Jodie Whittaker on filming new Doctor Who scenes in SA: It certainly left me with a hankering to head back

2018-10-07 07:04
Dr Who

Cape Town – Seasoned actress Jodie Whittaker is the latest – and first female - regeneration of Doctor Who. 

A character whose other worldly adventures have enthralled audiences all over the globe for decades. 

Episodes of Doctor Who S11 (which stars Jodie as the thirteenth doctor) are being made available for the first time ever on streaming service Showmax (along with seasons 9 and 10) on Monday, 8 October. 

In the lead up to the big (binge-worthy) day Channel24 called Jodie in London and spoke to her about the casting process, staying off social media, filming during a sandstorm and a whole lot more. 

Dr Who

Jodie’s casting as the lead protagonist of the show made headlines all over the world as she is the first woman to be the beloved doctor. When asked about how she found out that she got the role she said; "I didn’t get a call, it was actually – what I thought was – a final audition. 

"So, I was told that I wouldn’t be auditioning any scenes, that I would be coming in for a chat. Chris Chibnall, the showrunner, was going to be there - who I obviously know very well from throughout the audition process – the casting director was going to be there and the exec producer. And, Piers Wenger who is controller of BBC drama commissioning.

"Also, my agent was with me and it was slightly pitched like I would have to come in and convince the room why I should get the job (laughs) after a very lengthy audition process. So I was sat down and was offered a drink. Chris straight away put me out of misery and said, 'We want to offer you the job.' So, I played it really cool and I was like, ‘yeah.’ (chuckles)"

Dr Who

When asked how she keeps up with a social media heavy world – when she actively avoids all platforms - the talented star lightheartedly said; "Wow. I read (laughing). I read newspapers. I do actually have a very modern phone, which has a lot of news outlet apps and so yeah, I don’t know, it (social media) isn’t necessary to keep up with the world. 

"We don’t need it. Social media does, of course, do a lot of good in the world for being able to get messages out, for campaigns and united voices. For that I think social media is wonderful. But I think for an actor to just to read good and bad things about themselves, I think personally, it would not be the direction I would need to go."

Dr Who

A lot has been made in the press and on social media about Doctor Who being a woman and when asked once more if gender really matters in terms of the role she said: "I think it’s important in so much that the character is regenerated into a body. That body has always been a man, but the show has always been about regeneration into something new. Obviously being a woman is the biggest change that there has been throughout (the years of the show). 

"But it doesn’t change the ethos of the show. Which is, discovering a new body, discovering a new identity. What is going to be your voice? The way you look? All those things, those moments of regeneration have been kind of true for every doctor. Obviously in this instance it’s the first time that it’s a different gender but that doesn’t…I suppose in a way it effects other characters and moments in other storylines more than it ever effects the character of the doctor."

Dr Who

As any fan of the show will know the costume of the timelord is vitally important. It gives you an idea of how the new regeneration sees the world and can even include Easter eggs that die-hards love looking for. 

The is how Jodie and the costume designer came up the incredible 13th doctor’s look; "So, it was very collaborative process between myself and Ray Holman the costume designer, who – before it was announced – I had built a relationship with him previously because he designed the costumes on Broadchurch

"So, I already knew him which was brilliant because we hand a shorthand and we met prior to my announcement to just kind of chat about ideas and I brought images. I had photographs, that I had collected after months of auditioning and we found this one black and white photo of a woman walking in short trousers, boots and suspenders. And because it was black and white it had a kind of timeless element to it that didn’t pinpoint it to any decade. It also didn’t look female and it didn’t look male. It just looked like clothes you could move in and would be comfortable. 

“It had elements of youthfulness, it had elements of age, it had a kind of chaos to it with looseness of the T-shirt, but also a sense of neatness with the trousers and the suspenders. And then we went with that image and then the coat, the credit for the coat really goes to Ray. The feel of that and the pockets and the lining. Every single bit of stitching has a meaning. I would necessarily talk about any of those things but the vital thing to me was that the coat represented the stars and space. 

"The material on the outside is a kind of lilac pale blue but then the lining of the coat is very deep dark blue which represented space to me. Everything has to be run by the grown-ups, but it was very much left in our corner to bring all of these amazing things because we developed it from scratch. But the key points for me were that it felt like it was comfortable to wear, because why would you wear it otherwise?"

Dr Who

Some scenes in the new season of Doctor Who were filmed in South Africa and it left Jodie wanting to come back on holiday, with more time on her hands saying; “We shot in places that were absolutely beautiful and only through filming did we get to see those. The landscapes we explored were quite off the beaten track.

“On one particular day, it was hot, and there was this sandstorm and it lasted for a whole day. And obviously – within the story – we couldn’t be squinting so we had to look brave but our hair, and mouths and even our eyelashes were covered in sand. It was an adventure and actually whatever world we land in, there are just elements that you can’t control, so it served the piece.

"The shoot in the heat was wonderful because we had just come from a very dark, long grey winter in Wales so to be shooting in January in South Africa was wonderful. 

“We had the most amazing crew who were generous with their advice of what we could do on our down time. So, I had some fantastic food. It was a very full schedule because we had to maximise the window of being there. And we had a lot to cover in a short space of time. It certainly left me with a hankering to head back to South Africa for holiday because it was absolutely wonderful. “

Dr Who

The British actress – who has acted on some dark shows, like Broadchurch before – has said the she wants to leave viewers with a sense of hope with her version of the doctor.

A point she elaborated on saying; “Well I think the big thing for me with this doctor is that I wanted to bring a very childlike quality to it and I love the fact with children that you get a very self-conscious response and a very immediate response to something. 

“And I think that in the time of becoming an adult you get very jaded and you get very cynical and all the kind of things that I didn’t want to feed into the eyes of this doctor. Without making the doctor in any way naive, more that all the things the doctor has seen across all of those years has brought hope. They’ve learnt about times that have brought the hardship and there’s always the hope that it ceases and there’s a faith in humanity."

(Photos: Supplied, BBC/Showmax)

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