Doctor Who executive producer Brian Minchin gives Nick Setchfield a glimpse of what’s in store when the TARDIS rematerialises this year
Executive producer Brian Minchin tells us what to expect in Peter Capaldi’s second series.
You launched Peter Capaldi very successfully last year. How do you build on that success now?
This series we’re telling the next stage of the adventure. It’s the glory years of Peter Capaldi’s Doctor and Clara. As you saw in the finale and the Christmas episode he’s kind of answered his question of “Am I a good man?” and this year he’s having the time of his life, having dangerous and exciting adventures in time and space. These are the glory days of the Doctor and Clara. They’re having the biggest, most dangerous adventures they’ve ever had and they’re having great fun doing it.
What’s your ambition for this series?
Everything is based on the character of the Doctor. Interesting, intelligent TV characters evolve, and you see different sides to them. I suppose the mission statement we had was bigger adventures, and to go further in space and time. We’ve got a very confident Doctor, we’ve got a very confident companion and they’re both experts at doing this now so we can tell slightly bigger stories. We’re doing more two- parters – and not just conventional two- parters. We’re doing linked stories where you might not be sure how they’re going to be connected until you see them. We’re pushing the storytelling that way, to give us more scale of adventure.
So will some episodes end with a surprise cliffhanger?
You’ll need to see the episodes to see how we’re doing it. We love cliffhangers, and we love them being in there, but we also like it when stories develop into something unexpected, and connect in unusual ways.
Does that change the rhythm of your storytelling?
A little bit. We’re still fast- paced, we’re still funny, we’ve still got danger. Each episode works on its own. Steven [ Moffat] always likes to push himself and this is a slightly new thing for him. I think Steven really enjoyed writing the two- part finale last series and he could see what that could do – it allows you to have guest characters in for a bit longer, it allows you to do different things on a production scale, it allows you to do different things with monsters.
Is Peter looking to explore new sides to the Doctor this year?
It’s something that isn’t good to analyse too much, because we want to let things happen in the stories, but Peter’s a very intelligent actor who always wants to be doing something new with the character. If you asked any leading man or lady they wouldn’t want to just be doing the same thing. Peter has a huge understanding of the Doctor and there are aspects that he wanted to play this year, in these stories. But he’s very reactive. We have these big conversations but it always comes down to what’s in the story, what’s in the script.
Steven said that he’s writing a funnier Doctor this year. Are you looking to give Peter more comedy?
It comes back to what I said – he’s answered that question of “Am I a good man?” He’s still the same Doctor. It’s Peter Capaldi being the Doctor, and he’s brilliant. He came out as the Doctor questioning himself, but he’s now having the time of his life. That’s how we talk about it. It’s got to come from an artistic place of where the Doctor’s at now.
He was quite a formidable figure last year, which was a gamble that Steven took, making him slightly fierce and slightly prickly. Will we see more of that side or have you softened him?
I’d say that one of the great strengths of Peter Capaldi as the Doctor is that he’s unpredictable, and you’re never sure which way he’s going to turn – which is a thing a lot of the classic Doctors have had, and that isn’t going away.
Jenna Coleman really came into her own as Clara last series. How happy are you that she’s staying on?
Absolutely delighted. It’s brilliant. It’s a series that we always wanted to tell, of Peter’s Doctor with Clara, so we’re delighted that it’s happening.
You have Michelle Gomez back as Missy in the opening two-parter. Why is she back so soon?
Missy is brilliant, and having seen her in the finale we just couldn’t wait to work with Michelle again. Steven had the perfect story. It’s not going to be Missy as you expect her to be. Steven likes to surprise everyone and he’s going to do that with this opening. Missy has an awful lot of sides to her and we’re going to see some new ones in this series. We also learn a bit more about her relationship with the Doctor…
Doctor Who returns to BBC One later this year.
Missy returns in “The Magician’s Apprentice” and “The Witch’s Familiar”.
Once The Impossible Girl, now The Girl Who Waited Around.