Julie Hesmondhalgh will be appearing in Doctor Who‘s episode Kerblam! this Sunday. The actress speaks up about her experience working with new show runner Chris Chibnall, PC complaints and more.
Hesmondlagh has graced our screens in popular programs such as Coronation Street and Broadchurch. Fans may recall that Broadchurch was Chris Chibnall’s previous work before taking over Doctor Who. Hesmondlagh explains that she actually got both her Broadchurch role and her Doctor Who role from the same phone call. “It’s been a long-time dream of mine to be in Doctor Who“, the actress admits.
“I had this conversation with Chris [Chibnall] and it was literally the best phone call I’ve ever had in my life – two jobs in one! I was just over the moon… and luckily available, so that was great!” — Julie Hesmondhalgh
Working on Kerblam!
How has Hesmondhalgh enjoyed her work with Doctor Who? “Honestly, it’s been of my favourite jobs that I’ve done, But it’s been one of the hardest as well”, the actress explains. She continues, “there’s a lot of sci-fi gobbledegook – I mean, I’m sure it’s not gobbledegook, but it feels like gobbledegook to me”. Without giving too much away, the actress suggests “what I loved about [the script] is that, like every episode so far, there’s more to it than meets the eye”. The actress hints that something may be going on beyond the surface level of the story in Kerblam!. “The world that it inhabits references a world that we have here, now, but in quite a clever, oblique way”, she adds. Hesmondhalgh even suggests that Kerblam! might be one of the “most traditional Doctor Who episodes” of the series thus far.
“It’s harder than you think. Doctor Who seems quite straightforward when you watch it – it’s quite simple, straightforward storytelling when you see it on screen – but actually it’s quite involved.” — Julie Hesmondhalgh
The actress worked with Jodie Whittaker, the lead in Doctor Who Series 11, on her previous work with Broadchurch. Hesmondhalgh suggests that Whittaker is “brilliant for the role” of the Doctor. “She’s so tough and funny and smart”, the actress added. Hesmondhalgh believes that Whittaker is “just a brilliant person for young people to see as a role model”.
The Chibnall Comparison
However, Whittaker isn’t the only reunion the actress had when she agreed to a guest role on Doctor Who. Show runner Chris Chibnall, the current show runner, was a familiar face as well from her time working on Broadchurch. In fact the actress has previously worked for former Doctor Who show runner Russell T Davies as well. Hesmondhalgh worked on Davies’ Channel 4 series Cucumber back in 2015.
“I think there are real similarities between Russell [T Davies] and Chris [Chibnall] [ . . . ] There’s an attention to detail, and a love of words and language, that I can really see in both their writing.” — Julie Hesmondhalgh
She suggests that Chibnall and Davies share a similar sense of humour and sensibility. She added that the two also share “a very similar energy, very avuncular and very warm”, while also being “smart” and “not suffering fools gladly”.
“If you look at [Russel T Davies’ mini-series] A Very English Scandal, it was a real caper, but there was a real point to it. There was a very deep message in it, about shame and about living an honest life, and how hiding things leads people to these ridiculous situations, and I think it’s the same with Chris’s work.” — Julie Hesmondhelgh
Hesmondhalgh suggests that both Davies and Chibnall know what they want and are more than just writers.
The new show runner’s direction has been receiving a lot of attention from Whovians, both negative and positive alike. The new show runner knows what he wants but is it what the fans want? It’s hard to say. Hesmondhalgh has her own comments to add to the current complaints about Series 11 being “too politically correct”.
When asked for her response to people who complain Series 11 is too PC, Hesmondhalgh laughs, “I think you can probably imagine my thoughts on that!” She adds “It’s just such a load of bollocks. It’s just hilarious. [It happens] as you soon as you get a little bit of diversity, which to me is really exciting”.
The actress explained that there will always be naysayers and admitted to reading some of the complaints about Series 11 which she suggests “are just absolutely preposterous”.
The Woman Who Fell to Earth
Hesmondhalgh recalls her experience with watching the first episode of Series 11.
“To watch that first episode and see proper representation was absolutely brilliant for me. I was buzzing off it, because that’s the world we live in and when you see it reflected on-screen, it’s like, ‘Oh, finally, this is great!'”– Julie Hesmondhalgh
She also recalled thinking that Rosa was “one of the powerful bits of young people’s telly that I’ve seen ever”. Seeing Tosin Cole’s character plunked right in the middle of the civil rights movement in the US was especially moving for the actress.
“To land him in that position, for him to politely pick up a glove that a woman’s dropped and for him to be punched in the face, it was absolutely shocking. And it’s like, ‘Right, this is where we were only a few decades ago, and this is where we’re heading again’, and what an absolute perfect place to discuss those issues.” — Julie Hesmondhalgh
Demons of the Punjab
After watching Demons of the Punjab, which was set during the Patrition of India, the actress admitted she had barely known anything about the subject matter. Her children had also not yet learnt of the 1947 event. “To be bringing that into all these homes, to start that conversation, and to put Yaz in the middle of that story and to see it through her eyes, it’s just brilliant”, the actress stated. She explained that the current level of political correctness is everything she wants in television. “That term ‘political correctness’ just means, for me, things moving forward a little bit, in the way they should be doing”, she added.
“I love it. I think it’s worked really well. They all bring something so unique to it… They’re such a great little gang, and there’s such chemistry between them, off-screen. It’s a big risk, putting four people together and hoping that they all get on, and that a bit of magic can be created.” — Julie Hesmondhalgh
Hesmondhalgh can be seen in Doctor Who’s episode Kerblam! on BBC1 and BBC America this Sunday.
[Source: Digital Spy]