Published on March 21st, 2013 | by Philip Bates
Series 7B Preview: Part 2
We know quite a lot about the first three episodes of Series 7B – avoiding any major spoilers – but beyond that, it fades into glorious expectations and amateur guessing. So what do we actually know…?
“We’ve got a submarine,” Matt Smith says. “We’ve got the Ice Warriors, we’ve got the Cybermen back in new guise, we’ve got Neil Gaiman writing a script, we’ve got Diana Rigg playing an old hag [Laughs] – but brilliantly, with great charm and sexiness and grace. And her daughter, who is also brilliant. And the scenes between them…! That’s a Mark Gatiss script which is full of fanboy love.”
Writer: Neil Cross. Director: Jamie Payne. Expected UK Transmission: 20th April 2013.
Caliburn House is a haunted mansion, alone on a desolate moor. The Doctor and Clara are greeted by the ghost-hunting Professor Alex Palmer and a gifted psychic as they search for the Witch of the Well. She’s appeared throughout time, stalking the halls since the house was built. A ghost? Possibly. But what haunts – and hunts – a ghost…?
The last episode of the series by Spooks headwriter, Neil Cross, boats an impressive cast, coupled with an equally-impressive director. Dougray Scott, who plays the Professor, is a prolific actor, who first appeared in the 1990 children’s show, Zorro, but has since starred in Lovejoy, Mission: Impossible II, and Soldier Soldier. And Jessica Raine, who plays Emma Grayling, is guaranteed to be a familiar face, her career having sky-rocketed since Call the Midwife began.
Jamie Payne also worked on the 1950s drama, but has furthermore directed several BBC ‘big-hitters’ like New Tricks, Ashes to Ashes and The Hour.
The dark ghost story was filmed in Bristol’s Tyntesfield, a National Trust house, as well as various locations in Wales, last May. It’s been a while since we had a proper haunted house tale – though you could argue the orphanage in Day of the Moon was just that – and Neil Cross promises something special: “When [Steven Moffat] asked me, I went ‘absolutely’, then put down the phone and said, Holy s***. The challenge was to do something that has never been done before in 50 years of the show.”
He says Hide is “the kind of Doctor Who episode that would have terrified me when I was 9 years old,” and enthuses that “Doctor Who is a show made by people who love Doctor Who. To be asked back to write more is as much a recognition of my love of Doctor Who as my ability.”
Cross can handle a lot of pressure: Spooks was one of the BBC’s most successful shows, and there’s a lot of anticipation over his upcoming third series of Luther.
The episode has had its fair share of names according to various interviews and CVs – Phantoms of the Hex, The Hider in the House – but its core message echoes through its one-word title. Hide.
7.10. Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS (TBC)
Writer: Steve Thompson. Director: Mat King. Expected UK Transmission: 27th April 2013.
An intergalactic salvage crew, the Doctor and the TARDIS. We’re going deeper than we’ve ever gone before…
After his exceptional Sherlock script, The Reichenbach Fall, there’s a lot of pressure on writer, Steve Thompson. His sole Doctor Who episode so far, Curse of the Black Spot, didn’t live up to many-an-expectation (although was it really that bad?!), so can his second deliver?
There is, of course, added pressure, with this being the first chance we’ve had to explore the TARDIS since 2011’s The Doctor’s Wife. In fact, Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS promises a look further than we’ve ever been. “You will go to the heart of the TARDIS,” Steven Moffat promises. “You will see more of the TARDIS more properly than you’ve ever seen it before. It’s all that stuff.”
We’ve had glimpses of the TARDIS interior before, in stories like The Christmas Invasion and Castrovalva, and Moffat admits to being haunted by one, The Invasion of Time, in particular: “In the Radio Times, there was a little article saying, ‘In this week’s episode, the Doctor dodges the Sontarans through the many rooms of the TARDIS.’ I could not wait for Saturday. But there was a problem with the scenery or something and they shot it all in a disused hospital. And it was so disappointing. And I thought that day, ‘Some day! Somehow, I will do what I can to get into television and do that properly!’ And that worked out. So [production designer and creator of the new TARDIS interior] Michael Pickwoad goes mad and gives us the TARDIS and gives us all manner of things.”
