Doctor Who Panel – London MCM Expo October 2012

The main stage of the London MCM Expo this Friday was fit to burst with Whovians when Matt Smith and executive producer of Doctor Who, Caroline Skinner, took to the stage to discuss all things Who while promoting the recent release of Doctor Who Series 7: Part One on DVD. 

Stuart Claw led the panel discussion, bringing together questions from all over the world thanks to Facebook, YouTube and of course the audience attending the panel. Many great questions were answered perfectly by Smith and Skinner, starting with questions about the first five episodes we’ve seen of Series 7 and the massive scope and ambition behind them.

When asked about the series, Caroline spoke of how a couple of the episodes were filmed abroad (A Town Called Mercy was filmed in Western Spain while The Angels Take Manhattan was filmed in New York) and were all enjoyable twists on film genres with the Doctor’s involvement, each episode revolving around a cinematic high-concept. Matt spoke of how he really enjoyed both the Asylum of the Daleks and The Angels Take Manhattan, citing how Asylum was certainly one of the boldest and best episodes of the series, while Angels was important for chronicling the fall of the Ponds (played by Karen Gillan and Arthur Darvill) – Caroline added how she found it such an emotional script written by show-runner Steven Moffat.

Asylum of the Daleks was discussed as a favourite, noted for being the episode that brought the Daleks back. Caroline said it was filmed on the largest set they’ve ever used with more Daleks than ever before.

Taking it over to the audience, the first question came from a child called Elliot, who asked an adorable question aimed at Matt about where Amy (Gillan) was. He gave the best answer, explaining that Amy is having a nice time in New York where she is writing a book and continues to have fish fingers and custard every Thursday lunch. As can be imagined, this answer was followed by a unanimous ‘Aww’. Another fan asked about the end of Smith’s Eleventh Doctor, to which he replied that he would still have many more adventures to come, revealing that it’s actually quite frightening that someone’s going to come along and replace him.

Following on from that theme, when asked about following David Tennant’s Tenth Doctor, Matt gushed over how much he enjoys Tennant’s Doctor as well as Christopher Eccleston’s Ninth Doctor, an answer very well received by fans. Matt said that the Doctor would be the greatest role he will ever play, and appreciates just how much potential there is for his character to change and the evolution from regeneration to regeneration.

Regarding the filming of Doctor Who, Caroline explained how diverse and exciting the Doctor Who set is, describing the process as ‘”literally making a movie every week.” She went on to say how they were filming with a set full of aliens recently and just two weeks ago the set was of Victorian London, reinforcing the impression that this series will continue to be a fresh experience every week.

Matt was asked where his favourite location to shoot was, almost instantly answering, “New York City, man.” He went on to describe the energy, will and courage the people of that city possess, calling it “my kind of town.”

Another question turned the attention to Matt’s working relationship with Karen and Arthurquerying whether there were any funny memories of working on set. Matt spoke of how he and Arthur were like “two obnoxious brothers annoying their sister,” saying, “We’re bored. Play with us,” and how the three of them created their own language.

A young fan named Joshua told Matt,”You’re my hero. Who’s your hero?” to which Matt thought about giving a cheesy answer and an actual answer, saying that former footballer Eric Cantona was one of his heroes while his dad was another, calling him “Extraordinary, he’s a groovy dad, man.” He ended the answer by saying that Joshua has now entered his top five heroes.

When questioned about whether any elements of the Doctor seep into his real life, Matt said that he isn’t half the man the Doctor is, but because he plays the Doctor he can do things like the Doctor, giving the example that he can run a bath like the Doctor which makes it a more interesting bath, which was met with laughter. Questioning whether he is similar to the Doctor in culinary pursuits, a fan asked if he actually enjoys eating fish fingers and custard, which was answered very simply with,”Yes. Try it,” much to the fans’ agreement!

In an attempt to get another funny anecdote, Matt was asked what the most embarrassing story was that came from filming. He went on to describe when Lily Cole came to film an episode of Doctor Who (The Curse of the Black Spot). The story went that Lily and Matt were having a conversation about art while he was standing next to a lampstand. Karen watched as Matt was trying to act cool, ultimately failing as he went to touch the lampstand and it ended up hitting him in the head, instantly putting a stop to the conversation.

The conversation then turned towards the future of Doctor Who, with a question about which of the Doctor’s greatest foes would be great to see Matt battle. For the moment he gave indication that we would certainly like to face The Master, and it would be great if John Simm could return to reprise this role.

Matt and Caroline were asked about which Dalek was their favourite and both of them agreed that their favourite was a blue Dalek from the Patrick Troughton era, a smaller Dalek with a lot of history.

In regards to the scariest monster, both of them again agreed that the Weeping Angels were the most terrifying, Matt adding that The Silence are just as scary to him. Continuing the theme of favourites among Who lore, a fan asked who their favourite guest star was so far this series. Matt said that he felt that Brian Pond, played by Mark Williams, was his favourite, with Skinner adding that part of that is a testament to writer Chris Chibnall’s work writing for Series 7 and how his script for Dinosaurs on a Spaceship was just so loved they brought him back to write The Power of Three.

Whether they felt pressured being behind such a massive British institution, Caroline said that Doctor Who is kind of in the DNA of British people, and that she had complete faith in the direction Steven Moffat is taking Doctor Who and the things that are planned for the show’s future.

