BBC America’s 2017 Comic Con panel for the iconic science fiction series Doctor Who featured the Twelfth Doctor (Peter Capaldi) as well as Matt Lucas, Michelle Gomez, Pearl Mackie, writer/actor Mark Gatiss, and showrunner Steven Moffat. The panel was a farewell to Peter Capaldi’s time as the Doctor, and following the packed presentation the cast participated in roundtable interviews to discuss their roles in the critically acclaimed series.
Matt Lucas (‘Nardole’) and Michelle Gomez (‘Missy’) teamed up to talk about their time on Doctor Who, working with director Rachel Talalay, and life on the Doctor Who set.
Doctor Who Michelle Gomez and Matt Lucas Interview:
Did you have as much fun on set as it looked like? Michelle, as Missy you’re so flamboyant and interesting. Did that carry over when the camera was off?
Michelle Gomez: “There’s not…it’s pretty fast, isn’t it? We really race along. There’s not much time for much more than the job at hand. But of course it helps if you enjoy each other. There has to be a sense of fun and freedom. If you’re too locked into it and you’re thinking about it too much, for me that doesn’t work. So, I need to know that I’m in a safe place and that I’m with actors that I trust and admire. And then you have a springboard into bringing some fun to it, really.”
Matt Lucas: “I found you do more coverage on this show than you do on a lot of other TV. I think just because this show has a bit more permanence, a bit more reach. So, although it’s on TV, the filming of it feels a bit of a hybrid between TV and cinema. If you were doing a more conventional British TV drama that wasn’t sci fi, traditionally – I know Netflix and HBO have changed kind of how things are shot – but traditionally you’d go we do the master and the mid and the close and swap. Whereas this seems to have a lot more…I find scenes take longer to shoot. You probably get through less pages a day. However, you do have to commit quite early on in the process to what you’re going to do, you know? Even though you can spend quite a lot of time filming a scene, you have to hurry up and start.”
Michelle Gomez: “You have to get on with it.”
Matt Lucas: “You have to get on with it. You have to just kind of go, ‘That scene’s fun. Let’s do that.’ But I like to carry on improvising through the day just to try to keep it fresh, as well.
But yeah, I was very lucky. It’s the most dedicated crew I’ve ever worked with, in terms of doing a year in a very cold, wet place. The warmth and the smiles from the people we work with make a huge difference, both on the screen and off. Also, there’s quite a nice thing which is every three or four weeks, you get some new people come. You do two episodes in five weeks. So, yeah, every two and a half weeks some new cast members come and you get to meet them and hang out with them. Sometimes you already know them. But I had never met Michelle before. But, obviously, I’d seen her work. I knew you were coming; I was told quite early on that you were coming back, so I was quite excited about that.”
We don’t talk much about directors on television but Rachel Talalay has been a really big part of this era of Doctor Who. Can you talk about her?
Matt Lucas: “I’m related to her, by coincidence.”
Michelle Gomez: “Well, she sort of brings the cinema element, in a way. She brings a lot of dignity actually because she gives you the space. She’s very generous as a director so at the beginning of the day, she’ll really talk out and flesh out as to what that day’s going to look like and what you as a character want to achieve on that day. She’s wonderful. She’s a class act.
Missy wouldn’t be Missy if it hadn’t been for Rachel at the beginning. Peter, Rachel, and I all started together in that first month and I’m very, very grateful for her. She gave me my confidence.”
Matt Lucas: “I’m waiting for someone to give her a big movie to direct now. I think she’s proved that she’s ready to do that again.”
Michelle Gomez: “She does it on a shoestring. There’s not a lot of money over there. And she makes it on time, and what she achieves is phenomenal. The end product looks incredibly expensive – and it’s not. It’s sticky-back plastic and a lot of imagination.”
Matt Lucas: “She should be directing Star Wars. She’s that good. I know they often don’t have women directors doing sci-fi in Hollywood; it’s not really a thing. But, it should be because she’s one of the best directors I’ve ever worked with. She’s fantastic.”
Do you think the Master becoming Missy and being very well accepted and really an exciting character, do you think that helped pave the way for a woman to play the Doctor?
Michelle Gomez: “I don’t know. Maybe? It was a big shift, I guess, going from a male Master to a female Master. I’m kind of sad that we’re still talking about that today. It should just be regardless of sex, whoever’s doing the best job, you know? So, I don’t know. I think, like me, I was in the right place at the right time and it clicked and it works. And for Jodie, it’s her time now. Regardless of the fact that she’s a woman, I think she’s going to be a phenomenal new Doctor. I’m excited.”
How did you find out about the new Doctor?
Michelle Gomez: “Same as you, after Wimbledon.”
Matt Lucas: “I knew it was going to be a woman because I was told. I didn’t want to know who. I knew some names…I knew about some names. I knew the names that were being talked about that were on the list. I knew it was a woman, but that was it.”
Also of Interest:
Be sure to tune in and check out the Doctor Who: Twice Upon A Time 2017 Christmas special airing on Christmas day on BBC America.
The Doctor Who: Twice Upon A Time Plot: The magical final chapter of the Twelfth Doctor’s (Capaldi) journey sees the Time Lord team up with his former self, the first ever Doctor (David Bradley) and a returning Bill Potts (Pearl Mackie), for one last adventure.
Two Doctors stranded in an Arctic snowscape, refusing to face regeneration. Enchanted glass people, stealing their victims from frozen time. And a World War One captain destined to die on the battlefield, but taken from the trenches to play his part in the Doctor’s story.
An uplifting new tale about the power of hope in humanity’s darkest hours, Twice Upon A Time marks the end of an era. But as the Doctor must face his past to decide his future, his journey is only just beginning…
Twice Upon A Time is written by Steven Moffat, directed by Rachel Talalay, and executive produced by Brian Minchin. The 60-minute special guest stars Mark Gatiss as The Captain and Nikki Amuka-Bird as the voice of the glass woman, and will see Peter Capaldi’s Doctor regenerate into the Thirteenth Doctor (Jodie Whittaker).