How the creepy monster in Doctor Who series 11 episode 1 was created

Showrunner Chris Chibnall explains the process behind designing Tim Shaw and his Gathering Coil, Jodie Whittaker's first Doctor Who nemeses – SPOILERS

WARNING: Embargoed for publication until 00:00:01 on 20/09/2018 - Programme Name: Doctor Who Series 11 - TX: n/a - Episode: July Preview (No. n/a) - Picture Shows:   - (C) BBC / BBC Studios - Photographer: Ben Blackall

Jodie Whittaker’s first episode of Doctor Who was marked by some of the show’s creepiest monsters yet – Tim Shaw, an alien with a face full of the teeth of his enemies; and his Gathering Coil, a big floating electrified bundle of bio-tech.

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At the premiere of The Woman Who Fell to Earth a few weeks back, showrunner Chris Chibnall spoke a little bit about the process of designing and creating the all-new aliens.

“There are a number of people involved in this process,” he said. “They start off in the script as a description. People do drawings of what they imagine it’s going to look like.

“Then it’s a company called Millennium who make the prosthetics – they made Tim Shaw, brilliantly. The Gathering Coil is created in CGI by Double Negative, who are our special effects company,” Chibnall added.

Tim Shaw in Doctor Who (BBC, HF)
Tim Shaw in Doctor Who (BBC, HF)

“Jamie Childs our director had a lot of input into how those [aliens] would look – the mask and so on. The design department, the make-up department: lots of conversations between lots of people. It involves a lot of people being brilliant and a lot of conversations like, ‘How scary can we make it?’”

Speaking elsewhere about how he came up with ideas such as a scary teeth alien, Chibnall said his inspiration often came during scary night time wanderings…

“I do remember thinking, ‘Ooh yes. Can we do that? Are we allowed to do that?’ Often in conversations, myself and [producer] Sam Hoyle co-write the storylines, so it’s conversations like that where it comes out. And just wandering around late at night going, ‘We could put that in Doctor Who. That would be good.’”

As for what to expect from other monsters in the series, or just what to expect in general, Chibnall was sticking firm to his belief that any information at all would spoil upcoming surprises.

“I’m not going to say anything about episode two,” he said. “A lot more action and adventure, alien planets, loads of monsters, historical periods.

“The feeling of not knowing makes it feel special. I really feel that. I felt that watching Bodyguard, I felt that when Broadchurch went out. It’s really important. What we’ve tried to do is show the range of what Doctor Who can do – visually, emotionally, geographically in time and space, the whole range of everything.”

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Doctor Who series 11 continue next Sunday 14th October with The Ghost Monument on BBC1