Doctor Who star Mandip Gill talks new season and her future on the show post-Jodie Whittaker
Doctor Who star Mandip Gill admits that she and costar Jodie Whittaker argued so ferociously while they shot the upcoming season of the time travel show that it freaked out new recurring cast member Jacob Anderson. But don't worry, Whovians, these "domestic arguments" were merely a sign of the two TARDIS veterans' affection for each other.
"Me and Jodie have this relationship where we're just not nice to each other," says Gill, who plays Yaz on the BBC show, opposite Whittaker's alien Doctor. "I don't know how we've developed it but it's really fun. We were setting up yesterday, we did a rehearsal, and one of us, I'm still going to say I was in the right obviously, but one of us did it wrong and we just had a mini-domestic and the whole crew just watched, because that's just what we do. We're always taking the mick out of each other and it really makes Jacob feel uncomfortable, because he's so sweet. He's like, 'The way you speak to each other, it's just not nice.'"
Gill talks about the upcoming season, the announcement that former Doctor Who executive producer Russell T. Davies is returning to the show, and her own future on the series, below.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: What can you tell us about the new season?
MANDIP GILL: It is a really exciting series. It's very ambitious. It's bigger than it has been. Prosthetics are next level. We couldn't go anywhere because of COVID, so we've had the most brilliant set designs made. Guest actors, I've had the time of my life, because they've actually been in more than one episode this year. There's lots of through lines with stories which meant that characters could stay. We've got Kevin McNally, Jacob Anderson, Rochenda (Sandall), who I've actually worked with before, Craig Parkinson. As characters, we've been able to create better relationships, more intense relationships, that haven't had to be rounded up in one episode. I've been able to explore Yaz with all these other people in space aside from the Doctor and monsters. And then explore relationships with people like John (Bishop), whose character's from Liverpool. So for me as an actor it's been a really exciting year, restrictions aside.
Tell me about working with John Bishop.
He's been good fun. There's been no egos. He came on and we set off on the TARDIS one of his first days and he was like, "How far do we go? Do we rock quite big?" We had a laugh because, to me, I've been doing this for so long, I didn't even think that someone has to question [that], which is obviously what I did when I started. You go, "Oh yeah, you won't know that we jerk when this sets off, you won't know where we hold onto or what bits we're not allowed to touch." John just asks: "How big is this monster? How do we do this?"
Many people in America will be unaware of how famous he is in the UK.
I'll be honest, I don't think I realized how famous John Bishop was until we went for a walk after work. From the minute we left the building, for 30 minutes one way, 30 minutes back, it was just non-stop people asking John for pictures. I actually texted Jodie and went, "John's really famous!" It blew my mind.
Jodie and Chris Chibnall (Doctor Who executive producer) recently revealed that they had long ago decided to leave the show after three seasons. But Jodie told me there were moments filming the season when she had second thoughts. Were you aware of that at all?
They were very honest with the conversations from when we started about their plans. So that was what we were working towards. Obviously, I knew Jodie was saying, "Aw, should I, shouldn't I?" I don't know how far she went into the conversations of, should I stay? But it was never anything that was conscious to me.
Presumably Jodie's departure means that you'll be leaving too? Can you confirm that?
Well, one, I can't confirm it but, two, there's just no rules to this. Companions do stay on thereafter. We still haven't finished filming these episodes, it could go any which way. The audience are really good at going, oh, it's a whole new cast and new companions and they're onboard with that. And they're also amazing at going, oh yeah, that's a companion from the last Doctor, that also makes sense. So who knows? But just know that I've had the most amazing time.
It was recently announced that former executive producer Russell T. Davies (who was responsible for reviving the show in 2005) is coming back. What was the reaction to that in the corridors of Doctor Who?
It's really exciting. Russell T. Davies is the reason it came back so that's exciting for everyone. Him and Chris Chibnall are really good friends. But also for me, on a personal level, it's really like [exhales deeply] just to know it's carrying on. People want this show. So for everyone, me included, this is going on for years. Doctor Who is carrying on for years, and that's actually all anybody really wants. But also we've got a year of really exciting things to happen before that even comes.
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