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The director of this season’s final two episodes tells us how she rose to the challenge of bringing back Gallifrey...

Director Rachel Talalay is deep in post-production on Heaven Sent and Hell Bent, the final two episodes of Doctor Who’s stellar 2015 series. She’s spent most of this week in a grading suite in Soho, London.“It’s one of my happy places, being in that room, watching things get better,” she says.It’s a wet Wednesday morning in late October, and we’re settled in a meeting room just down the corridor from Rachel’s “happy place”, drinking coffee. Next week, Chicago-born Rachel is heading back to America to direct the CW series The Flash, based on the DC Comics superhero. She’ll be in the States when her Who episodes air. “I do have British citizenship,” she explains, “although I live in Vancouver, Canada, which is what makes it so special that I’m allowed on Doctor Who. It’s amazing to me, because I’m absolutely passionate about the show.”

“ The most magical moment was when Peter Capaldi walked onto this set... and then to see his face!”

Rachel, 57, directed last year’s final two episodes – Dark Water and Death in Heaven – too.

“The challenges this year were maybe even more exciting.” Episode 11, Heaven Sent, is “tremendously complex,” she says,“and has many, many, many layers. Each time you read it, new things come out. It was a hell of a challenge for Steven [Moffat, showrunner] to write, so my starting place was, ‘Okay, I have to rise to another level.’ My next question was, ‘How’s this going to work?’ Also, ‘How will Peter Capaldi pull this off?’ But Peter can do anything. He was so incredible. He was very engaged. He spent a lot of time on set when he didn’t have to be. He wanted to understand how it was all coming together. On day two, he had to do a lot of the stuff at the end of the episode – that tremendously impactful ending – and I still watch it and think, ‘How did he know, at that moment, to take it that far, and how did he know that that far was going to be that effective?’ He’s a brilliant actor.”

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About Doctor Who Magazine

The 2015 Christmas issue! Contents include: Preview of The Husbands of River Song; Peter Capaldi interview; Interviews with Greg Davies, Sarah Dollard, Peter Harness, Rachel Talalay and Donald Sumpter; Review of 2015; the Watcher's Christmas Quiz; Strip – The Dragon Lord part 1.