In The Eleventh Hour, Matt’s first appearance as the Eleventh Doctor, all the way back in 2010, we heard a lot about the library and the swimming pool (and that the swimming pool was in the library). Will we experience this? “There’s way more than a swimming pool,” Moffat teases. “Wait ‘til you see what’s in there.”
Thompson wrote for Doctor Who Magazine: “My first meeting was last October. I went along with a pocketful of dream-episodes. Steven says: ‘Would you do one where we see the centre of the TARDIS?’ ‘Er, yeah. Okay.’ The conversation took nine seconds. And then I’m chained to a laptop on and off for the next six months, basically…”
He added: “Steven knows that I’m a pure mathematician and anything involving multi-dimensional geometry gets me excited. (There’s my geek credentials.)”
It wasn’t just a lot of work for Thompson, as executive producer, Caroline Skinner, told SFX: “Michael Pickwoad should probably be credited as special guest star on quite a few of our episodes this year, because some of the sets and the vistas that he’s accomplished are just absolutely mind-blowing, not least in the detail but in the imagination. And obviously an episode with that title is a designer’s dream. He went away and came back with piles worth of sketches that would make any fan explode.”
7.11. The Crimson Horror (TBC)
Writer: Mark Gatiss. Director: Saul Metzstein. Expected UK Transmission: 4th May 2013.
Yorkshire, 1890, and we’re back with the Paternoster Row Gang, Madame Vastra, Jenny and Strax. But this time, they’re not up against snowmen. They’re facing the power of Dame Diana Rigg and her daughter, Rachael Stirling!
But where’s Clara? Well, the Ice Lady killed her…
It’s the first time mother and daughter have appeared on screen together, tempted by their good friend, Mark Gatiss. At one of the meetings before production, Steven Moffat reportedly said, “I didn’t think Mark Gatiss could get any camper — then I read The Crimson Horror!”
This is the last episode of the series by Mark Gatiss, and the penultimate by Saul Metzstein. Saul’s distinctive visuals have been all over Series 7, having directed Dinosaurs on a Spaceship, A Town Called Mercy, and The Snowmen, as well as the prelude series, Pond Life.
So what of the visuals for The Crimson Horror? The episode promises an ominous factory in the creepy Sweetville, Matt in a bowler hat, Clara getting kidnapped, and Dame Diana Rigg as Mrs. Gillyflower. “I’ve never seen [Matt] as quiet on set, with Dame Diana and her daughter as well,” Jenna recalls. “Both of us were sat watching them both and watching the dynamic.”
Moffat is also excited about the casting: “We’ve got Diana Rigg and junior Diana Rigg in an absolutely mental story by Mark Gatiss – all period drama will pale next to this monstrosity of nonsense! It’s absolutely glorious. You’ll watch other period dramas and say, ‘When are they going to do the scary bit?’”
And if there’s not enough mystery about this episode already, the trailer has offered us another layer of intrigue: glimpsing past the Trickster-like creatures, a gravestone can be seen. A gravestone for someone whose name ends in ‘ONG.’
7.12. The Last Cyberman. (TBC)
Writer: Neil Gaiman. Director: Stephen Wolfenden. Expected UK Transmission: 11th May 2013.
It’s no secret that the Cybermen are back – and written by Neil Gaiman, whose critically-acclaimed The Doctor’s Wife was, to many, a highlight of the last series. This episode is perhaps the most anticipated so far, especially as the Cybermen are getting an update. We first saw them in 1966, and they’ve since fought seven Doctors, receiving a reimagining in 2006’s Rise of the Cybermen/ The Age of Steel. They last cropped up in 2011’s Closing Time, battling the Eleventh Doctor and Craig Owens with Cybermats.
