With just one week to go until the world gets to see the final moments of the Twelfth Doctor in Twice Upon A Time
, the BBC has released a wealth of promotional material, including interviews with the main cast.
The final chapter of the Peter Capaldi
's Twelfth Doctor’s journey sees the Time Lord team up with his former self, the first ever Doctor (David Bradley
and a returning Bill Potts (Pearl Mackie
), for one last adventure.
Two Doctors stranded in an arctic snowscape, refusing to face regeneration.
Enchanted Glass People, stealing their victims from frozen time.
And a World War One Captain destined to die on the battlefield, but taken from the trenches to play his part in the Doctor's story.
An uplifting new tale about the power of hope in humanity’s darkest hours, Twice Upon A Time marks the end of an era. But as the Doctor must face his past to decide his future, his journey is only just beginning...
Twice Upon A Time is written by Steven Moffat
, directed by Rachel Talalay
, and executive produced by Brian Minchin
. The 60-minute special guest stars Mark Gatiss
as The Captain and Nikki Amuka-Bird
as the voice of the glass woman, and will see Peter Capaldi’s Doctor regenerate into the Thirteenth Doctor (Jodie Whittaker
A message from Peter Capaldi
Doctor Who has taken me on an amazing journey. Now that it’s coming to an end, I wish the Doctor all the very best for the future, and the past, and everything in-between. Time I was off.
Peter Capaldi On Filming His Regeneration Episode
An interview with David BradleyHow did you get the call?
Well it all started with An Adventure in Space and Time (the 2013 biopic about the start of Doctor Who) a few years ago. Mark Gatiss who wrote that tapped me on the shoulder one day at an event in London and asked me to play Hartnell in that, and I was absolutely thrilled. I said yes even before I’d seen a script! Doing that was a great experience but most of it was getting under the skin of this amazing actor and quite complicated man which Mark’s script captured beautifully I thought.
After that wrapped I thought “Well, I’ve done it now. That’s my Doctor Who adventure over” I’d sort of been the Doctor, but I couldn’t join the pantheon or lay any claim to being 'a Doctor Who'. And I never thought for a moment there was any reason for the First Doctor to come back to the main series - but it turns out there really was, because what a great story we’ve got in store for you! And the fact that it’s not only Steven’s last gig but Peter’s last performance as the Doctor, combined with the fact it’s the Christmas episode, means that it doesn’t get any better really. What’s it like playing the First Doctor?
From my previous role as Hartnell playing the Doctor I was already familiar with that way he would look at someone uneasily - his head tilted back and to one side - with the “Do I believe you or not?” quizzical, searching look that he gives people across his face. And of course his authoritative pose with his hands on his lapels, which makes him feel in charge of things. Though of course sometimes he doesn’t, because he’s a mixture of authority and vulnerability. And together with the humour, that’s where the humanity lies. He’s got so many different aspects to his personality. Were there any sets or locations that you particularly enjoyed working on?
Oh just all of it! Visually, I cannot wait to see the finished episode. Every set was so well crafted with real detail, so many playgrounds for the First Doctor to explore. It’s as big in scale and production values as anything I’ve ever done before. How would you describe the tone of this episode?
I think the message is that if there’s life, there’s hope - just keep going! How did it feel to be part of Peter Capaldi’s final episode at the Doctor
I really did realise that this particular episode was a big event. Not that there was any pressure on the studio floor, but it was clear that it’s going to be a celebration of all the great work Peter has done over the last three years, and that Steven had done over the last decade or so, meaning it felt special in the sense. As well as being special because it’s this year’s big Christmas episode too! How does the First Doctor look at the Twelfth Doctor?
I think he views the Twelfth as junior to him and his Doctorship! He thinks this new man claiming to be the Doctor has a lot to learn - he quizzes and questions him a lot on the decisions he makes and why he throws himself into certain situations. I think the First Doctor really wonders if the Twelfth has got the experience and the nous to carry him through his adventures and dangerous situations. But across he soon comes to realise that the Twelfth Doctor is himself as well, so he’s got to acknowledge that this figure who stands before him is who he becomes in the future. Which leads to a whole set of other questions, of course. Can you explain the enduring appeal of Doctor Who?
I think it’s the fact that it takes place in so many different eras and places - the possible stories are limitless! The TARDIS can go anywhere - it can go back to ancient Rome, it can go to a World War One battlefield as it does in this episode, it and go a million years into the future at the other side of the galaxy. And of course the idea of time travel is such a fascinating and appealing one. Even now scientists are arguing if time travel is even possible. So many want it to be true.
An interview with Mark Gatiss
What have we got to look forward to in this episode?
This is not just a Christmas special, it’s also the end of Steven Moffat’s era and the end of Peter Capaldi’s era. It’s got two Doctors interacting, two TARDISes, Bill is back, and there’s a very interesting new threat. Plus there’s lots of snow, lots of laughs and lots of tears and - not only that - we get to meet the Thirteenth Doctor. Lucky for some! How did you get the casting call?
