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Digital Subscriptions > Doctor Who Magazine > DWM Special 49 - In the Studio > Seconds Out

Seconds Out

James DeHaviland was a second assistant director on Doctor Who before he became its production manager. For the last nine years hes been part of the team that helps to keep the series on schedule.

THE DWM INTERVIEW

David Tennant, recording his final scenes for The End of Time (2009-10) on 20 May 2009.
James DeHaviland in his office, being recorded for a BBC Academy video.
10 Downing Street is recorded for Aliens of London/World War Three (2005). James was a third assistant director on this story.

Its mainly been Doctor Who since 2009. Thats scary!” So says James DeHaviland, looking back on his time as one of Doctor Whos longest-serving crew members. James is currently the shows production manager, overseeing Jodie Whittakers first series as the Doctor. But from 2009s Planet of the Dead onwards, James served as the shows second assistant director. In the intervening years hes witnessed plenty of historic moments in Doctor Whos studio bases at Upper Boat and Roath Lock, seen Doctors and companions come and go, and ensured that hundreds of actors were in the right studio at the right time.

“We do a quiz in the office every Friday,” he says, laughing. “Some of them are Doctor Who questions. Somebody asked, Who was the first companion? And I said Carole Ann Ford. Our new second AD asked if I was there. No, I wasnt, I said. I havent been on it that long!”

James history with Doctor Who does, however, go back to 2004. “I worked on Rose and Aliens of London/World War Three when they came to London to shoot,” he recalls. “I was working on EastEnders at the time as a second, and I got a call from the production co-ordinator on Doctor Who. They were coming down for a few days and needed an additional third AD. I ended up doing two or three days where I was doing days at EastEnders, going down to south London to do night shoots on Doctor Who, then grabbing about two hours sleep at Elstree in the morning before my next shift.

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About Doctor Who Magazine

In 1963 Sydney Newman and Donald Wilson devised an ambitious concept that would stretch the BBC’s technical resources to the limit. In its earliest days Doctor Who was jeopardised by a fierce dispute over facilities. The programme survived, but never stopped demanding the very best from its studios and dedicated crews. This is the inside story of Doctor Who’s evolution from relatively primitive beginnings to the cutting edge of modern television production.