Home 2024 Season 1 PROFILE: Doctor Who’s Space Babies Director Julie Anne Robinson

PROFILE: Doctor Who’s Space Babies Director Julie Anne Robinson

Julie Anne Robinson directs Space Babies and Boom this season

As in previous years, Blogtor Who is welcoming a whole new set of guest stars and crew to the world of Doctor Who with a series of profiles to give a sense of what we should expect from them. Today it’s the turn of Space Babies’ BAFTA nominated director, Julie Anne Robinson.

It’s a whole new world for Doctor Who. It’s now more international in its approach, reach, and style than ever while still retaining six decades worth of that quintessential British flavour. There are few modern television directors in a better position to embody that than Julie Anne Robinson. This season is Robinson’s first time working on Doctor Who, with two episodes – this week’s premiere Space Babies, and next week’s return for Steven Moffat, Boom. And her varied career shows both a deep connection to the traditions of the arts in the UK and an equally deep understanding on modern American television.

Robinson spent years working in theatre in the UK, often in prestigious circles. She was staff director on Sam Mendes’ production of Pinter’s The Birthday Party at the National Theatre, for instance. Indeed, by the 1990s she was already directing the likes of The Call at the Royal Court, and The Two Gentlemen of Verona at the Royal Shakespeare Company. Robinson has even taught at famous British drama schools like the Central School of Speech and Drama.

 

David Tennant in musical crime drama Blackpool
David Tennant in musical crime drama Blackpool

Following early work on critically acclaimed British shows like Blackpool, Robinson began directing American hits such as The Good Place and Orange is the New Black

Julie Anne Robinson’s initial steps into the world of TV and film directing with some equally British national institutions, like daytime medical soap opera Doctors, and evening medical soap opera Holby City. There were also episodes of medical comedy drama No Angels. But before you assume the UK is even more obsessed with medical shows than it actually is, there was also Cutting It, about bitter rivalries in the world of hairdressing and, most notably of all, Blackpool. The slightly surreal crime drama musical didn’t just mark Robinson’s name as one to watch with a BAFTA nomination, but also those of series leads David Tennant and David Morrissey.

A move to the United States in the late 00s brought a return to medical fare with several episodes of Grey’s Anatomy and its spin off Private Practice. But tellingly, Robinson steadily developed her profile, mixing the production line grind of the big American shows with increasingly high profile projects. Cult classic Pushing Daisies was followed by several episodes of Showtime’s Weeds. From there, it was on to award winning dramas like Nurse Jackie, Orange is the New Black, Masters of Sex, and The Good Place. Notably, she also directed the pilot of Karen Gillan’s short lived (but hilarious) sitcom Selfie. Other sitcom work included Brooklyn 99 (for which she received the Gracie Allen award for best comedy director) The Middle, and Parks and Recreation.

Essentially, with episodes for almost 50 different shows under her impressive belt, there aren’t many genres of television which Robinson hasn’t mastered.

 

Julie Anne Robinson directed the S1 premiere and finale of Bridgeton, starring Adjoa Andoh as Lady Danbury

Robinson recently launched the Bridgerton phenomenon onto British screens and will enter the Whoniverse this weekend

A recent return to the British television industry brought Robinson to one of the biggest sensations of the 2020s so far: Bridgerton. Moreover, she led the very first, make or break, episode that made Bridgerton an instant hit.

Now, Julie Anne Robinson adds Doctor Who to her impressive CV. Space Babies sounds like a project perfectly suited to the type of director able to negotiate fare like The Good Place: walking the tight rope above the absurd, the scary, and the simply conceptually weird. Though we still know little about Boom, there are hints of it being a tense dilemma driven drama requiring the Doctor’s fastest thinking, biggest ideas, and most difficult moral decisions. So, again, perfect for a director who established herself on shows like Grey’s Anatomy, where every new patient presented a race against time through a maze of complex decision making.

Following Doctor Who, Robinson isn’t venturing far. On the contrary, you could almost say she’s going back to where it all began. Her next project is currently in pre-production and stars her Blackpool leading man David Tennant as a reimgained, modern take on Dr. Jekyll and Mr Hyde in Hide.

 

The Doctor (Ncuti Gatwa) and Ruby Sunday (Millie Gibson) in the TARDIS ,BBC Studios 2023,James Pardon

Doctor Who returns at 0000 BST on the 11th of May 2024 with a double bill of Space Babies and The Devil’s Chord on iPlayer in the UK, RTÉ Player in Ireland, and on Disney+ everywhere else

 

 

 

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