As part of the Doctor Who World Tour, the BBC held a brief media Q&A with Peter Capaldi and Jenna Coleman at Sydney’s Circular Quay this morning. Here’s what went down in an entirely spoiler-free way.
There was also a screening of the first episode of the new series, “Deep Breath”, but I’ve signed an NDA promising I won’t say anything about it at all until it airs.
I wouldn’t do so anyway, but the screening beforehand meant that some of the questions were directly related to the episode. You won’t find those questions or answers here, because I’m rather strongly anti-spoiler that way.
You can read the Q&A in perfect spoiler-free safety. I guarantee it.
ABC Media personality Adam Spencer hosted the Q&A, kicking off questions before throwing to the crowd.
Adam Spencer: How far back did you film “Deep Breath”?
Jenna Coleman: January — we filmed in January.
Adam Spencer:Does it feel like yesterday? You’ve done a lot of filming since then.
Peter Capaldi: Well we only finished filming on Wednesday. Then we got on a plane, we’ve been travelling around, so we’re still in filming mode. But it seems like quite a long time ago. Because it was cold, wintery, and we were all new to each other, and Jenna and I didn’t really know each other. Which was quite good, because as Jenna and I got to know each other, the Doctor and Clara got to know each other.
Jenna Coleman: We were polite for about three days. But we quickly dropped it.
Peter Capaldi We were very polite. But we just get too excited working with each other. We enjoy it too much.
Adam Spencer: So who was first to drop visage of politeness?
Jenna Coleman I’m not quite sure how it even began.
Peter Capaldi I think you’re sort of immediately bonded, because you’re in this very exposed position, where everybody’s asking ‘what’s the Doctor going to be like?’ and ‘how’s Clara going to deal with him’ and the only people who know are us, and we don’t even have any plans in mind for that, we’re just getting on with it and seeing how it unfolds. The days are quite challenging because there’s a lot of stuff to get on with.
With Doctor Who the directors do two episodes each, so by the time the next director came along, we were looking at each other going ‘we’re in a new world now, and how do we deal with this?’
Jenna Coleman We’re a very tight unit by that point.
Adam Spencer: What’s it like when you’re first on set?
Peter Capaldi It’s quite scary. The very first thing I had to do was get into the TARDIS, and I’m thinking, oh my God, this is the actual TARDIS.
Except it’s not bigger on the inside. It’s actually smaller, because Jenna’s inside, and there’s a prop guy.
Jenna Coleman It’s quite awkward, because there’s not really anywhere to move. And it’s dark as well, because they’ve closed the doors, and you’re just waiting for the action.
Peter Capaldi You find yourself in the dark with a stranger. And it’s quite chilly as well. I think in future I’m going to have a little electric fire… and a kettle, and beverages.
Adam Spencer: Can you remember Jenna when you first heard that Peter had been given the role?
Jenna Coleman It was really interesting, because I had loads of friends messaging. All these names, completely off the wall names like David Beckham, but no-one had mentioned Peter Capaldi. Didn’t somebody mention that to you?
Peter Capaldi I was absolutely thrilled that nobody was onto me. Although was slightly peeved and slightly insulted as well!
Jenna Coleman It was quite an unusual day, because Prince Charles and Camilla were on the Doctor Who set, flying the Tardis. And Prince Charles was on the Dalek machine doing all the voices.
Steven just had this really big smile on his face, and we could tell something was going on because everyone was just bursting at the seams, and they took me and Matt upstairs, and said ‘we’ve found the new Doctor!’
Adam Spencer: Peter, is it true you’d go into a comics store in London and stand next to people reading Doctor Who comics, thinking ‘this guy doesn’t even know he’s standing next to the next Doctor’?
Peter Capaldi That’s just how creepy I am. There’s a shop called Forbidden Planet, which is a kind of geek’s paradise, and I used to go in there anyway in real life, and there was a period of about 2.5 months when I used to know that I was Doctor Who and nobody else did. So I used to go in there and stand next to someone browsing through a Doctor Who Magazine, thinking “they don’t know they’re standing next to the next Doctor Who!”
The Q&A then largely flicked over to the audience; unfortunately I wasn’t able to sneak a question in or get the details of most of the question askers:
Adam Spencer: Jenna, what do you remember about your casting?
Jenna Coleman I knew I was auditioning for the companion. But it was the most confusing audition I’ve ever had. First of all the audition came through as something called “men on waves”, which was an anagram for “woman seven” so I had to turn up to the basement of the BBC, and it was all very hush-hush, and everyone turning up was half an hour apart, so nobody could see each other.
But then I got all these audition sides through with different character’s names on. One was futuristic, and one was supposed to be like Mary Poppins and one was just a normal girl, so I was thinking “they’re just trying to get people to do lots of different things to see what works against Matt”, and I assumed that was what it was. When I got the part, I was kind of like — which one?
