Doctor Who – The Time Of The Doctor
echoes out to the stars – and amongst them, the Doctor.
Rescuing Clara from a family Christmas dinner, the Time Lord and his best friend must learn what this enigmatic signal means for his
own fate and that of the universe.
Written by Steven Moffat
Directed by Jamie Payne
Produced by Marcus Wilson
Executive Produced by Steven Moffat and Brian Minchin
The Christmas special for me is a bitter sweet episode because I’m leaving, but Steven has written a brilliant, adventurous, funny
episode and I’m really thrilled with it. It feels wonderfully Christmassy.
What did you want from your last episode?
I think it’s good for the Doctor to go out with a bang, a crash and a wallop. I’m pleased it’s really funny and mad. When I got to the
last 20 pages and it was quite a hard read for me, but I hope it’s going to be a belter.
We’ve got a great director in Jamie Payne and some really lovely double-hand stuff with me and Jenna. Steven’s managed to tie in plot
points and narratives that have been threaded through over years and I think that’s ingenious.
Emotionally, how did it feel to be doing your final performance?
It felt very emotional to be doing my final episode. My mother is mortified, honestly she was at the front of campaign for me to stay and
wasn’t happy when I said I was going to leave. But, when you’ve got to go, you’ve got to go.
Of course, it’s very sad for me in many ways because everything is the last time. It’s the last read through, the last time I put on the
bow tie and the last scene in the TARDIS. But the show is about change and I had lunch with Peter Capaldi shortly after the
announcement and I think he’s just going to be incredible. He has the most brilliant ideas. As a fan, I’m genuinely excited to see what
he’s going to do because I think he’s going to do something extraordinary.
So you’re still going to be a fan?
Yeah, absolutely. I’ll be a fan. I’m very grateful to Steven Moffat and that whole team up in Wales for the past four years and you
know I want the show to go from strength to strength, which it will. It might take me a couple of weeks to get my head around it. I
think it was the same for David and I think it was the same for Karen, when she watched Jenna come in. I don’t think it’s easy, but it’s
not my show, it’s the fans show, so I’ll be a fan and then it will be my show.
Have you been given anything by the fans as a leaving present?
I was doing a promo shoot for the 50th and these two girls came on set. They had made me this book which must have had 50 or 60
letters in, saying thank you for being Doctor Who, for being part of it. Things like that are amazing. I’ve said it before, the fans of this
show are really spectacular and they’ve made this an extraordinary journey for me and I’m very, very grateful. I don’t think there’s
another set of fans like it.
Can we expect some nods to past series with this Christmas special? Are we referencing old specials?
With Doctor Who you’re always looking back and forward at the same time, because you tend to be jumping around. I don’t want to
give too much away, but obviously when you look at my tenure over the last four years, there are stories and plot points and villains in
there that are particular to my Doctor and I think he’s got to face all that.
It was a very emotional read-through. Just going through the process of saying goodbye was difficult. The script itself is very emotional,
but also joyous. But saying those words and saying goodbye was never going to be easy.
Is there a sense from the start of the episode that we’re moving towards a regeneration?
It’s very much an adventure, but it goes off on a different track. People watching will know that it’s Matt’s last episode, but it doesn’t
loom over from the start.
We were introduced to Clara as the impossible girl last year. Are we going to find out more about her family background?
Absolutely. I think there had to be a sense of mystery last year to make the plot work. What’s really interesting is that it does feel like
we’re starting again and we get to see her home life as well as her life with the Doctor.
From a few pictures that have been released there are some of you cooking Christmas dinner. Have you ever done that in real life?
My mum does the Christmas cooking. It couldn’t be any other way.
Are you looking forward to filming next year with Peter?
It will be a different show next year. We have a bit of a gap before we start filming the new series, so I have time to get my head
around it all. Me and Peter will get together before Christmas to start rehearsing and the scripts will start coming in. I think when I came
in there was just a week off in production where Arthur and Karen left, so that would have been a strange shift.
This episode is very much about Matt and the 11th Doctor and Clara and the 11th Doctor and their last adventure together. I have no
idea where we’re going to next series!
Where will you be watching the special this year? Will you be at home?
Yeah, I think so. Last year the whole family got a cottage together where mum still did the Christmas cooking. We’ll definitely all be
What was your reaction when you heard the next Doctor was Peter Capaldi?
It was kind of that moment ‘of course, makes sense’. It’s funny as I don’t think he was one of the names that was originally being
speculated about and it wasn’t until the week before that his name came up. He’s going to be so different to Matt and take the show in
an interesting direction.
When were you told?
Matt and I were told together during the Royal visit to Roath Lock studios. We could tell something was going on and we managed to
pin the producers down and get it out of them!
How hard was it to keep the secret?
I think I’ve learnt my lesson in that the best thing to do is not to tell anybody and then you don’t have your own paranoia that you’ve let
What will you miss about working with Matt?
Everything! When you’re reading a scene with him he can turn anything on its head. He’s so inventive, clever and very funny. There’s
just so much that I’ll miss about him.
So you’re sitting in your dressing room on an ordinary day (well ordinary for an actress) playing a normal person who makes breakfast
and loses her purse sometimes. Then along comes a call to play a galactic nun and whizz around the universe with Matt Smith. Now
what girl wouldn’t be drawn to that?
Can you tell us anything about how we first meet your character?
The Doctor goes to see Tasha as they are old friends. He needs her help and knows he will find it with her as although she is
fearsomely powerful, she is loyal to her friend.
What can you tell us about your costume and make-up? Did you work closely with the costume designer?
The designer Howard Burden knows the Doctor Who world inside-out and had an image of Tasha that I loved from the start, so there
was very little need for me to suggest anything. I just climbed into it really. Emma Cowen created a look that was a little spooky,
referencing Blade Runner a little. We both wanted her to look as she is described in the writing, imposing, human, but with a touch of
In this special a whole host of the Doctor’s most famous enemies come together, including Cybermen, The Silence, Weeping Angels
and Daleks – how did you find filming opposite these monsters? Have you had to do anything similar for previous roles?
Most of my acting life I have played ordinary women so obviously monsters haven’t factored much. However, I did love getting to face
off with one of this lot in ‘The Time Of The Doctor’.
How did you find working with departing Doctor, Matt Smith?
Joyous. I had heard through friends that he was a nice guy (and he is) but what struck me most is how enthusiastic and engaged he
was in his role, in every single scene we played. It so often happens that someone playing a character for years sits back a bit. He
didn’t. He was as full of energy and inventiveness as someone on their first day and it was truly good to be around.
Did you meet the next Doctor, Peter Capaldi?
Yes. Peter came to set for the first time and it was good to see him again as we had briefly played boyfriend and girlfriend years ago
and he was hilarious. He has an air about him that man… can’t wait to see what he will do with his Doctor.
How was it filming in Cardiff?
Would it be obvious to say rainy? It was a place I had never been to, I didn’t know anyone and was staying in a hotel which can be a
bit glum. However, the thing I discovered about Cardiff is that it is the friendliest place I have ever been. Ever. The Capital of Friendly.
I could live there now I think… but I would buy a new raincoat.
And finally, where will you be watching the Christmas Special?
My mum and brothers are insisting on watching it on Christmas Day, but I find it excruciating to watch things I’m in with other people,
so I will go for a pint with a friend.