It happened very touchingly a couple of months ago. We were at a script meeting for the series ten episode I’d written, Empress of Mars, when Steven took me aside and said “I know you get booked up quickly so will you keep June and July free?” I said yes straight away, and then asked why! He said “I’m writing a part you’d be perfect for in Peter’s last story, and I want you to be there when I go”. Which is a Doctorish line in itself and made me well up.
It’s my privilege and pleasure to be involved. It was honestly one of the happiest jobs I’ve ever had. It’s been utterly delightful with Peter, Pearl and David. Though dealing with epic themes it’s actually quite a contained, intimate story on one level - in some ways a chamber piece. We’ve had a really good laugh. It’s been delightful. You’ve been involved with Doctor Who since it came back in 2005. What was it like to finally get to travel with the doctor?
It was heaven - I got to do it all! At one point I even come through the TARDIS doors and say in amazement “it’s bigger on the inside than it is on the outside!”. All these things I’ve always wanted to do! I did have to ask myself how I would cope with experiencing that, and actually I made sure that my character didn’t get used to it too quickly. I wanted to make sure you get a sense - which is in the script - of The Captain being overwhelmed by it all and really shocked, rather than just taking it in his stride. But at the same time he is a soldier, so he reacts to certain other situations in quite a straight forward way. Were there any sets or locations that you particularly enjoyed working on?
I play a Captain from the First World War so there is a trench and battlefield element, which we filmed on location across a number of fields. We had one hundred extras playing German, French and British soldiers and it was really very moving to be part of. Something about the sheer amount of people in these splendid uniforms. The weather was quite drizzly, but it suited the story and it got very muddy, which of course it really would have been. There was an incredible moment when all these extras swarmed over the battlefield - at which point everyone on set was tearing up. It was moving and extraordinary to be a part of. How would you describe the tone of this episode?
It’s a very funny and very lovely story. It’s perfect for Christmas as - for me at least - I feel that Christmas is always a mixture of happy and sad. It’s Peter’s last story and it’s obviously infused with that, but it’s a story that takes place out of time, where he has one last adventure before he goes and regenerates into the Thirteenth Doctor. And I suppose it’s about that - it’s about letting go.
The Twelfth Doctor’s encounter with the First Doctor is the central part of the story, with all the lessons that he learns from that. How did you feel to be part of Peter’s final episode?
I know that Peter really just wanted to enjoy his last adventure. I’m sure that as he got to the last few days the sense of finality will have sunk in - you know, “that’s the last time on location, that’s the last time I’ll run down a corridor, that’s the last time I fight a monster…” etcetera, but it was a really joyous shoot to be a part of. With my old Doctor Who fan head on - Worzel Gummage style - to be a part of any Doctor’s final adventure was incredible, but particularly for Peter who I think has been magnificent. It’s the end of so many eras and you couldn’t help but feel that. It was a real pleasure. Why should we tune in to Twice Upon A Time?
There’s always something magical about being on Christmas Day, and I think Doctor Who itself has a magic to it. Somewhere deep in its bones there’s something brilliant about this show, and the combination of the two things gives you that shiver. It’s a wonderful thing to be there as a Christmas Day treat. This episode, as it’s the end of an era, has that. Christmas is an interesting time too. There’s something special about it, something in the frosty air that always feels like it’s a good time for ghost stories or stories of enchantment; it’s happy but bittersweet. That’s what this ep has in spades.
An interview with Pearl MackieWhat have we got to look forward to in this episode?
There’s so much! We’ve got not one but two TARDISes, and we travel in both of them which is pretty exciting. We’ve also got three Doctors - that’s pretty amazing. Obviously we’ve got the current Doctor who we all know and love, but we’ve also got the First Doctor played by David Bradley - who is phenomenal. The current Doctor, who’s dying but refusing to regenerate at the start of the story, meets him as a way of dealing with his current struggles. The interaction between those two is great - really funny, but also surprising and very moving in places. And of course there’s also the regeneration, when the Twelfth Doctor becomes the Thirteenth Doctor! Were you excited to get the call asking you back?
Very much so - it was a total honour to be asked back and it’s even more exciting that it’s for a Christmas special! Bill is 100% back with the full Bill energy, but she’s not quite all she seems... What else can you tell us about the episode?
We also have a new monster - a lady who’s made of glass, but you’ll have to tune in to find out what she’s up to. We’ve also got some old foes returning, to make Christmas even more exciting! Were there any sets or locations that you particularly enjoyed working on?
It was very exciting to be on the set of the first Doctor’s TARDIS. It wasn’t something I was that familiar with, but great to get acclimatised on. And apparently there were lots of props that were actually used in the original TARDIS that were used in our set too, so it really does look and feel like the real deal from the first series of Doctor Who over fifty years ago. Some of the ice sets were really cool too, plus the huge battlefield which features during some key moments of the episode. Why should we watch?
