The new season of “Doctor Who” debuts on BBC America Saturday night at 9, and for the first time in this modern era of the iconic sci-fi series, the new episodes will be airing in America on the same day they premiere in the UK. No more complicated spoiler rules, no more worrying about people from one continent (or people who illegally downloaded the UK versions) messing things up for people on another, etc. Now, the great majority of us will be on the same page.
And in a very appropriate (if coincidental) move, given the new scheduling arrangement, the new season has another first: the first footage actually produced in America, as significant chunks of the season-opening two-parter were filmed in Utah’s famed Monument Valley, made famous by classic John Ford Westerns like “Stagecoach” and “The Searchers.” It’s a terrific two-parter, full of the kind of twisty puzzle logic that’s been a hallmark of producer Steven Moffat’s writing for the series, and a fine showcase not only for the regulars but recurring guest star Alex Kingston.
Last week, I went to BBC America’s Manhattan office to interview Matt Smith, Karen Gillan and Kingston about the new season, and the experience of filming in the States, and I decided to try something different and do them as videos. On the plus side, Smith is a very animated speaker, as you’d imagine from watching him play the Doctor. On the minus side, Smith and I were both speaking with wrecked voices, me from a cold, Smith from having been out the night before at a soul concert in Brooklyn.
I wound up speaking with each actor for quite a while, long enough that we’ve had to split the Smith and Kingston interviews into two pieces. I’m publishing blog posts feature both halves of Smith today, both Kingston chats at this time tomorrow and Gillan (which was just brief enough to fit into one chunk) on Friday.
In the first of these two parts (part 2 is here), Smith and I talk about filming in Utah, the evolution of his young Doctor, and the famous audition that convinced Moffat to hire him when the new boss wasn’t particularly looking for a guy in his 20s.