Doctor Who is the longest running science-fiction television show in history, and this year marks the good Doctor’s 50th Anniversary, so naturally BBC is pulling out the stops for the character and its fans.
Obviously Comic-Con is the place to get the word out about all things past and future in nerd culture, so in promotion for the upcoming 50th Anniversary special I got to sit down with multiple talents from Doctor Who, including its stars Matt Smith and Jenna-Louise Coleman. Here are the highlights from the two stars as they talked the 50th anniversary, Matt’s departure from the show, their favorite moments and a royal visit:
*spoilers from season 7 follow*
Matt: Hi, I’m Jenna-Louise Coleman.
Jenna-Louise: And I’m Matt Smith.
Matt: I never tire of that joke.
Jenna-Louise: Everybody else might, but we won’t!
Matt, when did Jenna find out you were leaving the show and when did you tell Steven (Moffat)?
[pullquote_right]We knew, even when Jenna got the part, we sort of knew that I was going to go.[/pullquote_right]
Matt: We knew, even when Jenna got the part, we sort of knew that I was going to go. Well, we talked about it but it wasn’t official in any way. Me and Steven, we talked about it and obviously those conversations are private and should remain that way. But we’re great friends and he’s very respectful and I’m very respectful of him and we’ve come to a mutual decision that this is what’s best for the show really. It just felt like it was time for someone else to come and have a go.
It’s important to the story so Steven needed time to plan it.
Matt: Exactly. You sort of see season 7 leading up towards it. Transelor, isn’t it amazing though that Transelor was mentioned in season 5, and Steven just… had a plan, he always had a plan.
Jenna-Louise: He’s so clever. Peppering in plots and it’s great even looking at, I watched Bells of Saint John again recently and you just see on the screen these stories and peppering of these plots. He’s so, so clever.
Jenna, are you looking forward to welcoming and mentoring whomever comes on as the new Doctor?
Jenna-Louise: Yeah, you know in the same way as I was welcomed, I’m looking forward to giving that person support and helping a new Doctor find his feet in what is going to be a really exciting adventure for him. It’s going to be a fresh take… I don’t know, we’ll see… I’m kinda not there yet!
Matt, have you thought about your regeneration scene and if you’d like to do something different to go out?
[pullquote_left]I trust and I know that he’ll write something brilliant and heart-felt and imaginative, because that’s what Steven does.[/pullquote_left]Matt: That’s a Moffat question, I’m afraid. He’s the man that comes up with the ideas, I just try to get the lines in the right order, you know? I trust and I know that he’ll write something brilliant and heart-felt and imaginative, because that’s what Steven does.
Is there any more of the origin of Clara to learn or was all revealed in the Series 7 finale?
Jenna-Louise: Where we left off in The Name of The Doctor and obviously the 50th Anniversary is about a celebration of that and The Doctors. The resolve is that there are echoes of Clara throughout all of time and space.
Matt: Which is a really rewarding payoff, I thought actually. Because we don’t know how he’s [Moffat] going to end these things sometimes as well and it’s sort of pleasing when the resolution is satisfactory.
Jenna-Louise: I’m really enjoying that being solved [Clara’s mystery] because that means now we go in a new direction and it feels quite different.
Matt: And you don’t have to play any of that anymore do you, that confusion? Now you can just be adventurous.
Jenna-Louise: Exactly. Yeah, we’re going somewhere else now, which is fun.
What are both of your highlights of this past season?
Matt: God, there’s so many. Driving up the side of the thing on The Shard…
Jenna-Louise: I love the TARDIS in the clouds. I just love that image, it’s the fairy-tale of it. It’s magic…
Matt: …yeah, climbing up the staircase and the Doctor asking her to come with him and saying “It’s mine” and all that sort of stuff…
Jenna-Louise: A new TARDIS…
Matt: I thought that opening sequence in The Name of The Doctor was amazing, with all the different Doctors. That was fabulous. Jenny, Vastra and Strax. Saying goodbye to River. There were a lot of big story and plot moments which were great, I thought.
It’s not often that a Doctor gets to work with another Doctor. What was it like for both of you to work with David Tenant and also Billie Piper?
Matt: Amazing. They’re great guys, and John Hurt! It was like a master class everyday. Tenant is a wonderful Doctor and a wonderful bloke. And Billie is just a dream. We had fun.
[pullquote_right] There were just days where I had to pinch myself.[/pullquote_right]Jenna-Louise: There were just days where I had to pinch myself. Just the image of the three Doctors together and I’d be in a scene with them… it was just a dream. Literally the luckiest girl to have three Doctors and also just to watch them work and interact. I’m really excited about that.
What was it like having The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall recently come visit the set and The TARDIS?
Matt: It was cool. We showed him how to fly the TARDIS. He liked my shoes, I liked his shoes. And he was great. He was a lovely bloke, actually.
Jenna-Louise: I think he really enjoyed it. He did the takeoff. Like how to take the TARDIS off and did the Dalek…
Matt: Yeah, he did the Dalek voice, he fired the snow gun. It was cool.
Jenna, did it blow your mind that not only did you get to be a companion but now you’re character is part of the whole entire mythology of the show?
Matt: Jackpot, baby.
Jenna-Louise: Oh, it blew my mind totally. We knew this episode was being written and we were waiting for the resolve of “The Impossible Girl” and I picked up the script and it was the first seven pages and I remember that I sat and put my page down and I called my mom and said “Oh it’s awesome!!”
Matt: Did you?
Jenna-Louise: Yeah, I called my mom and said “Oh my god, it’s so amazing!”
Matt: That’s nice.
Jenna-Louise: And just filming it was so, we re-created the [William] Hartnell first ever him going in [to the TARDIS] with a double and used the original footage…
Matt: Just a great bit of TV, that sequence. And it worked!
[pullquote_left]You can do so much on Doctor Who that no other TV show can do.[/pullquote_left]Jenna-Louise: The history! You can do so much on Doctor Who that no other TV show can do. And I love fact that we can do that and go back into the history of the show, and again with the 50th, it’s a celebration of the whole thing.
Matt: And it’s just so exciting to see all those other Doctors, but to see them still be part of the story. Some of them are dead! Do you know what I mean? But they’re still living on. It’s a testament to what a show it is at 50 years. We all sat around talking about all those seven thousand people in Hall H that have been queuing up and you go…
Jenna-Louise: …I just did a scene with [William] Hartnell…
Matt: Yeah! Do you know what I mean? It’s cool.
The Doctor Who 50th Anniversary special premieres November 23rd on BBC America.