One of the amazing things about Doctor Who is that it’s sci-fi, but it has that humanity to it. It has human relationships and interactions, with the added excitement of the monsters, the amazing sets and the wonders of exploring all of time and space. This episode has all of that in a really big accessible adventure for all ages - plus the regeneration!
An interview with Steven MoffatWhat does Twice Upon A Time have in store for us?
There are some new eerie creatures of glass haunting the Doctor and his friends throughout this story - but what their purpose and what their plan is, and what their time traveling machinations are, is going to be a big surprise to the Doctor. Were there any sets or locations that you particularly enjoyed working on?
There’s a real range of spaces that we visit across the special. We have the inside of a giant stone spaceship full of creepy glass creatures. We’re in the first Doctor’s TARDIS - recreated and brought back from the 1960s to stand proud in the Welsh studios. We’re on a First World War battlefield. And at long last we go to a location that I mentioned in my very first episode of Doctor Who back in 2005, as we visit the ruins of Villengard. How would you describe the tone of this episode?
This episode is somewhere between a coda and drumroll. It’s a coda to the time of the Twelfth Doctor played by Peter Capaldi, and a drumroll to usher in the Thirteenth Doctor, played by Jodie Whittaker. Approaching it, one issue I had was that The Doctor Falls (this year’s series finale) was the end of Peter Capaldi’s Doctor. That episode saw the Twelfth Doctor stating what he stands for and standing on the hill on which he was prepared to die.
That was the end of his story. But - as often happens in stories and real life - it didn’t end there. He kept going, he started to regenerate, so at Christmas what we’re going to see is a man weary and tired and, having made his point and having made his stand and given his life for something that matters, he has to learn just how to carry on after that. But of course this being Doctor Who and Christmas it’s much warmer and hopeful than that, so in perfect timing walking towards him out of the snow he meets earliest incarnation. The William Hartnell version of the Doctor - played now by David Bradley in an astonishing performance - and the two of them are about to regenerate. Tonally it’s about saying “to hell with dying, let’s get on with living”. And what’s more Christmassy that that? It’s the turn of the year, a time for new beginnings, it’s the time when we start climbing back towards the light. How does the First Doctor look at the Twelfth Doctor?
Well the Doctor never gets on with himself. Arguably he doesn’t get on with himself when it’s just him alone - we had the whole plot of Heaven Sent (in series nine) about that - so he doesn’t get on with himself even when it’s just him. But here I think we have perhaps one of the most interesting instances of the Doctors meeting, because the First Doctor as we know from the show is quite different from the Doctor we know now.
Ultimately he’s the same person - he has the same set of impulses and ideals - but he hasn’t yet become at home with what he’s becoming. If you look at the original William Hartnell series, the Doctor’s starting to fight the good fight, but he’ll arrive in a spot of trouble and generally speaking he’ll only help others out because he needs to get back to the TARDIS. So often there’d be a plot contrivance to stop William Hartnell’s Doctor getting back to his TARDIS and flying out of danger. Slowly that started changing as the Doctor developed as a character. He’d start saying “No I can’t leave yet - not because I can’t get to the TARDIS, but because these people are still in trouble and this evil is still in control. I have to help these people.”
Without noticing it, or it ever being his plan or his intent, he’s starting to engage with the universe and he’d be horrified to think that he’s starting to become its protector. Now, at the end of that lifetime when the First Doctor is facing his end, he doesn’t yet realise that’s what he already is. He’s already the man who rides to the rescue, the saviour of the oppressed, but he doesn’t own up to that. Now he meets the Twelfth doctor, and the Twelfth doctor has been doing this for so long. He’s used to the idea that he’s already Earth’s protector - an idea that completely bewilders his younger - except kind of older self. The thing to focus on this time, alongside the flourishes that distinguish the two doctors - it that they are at very different moments in their lives. The First Doctor is not quite yet the hero we are used to. How did you feel to be writing your final episode of Doctor Who?
The truth about writing anything is that it’s always difficult. You can change the reason why it’s difficult, but the fact is it’s just always difficult! Throughout writing this I wanted to feel more about the fact it’s the last one I’ll ever write, and I wanted to feel more about it’s the last one Peter will ever play, but the truth is that the technicality and the difficulty and the demands on your creativity - all that overwhelms you to the point where you’re just trying to write a great Doctor Who story! That’s enough to contend with - you can’t have the real life drama of two old Scotsmen making their way to the door.
Once we got into shooting it, however, and especially when we approached filming Peter’s last moments as the Doctor which were done at the end of the shoot, we did talk more about how exactly he should meet his end. We were both very pleased with that final section of the script already, but as we went through piece by piece we thought there were ways to improve it so I’d be banging out new pages each night for us to discuss on set each day. That was so enjoyable and exciting to do - to really feel that we were getting his send off right - that in a way it took whatever emotions we were both having about leaving and put them on screen where they belong. By the time we got to that part of filming I think Peter and I were probably the least emotional on set because we’d put it all in the show!
The episode premieres in the UK on BBC One on Christmas Day at 5.30pm
, followed by transmission around the world. Full details here