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On the red carpet with Jodie Whittaker and fam for Doctor Who's multi-screen event
The Golden Globes may have a giant red carpet, but will that carpet include the Doctor and some of her companions? No, it will not. The Doctor herself (Jodie Whittaker), as well as Tosin Cole (Ryan) and Mandip Gill (Yaz), appeared at a red carpet event for a simulcast showing of the Season 12 opener of Doctor Who, as well as that episode's second part, which had yet to air.
Taking place at the Paley Center in New York City, the premiere (as well as a follow-up Q&A session) was simulcast to a number of other locations courtesy of Fathom Events and BBC America. SYFY WIRE was there as well, because we fancied a trip in the box.
Hot off of the big reveal from the New Year's Day episode, Whittaker told SYFY WIRE that the introduction of Sacha Dhawan into the show is going to bring out a side of the 13th Doctor that we haven't seen yet, potentially a darker one. It's not a secret at this point that Sacha Dhawan is playing the latest incarnation of the Master, possibly the Doctor's greatest archnemesis. Things are going to get personal.
"I think you’re definitely going to see all sides, because the wonderful thing about playing the Doctor is there’s so much to discover, and so much to continue for anyone playing the role," Whittaker says. "I suppose particularly, in my transition from my first season into this season, there’s going to be highs and lows for the Doctor. Her response to that will be very challenging, and different from what we’ve seen because those challenges will be brand-new."
Whittaker had nothing but excitement about Dhawan, as well as the fact that the big secret is out there now. As she says, "I think keeping the secret about the Master, and now it finally being out there, is extraordinary, because we’ve been so excited to share Sacha. That journey throughout has been really exciting, and now we don’t have to keep it a secret!"
Usually seasons that contain a Master reveal wait until much, much later on to drop the shoe (Season 3 and 8, notably), but not this time. Does this mean there are bigger surprises in store? According to Cole, they "start off with a bang, and we're gonna have an even bigger bang." Gill agreed, saying that this was "just the beginning."
The premiere also featured Ryan asking Yaz to give her sister his phone number, and according to Cole, Ryan is serious about it. "Keep it in the family, at least it’s in the family," Cole said when we asked about it, and Gill added, "He’s obviously got a little bit bored of me, but he might come back. I’m not one to stand in my sister’s way." Cole also said that Ryan's dyspraxia will continue to be a story point for him. "He’s always dealing with it, it’s not a thing that’s gonna go away. So it’s still part of the story, still a part of his story," Cole says.
Gill then dropped one of the more ominous answers when we asked her about the strange trip that Yaz took in the premiere, and whether we should be worried. "I think you should always be worried. It is Doctor Who, and that’s all I can say on that. I think you should always be worried."
Have any bits of Doctor Who wisdom transitioned from the show into their real lives? It would almost be weird if it didn't. For Cole, it's all about imagination. "Just imagination, really. Imagination and seeing things that you wouldn’t normally see," he says. Gill went in a different direction, saying, "It’s a show about inclusivity, and it’s opened my eyes in the real world to just being open to more people. Not that I wasn’t ... but I think it’s just opened my eyes in the real world about being way more inclusive."
As for Whittaker, the Doctor herself? "As you get older ... the noise is loud, isn’t it?" she says. "It can feel as if there is no hope, and playing someone like the Doctor, who with extraordinary hindsight still has hope, and belief that we can do better. The Doctor loves humans and loves humanity, and sometimes when you’re a human you forget we should all love each other, and we should. I think that is a wonderful thing to play, and to have bleed into your own life."
After all of the guests were ushered into the screening room, Whittaker, Gill, and Cole welcomed everyone before revealing that they themselves hadn't seen the second part of the episode either — they'd be watching right alongside the rest of us. Spyfall, Part 1 played to a rapt crowd, and then the new episode, Spyfall, Part 2, laid everybody completely flat. Whittaker, Cole, and Gill returned to the stage for a Q&A after everyone had properly recovered.
"This season is very much about our own self-discovery ... there's a perspective shift," Whittaker says. In terms of the new episode dropping little hints that fans may or may not remember from the previous season, Whittaker says, "The beauty of Chris [Chibnall]'s writing is that nothing is an accident." Gill echoed Whittaker's comments, adding, "This season she needs us. We've all found our strengths ... this is a personal journey for her."
They all had nothing but praise for Sacha Dhawan and his "bold choices," as Gill put it, and Whittaker said that there's no reason not to "use the extraordinary archive" of Who villains to their advantage. "The Master brings such an extraordinary dynamic ... you can be surprised because they've cast someone you weren't expecting."
In terms of bringing the Master back, however, Whittaker also says that they had to "earn the right to do that." Showrunner (and writer of these episodes) Chris Chibnall (the "ultimate Whovian," according to Whittaker) would obviously not settle for anything other than something truly "aw, brilliant" with this character, and Whittaker feels that they do him justice.
Before ending the festivities with the entire audience celebrating Gill's birthday, the TARDIS fam teased next week's episode a little, saying that it will feature one of the scariest monsters ever seen on the series. "There was a lot of screaming," Gill said, referring to shooting the episode.
As for the rest of the season? The team was given three words apiece to describe what was in store. Cole's words: "A mad thing." Gill went with "Globe-trotting mayhem."
As for Whittaker? "Adrenaline-fueled roller coaster."
Doctor Who returns to BBC America for Spyfall, Part II on Jan. 5 at 8 p.m. Trust us, you do not want to miss it.