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Mandip Gill: Eve of the Daleks Is “the Funniest Episode We’ve Done”

Eve of the Daleks will be the third New Year’s Day Doctor Who episode featuring Jodie Whittaker’s Thirteenth Doctor, the Daleks, and Yasmin Khan, played by Mandip Gill.

So what does Eve of the Daleks, written by Chris Chibnall, have in store for us? Mandip Gill tells all…

What can audiences expect from the New Year’s Day special?

The New Year’s special is a standalone episode so it’s a really easy access point for anyone that perhaps didn’t watch the series or has never watched Doctor Who. It’s full of adventure, there’s a lot at stake, particularly for the Doctor but it’s also the funniest episode we’ve done. There’s lots of humour, there’s lots of warmth, romance, and then there’s this really cool storyline in which the gang are stuck in a time loop against the Daleks and unless they break the time loop it’s not going to look good for them.

It’s a really nice, essentially easy watch but not because there is a lot at stake but at the same time, having come off the back of Flux which has been quite an intense series, it’s a little bit different for people.

We’ve got Aisling Bea and Adjani Salmon joining the cast for this one. What it was like working with them and can you tell us anything about their characters?

For this episode we worked with Aisling Bea and Adjani Salmon. We had a really good time. Essentially it was just me, Jodie, John, Aisling and Adjani together for a couple of weeks in the same set as it’s we’re stuck in a time loop. We just had such fun. There was a time where Jodie, Aisling, and I really convinced ourselves that it would be a good idea to do a music video because there was a big silver gate and it reminded us of Girls Aloud’s ‘Sound of the Underground’.

We practiced it, then we had to go to set, then we practiced it again and in my head I really thought Adjani was actually our tour manager. John kept going in and out and I think we said he could be the director but really we knew we didn’t need direction! In my head we were really going to do this music video and then it didn’t happen. Aisling was a bit like the director, she gave us our lines. I was like, “Can I be Kimberley because she’s really northern?” and she let me do that bit which was really nice of her!

How are the central trio managing off the back of Flux?

The trio have been through a lot, and they’ve been separated for quite a long time. Weirdly we sort of forget about the emotional turmoil that we’ve all been through, to some degree. What happens in this world is you get thrown into another challenge and adventure, you meet new people, and you dust yourself off and you’re back in it again.

There’s no time to sort of reflect on everything that has gone on. However, we do, I’ve been on a really long journey with Dan in which he’s seen things and emotions, a side to me he probably wouldn’t have seen if we hadn’t been separated from the Doctor. He starts to question my actions, he makes me think about my actions and my feelings so we do remember to a degree what we’ve been through and what happened when we were separated so we do touch upon that, we don’t just forget about the distance and the years that we spent apart. At the same time, they are just thrown into a new adventure and they don’t have time to think about the gravitas of the Flux at that point.

How was it working with the Daleks this time around and what makes them so fun as a villain?

The Daleks have been around quite a few times since I’ve been in Doctor Who but every time you become more familiar with them. In the beginning I didn’t really speak to the actors and questioned whether there was anyone in there, but we’ve become so familiar with the actors playing the Daleks that we have chats in between scenes. John was like, “Can I get in?” and I was like, “He’s so brave, I’ve been here for years, and I’ve not asked to get in, but I wish I was more that person!”

They’re just brilliant aren’t they? They don’t look like the scariest of creatures but they are so dangerous, so I can only assume that’s why people like them. Every time they come in, they create chaos and turmoil, sometimes we beat them and sometimes we haven’t. I’m not saying audience want us to be exterminated, perhaps they do, but I just think that’s what you tune in for, the trepidation and you know when these things come something is about to go down.

Were there any other stand out moments from filming this special in particular?

It was really fun to be working with Aisling and Adjani. They’re very funny people. It was just us five in this wet tunnel and we get on so well with the crew but you’re in a storage unit, there’s only so much space and they’ve got shelves up. Aisling created these characters from my life and played them for me, just for me, it was like having a one woman show every time we cut camera.

We’d be acting, then we’d cut and I’d turn around to Aisling every time we cut and ask “what else have you got for me then?” and she’d turn it on, start doing this performance, I’d be laughing my head off thinking “how has she thought of this, where has this come from, how does she have so much energy?” And then at action we’d go again and then at cut I’d basically look for her to entertain me the whole time!

This episode is all about time loops. If you could go back in time and relive any one event in your life, what would it be?

That’s a very deep question. I’m thinking “could I go back and do something better?” The answer is probably no. We went to Canada as a family when I was 7 or 8 and you have those performances where someone gets up and starts performing and I for some reason said I’d be Elvis Presley, and I absolutely loved it. I was in my element and my family thought it was the best thing that ever happened. They were cheering me on. There was no other audience, just my family, and I remember thinking “I am absolutely brilliant!” For me if I could go back and relive that moment, those are the moments where I probably realised I loved performing. I had a guitar and everything. Very random because I definitely wasn’t listening to his music.

What would Yaz’s New Year’s resolution be at this point in the story?

I think Yaz’s New Year’s resolution at this point should be to talk about her emotions a little bit more with people in the TARDIS and people back in Sheffield. She’s a very emotionally intelligent character and she always bangs on to the Doctor to talk about what she went through and open up but all the while she’s been hiding this turmoil she went through when she was younger. She’s got mixed emotions and is toying with things at the time of this episode and yet really when someone confronts her, she doesn’t answer so I think I’d say to Yaz to take her own advice.

What will your own resolution be? Do you believe in them?

I think resolutions are brilliant. It doesn’t matter if you don’t stick to them. Also, I tend to make resolutions throughout the year. I think it’s really nice to give yourself a goal because prior to me giving myself goals, I used to say I have no willpower and I have to eat all the cakes and cookies I see! I’m going to make a resolution I think, I don’t know what it is but it’s definitely going to be along the lines of exercise or something. Make time to move, even if it’s just to walk. I’m always too busy but this year I’m actually going to do it as a New Year’s resolution and see how long it goes.

Eve of the Daleks screens at 7pm, New Year’s Day, on BBC1.

Philip Bates

Editor and co-founder of the Doctor Who Companion. When he’s not watching television, reading books ‘n’ Marvel comics, listening to The Killers, and obsessing over script ideas, Philip Bates pretends to be a freelance writer. He enjoys collecting everything. Writer of The Black Archive: The Pandorica Opens/ The Big Bang, The Silver Archive: The Stone Tape, and 100 Objects of Doctor Who.

Mandip Gill: Eve of the Daleks Is “the Funniest Episode We’ve Done”

by Philip Bates time to read: 6 min
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