Tosin Cole: “The Stakes Are Really High” in Doctor Who Series 12

The latest episode of Doctor Who Series 12, Orphan 55, perhaps focussed on companion, Ryan Sinclair more than previous stories – it’s high time the companions got a bit of time to breathe away from the Thirteenth Doctor (Jodie Whittaker). Now, actor, Tosin Cole has spoken about what it’s like returning to Doctor Who for his second year as Ryan and how his character has found his feet better than in Series 11.

Cole also talks about the dynamic on set, especially with Bradley Walsh (who plays Graham O’Brien), increased scares, and returning monsters…

How does it feel to be going into your second year?

It feels great, man! Lovely to be back with the team; you know there’s lots of banter, stories, and experiences – I’m just looking forward to being back; it’s a pleasure.

Has anything changed for you going into the second year, have you approached anything differently? 

No, not really, just getting more familiar with everyone. It’s nice coming back when you’re comfortable with everyone but before I was trying to figure everyone out, it’s kind of picking up where you left off isn’t it?

How are things going to be different for Ryan?

Just more independence in the sense he’s not really relying on the Doctor as much. He’s got more questions and using his initiative a bit more, and more adventurous in a sense.

Are we going to see a change of dynamic between the Doctor and her friends?

One hundred percent – it changes between everyone because everyone has their own vibes and feelings going on. I think because everyone’s matured in this space that they’re in, there’s a lot more questions and a lot more clashing heads. The dynamics will shift a bit, well a lot actually.

What’s the relationship with Ryan and Graham this year? Are they going to be closer?

Yeah, since the last season they’ve had a heart to heart and they’ve kind of seen eye to eye so it’s just kind of picking up after that, just cracking on with their relationship.

There are some amazing guest artists, what’s been your highlight about working with them?

Just being like: “Oh, I know them now”. When you see them on TV doing other stuff you’re like: “Yeah, yeah, I know them! We’ve worked together!”

What was your highlight from last year?

Bradley doing stupid stuff on set and making me laugh! I just remember him saying: “What is it, garlic?” pretending to rehearse his lines in many different ways just before a take and when we were rolling and he forgot the line! But it happened like 25 times. Every time I see a garlic clove when I’m cooking I start giggling. It’s so silly but you had to be there.

Sounds like it was a long day on set then?

It was a proper long day on set; it was cold, I just got back from South Africa. I think it was a night shoot. And he’s just saying: “What is it, garlic?” Proper dramatic – it was his line and he completely blanked, he didn’t know what to say. That was one of my favourite moments on set; I was just dying with laughter.

How scary are the monsters this year?

Oh no, no, no! There’s a monster that shall not be named, you’re going to see my reaction, it breaks through the wall and you’re going to see me jump and that jump is the most honest jump. I was actually scared – I knew it was going to happen but when it happened I didn’t know it was going to happen like that. I was genuinely scared. I think I had to change my pants that day! [Laughs]

Is it strange when you people in prosthetics? What’s been your strangest experience?

There’s someone in this season and I’ve even seen the person before, and then she came in and I was talking to her like I’d never met her before and she said: “You do know it’s me?” I was like “No, no!” They did a really good job! Sometimes people have a slight resemblance but no, this was crazy. They were in the chair for four hours I was thinking: “Nah, I couldn’t do that”. I remember before when I wanted to play monsters and that, but when you realise you have to have an earlier call time and stuff like that, I was like not for me! [Laughs]

What was it like working with the Cybermen and the Judoon and the other monsters?

It’s nice, isn’t it? It’s cool because you always get to see how it works especially with the Judoon and the animatronics. You see the guys doing the voices, and you learn about them.

It’s also nice to have that classic feel. Before, we didn’t really work with the classic monsters, only on the festive episode. So to do it this season it’s nice to have that nostalgic feel to it.

Do you have a highlight of your time during the series so far?

It’s the little things for me, the banter between us and the guys. There’s so many!

What was your favourite episode of last year and why?

The Rosa Parks episode – that was my favourite. Just the weight of it and experiencing it through Ryan was just… Imagine if that was really Rosa Parks, especially one of the scenes with Martin Luther King and all the civil rights leaders in that one room. I was like, that is crazy! Just the weight of it and the approach we had to it, and the little nuances, it really touched me. Yeah, this was something I was really proud of. It has a special place in my heart.

You might not be able to tell us the ins and outs, but is there a particular moment you’re excited for the fans to see this year?

My stunts – there’s going to be some bangs, some booms, some action! No stunt double, all me! I do my own stunts. I’ve set the standard; I’ve set the bar quite high (laughs). People try and act like there’s no competition, I think Bradley was the first one to do a stunt and I was like: “Oh yeah? Alright cool then watch this old timer…” The episode with all of the stunts, definitely…

Have there been any jaw dropping moments when you read the script?

There’s always jaw dropping moments – Doctor Who’s actually kind of ruthless! When you watch it, someone’s always dying. I’m like, I didn’t even see that coming. When we do the cast reading and when we get a new episode, something will be happening, the new villain will come in and then boom, someone’s dead. I’m always like, where did that come from?! Lots of shocks.

What does Doctor Who mean to you?

It’s just escapism, isn’t it? And just the limitless to life, everyone always wonders what’s on the other side, what’s out there. And the fact that we have this show that explores all of those kinds of ventures and what ifs; it’s just escapism, and limitless, and knowing that anything is possible.

How would you describe Series 12?

I know we say this every year but the standard has really increased. It’s really exciting, dramatic… The stakes are really high this season! Like really, really high. It’s a rollercoaster of so many things. Old villains, new villains, old feelings, new feelings, questions – I think the fans are really going to enjoy it. I hope they do but I really feel like they will.

Doctor Who Series 12 continues this Sunday with Nikla Tesla’s Night of Terror.