Doctor Who Ben Wheatley

Published on February 1st, 2014 | by Philip Bates

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Wheatley’s Doctor Who Won’t Be “Savage”

Way back when The Bells of St. John was waiting around the corner for us, Steven Moffat said that he tells each director to make the show their own. That’s why we’ve got such stunning episodes, including Colm McCarthy’s Sherlock-esque visuals, Skaldak storming through Alien-like surroundings (courtesy of Douglas Mackinnon), and glass-smashing mayhem from Nick Hurran in The Day of the Doctor.

But the first two episodes of Series 8 are helmed by Ben Wheatley, best-known for the horror film, The Kill List (starring The Impossible Planet actress, MyAnna Buring), so are we to expect the Doctor leading a cult into human sacrifice? Well… No.

Reece Shearsmith, who’s worked with Wheatley on Civil War epic, A Field in England, insists the show won’t turn visceral:

I’m not sure that you could ever somehow visually taint it with your style. Maybe it’d be different if he was writing it as well. There’s a very abrupt and savage streak in Ben’s work, but I don’t think it will quite filter through… with a Who script.

Showrunner, Steven Moffat, has written the two stories that introduce the world to the Twelfth Doctor, and Shearsmith – who played Patrick Troughton in docu-drama, An Adventure in Space and Time -  says of Wheatley:

I think he thought it would be an exciting project to get his teeth into. He’s learning all the time and I think he thought it would be a good challenge to do it. It’s very prestigious to do Capaldi’s inaugural episodes.

We can only agree! But we’re also lucky to have Wheatley on board. Next series will be gorgeous.

Of course, Doctor Who isn’t really a stranger to horror tropes – not even human sacrifice! The Brain of Morbius, The Masque of Mandragora, The Fires of Pompeii… So would you be up for seeing some more nightmare-inducing material?

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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.




14 Responses to Wheatley’s Doctor Who Won’t Be “Savage”

  1. avatar Simon Magellan says:

    You do realise that they don’t write the episodes, only direct them, don’t you? Which means that you’d only get “human sacrifices” if this is in the script!

    • avatar Philip Bates says:

      Uhhh yes… That’s why Shearsmith says, “Maybe it’d be different if he was writing it as well”, and why I pointed out that Moffat has written the first two eps. I only used the ‘human sacrifice’ stuff as an example based on Wheatley’s previous work; honest, guv.


      • Way to go with a major spoiler for ‘The Kill List’ for those that haven’t seen it

        • avatar Geoff says:

          Also the chick in The Crying Game is really a dude and Bruce Willis is a ghost in The Sixth Sense!
          Just lighten up will you? Kasterborous doesn’t carry a burden of responsibility to avoid plot twists in other media being exposed to you.

          • avatar TonyS says:

            Bruce Willis is a ghost?!

        • avatar Philip Bates says:

          I haven’t even seen The Kill List, but I knew it had something to do with human sacrifice. I have no explanation as to how I know this. Sorry if I spoiled a thing for anyone. Honestly wasn’t intended.

  2. avatar DonnaM says:

    People adapt to the show rather than the show adapting to the directors/actors/whatevers. Wheatley (whose work I don’t personally know, I’m not one of those who studies directors’ names on the credits) evidently has a pretty significant profile, but was happy to accept the job on its terms.

    Besides, if the rumours about episode one turn out to have any foundation, a director with some horror background might be a very good idea! The fundamental character of the show – and of the Doctor himself – won’t be changed though I’m sure.

    • avatar Al says:

      It never is, but they can suggest potential style tropes. Remember the “Doctor Observes” sequence in Eleventh Hour? As it happened they only did it once more (same director?) but it could have become a regular thing if they’d wanted.

    • avatar TonyS says:

      But directors are “cast” just as actors are. Ben Wheatley’s reputation and style will have been factors. That said, “Doctor Who” is a family show. I guess we shall see in the autumn. I’m looking forward to it.

      • avatar krumstets says:

        It really is time to redefine what is meant by a `family show’ . Especially when it comes to Who.
        Being a family show conjures a view of a class of people who are so sensitive to blood, horror , swearing and sex being shown in TV shows that we cannot show much of this before 9pm .
        I think sometimes we pander to an outdated – Daily Mail – view of middle England.
        I hope along with his new kidneys Capaldi’s Doctor will have grown some new balls .


        • thank you god.

  3. avatar Gareth Kavanagh says:

    Before Kill List, Ben was best known for his incredible work on IDEAL, where he helmed two entire series’ worth and turned in some of the most visually stunning pieces of telly for many a year. he also took everyone’s performances up a notch – notably Ryan Pope and Emma Fryer. He’s an auteur, make no mistake.

  4. avatar Bradondo says:

    I’m always up for a bit of horror-inspired Who, as some of the best episodes have also been the most frightening. I also feel that collectively one of the most successful eras of the original series was while Phillip Hinchcliffe produced, and his whole tenure was saturated with a gothic horror sensibility.


  5. It is important to remember that although Ben Wheatley is better known these days for his work in horror films, he started out doing TV comedies such as Modern Toss and The Wrong Door.

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