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Digital Subscriptions > Doctor Who Magazine > 512 > A NEW START


Lawrence Gough, director of The Pilot and Smile, tells us how he’s taken Doctor Who back to basics!

The effects of wibbly-wobbly timey-wimey don’t just affect our favourite Time Lord. It would appear its reach also extends to television directors. When DWM last spoke to Lawrence Gough in December 2016 [see The 2017 Yearbook] to chat about his helming Pearl Mackie’s introductory scene – Friend from the Future – the previous April, he had already shot and completed the two episodes that open this latest series of Doctor Who. Now, over eight months after the director completed principal photography on The Pilot and Smile, Lawrence is enjoying a pre-Easter break with his young son when DWM catches up with him again, mere days before his début episodes of the show air on BBC One.

Lawrence Gough on location for Smile.

“I think I finished the whole thing in September 2016, once we had locked episodes,” he tells us. “Then I went straight off to do another job, which I’ve only just finished. I worked on that for eight months.”

This was Snatch, the TV gangster drama adapted from the 2000 movie, which he shot primarily in Manchester. Indeed this is really the first proper break from working Lawrence has had since making Friend from the Future.

“Then Snatch finished and then I see that Doctor Who is obviously coming out. I was at the big première last week – that was good! It looks great on the big screen and there seems to be a really good bunch of press, the reactions all seem to have been very positive, which is good.”

When we last spoke to Lawrence he was unable to talk in detail about his brace of episodes, even though they were already in the can. He did tease DWM’s readers however when he said, “They’re a nod back to old school Doctor Who, which is great.”

So just what does ‘old school Doctor Who’ mean to him?

“Essentially what we were trying to create was the notion that everything that you need to know about Doctor Who should all be contained in that episode,” he says of the season’s opening instalment, which he shot as A Star in Her Eye, but was cheekily retitled The Pilot in time for transmission.

“That’s why it’s ended up being called The Pilot, the notion that if someone tunes in now, at whatever age, they’ll watch this episode and they’ll understand the context of what Doctor Who is and would not need to be a kind of guru or an expert. So in that way you are going back to basics: a nod to the old school, true elements of Doctor Who… any person coming across the idea of the Doctor, discovering the TARDIS for the first time and all that stuff. So that was the notion that Episode 1 kickstarts these new/old concepts.”

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About Doctor Who Magazine

Contents include: • Previews of the new episodes Knock Knock, Oxygen, Extremis and The Pyramid at the End of the World • Knock Knock guest star David Suchet is interviewed • An in-depth interview with Doctor Who the director of the first two episodes of the new series, The Pilot and Smile: Lawrence Gough • Doctor Who writers Frank Cottrell-Boyce (Smile) and Sarah Dollard (Thin Ice) reveal the stories behind their scripts • Bill Potts makes her comic strip début in the first part of the new comic strip adventure The Soul Garden, by Scott Gray, with art by Martin Geraghty. • It's the end of the world as we know it as The Fact of Fiction delves into the 1966 story The Ark. • DWM reviews of the first three episodes of the new series: The Pilot, Smile and Thin Ice. • Previews, book and audio reviews, news, the Watcher's column, prize-winning competitions and much, much more!