Legend of the Sea Devils airs this weekend, and the BBC caught up with, Mandip Gill, aka Thirteenth Doctor companion Yasmin Khan, who teases that it’s “a standalone episode that has adventure, and returning monsters, but also, ultimately and fundamentally there is a story of love at the center of it all”.
This is, presumably, referring to the Doctor and Yaz’s feelings for one another, as hinted at in the previous episode, Eve of the Daleks.
What can audiences expect from this special?
It’s definitely one for the family. It’s got returning monsters in the Sea Devils and it’s got new characters! For a new audience, you’re able to relate to new characters, or if you’re watching it with your grandparents, you then get to see the return of the Sea Devils. It’s a really exciting story and it looks amazing. We have brilliant costumes and actors — it’s a little bit scary and a little dark in parts, but I think all that works if you’re going to be watching it as a family.
Where do we pick up like at the start of this episode?
At the beginning of the episode, the TARDIS lands at a small coastal village but once again it’s landed where it’s not supposed to land. The Doctor promised Dan and Yaz that they’d be going to a beach somewhere exciting and they land on a beach, just not the beach that they expect. They get out, hear a massive scream and they realize that something very terrible is happening in this place.
How was it to film on this set?
It was a really epic ship that was built in the studios at the BBC. I saw Matt Strevens our Executive Producer in the hallway (before filming) and he was so excited for us to see it. It was brilliant, it was a huge ship so we didn’t have to cheat any of the places or any of the angles. It was all there for us – things worked and moved and Jodie was able to do her stunt scene on that actual set which is always so helpful. It was one of the few times we had the whole thing there to work with. It was really spacious too, it was built to get all of us on it and a crew. The attention to detail was brilliant and having seen the episode it looks amazing!
How was it for you working with the Sea Devils?
I thought the prosthetics were amazing. Also, we knew the Sea Devils were part of Doctor Who’s history so I’ve always found it really exciting to work with characters that have already been there previously like Cybermen, like Daleks – it always feels like it really cements our place in the world. And then to be up against something that has been around for so long, was also an honour. They were so tall and the attention to detail was just brilliant. Again, it was great to be working with something that’s there in front of you so to a degree don’t have to use your imagination. It’s all there!
Was it nice to have Craige Els back on set as the Chief Sea Devil?
It was brilliant! Onset, you’re having these really natural conversations with a massive giant sea animal – we’re just casually having these normal conversations and having a laugh and I always wonder what it looks like from the outside looking in – he’s ever so tall so he’s not always on the same chairs as us either to protect his costume. So he’s sat a little bit higher, and I am having these really in-depth conversations with this sea monster!
Can you tell us about working with the guest actors?
Every single time you get new guest actors you get new best mates. I had already worked with Crystal on Casualty, so we knew each other and that felt quite familiar. Arthur was absolutely brilliant, you could see him going away to work on his lines – I love watching everyone else’s acting techniques. Marlowe has done so well to be on a professional set and at young age and he’s so together. Also he’s a fan of the show and I love when people come in and they love the show. They want to be there as an actor, but they also love it and it’s something that they actually watch on the outside. I’ve always liked that about our guest actors – I love that they love it for a multitude of reasons, not just because they get to work as an actor. As it was a pandemic there were very few guest actors on and they tended to stay a lot longer than they did in previous series – we spent a fair bit of time together in Cardiff and I got on really well with them and had such lovely conversations. Crystal has got a really gorgeous energy and I think she’s a brilliant actress, I think she was perfect for the part. Their costumes were great and we all did action sequences together which you don’t often get to do, they were all brilliant!
What was your experience of the sword fighting?
We didn’t do any training for the sword fighting but we rehearsed a sequence on the morning of it and because the set was really big, there was space to practice on the actual deck. You only see a little clip snippet of the whole work that we do after the edit but it was much harder than you think – the actual swords were a lot heavier than I expected! I was really into doing my own stunts before then and then I hurt my finger and I was like, “It’s not for me!”
John Bishop mentioned that the team missed a trick not having Dan do more stunts. I don’t know what you think about that?
I love how confident he is! To be honest, you think it’s going to be all fun and games and you want to do it all and are proper up for it. And then you do it and you realise that stunt people look so incredibly easy, because you have to go again and again and again! And so it’s all fun and games until you’re on the tenth take and you’re upside down again. But yeah, I guess I’ve had three years of being upside down and chased and whatnot.. John had one year but I mean, he probably wouldn’t say that after three series!
What would you say we can expect in this episode between the Doctor and Yaz? Will their feelings be addressed further?
So the relationship between the Doctor and Yaz has definitely developed further. There’s not an awful lot I can say about it but there’s a lot of bravery, there’s a lot of emotion and a lot of understanding, and openness… Conversations are not concluded in this episode, but they still definitely have advanced from where they were at the New Year’s episode. There are a lot of open and honest conversations.
How does this episode set us up for the final special?
We definitely get a sense that something is coming because there always is something coming when the Doctor is around! Things have not been resolved by the end of the episode and I think that can be said for the relationship between Yaz and the Doctor but also the Doctor’s history and future.
Why should everyone tune in this Easter Sunday?
I think it’s a really jam-packed, epic story. It looks amazing – you’ll see the hard work that went in from the crew and the cast during the pandemic. They’ve definitely excelled in terms of prosthetics makeup, costume and set design. Everything is just brilliant. It’s a standalone episode that has adventure, and returning monsters, but also, ultimately and fundamentally there is a story of love at the center of it all.
Legend of the Sea Devils airs on Sunday 17th April 2022 at 7.10pm on BBC1.