Crispin Layfield has clocked up an impressive 15 years of work on Doctor Who, giving him a unique perspective as the man responsible for planning the show’s spectacular stunts since its 2005 revival (as well as a lot of bruises, I expect).
He’s offered an insight into the complexities of making Doctor Who’s action sequences look suitably daring and impressive, whilst ensuring everyone makes it through the day in one piece, in a new interview:
‘We did a lot of explosions and a lot of wire gags. I mean, Jodie’s first very first episode [The Woman Who Fell To Earth] when she was jumping crane to crane, reenacting almost the Bond sequence, that was a pretty big deal. We had wires, we had stunt doubles. Obviously, the actors were doing a lot of it. And Jodie did all of that jumping around actually on the wire.’
It appears that most of the programme’s lead actors have been more than keen to have a go when it came to taking a tumble for the cameras:
‘I would say, David Tennant [and] Matt Smith, both very, very keen. Peter was less keen on doing stunts than the other two! Certainly Matt was like, “I want to do everything”. And David again. And then Jodie turns up, and of course, now I was thinking, right, I’m gonna have to get a double for Jodie and probably [have] more chance of doubling her. But actually, it was the opposite. She wanted to do absolutely everything. I mean, I have a job to say, “You can’t do this”. And she’s quite often going up to me on set and saying, “Can I do this? Can I do this? Why aren’t I doing this?” when I’ve got a stunt double doing it.
Safety is a primary concern, of course, and Layfield describes the considerable lengths the team have to go to make sure what’s depicted on screen isn’t as hazardous as it may appear:
‘The Cyberman outfit as well is a very rigid outfit – you’re quite limited what you can and can’t do. So we’ve had to adapt a couple of the costumes and make it a little bit more flexible for stunt people. I had a big explosion sequence once where we had the Daleks attacking and Cybermen were getting blown up and a big sequence where they wanted to see Cybermen being blown in the air, doing somersaults and stuff. So we had stunt performers in the specially designed Cyberman costumes, using wires and stuff to try and get them to actually physically be able to do backwards somersaults and explosions.’
Nice to see the spirit of HAVOC from back in the Pertwee era is alive and well.
You can read the full interview at Metro.