For a few hours last Monday, the eyes of the Universe turned towards Sheffield, the location for the press launch of the brand new series of Doctor Who
For a series that has been running for nearly fifty five years, reboots don't come along to often, but this one feels important. Not only do we have a new show-runner in the form of Chris Chibnall
, new Writers, new Directors, a new composer, new companions, but we have the most important change of all, the first female Doctor in the form of Jodie Whittaker
taking over the keys of the TARDIS.
Change can often be worrying, uncertainty creating apprehension, unfamiliarity causing concern. But change, as the Doctor knows well, can often be renewing and empowering and something to be embraced. And the series was embraced by the people of Sheffield.
The premiere took place at the Moor Centre in the city, a location more used to shopping sales than red carpet events, but the fans turned out in large numbers to welcome the latest incarnation of the time lord. The reception the cast and crew received was heartfelt with Jodie Whittaker
working the line and greeting the fans. Shoppers passing by paused to see what all the fuss was about and on hearing Doctor Who was in town stayed to catch a glimpse of the latest timelord.
Sheffield was chosen for the premiere because the first episode was set and filmed around the city. If anyone tells you the city is not photogenic just tell them to watch on 7th October. The city is at the heart of the episode and new showrunner Chris Chibnall
explained why he brought the series to South Yorkshire.
With any new doctor you want to ground it in a home and Sheffield is the home for this series of Doctor Who. I've lived in the city for a year and I knew cinematic is is and I knew how awesome the people are as well. A different humour and people saying it like it is.
Yorkshire is where new Doctor Jodie Whittaker
was born and brought up. Seeing her first episode on the big screen was an thrilling moment for the actress
Sitting and watching it on a big screen is extraordinary. It's a celebration of all the hard work that's gone into making the series. To see this with Chris and everyone is really emotional. There no getting away from it, we are the next season of Doctor Who.
So how did she work out how she would play her version of the Doctor.
All those wonderful layers and characterisations are there in the writing. They are given to you on a plate. For me, the appeal was there are no rules. You are not limited to a time period or etiquette. You can play it how you want. It was fun and playful.
Whittaker told the audience at the screening that she was proud at doing most of her own stunts in the series.
In Episode One it's all me and I'm really proud of that. We have an amazing stunt coordinator and there are moments when you need a professional. But in this episode it just needed someone who was daft enough to do it. I was three days in to the filming, four o'clock in the morning, week one and I was trying to be really cool in front of the crew. The wonderful thing about the Doctor is all about self-belief. There was nothing about it that wasn't safe but it was nerve-wracking. I love the pride in watching it and knowing I did it all.
Whittaker is joined in the series by three regulars Bradley Walsh
, Tosin Cole
and Mandip Gill
who also attened the screening. The four obviously have a strong relationship with plenty of teasing going on between the team. For Whittaker one of the highlights comes from Walsh.
If there has to be a prize for running it has to go to Brad. He's got his hands out like he is waiting to save a goal. You are amazed that his body is carrying him forwards as looks like he should be crabbing to the side.
Walsh explained that the premiere screening was the first episode of Doctor Who he had seen since the series went into colour.
The last episode I saw was with Patrick Troughton in 1969. When it got to colour I was to busy playing football to watch.
And how did he think the new episode had turned out?
I’m just thrilled with it. It was worth all those hard nights on location, look at those amazing sets. I’m just blown away with it.
The actor paid tribute to Jodie Whittaker as a great leader of the TARDIS team.
We all got on from the get go. We are lucky because we have a lead actress who is just wonderful to be around, who leads from the front and is funny and kind and generous with her performance, so we are very lucky.
As for new showrunner Chris Chibnall
what was his reaction to viewing the episode on the big screen.
It exceeds what I hoped we could achieve and that’s because of a lot of people in this room. There is the cast, you always hope you are going to get brilliant people and I think we did. I'm so thrilled to introduce them to people at the start of this journey.
But there are also directors, producers, cinematographers costumes, music, everybody on the team. I think we all feel really excited to show this to people. I think it exceeded what I hoped we could do.
Doctor Who fans certainly have nothing to fear from this reboot. This is Doctor Who at its finest. Funny, scary, exciting, and unpredictable. This series has a different feel. It feels somehow more grounded, less fantastical than recent years. But it is a series with real heart.
In Jodie Whittaker we have a charismatic Doctor who has the potential to inspire loyalty in the same way as her predecessors and become a role model for a whole generation. No doubt in years to come there will be generations who look back at 2018 with nostalgia. That was when Jodie Whittaker took over as the Doctor. She was my Doctor.