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John Bishop: “Doctor Who Is a Very Special Show”

The Power of the Doctor is set to conclude the Thirteenth Doctor era, so we’ll say goodbye to Jodie Whittaker’s incarnation of the Doctor and her companions, Yasmin Khan, and Dan Lewis.

So what can actor, John Bishop, tell us about the story, and this era?

What can we expect for Dan in this special?

I think at the start Dan is committed to his time with the Doctor and with Yaz, but then there is an incident that makes him question where he really needs to be and what his next steps should be. It takes him a little bit by surprise as well.

Villains are playing a huge role in the episode, can you speak about what people can look forward to seeing?

My main interaction is with the Cybermen. The strange thing about most of the monsters in Doctor Who when you are on the set, a lot of them are prosthetic based so when there’s a break you can kind of know when an actor is there. With the Cybermen when they walk on set they are scary! They have a scary aura about them. If I was ever to run a nightclub and need a bouncer, I think I’d get a Cyberman!

We’ve seen you get to wear some pretty stylish spacesuits

Wearing the spacesuit is a proper step up. It’s something that you’d pay to do at a theme park with your mates, you can’t think of anything more fun. There’s a bit where my nose gets stuck in the helmet, but my actual real nose wasn’t big enough to get stuck so they made a copy of my real nose and then gave it to me. So I stuck my prosthetic nose on my real nose to get stuck. It’s a weird experience to have your nose in your pocket!

What was the atmosphere like on set?

It was definitely emotional. We went out for dinner one night with Jodie and Mandip and there was a tear shed — mainly by me! You don’t often get that kind of feeling. You cross paths with people and you hope that whatever happens, these people are always in my life. That’s a rare thing.

What do you think the impact of Jodie’s Doctor has been?

There are few things, like changing the gender of the Doctor was huge step. The relationship between the Doctor and Yaz is a huge evolution. Her legacy will be energy, if you look through the character traits and the characteristics she’s inherited and that she’s picked out, the character trait that she seems to have focused on from previous Doctors is the energy, the drive to come up with solutions quickly and to explain them as quickly has her mouth would speak. I think she nailed it incredibly well and on set you could feel it.

She could get a page of information, which language wise was hard long complicated words in a crisis situation, she’s got to explain it to humans. The Doctor’s got to explain this mass of intellect and reduce it to the mind of normal beings. In some respects it’s like being a parent to a four year old. I think the energy and joy she brought to the role is amazing.

For me I’m going to confuse the screen character to the onset person, so I will always see that positive on set personality shining through the screen because the screen character is carrying on the traits of the previous Doctor’s. Jodie is just sunshine.

What has being part of Doctor Who meant for you and for your acting career going forward?

It might have given me one or ended it! [Laughs] Most people’s experience of me is in entertainment TV shows unless they’ve seen me live – live comedy is what I do best and what I love most. The TV shows are entertainment which means they are there for the moment they are on, they are there to entertain and that’s fine. They’re like candyfloss, they are nice while you have them but they don’t fill you up.

To be placed in the world of Doctor Who, that has a legacy and which will last beyond the moment you are filming it, for me that alone makes it worth it. It’s very rare in your career where you get the opportunity to be in that type of show. You know you’re in something iconic in Doctor Who and in fifteen years’ time, someone will watch those episodes for the first time. That’s what being in Doctor Who is and that’s a very special thing.

Do you have Doctor Who fans coming to your gigs now?

Oh yeah, I have Doctor Who fans coming up to me, only yesterday I had three different people come up to me and they couldn’t have been more different. There’s not a stereotype Doctor Who fan at all. If there was a line up and you were to guess who was a Doctor Who fan I could put those three in there and you would never have picked them.

Why should people watch the centenary special?

It’s a feature length episode but it’s fast, there’s something happening all the time. The jeopardy is huge, I think Sacha as the Master is just brilliant. They’re going to see a lot of familiar faces and surprises, a lot of surprises. I think they are going to get all the best of what they have wanted from Doctor Who… it’s like a mega value box of monsters because they are all there. Everyone you’ve had nightmares about arrives!

Expect frights, scares, and happiness in The Power of the Doctor when it airs on BBC1 and BBC America on 23rd October 2022.

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.

John Bishop: “Doctor Who Is a Very Special Show”

by Philip Bates time to read: 4 min
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