Radio Times

MAKE YOU SCREAM’

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We’re strapping in for the finale, Russell. What can we expect? Oh my God, everything’s coming to a head. It’s a bit of an end-of-season showdown. There are fantastic monsters waiting. Some of the greatest we’ve ever created on screen… But ah, I can’t say any more, stop it! When you see them, you will scream.

As you may have noticed, there have been various strands hidden in the series – Susan Twist, who is centre stage this week – it’s time for the Doctor to stare that mystery in the face. And the Tardis has been groaning – as if it’s in trouble in some way. And of course, the biggest one of all is the story of Ruby Sunday’s mother.

There are two ways to view this. You can see it as all the strands coming together, finally. Or it’s just a great big finale with a brand-new story. It’s literally designed to be watched both ways.

Will all of this series’ mysteries be solved? I can promise that 99 per cent of the mysteries are solved. We’re not doing one of those open-ended, weird, come-back-next-year things. I mean, one strand very clearly leads to next year. But it’ll do it so loudly, it’ll slap you in the face.

Otherwise I can promise you absolute answers, no ambiguity, and shocks and scares along the way. It’s one of my favourite stories. It’s the story that I pitched this whole show to Disney with. It’s absolutely a golden story. I’m so pleased with it.

This year feels like a reinventio­n of the show — the new streaming era with Disney. Any growing pains? Anything you’d do differentl­y, looking back?

I mean, no, to be honest – I’m very proud of it! You know, they might not be the ratings we’d love. We always want higher. But they are building over the 28-day period. Episode one, Space Babies, is already up to 5.6 million and counting. So it is getting there. And actually, I was brought back to bring in a younger audience. That’s been massively successful. The audience no one ever gets are the under-30s. They just don’t watch television any more. But those figures are astronomic for Doctor Who, it’s their top programme in that bracket. I never thought it was possible, to be honest. But according to the people who juggle the numbers, all targets have been reached and exceeded. The BBC are running around like mad things.

This year, the episodes have been released on iPlayer before airing on BBC1. Some viewers were upset — were you expecting controvers­y? I was, but let’s be honest if we gave the Doctor a new hat, the controvers­y would be of much the same size. But seriously, I do think it’s a genuine controvers­y – I can see it’s a big change. But the trend of TV is heading this way. I’m not creating that future. Doctor Who has to ride with the times or die.

After the finale, what’s next? We’re back for a special at Christmas, and we’ve just wrapped up filming on the 2025 series. We’ve got so many surprises coming up with that. I could talk about the alien planets and the monsters right now – but I’ll see you in a year.

And after 2025 — how secure is the show? Fans always fear another cancellati­on… I’m working on the fourth script now for season three. It’s not actually commission­ed, that’s still up in the air. But that’s the same for every TV programme. I shouldn’t say we’re confident, because that’s asking for a fall, but we’re very confident, to be honest. And we’ll just keep going.

I can’t stop, that’s the problem! Ncuti’s off to do a play, The Importance of Being Earnest [at the National Theatre from November]. And so we’re coming back after that. Amazingly, we might be shooting those scripts early next year. Those scripts have to be ready by about August, for prep. And it’s June. We’re not behind – but all my deadlines are just going to slap me in the face like mad. That’s my summer ruined, ha!

Finally, you gave series guest star Jonathan Groff old episodes to watch to prepare him for Doctor Who and then swore him to secrecy. Can you now tell us which ones they were? I sent him the very first episode, An Unearthly Child. Which is a miracle because no one can watch that now [due to rights issues]. Wouldn’t it be hilarious if Jonathan was the final viewer of An Unearthly Child? I sent him [2005 finale] The Parting of the Ways to show him the space opera swagger of Doctor Who. I sent him [2007’s] Blink. And I probably sent him The Ark in Space (1975) because that’s my favourite story, and I would always show that to someone!

‘I’m working on season three – so that’s my summer ruined’ RUSSELL T DAVIES

With that in mind, what episodes should we watch to prepare us for this finale? I’ll tell you – but I’ll have to avoid a couple of stories deliberate­ly because they’d give too much away! When you see it, you’ll say, “What was he on about? It’s just like that one!” [See panel right.] HF

Read our tribute to original Doctor Who star William Russell in Feedback: page 144

 ?? ?? MYSTERY WOMAN Susan Twist has appeared in different guises in every episode this year
MYSTERY WOMAN Susan Twist has appeared in different guises in every episode this year

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