Doctor Who star Mandip Gill confirms next holiday episode has been shot: 'We were lucky'
Thanks to the pandemic, the immediate future of many shows is in doubt. But Doctor Who star Mandip Gill confirms that the annual special holiday season episode of the time travel series, titled "Revolution of the Daleks," has already been shot. "I can confirm that," says Gill, who plays companion Yasmin Khan on the Jodie Whittaker-starring show. "There is a festive episode. We happened to be quite lucky and fit it in, so that will be exciting."
The most recent season of Doctor Who screened on BBC America earlier this year and is now available on Blu-ray and DVD. Below, Gill talks about the season — working with a new Master, a different Doctor, and one of the show's very good old friends.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: So, first things first, we're talking on your costar Bradley Walsh's birthday. Have you wished him a good one yet?
MANDIP GILL: Absolutely. I nearly did it a day early. Jodie messaged [yesterday] and was like — because we call him Dad — she was like, Is it Dad’s birthday? It was about 7 o’clock and I thought, please don’t have missed it, especially when I’m his favorite daughter. I had to Google him to make sure and then it turned out it was today. So, I woke up, first thing, I was like, I’m going to be his first daughter to message him — aside from his real daughter.
So, how did shooting the most recent season of Doctor Who compare to that of your first?
Naturally, we were way more comfortable with each other. It just felt like we knew what we were doing, we knew our characters way more this time, there weren’t as many questions that we needed to ask about our background. Personally, for me, I started to understand a lot more of the sci-fi, whereas in the first series I would be like, "What is she saying?"
Did you have a favorite episode to shoot this season?
I think the favorite episodes were "Spyfall." Everything — we were filming in South Africa, our guest lead Sacha (Dhawan) was absolutely amazing, it was also one of the first times we’d worn a costume, usually our characters are just in their normal clothes. It set up a lot of the storylines as well. And I've watched them more than any of them, because I’ve done the watchalongs, so I guess it’s become one of my favorites, because it had to be, because I’ve watched it so many times. I pick up new things every time I watch it like, when Sacha’s character changes from O to the Master there are so many little things that he’d worked on that you just don’t see when you’re acting with him. You only see it once you watch again and again and again.
Sacha is such a great Master. What was it like working with him?
As a person, he’s such a laugh. We got on instantly. He came out of his trailer in South Africa and we just started talking to each other. We stood talking for like and hour and a half in forty degree heat. But as an actor, he’s so emotionally intelligent and invested and professional. Honestly, it was absolutely brilliant to watch him work. And you know what? He’s that type of actor that sometimes changes, if it’s not working, he’s confident enough to change what he’s doing there and then, which always changes your reaction. It’s really fun to work with someone [like that], because you’re like, I sort of know where they’re going to go, but I actually don’t know what version he’s going to give me.
John Barrowman, who’s a real force on nature, reprised his role of Captain Jack Harkness for the first time in a decade. What was it like having him around?
It was really cool. It was only for a short space of time, but I’ve heard so many amazing stories about John and having such a big character and really being invested in the Doctor Who world. I was like he's such a big character and we’ve got Brad that’s a big character, I cannot wait to see them on set. But John’s been there so long. When you work with someone like John Barrowman, it’s like working with the Daleks or the Cybermen, they’re such an embedded part of Doctor Who history that you feel privileged to be working with him. He knew a lot of the crew and stuff, so he just slotted in. But we’d heard so much about him that it was exciting to actually meet him and, yes, he lives up to everything people have said.
Jo Martin played a "new" Doctor. That must have been pretty special.
It was really special. I’ve admitted before, sometimes I’m like, What is happening in the script? I had to get people to explain it. But Jo is just an amazing person. She’s so fun and excited and excitable and wanted to be there. It was just amazing, when you’re reading it, to go, Oh my god, we’re going to be part of the change, and then you also go, Is it going to work? I often thing, did Jo wonder that? Because she didn’t ever [let on about that], she was so excited to be there and was a big fan of Doctor Who as well. The thing that I find really interesting is a lot of the older people who come in, this is something that they’ve wanted to do for a very long time. They’re not bothered about saying, "I’m fangirling over the Doctor" or "Can I hold the sonic?" and stuff, they’re very open about it.
Jodie often gives guest leads tours of the set because they’re like, "Oh, is the TARDIS close? Can we go in?" I love that they’re grown adults going, "Please can I go and play with this thing?"
Bonus materials on the season 12 Blu-ray and DVD include 10 behind-the-scenes documentaries and three audio commentaries. They can be purchased from the BBC Shop.