Smith described the process in which he got the role of the Doctor, saying he got a text from his mum telling him he should be the next Doctor in Doctor Who, which led Smith to respond, “Oh mum. No.” This was followed by his agent calling him about auditioning for the role which Smith agreed on doing, later reading the script for the episode The Eleventh Hour and really enjoying it, ultimately starting the process of working towards the role and then being very quiet about it before it was finally confirmed that he would indeed be the next Doctor. Just like his mum wanted!

The age-old question of where would you go if you had access to the TARDIS was asked, with Caroline saying she would go into the very distant future while Matt gave the most Doctor-ish answer ever. He said that he would go back to see the dinosaurs, to Atlantis to see if that was ever a real place, pick up Frank Sinatra, marry Marilyn Monroe, watch the World Cup Final in 1966, go forward to the end of time and then make his way backwards. He couldn’t give a more perfect answer.

Eyes looked towards the rest of Series 7 of Doctor Who and to the new companion played by Jenna-Louise Coleman. The series is set to have a great range of guest stars, such as real-life mother and daughter Diana Rigg and Rachael Stirling

Many surprises came to Matt Smith at the panel, one of them being a fan from Germany telling him that Doctor Who is actually very popular over there and Matt reciprocated the appreciation, saying that he loves Berlin and he feels that Germany is the country in Europe with the closest sense of humour from that of Great Britain.

Matt sung his praises of the bowtie, saying once again that bowties are and always will be cool. He expanded this with enthusiasm, saying that they are sideways ties and that bowties are like bunk-beds… but are ties. He also feels that he doesn’t share many traits with the Doctor except maybe his clumsiness, and fashion-wise his favourite piece of clothing from the Doctor’s costume is either the bowtie or his new boots that he’s wearing this series. The new boots to him are “Dope. Like way dope,” which inspired another round of laughter from the audience.

Caroline and Matt were asked if they collect any Doctor Who memorabilia and Caroline said how she has a robotic Dalek as well as the new universal remote control that is designed to look like the Sonic Screwdriver that she loves. Matt shared another story about how he owns a Doctor Who mug and loves drinking from it and seeing his face and going “Ah yeah, that’s me!”

Going to questions from the internet, one came from a fan in Louisiana wondering whether they’d like to film a Doctor Who episode over there and in the swamps, to which Smith rather enthusiastically responded by saying he would love to!

When asked what shows he loves to watch, Smith said that he likes Breaking Bad and The Walking Dead and spoke of how he would love the Doctor to cross over with those shows with humorous examples.

The two were still very tight-lipped about the 50th Anniversary for Doctor Who but they were adamant about telling us that whatever is in store is going to be very cool. They did however give some hint towards an upcoming episode from Series 7 written by Neil Gaiman which Caroline described as, “Absolutely staggeringly amazing,” and they were about to start filming on that episode soon. She also added that it will certainly become a fan-favourite and brings back a few classic Who elements.

Matt gave his own take on a Who mystery at the panel, describing what he thought was inside the room the Doctor looks into in the episode The God Complex. He thought that what the Doctor saw was 11 nooses with 10 men hanging from them, with one noose empty – one noose left for his Doctor. He also added that the ten men were the previous Doctors, not just ten random men.

Jenna-Louise Coleman was then discussed with how she brings a very new dynamic to the show and that her being on the TARDIS brings a new side out of the Doctor. Caroline described just how effortlessly Coleman picked up her script and brought a lot of spirit and fun to the role when she played the role of Oswin in Asylum of the Daleks, and there is much more of the same to come in the future from her. Smith added that he feels that she is going to be a very popular companion with fans.

A few other fan questions were asked such as who is Matt’s favourite companion (Amy Pond, who will always have a special place for his Doctor), whether Captain Jack Harkness (John Barrowman) would return to Doctor Who (A lot of maybes from Caroline) and whether River would return (Yes).

A short clip from Asylum of the Daleks played, reminding us of the fantastic chemistry between the Doctor and Oswin before Matt was surprised once again, this time by the presentation of a fantastic TARDIS birthday cake (Smith turns 30 this weekend) and a limited edition version of the Sonic Screwdriver Universal Remote Control with a certificate of authenticity citing that it was the first of the limited production run.

There were a few final questions before the panel finally ended, such as whether Matt watched Doctor Who growing up, to which he responded by saying that he was robbed of watching it because it wasn’t on the air while he was growing up (“Who made that decision?” he asked) and whether there was any chance of a Sherlock/Doctor Who crossover. Matt said that writers Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss both absolutely hate the idea, but he wouldn’t mind at all. In fact he said that it would be interesting playing against Sherlock Holmes, and his Doctor would be all, “Chill out Sherlock, chill back and meet some aliens!”

All in all there were many interesting questions asked at the Doctor Who panel at the London MCM Expo this Friday, and many entertaining answers coming from both Matt Smith and Caroline Skinner. The two of them showed just how much they love making the show and how much they love their fans even more, giving us all an experience to remember. With the two of them finally leaving the stage, we can all look excitedly towards what they have in store for us with the rest of Series 7 and the many new experiences and stories they continue to tell.

If only I had a TARDIS so I could watch those episodes sooner…


All images supplied by Joshua Potter.

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