Doctor Who director reveals new Jodie Whittaker regeneration details
Exclusive: The Thirteenth Doctor has filmed her regeneration – but it’ll be a little different this time.
It’s no secret that Jodie Whittaker’s Time Lord is scheduled to depart Doctor Who this autumn, with the Thirteenth Doctor set to regenerate in a BBC centenary special that may also see the return of Sacha Dhawan’s Master.
And apparently, this may be a regeneration like no other – because according to the episode’s director Jamie Magnus Stone, the production team have made a crucial change to the usual style of regeneration that could have some significant effects.
“I’m very fortunate in that I’m directing the last one of them. So I’m actually doing her regeneration,” Stone exclusively told RadioTimes.com as part of a longer conversation about his years directing Doctor Who.
“Basically her last day of filming was most of the crew’s last day of filming as well. So it was all orchestrated to have this big, final last day. And we shot that last day for Jodie in story order. So we ended up on her last scene. But before that, there were so many tears.”
But what is this new twist we’re teasing? Well, Stone revealed that unusually, the Doctor’s big change would not take place in the TARDIS, noting that the iconic blue-box time machine was used for a late scene before the crucial regeneration was filmed elsewhere instead.
“Everybody clapped her – and Mandip, actually. Everybody clapped them into the TARDIS for their last time, and then there were some tears,” Stone recalled.
“And we shot the last-ever scene in the TARDIS, and said goodbye to the TARDIS, and then there were some tears.
“And then we went out to film, basically, her regeneration. And the last shot that we did, I think, will be the last shot in the episode as well. So it was really nice to do things in sequence. And it was mostly Jodie and Mandip’s scenes on that last day. So it was just super-emotional.”
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While the choice of where the Doctor regenerates might not seem that significant, it is unusual for the scene to be set outside the TARDIS environs. It has been done before – most notably Tom Baker’s Doctor turned into Peter Davison’s in an outdoor setting, and Sylvester McCoy’s handed over to Paul McGann in a San Francisco morgue – but in both cases it was a traumatic experience for the new Doctor, forcing them to recuperate for some time.
Certainly in the modern post-2005 era, we’ve never seen a Doctor regenerate into a new version outside the TARDIS (excluding prequel webisode Night of the Doctor). For production purposes, it’s often easier to locate it in the series’ lone standing set – if it’s being kept a secret, it’s much easier to keep the new Doctor under wraps that way – though with Who about to go through a change behind-the-scenes, this time it may have been prudent to go in a different direction.
After all, returning showrunner Russell T Davies’ new era has yet to begin filming yet – could they really keep the TARDIS standing for a year, just in case he wanted to use it? Or wouldn’t it be easier, more flexible to bridge a gap in production by having the Doctor change in a neutral, separate location that can be revisited with a second actor much later more easily?
It would certainly give more breathing room to the new production team, who might not have to cast a new Doctor as quickly, and spend more time in preproduction. Previously, fans had noted that Whittaker’s TARDIS appeared to have been dismantled in Who’s Cardiff studios, leading to some speculation that the next Doctor must have filmed their half of the regeneration already. Clearly, that was not necessarily the case after all.
Why the Doctor regenerates and which actor will take over from Whittaker remains under wraps – David Tennant rumours notwithstanding – and altogether, there are still plenty of mysteries about what’s coming in Jodie Whittaker’s final Doctor Who moments.
Still, from the sounds of it all the cloak-and-dagger will be worth it in the end.
“It felt really – I don’t know – like the end of an era, and very important, but very lovely,” Stone said. “And there were like 100 extra people on set that day. Everyone came down to watch the last slate go up. I felt very lucky to be a part of it.
“It all worked out really nicely. I think everything we shot that day is going to be absolutely lovely. Yeah, I can’t wait to show you guys.”
We’re sure there are one or two fans out there who might have a mild interest in watching it, too.