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.
One of the new directors joining the Doctor Who team for Series 12 is the BAFTA winning Lee Haven Jones. A Welsh native, he’s contributed two episodes to Jodie Whittaker’s second season as the Doctor. The first, Spyfall Part Two, has just graced our screens. So fans will already have a pretty good idea of the high quality and dramatic visual style they can expect this Sunday in his second, Orphan 55.
Jones’ story is all the remarkable considering he spent the first several years of his career as an actor. For five seasons he played Emyr Tomos in S4C’s popular drama Caerdydd. Caerdydd depicted a more cosmopolitan and modern side to Wales. And for five years we followed the entangled love lives and personal strife of sexy young Welsh language speakers. Towards the end of his time on Caerdydd, Jones got the chance to direct two episodes and when Caerdydd finished in 2010, he helped kick off the first season of its spin off Gwaith/Cartref but then never looked back.
In the decade since being bitten by the directing bug, Jones has built up an impressive resume. Since 2010 he’s amassed almost seventy directing credits. His chosen career path has been one with all the signs of an ambition to develop and try new things at every stage. From directing episodes of immortal Welsh soap opera Pobol y Cwm, he went on the Russell T Davis created Wizards vs Aliens.
The past decade has seen Jones tackle everything from wizard and aliens, to small town murder hunts
And then to gentle drama and nostalgia with 60s set The Indian Doctor starring Sanjeev Bhaskar (Death in Heaven) and Ayesha Dharker (Planet of the Ood). The show told the story of a couple who receive a different culture shock than they expected moving from India. Because the highly educated doctor and his socialite wife find themselves not in swinging London but a sleepy Welsh mining town. The Indian Doctor saw Jones rewarded with a BAFTA Cymru Award for his work on the show.
Another BAFTA Cymru Award followed for doom laden mystery drama 35 Diwrnod (35 Days). A sort of Celtic Broadchurch, each season began with a new murder, before travelling back to show the last thirty-five days of the victim’s life, as potential suspects and motives came to light for the murder yet to come. This in turn led to a highly successful strand of Jones’ work. Post 35 Diwrnod he became a regular presence on crime dramas like Vera and Shetland. The most profile so far has likely been the first season of The Bay, in which DS Lisa Armstrong (Morven Christie, Under the Lake/Before the Flood) races against time across six episodes to find a missing teenage girl following the discovery of her twin brother’s body.
Not that Jones has turned his back entirely on acting. Particularly on stage where he garnered five star reviews in the national press for his Hamlet in 2015.
With Spyfall Part Two so well received, Jones’ Orphan 55 is already highly anticipated
Spyfall Part Two brought in a whole new challenge of special effects and foreign filming. Ambitiously, it called upon Jones to create modern Britain, 19th century England, WWII France, and a weird netherworld between realities. And all within a single episode. Plus nearly crash a passenger jet, just for good measure. Throughout it all Jones brings a strong visual identity with gorgeous shot followed by gorgeous shot. Compositions such as the Master in profile, dressed as an SS officer while Luftwaffe fighters soar behind him, or the Doctor striding forward out of the light, flanked by Ada Lovelace and Noor Inayat Khan, could be framed and hung on your wall. While his innovative use of space and light in the newly tweaked TARDIS console room, as the holographic Master appears on the steps above the Doctor, is well… masterful.
So it’s exciting to see what he has in store for us on Sunday. We do know that Orphan 55 takes full advantage of filming in Lanzarote to create its extraterrestrial holiday resort. It also gives us full on man-in-a-full-body-rubber-suit monster action and quite a lot of green wigs. And, I think we can safely say, some fantastic direction.
Doctor Who Series 12 continues at 7.10pm next Sunday with Orphan 55
Having decided that everyone could do with a holiday, the Doctor takes Graham, Yasmin, Ryan to a luxury resort for a spot of rest and relaxation. However, they discover the place where they are having a break is hiding a number of deadly secrets. What are the ferocious monsters that are attacking Tranquillity Spa?
Doctor Who Series 12 stars Jodie Whittaker (The Doctor), Bradley Walsh (Graham), Mandip Gill (Yaz) and Tosin Cole (Ryan). Chris Chibnall is showrunner, with Matthew Strevens Executive Producer. Orphan 55 is written by Ed Hime and directed by Lee Haven Jones. Guest starring James Buckley.