John Bishop is certainly enjoying his stint as Dan in Doctor Who. After initially turning the role down due to touring commitments, the global pandemic freed up his schedule and allowed him to join the cast for Series 13. He’s described the experience as ‘one of the best things that I’ve done’ and it seems he’s relished throwing himself into the physical demands of the series.
In a new interview, stunt co-ordinator Crispin Layfield describes Bishop as ‘a frustrated stuntman’, always eager to do the physical sequences himself where possible:
‘He was involved in a lot of wires and we had a few bits where he had to fall through the ceiling onto the floor… John’s constantly, “Can I do it? Can I do it?” I said “Okay, we’ll test it with a stuntman” and then we did a slow run with John and he had a great big grin on his face, “I want to go faster!” And he was fantastic, honestly.’
Layfield, principal stunt co-ordinator on Doctor Who since Series 5, describes having to rein the actor in occasionally:
‘The odd time, I said “No John, we can’t do this. I can’t slam you into that wall too hard. If you get injured, then we’re stuffed for a little while! We can’t carry on filming. Certain elements we can use a stunt double for but obviously I want you to do as much as we possible can because it’s all about you!” ‘
The spirit of the HAVOC team is alive and well in Cardiff, with the Doctor herself, Jodie Whittaker, another one not wanting to pass up an opportunity to throw herself off something:
‘Jodie is a seasoned pro. She’s been there, done it now. She’s very capable, very physical. Whenever her stunt double turns up, she’s always saying, “Why is she here?! Why am I not allowed to do it?”.’
With John Bishop’s time on Doctor Who potentially extending to the end of the Thirteenth Doctor era, it’s possible we’ll be seeing Dan falling through ceilings for a while yet.
Doctor Who Series 13 continues on BBC1 on Sunday evenings.