Doctor Who fans were in for a huge surprise last summer when Broadchurch star Jodie Whittaker was revealed as the 13th Doctor following the men's final at Wimbledon. But fans weren’t the only ones shocked by the announcement because it seems some Doctor Who staff members were also kept in the dark by the BBC about the gender swap until the very last second.
According to a new report at Radio Times, some Doctor Who production members were told Peter Capaldi would be regenerating into a man for Chris Chibnall’s tenure as the new showrunner for Season 11. Most specifically, the special effects teams that handle the VFX on the BBC series but apparently don’t work exclusively for Auntie Beeb.
Speaking at the VFX Festival in East London last week, Visual Effects Producer at Milk VFX Louise Hastings told the assembled crowd: “We were kept in the dark when it came to the reveal of who the new Doctor was. We found out it would be Jodie the same time as everybody else, watching the Wimbledon final.” Milk VFX is the company that has handled Doctor Who’s special effects since 2005, when they were part of The Mill.
Apparently, the BBC made sure they wouldn’t find out the new Doctor was a woman to keep Whittaker’s casting a secret by blocking out the final regeneration scene. They also made it look as if Capaldi's 12th Doctor was going to make way for yet another male actor. And they were pretty wily about it.
“The BBC actually had us quote her first scene before we knew it was gonna be Jodie, via storyboards,” said Hastings. “And the storyboards had been drawn with a man as the Doctor, so that was a bit of a surprise! I was looking through a list of the favourites to be the Doctor and comparing them to the pictures, but I was wrong, I couldn’t figure it out. They threw us off the scent.”
Capaldi’s regeneration scene into Whittaker will also mark the last one for Milk VFX, which will be handing over VFX duties to Double Negative, the firm that recently worked on Blade Runner 2049. “The decision was made that when Steven Moffat and the rest of his team stood down from Doctor Who and the new team came in, that they would also mix up the vendors as well. So we’ve handed the baton over to our friends at DNEG for the next series,” Hastings concluded to Radio Times.
(via Radio Times)