The Doctor (Jodie Whittaker), Yaz (Mandip Gill), and Dan (John Bishop) deserve a break after averting the destruction of the entire universe not so very long ago in Flux — but the trio will soon be back in action in Eve Of The Daleks, a New Year’s Day special.
The story takes place in ELF Storage, run by Sarah (Aisling Bea), who has a regular customer named Nick (Adjani Salmon) who visits his unit every New Year’s Eve. This year, however, is set to be like no other…
Here Jodie Whittaker, who plays the Doctor, reveals what’s in store in Eve Of The Daleks and talks about shooting her final scenes as the Time Lord…
Jodie Whittaker on working with Aisling Bea and Adjani Salmon
“There were five of us on set — me, Mandip, John, and then Aisling and Adjani — we were together the whole time, so it was brilliant, we had this sort of self-contained world. Usually in our episodes you can have eight or nine lead characters in a scene, so it was just really intimate — and really funny in between scenes, because there’s three comedians and then me and Mandip. They were proper laughing at us, they found us hilarious! Aisling and Adjani were amazing, they’ve got really good chemistry. They create their own work, they make their own shows, so for them to want to come and be in Doctor Who was a bit of an honour.”
Can you tell us how the Doctor encounters them?
“We go slightly off-course, and what we walk into is not what we’re expecting. More so than any episode I’ve been in, it’s really funny — there’s a lot of kind of farce elements with it, there were some moments that felt a bit Carry On, because there’s a time loop, so there’s a lot of opening doors and not being where you think you’re going to be! I think the jeopardy level is at 10 continually because not only are we stuck in a time loop, we’re stuck in a time loop with Daleks, and for the Doctor, that’s a nightmare…”
You had to do a lot of physically demanding stunts for Flux — how did ‘Eve Of The Daleks’ compare?
“Ooh, it’s difficult to explain without giving a spoiler, but because we’re in a time loop, there’s particular things happening continually that are strange, that become normal. Essentially, it’s less stunt-y, but it’s very adrenaline-filled — there’s so much sprinting! So many stairs we had to climb, or jump down, but no dangling over an acid ocean. But because it’s this one location and this one set, this world can become quite claustrophobic. At some points it’s like LaserQuest, you’re trying to run down a corridor and something’s at the other end, and you’ve got to get away — it’s like being trapped in a labyrinth.”
You’re leaving the show at the end of the three specials airing in 2022. Did this feel like the beginning of the end?
“No, because it was still a long time! We’d just done a serial, and then going into this was seamless, it didn’t feel like you were leaving anything behind. You were still on this rollercoaster, which was great — you’re not taking your foot off the pedal when you’ve still got four-and-a-half months to go! The only difference was Mandip and I had spent a lot of Flux apart, and I was always moaning about it. Chris Chibnall [Doctor Who showrunner] was always getting WhatsApps going ‘I’ve just read another episode and I’m hardly in any scenes with Mandip!’ [laughs] He was like, ‘don’t you worry, in the New Year’s special you’ll be back together!’
You’ve filmed your final scenes as the Doctor, but your final episode won’t air until the autumn. Is that a bit strange — you’ve finished, but you’re still going?
“I think it’s nice, it’s a bit of an easier way to rip off the Band-Aid, in the sense that you have the grief of ending — or I certainly did — and the last few weeks of filming, when you’re creeping towards the inevitability, were really emotional. I cried so much! But the wonderful thing is you don’t have this very brutal goodbye, knowing that to everyone else the Doctor’s and Yaz’s adventure carries on well into 2022.
“As much as I cannot wait to hand over and find out who the next Doctor is, and I’m so excited for Russell’s [T Davies, incoming Doctor Who showrunner] reign, it’s not like a closed door. Finishing in this way, and having episodes that are going to be staggered throughout, feels a lot easier because it’s still something to hold onto. It’s just been the best time of my life. For any kid that wanted to be an actor, it’s a dream job — being able to be so mercurial and not be boxed, to play a character you can never neatly tie in a bow. What do you do after this? But at least I got to do it!”
- Doctor Who: Eve Of The Daleks airs on New Year’s Day on BBC1 at 7pm. It will air on BBC America and on the AMC+ app in the United States. Although it’s not yet been officially confirmed, it looks like the special will air on New Year’s Day at 8:00 pm EST in the US.