sky’s adaptation of Jasper Fforde’s madcap fantasy novel The Last Dragonslayer.
Stone has a strong visual identity of frames crammed with intricate detail and beautiful lighting. And from his actors he elicits a heightened humanity – crafting with them characters completely believable but experiencing lives of extremes. With his storytelling instincts leaning towards worlds where hope is the most powerful force in the universe, but death is never far away, and getting out alive is never guaranteed, he seems a perfect fit for Doctor Who. It’s almost a shame, really, that Jamie Magnus Stone hasn’t both directed and written for the 2020 season. Perhaps for Series 13?
You can watch several of Stone’s short films on his official Vimeo page
Doctor Who: Spyfall Part One
Intelligence agents around the world are under attack from alien forces, so MI6 turn to the only people who can help: the Doctor and friends. As they travel the globe looking for answers, attacks come from all sides. Earth’s security rests on the team’s shoulders, but where will this planet-threatening conspiracy lead them?
Doctor Who returns with Spyfall on New Year’s Day at 6.55pm
Jodie Whittaker is back as the Doctor alongside Tosin Cole (Ryan) Mandip Gill (Yaz) and Bradley Walsh (Graham). Chris Chibnall returns as showrunner with Matt Strevens as Executive Producer. Spyfall guest stars Stephen Fry and Sir Lenny Henry CBE with Chris Chibnall writing the script.