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Digital Subscriptions > Doctor Who Magazine > 503 > THE MAKING OF A HIT TV SERIES!

THE MAKING OF A HIT TV SERIES!

For the last three years, Doctor Who’s executive producer has been Brian Minchin. We spoke to him while he was hard at work on the new series...

‘‘So why does Doctor Who Magazine want to interview me of all people? I’m worried that this will be the interview that everyone flips past,” admits 37-year-old, Aberystwyth-born Brian Minchin, Doctor Who’s executive producer.

It’s the final week of July, and we’re strolling down a Coal Hill corridor (“It’s longer than most real-life school corridors,” Brian tells me, “because we want plenty of corridor for our cast to run down!”) soon to be seen in BBC Three’s freshest Doctor Who spin-off, Class. Brian is exec’ing that show, too. He also produced former Doctor Who spin-off The Sarah Jane Adventures, and assistantproduced and script-edited yet another spin-off, Torchwood. He used to script-edit Doctor Who, too. And he’s written a Doctor Who novel (2010’s The Forgotten Army), and a Torchwood comic strip (2009’s The Return of the Vostok), and an audio adventure (2009’s The Sin Eaters). Put simply, over the past decade, Brian Minchin has become one of Doctor Who’s most prolific contributors and ardent champions.

And that’s why we want to interview him.

“Well, when you put it like that,” he laughs, as we turn left down an Erehwon corridor (a what?), on our way to the Twelfth Doctor’s study. Brian is showing me around the newest, top-secret Doctor Who sets here at Roath Lock studios in Cardiff. We’re in 2017 territory now. This morning, Frazer Hines – who played kilted companion Jamie in the 1960s, opposite Patrick Troughton’s Doctor – visited the Capaldi-era TARDIS. “Frazer Hines can come to the set any time he wants,” insists Brian, when I ask him why. “He’s got the key to the TARDIS!” Well, okay. “He stayed for an hour and a half.” I’m still none the wiser.

“I love this show, but I don’t like doing the behind-the-scenes stuff, really,” Brian continues, as I check out the Doctor’s desk. “I guess I’m quite shy naturally. Luckily, I’m surrounded by people who are totally brilliant at all that stuff. Who wouldn’t want to talk to Peter Capaldi instead of a producer or an exec? And Steven [Moffat, showrunner] is so brilliant at it. He’s so funny. I still find it slightly amazing to work on a show where there’s all this going on, and people are so interested in what goes on behind the scenes. We certainly don’t take it for granted. I went to Mexico with Peter [earlier this year], and it was a bit of an eye-opener, to see all the Doctor Misterio posters being waved at us and just how much people over there care about the show. It was great fun. Doctor Who fans are lovely.”

As we head upstairs to the production office, I ask Brian about Pearl Mackie – she’s playing the Doctor’s new companion, Bill, in the 2017 run. I imagine it’s partly Brian’s responsibility, as exec producer, to make sure that Pearl is prepared for all the mad stuff that comes with a part in Doctor Who…?

“Yes, Andy Pryor [casting director] and I met with Pearl, before it was all made public, to go over that stuff, but she’s a very clued-up young lady. We had a chat about how her life would change, and how it wouldn’t, and what to watch out for. For instance, Pearl had a website that had her email address on it and her agent’s mobile number, and we were like, ‘You’ll probably want to take those things off…’ But at this stage, it’s fairly controllable. Once people are on TV properly, that’s when their life really changes.”

When it was announced that Pearl had been cast as Bill, she was appearing in the West End, in The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. “Everyone who came up to her at the stage door was really nice – they were really supportive of her – so she’s felt like she’s joined a really welcoming community of people. You’re going to love her, I think. She’s amazing.”

“Nothing reaches the screen that we don’t think is brilliant.”

Settled on sofas in the Doctor Who production office, Brian shows me, on his iPhone, a photo that the official Doctor Who Twitter account tweeted a couple of hours ago, of an excited-looking Peter and Pearl in Valencia, Spain, where they’re filming next year’s Episode 2. “It’s got 2,000 favourites in two hours. Is that good?”

Yes, that’s pretty good, I tell him.

“Have you seen the building we’re filming in?

It’s this insane science park. It’s kind of Valencia’s version of the Millennium Dome. Except,” he says, swiping to a photo of it, “it does actually look like an alien city.” This is the Ciudad de las Artes y las Ciencias. It’s all futuristic and otherworldly looking. It was also used as a filming location for Tomorrowland, the 2015 Disney film starring George Clooney. “It was designed by Santiago Calatrava, who’s rebuilding the St Nicholas Church in New York that was destroyed at Ground Zero [during the 11 September attacks, in 2001].

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About Doctor Who Magazine

Contents include: an exclusive, in-depth interview with Fifth Doctor Peter Davision; Doctor Who's executive producer, Brian Minchin, talks about the next series; showrunner Steven Moffat answers readers' questions; new comic strip action for the Doctor and Jess in the final episode of The Pestilent Heart; the Time Team watch the 2010 Eleventh Doctor story The Hungry Earth/Cold Blood; The Fact of Fiction takes a close look at the 1977 Fourth Doctor adventure The Sun Makers; the mysteries of the TARDIS wardrobe are considered in Wotcha!; plus reviews, previews, prize-winning competitions and more!
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