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Digital Subscriptions > Doctor Who Magazine > 511 > The ART of the PRODUCER

The ART of the PRODUCER

Meet Doctor Who’s two producers – Peter Bennett and Nikki Wilson – whose job it is to make sure the show reaches your screen looking as brilliant as possible! We managed to get them together for an in-depth chat…

PETER BENNETT

Producer

2017 SERIES

▀ The Pilot written by Steven Moffat

▀ Smile written by Frank Cottrell-Boyce

▀ Extremis written by Steven Moffat

▀ The Pyramid at the End of the World written by Peter Harness

▀ Episodes 11/12 [titles TBA] written by Steven Moffat

–––––––––

Previous credits as producer

2010

▀ The Beast Below written by Steven Moffat

▀ Victory of the Daleks written by Mark Gatiss

▀ The Hungry Earth/Cold Blood written by Chris Chibnall

▀ The Pandorica Opens/The Big Bang written by Steven Moffat

2014

▀ Listen written by Steven Moffat

▀ Time Heist written by Steve Thompson and Steven Moffat

▀ Kill the Moon written by Peter Harness

▀ Mummy on the Orient Express written by Jamie Mathieson

▀ Dark Water/Death in Heaven written by Steven Moffat

2015

▀ Prologue mini-episode written by Steven Moffat

▀ The Magician’s Apprentice/The Witch’s Familiar written by Steven Moffat

▀ The Zygon Invasion/The Zygon Inversion written by Peter Harness and Steven Moffat

▀ Heaven Sent written by Steven Moffat

▀ Hell Bent written by Steven Moffat

2016

▀ The Return of Doctor Mysterio written by Steven Moffat

Other producing work includes

▀ The second and third series of Russell

T Davies and Phil Ford’s Wizards vs Aliens (CBBC, 2012-14)

▀ The third series of Doctor Who spin-off Torchwood (BBC One, 2006-11), Children of Earth, in 2009

Canadian film and TV producer Sydney Newman, the BBC’s Head of Drama in 1963, was the man responsible for initiating the creation of Doctor Who – and appointing the show’s first producer, Verity Lambert. “She is the one who realised it all,” he explained 25 years later, in an interview published in DWM 141. “I helped her quite a bit in the very beginning, because she was inexperienced as a producer and she was frightened to death coming to the BBC. However, she had worked with some of the best directors” – while Lambert had been a production assistant at ABC Television, and working with US television producer David Susskind in New York – “so she knew the production grassroots extremely well, and she turned out to be a real winner.” But what qualities make a ‘winning’ Doctor Who producer, like Lambert? The show’s lead, First Doctor actor William Hartnell, described her (in a 1965 interview with BBC radio’s Desert Island Discs) as “very charming and lovable”. Newman called her “extremely bright”, “tough”, and “stubborn”, explaining: “If she didn’t like something, she came out honestly and said so. It wasn’t ‘I don’t know why I don’t like it’; she would say, ‘I don’t like it because of X, Y, and Z. It ought to be A, B, and C.’ She was very positive, as a good producer has to be.” Another of Doctor Who’s creators, story editor David Whitaker, recalled (in a 1978 interview, published in DWM 98): “As it was Verity’s first job as a producer, she had a lot to live up to, and we were, to be mild about it, terribly, terribly nervous,” but as it turned out, stressed Whitaker, “Verity was a splendid producer. The series was fortunate in its choices.”

It still is. Few people work harder on doctor who than its current producing team of Nikki Wilson and Peter Bennett. They have overall responsibility for making the show happen and, between them, have to manage a lot of people – not just their own production team, but the expectations of the executive producers and channel commissioners. Producing can be a thankless job, but Nikki and Pete press on, working tirelessly to get the show made; from pre-production right through until the series is delivered to BBC One. And DWM wants to know how on Earth they do it.

We meet up on Tuesday 14 March 2017, in a room – known as ‘the Dalek room’, owing to two eight-foot Daleks painted on the wall – upstairs at the BBC’s Roath Lock studios in Cardiff, Doctor Who’s headquarters since 2012. Downstairs, in Studio 2, the Doctor and Missy – Peter Capaldi and Michelle Gomez – are recording a scene on a rooftop from Episode 12, this year’s series finale. We can hear the actors’ bloodcurdling cries from up here. (Not really.) But Pete is twitchy. He’s producing this episode and doesn’t like being away from the studio floor for long. Meanwhile, Nikki, like Pete, is in post-production on several other episodes at once – flitting between edits, sound mixes, and grades. ‘Busy’ barely begins to cover it…

NIKKI WILSON (NÉE SMITH)

Producer

2017 SERIES

▀ Thin Ice written by Sarah Dollard

▀ Knock Knock written by Mike Bartlett

▀ Oxygen written by Jamie Mathieson

▀ The Eaters of Light written by Rona Munro

▀ The Lie of the Land written by Toby Whithouse

▀ The Empress of Mars written by Mark Gatiss

▀ The upcoming Steven Moffat-penned 2017 Christmas Special

–––––––––

Previous credits as producer

2009

▀ The Waters of Mars written by Russell T Davies and Phil Ford

▀ The cold open of 2010’s The Eleventh Hour written by Steven Moffat

2014

▀ Deep Breath written by Steven Moffat

▀ Into the Dalek written by Phil Ford and Steven Moffat

▀ Robot of Sherwood written by Mark Gatiss

▀ The Caretaker written by Gareth Roberts and Steven Moffat

▀ Flatline written by Jamie Mathieson

2015

▀ Sleep No More written by Mark Gatiss

▀ Face the Raven written by Sarah Dollard

▀ The Husbands of River Song written by Steven Moffat

Other producing work includes

▀ Russell T Davies’ adaptation of A Midsummer Night’s Dream (BBC One, 2016)

▀ 90 episodes of Casualty (BBC One, 1986-present) between 2011 and 2013

▀ The first series of the twenty-firstcentury revival of Upstairs Downstairs (BBC One, 2010-12)

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New series preview issue! Contents include: an exclusive interview with Pearl Mackie who plays new companion Bill Potts; previews of the first three episodes of the 2017 season – The Pilot, Smile and Thin Ice, with exclusive interviews with writers Steven Moffat, Frank Cottrell-Boyce and Sarah Dollard; Doctor Who's producers Nikki Wilson and Peter Bennett reveal the behind-the-scenes secrets of the making of the show; 1983's Terminus is put under the spotlight in The Fact of Fiction; The Time Team watch 2011's The Curse of the Black Spot; showrunner Steven Moffat introducers the writers of the 2017 series in his latest column; brand new comic strip action as the Doctor and Jess have a showdown with the Master in Doorway to Hell; plus previews, reviews, official news, prize-winning competitions and much, much more!
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