The Gallifrey Times was present on Friday 13th November at the ExCel London centre for the start of the official Doctor Who Festival, a jam-packed weekend event celebrating the sheer hard work and dedication that goes into making Doctor Who a continuous success. Featuring interviews not only with the stars of the show but also the minds behind directing, designing, writing and creating each thrilling scene on a Saturday night, the Festival truly offers something of interest for everyone.
Kicking off the event for Cyberman ticket holders was the first panel of the day; the MFX show hosted by writer Mark Gatiss and special effects producer Kate Walshe. Kate shared the process behind creating the concepts for the monsters and prosthetics seen on screen by tasking two concept artists at Millennium FX with computer software to design a monster that thrived in the dark. Resident monster actor Jon Davey provided a demonstration of the Mire costume worn during ‘The Girl Who Died’ and provided a unique insight into a day of wearing a full monster design, and audiences were treated to an exciting and exclusive costumed preview of the monster in Saturday’s forthcoming episode written by Mark Gatiss, ‘Sleep No More’. Mark briefly hinted at giving a very specific reason for the name of his new monster, that audiences should keep an eye on in the episode, without giving away too many spoilers:
“There’s a reason for the name. I made a very conscious decision to call them something … a lot to do with sleep.”
Audiences were then free to explore the convention hall; a large space which included several Doctor Who merchandise stalls, the Fan Challenge area, spaces dedicated to props, costumes, special effects and prosthetics, along with exciting sets from the latest series. ‘Stage 1’ held smaller panels during the day, including talks with Impossible Worlds author Stephen Nicholas on the importance of the art department in Doctor Who, Danny Hargreaves and the SFX team providing plenty of explosions, and the LEGO Dimensions gaming developers presenting the exciting new LEGO Dimensions game. Fans were also able to discover what a typical working day on the set of Doctor Who is like in the Production Village, hosted by the various assistant directors of the show and joined by either production designer Michael Pickwoad or costume designer Ray Holman.
The next main theatre panel explored the writing process behind Doctor Who, with writers Mark Gatiss, Steven Moffat and ‘The Woman Who Lived’ writer Catherine Tregenna. Steven enthused about his love of the Highwaywoman idea for Ashildr and Catherine’s ability to bring the character to life, while Mark expressed his interest for Doctor Who to comment even more on themes such as Ashildr’s very human struggle with immortality. Catherine explained her initial nervousness of writing for the show until the story surrounding Ashildr began to form:
“I think I was a bit more nervous of Doctor Who as a show. I’d watched it and thoroughly enjoyed it, but I wasn’t sure where I could fit into it until this idea with Ashildr came along.”
The last main theatre panel of the day was a treat for the fans, and certainly there was an air of excitement among the audience as presenter Toby Hadoke introduced the main stars of the show; Peter Capaldi, Michelle Gomez and Ingrid Oliver. The floor was open almost immediately for questions from the audience, and among the questions asked was how Ingrid felt when acting against the Zygons on the set of The Zygon Invasion / The Zygon Inversion:
“I was properly quite scared on the day … I know what the guy underneath the suit looks like. But when they put it on and do all of the acting, it’s genuinely quite scary.”
Michelle was asked whether she decides in her mind about the aspects of her performance with Missy and what she brings to the table in terms of her acting style:
“There’s no process. I have a very low boredom threshold and even by the time I get to the end of a sentence I’m normally quite bored of the sound of my own voice, so I tend to mix it up as much as I can. In all honesty, I don’t really think about it. There is something that happens when I put that corset on, and I can’t have a big lunch, and I get a bit ratty and it’s a perfect storm of these things.”
Peter wrapped up the panel perfectly by summing up what the fans can expect from the rest of this series:
“Heartbreak. Doom. Monsters. Unpleasant surprises. TARDISes. Time Lords… and a wonderful conclusion, I think, that closes off one aspect of the show and opens up another.”
Were you at the Doctor Who Festival on Friday? Will you be attending over the weekend? Let us know your thoughts about the event in the comments below!