Gaiman told Den of Geek: “Steven wrote to me and asked if I wanted to make the Cybermen scary again. I thought back to myself at the age of six or seven: The Moonbase, Tomb of the Cybermen… I saw them when they were first broadcast. The Cybermen were much scarier than the Daleks, because they didn’t make any noise. The Daleks moved around all over the place shouting ‘Exterminate’, etc. With the Cybermen, it’s different. You turn around and bam! There they are. It’s scary. I told him that I was going to take the Cybermen from the sixties… and see what I could do. I don’t know if it’s going to work; we’ll see.”
Beyond that, he can’t give much away, simply stating that “it has a beginning, a middle and an end!”
Bringing back an old enemy must have some baggage attached, surely? Steven Moffat says that they’re not intimidated by continuity and that the audience can deal with stuff people used to see as ‘geeky.’ “I think everyone just became a fan,” he explains. “And the truth is people stop me in the street with the most abstruse questions. And they’re real people. They’re not fans like me. And I’m thinking, ‘You’re not supposed to know that stuff. That’s supposed to be mine…’ To be honest, it feels like everyone’s a fan. The level of knowledge is very intense. But it’s very, very easy to keep Doctor Who accessible because it’s designed to be. The format can be summed up in such a short sentence, even after all this time. ‘It’s a man who can travel anywhere in time and space in a box that’s bigger on the inside.’ We’re done. That’s all you need to know. Everything else you can pick it up.”
“It’s surprising how much the general audience want the detail and the continuity and the call backs to their childhood…because we all remember it,” he concludes.
The level of detail obviously extends to the new, sleeker design, as Caroline Skinner notes: “Certainly when we watched them on set they felt very creepy and the redesign of the masks recalls to a certain extent some of the earlier Moonbase/Tomb Of The Cybermen designs.”
The episode also features an impressive cast – and some very odd names. Calvin Dean (previously a Slitheen in The Sarah Jane Adventures) plays Ha-Ha, Will Merrick (Skins; In With The Flynns) is Brains, and Warwick Davis (Life’s Too Short; An Idiot Abroad 3) stars as Porridge. Tamzin Outhwaite (EastEnders; Hotel Babylon) is perhaps the only one to play someone with a remotely normal name: Captain Alice.
And that’s not all. “You already know there are Cybermen – what you don’t know is there is something else,” Moffat promised in Doctor Who Magazine. “A Cyber-something else. They are disgusting.”
7.13. [As Yet Untitled Series Finale]
Writer: Steven Moffat. Director:Saul Metzstein. Expected UK Transmission: 18th May 2013.
The Doctor: “I am the Doctor… and I am afraid.”
This is the big one – but what do we actually know about it?! Well, the Doctor’s in it. Pretty sure.
It’s likely set in the Victorian era, as Vastra, Jenny and Strax are back, as is another returning enemy (but you’ll have to search elsewhere if you really want spoilers!). “My aim for it is to have slightly more than you think could possibly happen in one episode,” Moffat told SFX.” Slightly more treats than you think you could be allowed…”
Taking a break from her various Stateside projects, Alex Kingston is rumoured to have flown back to film scenes for the finale in Cardiff, an episode which was predominantly shot in the city, but also in Bridgend and a quarry in Llanharry.
“The Doctor’s biggest secret will be revealed for real!” Steven teases. “We’re not kidding, we are actually going to do it! We are going to reveal his biggest secret!”
But will that secret be his name…? Likely not; it seems most people don’t want to find that one out – and I don’t think Steven would destroy the main premise of the show!
Alongside the returning baddie, we’ll also see a brand-new monster, set to rival the popularity of other Moffat creations like the Weeping Angels, Vashta Nerada and the Silence. “Towards the end of the season… I think we might have one of those clever Moffat creations. One of the new classic monsters,” Matt Smith says. “And they’ve got a great name and they are so brilliant.”
“They don’t chase you; they just come at you slowly. And they’ve got a style which I find really quite terrifying. They’ve got a style to them,” Jenna agrees. “But I think that’s all we can probably say.”
And the finale will certainly lead into the big 50th anniversary celebrations, as Jenna says: “Reading especially the finale of this season as well, without giving too much away, it really is epic and I think it’s really a treat for the fans of the last 50 years.”