Q: Is the Doctor that you’re playing now — does it resemble the Doctor you imagined playing back when you were a child?
Peter Capaldi No, because I didn’t sit around as a child thinking “oh, now how will I play the Doctor”? I was just in the playground, being William Hartnell or Patrick Troughton, or Tom Baker or whatever. I didn’t actually think of it as being a grown up actor. In fact, I never have. It wasn’t really something I ever thought I’d end up doing. I’ve always loved Doctor Who and enjoyed. That was one of the challenging things about taking on the role, because you realise that you haven’t figured out how to do it, and you can’t just turn up and be in the playground! You’ve got to have an idea. It has been quite challenging from that viewpoint. But I think he’s quite different, because the show has changed so much from when I was a kid. So one has to be true to what it is now, as well as hanging onto the past. That’s one of the things that I love about Doctor Who, because it manages to hold onto its past while moving into the future.
Adam Spencer: Was there anything so big about the role that made you think maybe I shouldn’t take it?
Peter Capaldi I had to discuss it with my wife, because the realities of it are… and I spoke to David Tennant and Matt Smith; they both loved being Doctor Who, and said ‘enjoy every moment of it’, but there is a visibility, a new level of visibility to it which is slightly unnaturual, so you have to consider if you’re able to deal with it. That I don’t know because we’ve only just started. But I have to say that the people we have met who recognise you as the Doctor have been so lovely. And also they meet you with a smile, because they’re meeting “doctor who’, not me.
Jenna Coleman It’s just a lovely.. I don’t find it intrusive at all, because you’re greeted with so much joy. People just love the show so much, and they want to talk about it, and I find it a really lovely thing.
Q: How are you both feeling with a week to go to the global release date?
Jenna Coleman I feel really excited; I’ve been working alongside Peter for the last eight months, and I’ve been seeing what he’s been doing, and what he’s done with the Doctor, and the whole show. The tone is differnet, the pace is different. It’s still very much Doctor Who, but it’s new.
Peter Capaldi And I’m… nervous.
Q: How’s the world tour going?
Peter Capaldi Seoul was fantastic. We felt like the Beatles. People waving banners, and singing “Doctor Who, Doctor Who!!!”… just making up a tune, as I am. It was lovely. It sort of went crazy. All you had to do was open your mouth and they’d cheer and laugh.
Q: When you first walked onto the TARDIS interior set, what was it like?
Peter Capaldi That was when we did the regeneration, which was when I joined the show. It was very strange. It’s a very emotional day, because of Matt’s leaving, and Matt’s fantastic, and they deliberately kept up apart, which was very wise. Because I didn’t want to see what he was doing, and I knew it’d be fabulous, and how do you follow that? And he didn’t want to see the next guy standing in his shoes, waiting in the wings to get on with it…
Jenna Coleman I felt like I was two-timing both of them. I was running from one dressing room to the next, making sure everyone was OK.
Peter Capaldi The first person I went onto the TARDIS set with was Jenna, and I hadn’t seen it. I had just come from Prague, where I’d finished on The Musketeers, and strangely met Jon Pertwee’s son Sean in the bar the night before I left. But it was Jenna who took me onto the TARDIS set, and all the switches and how it all worked, and the next day we got onto doing the regeneration, and I felt glad to finally be there. I was nervous, but I thought “I like this place. I want to stay here.”
Q: It’s great to hear you using your Scottish accent. Did you have a discussion about accents?
Peter Capaldi Yeah, I said to them that I thought it was important that I bring the Doctor to myself, rather than add a lot of layers of acting technique. I wanted to bring him close to me. We did do some other accents and stuff, but I was just very clear was this… just be me. I knew that there was going to be so much work, I didn’t want to be having to work on an accent as well.
Q: Peter, are we going to see you for a second series?
Jenna Coleman You’ve only just seen episode one!
Peter Capaldi I think you’ll have to watch and see. I mean Doctor Who is a remarkably malleable show, and anything can happen in Doctor Who. So I’m enjoying myself today.
Adam Spencer: How far ahead in the series do you look or know?
Jenna Coleman No! Nonono! We know nothing! We literally know nothing. And Steven likes to keep it that way, and I think it’s good. There’s a degree of the series arc that you do know, and he kind of gives you the infomration as you read it, which is great, because you live in the moment. You can’t project too far ahead, so you can’t play things either, because he’s very clever at the arcs and peppering it in throughout the series
Peter Capaldi I particularly am kept in the dark, because I like not to know what’s happening. I’m never sure if it actually helps my acting if I know what’s going to happen. Am I going to change my performance? I’d rather just do it in the moment.
Adam Spencer: Three words that’ll describe the upcoming series?
Jenna Coleman This is so broad. I’m very sorry. “Good Versus Bad”
Peter Capaldi “Tiny” “Listen…” “Beware!”