‘Matt Smith and I twiddle knobs. I am 12 again!’ Stars share their best Doctor Who moments – part two

James Strong (director of episodes featuring the Tenth Doctor, and Torchwood, 2006-2009)

My favourite moment is from the 2007 Christmas special, Voyage of the Damned. Aboard the stricken Titanic, the Doctor convinces the survivors why he’s the one to lead them to safety. David Tennant looks so good in his dirty tux and as the ship explodes around him, he looks straight at us and delivers: “I’m the Doctor. I’m a Time Lord. I’m from the planet Gallifrey in the constellation of Kasterborous. I’m 903 years old and I’m the man who is going to save your lives and all six billion people on the planet below. You got a problem with that?’ ‘No.’ ‘In that case, allons-y!’”

Chris Chibnall (writer for Torchwood and Doctor Who, then head writer and executive producer for the Thirteenth Doctor, 2006-2022)

‘The Doctor was delighted!’ … Jodie Whittaker with Mandip Gill and John Bishop.
‘The Doctor was delighted!’ … Jodie Whittaker with Mandip Gill and John Bishop. Photograph: James Pardon/BBC Studios

It’s 9 February 2018. We are about to “show and tell” the Thirteenth Doctor’s Tardis to a select few. A group of 20 hard-bitten industry professionals walk through the blue police doors to see the new Tardis interior. There is a reverential hush. We are all children again. Later, we bring in Jodie Whittaker, and the Doctor is delighted. This is my job, and I’m thrilled. I am also four, and I would like to discuss this with my great aunt in the morning.

Daniel Nettheim (director of episodes featuring the Twelfth Doctor, 2015-17)

The Doctor’s anti-war speech, from 2015’s Zygon two-parter, was a cry from the heart for compassion amid a searing indictment of the futility of war. It has never felt more relevant than it does today. The 10-minute sequence was delivered with considerable emotional heft by Peter Capaldi. It still brings a tear to my eye. When Radio Times readers voted for that year’s greatest TV moment, that came second, beaten only by Poldark scything a field with his shirt off.

Barnaby Edwards (Dalek operator, 1993 onwards)

Taking the plunger … the Daleks.
Taking the plunger … the Daleks. Photograph: James Pardon/BBC/PA

I first worked as a Dalek in 1993. Three decades later, I’m still working as a Dalek – promotion is slow on the planet Skaro! My favourite moment was on a night shoot in Penarth in March 2008 for The Stolen Earth. It was my task to stop a Nissan Figaro in the street and threaten its occupant with extermination. It was Sarah Jane Smith, played by Elisabeth Sladen, my childhood hero. Here she was, still defending the universe from the Daleks. That’s the magic of Doctor Who. Faces come and go, but the adventure goes on for ever.

Catrin Stewart (played Jenny Flint, 2011-2014)

For Peter Capaldi’s first scene as the Doctor in the episode Deep Breath, we were on an amazing set of the banks of the Thames in Victorian London. Out of the Tardis came a very confused and new Doctor. It was so exciting to watch such a brilliant, bold and funny actor, and to witness Peter become the Doctor. Every take he tried something different. I didn’t really have to do any acting as I was just watching him in amazement. Oh, and we had to imagine that there was a giant dinosaur in front of us, of course!

Graeme Harper (director during the classic and revived series, 1966-2009)

When Rose and the Doctor have to say goodbye to each other at the finale of series two, as Billie Piper was leaving the series. We had to complete it in a very short space of time. The first take was so moving, beautifully controlled by Billie, holding back the tears until she says, “I love you”. But we had to go again, and I was embarrassed to ask Billie to repeat it. The wind blew so strongly her hair wrapped around her face, it was a nightmare. But when I looked back at the recording, I was so moved.

Nick Hurran (director of episodes featuring the Eleventh Doctor, 2011-2013)

A Weeping Angel.
Stone cold killer … a Weeping Angel. Photograph: James Pardon/BBC Studios

Blink is an all-time standout episode which made the Weeping Angels a classic foe. In the later episode The Angels Take Manhattan, the moment when the Doctor, Raggedy Man, has to witness Amy Pond choose to blink rather than live without her beloved Rory is a moment that stays forever in my memory.

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Michael E Briant (director of episodes featuring the Third and Fourth Doctors, 1965-1977)

On my first day at the BBC 60 years ago I was sent to “trail” the assistant stage manager on a William Hartnell serial, and I later worked as a PA on the first Patrick Troughton episode. My first six-part serial as a director was with Jon Pertwee on Colony in Space, and we both said goodbye to Katy Manning on The Green Death as Jon and his car Bessie drove off into the sunset – it took three attempts to get that final shot, and I’m so glad I persevered.

Louise Jameson (played Leela, companion to the Fourth Doctor, 1977-1978)

Louise Jameson and Tom Baker.
Dog days … Louise Jameson and Tom Baker. Photograph: Maximum Film/Alamy

I love the fans who love the show, who now run the show, who tell me “Doctor Who saved my life” and mean it. Because the hero has two hearts and a screwdriver, because he/she/they does nothing but protect the unprotectable, give hope to the hopeless. Imagine our Doctor as prime minister. This is what makes me proud, that I’m a tiny part of a show that promotes morality in the highest sense.

Terry Molloy (played Davros, creator of the Daleks, opposite the Fifth, Sixth and Seventh Doctors, 1984-1988)

An outstanding memory was the first tech run of Resurrection of the Daleks, in the rehearsal rooms in Acton. I’d gone down from lunch early in order to go through my lines again before the producer and technicians came in. I walked into the room which was empty apart from three Daleks sitting in the corner. And as I walked past these Daleks the three eyepieces swivelled and watched me go. It was like a shiver up my spine, and I thought, “These are my children! I am Davros!”

Simon Fisher-Becker (played Dorium Maldovar, 2010-2011)

One for the heads … Simon Fisher-Becker as Dorium Maldovar.
One for the heads … Simon Fisher-Becker as Dorium Maldovar. Photograph: IMDB

The greatest moment for me was filming Dorium Maldovar’s head upside-down in The Wedding of River Song. This scene included a tribute to Nicholas Courtney, who played Brigadier Lethbridge Stewart, and who passed away a couple of months before filming. It’s something I feel honoured to have been involved with. Dorium’s dialogue and the Doctor’s dialogue were filmed on separate days. Matt Smith invited me on to the Tardis set so I helped him by delivering Dorium’s lines. I was sitting under the console, and Matt invited me to play with it. We chatted and twiddled knobs. I was 12 again. Huge fun.”

Jane Tranter (former BBC head of fiction and executive producer of the 60th anniversary specials, 2005-2023)

Journey’s End – I never fail to feel emotional over the return of all the Russell T Davies-era companions rallying together to save the Doctor and consequently the universe. They are given the name the Children of Time by Dalek Caan and Davros, and they make me think of myself, Julie Gardner, Phil Collinson and the team working to Russell’s vision. It was the last episode I properly oversaw before leaving for a new life in LA, and a moment that felt fitting to be my final one with Doctor Who. But here we all are in 2023 working on it again for one more adventure!

The Guardian

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