Doctor Who News Face me

Published on August 28th, 2012 | by Philip Bates

Cast Excitement for A Town Called Mercy

Asylum of the Daleks is just peering its eyestalk round the corner – but what else have we got coming up in series seven? Dinosaurs, invasion of the cubes, the Weeping Angels and, as Steven Moffat, showrunner, says:

“There’s a terrifying Cyborg in the old West.”

Due to hit our screens on 15th September, A Town Called Mercy sees the Doctor return to the Wild West, a dusty landscape he hasn’t seen since 1966’s The Gunfighters – but this time, there’s something more dangerous than the Clantons. As writer, Toby Whithouse, told BBC America:

“[It’s] a genre I’ve never written before — frankly, no one has written in that genre for quite a while now. But I absolutely love it. Steven gives me a one-line pitch, and then I’ll go away and put together a story and so on. And he gave me a great one-line pitch for this, so I’m really excited about it.”

The First Doctor, Steven and Dodo in The Gunfighters

Whithouse first worked on Doctor Who in 2006, when he ushered in the return of Sarah-Jane Smith and K9 in School Reunion, but took a considerable break from the show when developing his own series, Being Human. He broke the hiatus with 2010’s Vampires of Venice, and followed it up with The God Complex last year. He’s one of the last people to write for the Ponds on television, and said:

“I’ve written three episodes for Amy and Rory now. I’ll really miss both people because they’re fantastic characters. Steven created two really brilliant companions, and they counterbalance the Doctor beautifully. Amy’s gung-ho recklessness works so nicely with Rory’s more cautious and tentative approach, but also [with] Rory’s innate heroism, which I think Arthur plays absolutely beautifully.”

The Gunfighters was filmed in a well-decorated studio, but for Whithouse’s script to be fully realised, the cast and crew went abroad. It was actually cheaper than making a set, and Matt Smith notes:

“There is only so much CGI can do. We were in the middle of a western village, which was brilliant for Doctor Who, adding to the imagination of it all.”

Much of the episode (and a bit of Asylum of the Daleks too!) was filmed in March in Spain, where over 100 Western movies have been filmed, including A Fistful of Dollars. Arthur Darvill – Rory Williams – says:

“I am a huge fan of westerns; me and my dad used to spend Sunday afternoons watching them, so it was kind of like living out a boyhood dream, filming in Almeria where so many westerns had been shot.”

Adrian Scarborough as Kahler Jex.

Remember how Canton welcomed the Silence to America in Day of the Moon? That’s right: with a gun. But it’s not just the Silence who need to be scared, as Karen Gillan explains:

“Definitely, Amy Pond should be nowhere near a gun. I remember for a previous episode I had to fire a gun with blanks, followed quickly by Rory shouting ARGHHH as though I had hit him. I completely forgot this when action was called, so when I fired and he shouted, I really thought I had shot him! It was awful! In this episode when she gets hold of a gun you can see the fear on the faces of the other characters, but they weren’t acting, I genuinely think all of the actors including Matt and Arthur were in fear for their lives!”

Arthur seems to agree:

“I am always terrified when Karen picks up anything! Of course there was a guy there to make sure it wasn’t loaded… We see Doctor and his companions in a western themed setting, where Amy Pond gets her hands on a weapon. But Karen is better at these things than she pretends to be, even though she looks like she is made of spaghetti!”

Amy’s prowess with a gun was glimpsed in the series seven trailer, but we also get a brief peek at the heart of the episode, as she rhetorically asked the Doctor, “So this is what happens when you travel alone?” Karen explains:

The Gunslinger (Andrew Brooke)

“Just as any relationship changes when it matures, we get to see a glimpse of what Amy and Rory do when the Doctor isn’t around and how the adventures and time away from home has affected their own relationships with friends and family. I think the Doctor also begins to realise how he has changed Amy and what happens when he isn’t there, and at first he doesn’t really understand it.”

Steven Moffat tells this week’s Radio Times a little more:

“The Doctor finds himself not just in the crossfire of an ancient conflict (a cyborg killer and an alien fugitive) but faced with a moral dilemma. Which side should he take? Who really is the victim here?”

It all sounds very deep and intriguing – but at least the Doctor gets a stetson again!

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About the Author

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When he’s not watching television, reading books ‘n’ Marvel comics, listening to The Killers, and obsessing over script ideas, Philip Bates pretends to be a freelance writer. He enjoys collecting everything.



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