Eve of the Daleks is the first festive special for John Bishop, who plays Dan Lewis, a relatively-new companion to the Thirteenth Doctor (Jodie Whittaker) — and he’ll be going face-to-eyestalk with the Daleks.
Again and again and again.
So what can we expect from the New Year’s Day special? Bishop chats about getting caught up in a time loop, working with Aisling Bea, and getting exterminated!
What can audiences expect from the New Year’s Day special? What kind of adventure do the trio go on?
It’s like a time loop; in the time loop, it finds us in Manchester on New Year’s Eve where the Daleks are about to take out the Doctor forever. The problem that we face is that every time there’s a potential to interrupt them we get caught by them and get exterminated and have to start again. And that’s the maddest of all experiences because obviously (after) extermination by a Dalek, there’s no going back.
So to have actually been one of the few characters ever to have survived the Dalek extermination, in fact I think, ever, is a bit of an honour. It’s also a bit of an odd thing because how do you die? There are different ways of dying but when a Dalek exterminates you, you sort of freeze. I kept on trying to make it better every time!
We’ve heard this is a very fun special, with a comedy element in there too?
The relationship between Aisling (Bea) and Adjani (Salmon) is great – there are some ad libs they dropped in which Chris kept in as they are great comic actors and both very funny. It’s fast-paced, because it’s a loop the narrative keeps changing so it’s a fast pace, it’s got to start and restart itself a lot throughout the episode.
It’s contained because of where’s it’s taking place in a warehouse in Manchester and it’s fun! Anything to do with something as iconic as the Daleks is bound to be fun but this is a massive step up, from my point of view as anyone who gets a part in Doctor Who hopes there may be a scene with the Daleks. You don’t always expect to get this interaction with them — it’s brilliant!
How was it working with Aisling Bea and Adjani Salmon?
Aisling I know from stand-up, I’ve known her for a long time and we’ve gigged together but we’ve never acted together and Adjani none of us knew (beforehand) I don’t think. It was just easy, and it felt very comfortable straight away. There was a sense of claustrophobia a little bit because we’re in this warehouse, but it was all filmed in a bunker, people were saying was a nuclear bunker – it felt like one even if it wasn’t one! There was no room not to get on with each other because we were literally underground for a few weeks filming it.
Did you have any standout memories from being on set?
Aisling (Bea) can flip her voices and characters and all that so there was loads of messing about and having a laugh. Obviously the Daleks themselves, they stay on set and when the actors (playing them) aren’t in the Dalek you just find yourself sat having a cup of tea leaning against a Dalek, talking with Adjani about football! It was just bizarre.
This episode is all about time loops; if you were stuck in a time loop yourself and had to repeat a big moment what would you do again?
I’ve had loads of fantastic moments throughout my life and career. It sounds naff but the last proper holiday we went on before lockdown was in the Maldives and there’s been many a time over the last couple of years I thought “I’d do that again!” So if I could get stuck in a time loop I wouldn’t mind being in a nice hotel in the Maldives!
Where do we find Dan in this special?
He’s comfortable with the Doctor and Mandip and he’s a comfortable time traveller. It’s still clear that he has a hankering to go home at some stage in his life. He’s definitely enjoying it and has got confidence to contribute to what is going on. He takes the responsibility at certain times in the episode to be the person who makes a difference whereas prior to this he wasn’t ready to do that, he wasn’t able to.
If he had a New Year’s resolution at this point, what do you think it would be?
I think to be more proactive and take charge – I think there’s a point in this episode where he decides to take on the Dalek and delay them.
Are you a fan of New Year’s Day? Do you have any New Year’s Day traditions?
We started going away for New Year and we go to a hotel with friends and our New Year’s Day tradition is to get up and walk to the pub through some fields and then walk back, regardless of the weather and the sore heads from the night before!
You can watch Eve of the Daleks at 7pm on BBC1 on 1st January 2022.