The Doctor Who Team Talks Season 12, Character Development, And Upcoming Surprises
In the latest Doctor Who Season 12 trailer, the Doctor—played by Jodie Whittaker for the second season in a row —alludes to a “big, serious crisis.” To try to get some insight into what that crisis could be, and to find out a little bit more about the upcoming season, we spoke to Whittaker, Mandip Gill (Yasmin Khan), Tosin Cole (Ryan Sinclair), Who showrunner Chris Chibnall and executive producer Matt Strevens. Check out our interview below.
CTV Sci-Fi Channel: Jodie, what’s changed for you about playing the Doctor during your second season compared to your first?
Jodie Whittaker: It’s not that anything fundamentally changed…it’s more about how comfortably it sits with you. In the early days of shooting the first season, I was responding in the way that I felt that was right…but then you haven’t necessarily got the confidence yet to trust your instincts. And I suppose what is liberating about doing 10, 11 episodes a season is that when you come into it again, you’ve got that kind of embedded knowledge of who you’re playing…the wonderful thing about playing this character is that it has no boundaries.
One of the challenges that you and every Doctor has faced is playing a character that so many actors have portrayed before. At what point, either during your first or second season, did the Doctor start feeling more like your own?
Whittaker: From the second I put on my own costume. It’s Episode 1 and it’s in the charity shop and I came out of the changing room. I think from then on…I was in my own shoes, I was in clothes that felt like the Doctor to me. But I have to say, there are less challenges than you imagine playing somebody who’s been played before. It’s more liberating because you literally have the freedom of choice. You can’t possibly play it like 12 previous actors…the whole reason this show has worked is because you go on a different journey every episode, but also because you regenerate the lead role to have a completely different body and energy…rather than trying to play someone else’s Doctor, what’s exciting is knowing you’ve been tasked to play your Doctor.
Yaz and Ryan, on the other hand, are completely new characters that also had to be introduced to Who fans in Season 11. What are you looking forward to fans learning about them in Season 12?
Mandip Gill: I think for my character…we explore why Yaz has become a police officer and why she behaves the way she does…my biggest thing for [Season] 12 is looking at that past and what makes her Yaz and why this journey is really important for her.
Chris, how did your approach to where the Doctor travels in space and time change in Season 12 based on how Thirteen had been established in Season 11?
Chris Chibnall: I don’t know if it changes, but it develops…in terms of telling the stories we told this year, I think what we wanted to do last year was do that jumping-on point for the new Doctor to make sure everybody could come in and feel welcomed and kind of get on board with the Doctor Who sh*t. And then this year, hopefully we’re taking everybody into some deeper corners of the Doctor Who universe.
I think what you want to do in a second season is you want to challenge your characters. That includes the Doctor, who’s going to have some quite profound challenges this year. And you want to keep surprising people, I think. You want to keep surprising the characters, you want to keep surprising the audience, really. But within that is the traditional Doctor Who mix of amazing historical, great science fiction…and that mix of old monsters and really scary new ones.
And when you’re looking for writers for new episodes, specifically for Season 12, how do you choose who will write each one? Do you pick and choose based on the subject matter of every episode? Or do you choose more based on story arcs?
Chibnall: It really varies, actually. It depends where the story’ supposed to come from. If there’s ideas that I’ve got that I want to see in the series, then it’s like casting, really. You cast a writer to, you know, “they would make a good job of that kind of tone or energy or story” or whatever. So there’s an element of that. And then the other aspect is if someone comes with an idea of their own. Obviously they would write that episode if it’s something they’re really passionate about. For example, Maxine Alderton, who’s written Episode 8, was very passionate about…something I will not tell you about [laughs]. I can’t tell you what the subject matter is. Anyway, watch Episode 8. It’s amazing, it’s really good, and when we can tell you about it we will. But she came in with that idea, that group of characters and that setting…so it can vary.
Tune in to the season premiere of Doctor Who January 1 on CTV Sci-Fi Channel, and check out the newest Season 12 trailer below.