Filming for the new series of Doctor Who, which is set to debut over the festive period this year (2023) and then continue early 2024, is now well underway. The new series, which will see Ncuti Gatwa as the Fifteenth Doctor and Millie Gibson as new companion Ruby Sunday, has been filming since the beginning of January with some recent exciting filming news and appearances!
Naturally, MINOR SPOILERS FOLLOW.
Filming kicked off in Cardiff in early January around Capitol Shopping Centre where store fronts were dressed with signs reading Albion and slogans which read “Bigger, Better, Bolder, Britain” and “Vote for Gwilliam”. The Gwilliam in question is a new character, Roger ap Gwilliam. It seems that the new series is dealing with a political storyline which fans have speculated might be the first appearance of the Minister of War, first mentioned in the Twelfth Doctor story, Before the Flood.
According to fans who watched the filming, an old Boots store was being turned into a campaign headquarters. Some of the posters displayed Roger ap Gwilliam, later revealed as being played by famous Welsh actor, Aneurin Barnard. In addition to Barnard, there were a number of extras spotted and photographed in business attire inside the shopping centre. Later in the evening, it became apparent that scenes being filmed was Gwilliam winning an election putting him in charge of the Albion party.
Also spotted on that day was Millie Gibson in smart attire and wearing Albion gear but what Ruby was doing there wasn’t revealed — could she be undercover or an Albion supporter? The filming wrapped at 7:30pm with more filming taking place later in Swansea between 4th and 7th of January.
That location shoot took place at Swansea University Bay Campus and was perhaps one of the most important pieces of filming as it concerned one of the new monsters, a giant slug-like creature that seemed to devour a few students. We don’t know what these creatures are, but a glimpse of a new monster was certainly exciting.
Newport Market made the base for the third bit of public filming which also gave us our first glimpse at the returning Kate Stewart and UNIT — as well as letting us see Aneurin Barnard properly for the first time in his role. Of course, leaked set photos led to an official announcement from the BBC that Jemma Redgrave was returning as Kate and our first proper image of Barnard as Gwilliam. On the morning of the 9th January, a number of scenes were filmed indoors at Newport Market before moving outside in the afternoon, though the outside of the Market was dressed to look like a London street (maybe doubling for Covent Garden?). And according to some bystanders, the set dressing had made the street look the best it had done in a number of years as shops had been shutting down all the time!
Also on set was Millie Gibson as Ruby who seemed to be chatting with Kate. Could she be undercover for UNIT or is the Doctor having her work with Kate? Or as some fans have speculated, could she be Kate’s daughter? Which would introduce a new element to her character, though in the 1990s film Downtime, Kate has a son so some fans might not like it if this is true. The scenes continued with Ruby using an iPad while Kate was on an earpiece to someone; they suddenly look up at the sky as something presumably comes down and then Kate leaves with Ruby upset. This marked the first proper time that Gibson was seen on set too. Also there were a number of UNIT extras and a mysterious grey haired older woman who has been seen at a number of various filming locations, but her identity is being kept well under wraps.
Whatever was being filmed at Newport seemed to be a big action sequence with UNIT soldiers running around carrying guns but no monsters were visible. Many bystanders were put off by the bad weather, so not much is known about these scenes. There were a number of UNIT extras in a coffee shop between filming so it must have felt pretty surreal. Filming also gave our first look at director Dylan Holmes Williams sporting a blue knitted hat.
Bits of a behind the scenes documentary were also being shot. Some form of a Doctor Who Confidential-like series is likely in the works.
January 16th saw Aneurin Barnard filming in public properly for the first time with the crew taking over Cardiff City Stadium. The campaign slogans and billboards for the Albion party were once again seen. Barnard was in the middle of the football pitch, presumably delivering a speech. Millie Gibson was also on set as she was seen leaving the stadium; so too was the mysterious grey haired woman who had been previously spotted at Newport Market. This time, we got a better glimpse and could see strange black marks on her face: could this woman be playing an alien who is controlling Gwilliam?
We do know that these episodes must come from episodes 4 and 5 as according to editor Chris Roebuck’s Linkedin account, director Dylan Holmes Williams is recording these two episodes. A two-part story or two individual episodes? Of course, it’s not unusual for Doctor Who to be filmed out of order; it makes sense that all stories being filmed at a certain location get shot at almost the same time. However, there has been more filming at Swansea University Bay Campus and now Cardiff Bay Barrage for Block 2 which will be directed by Mark Tonderai.
January 18th saw Millie Gibson film a scene on a train at Cardiff Central Railway. Obviously, there were no leaked photos, but a number of lorries and equipment were left as well as sections of the station being closed for the filming. At the same time, however, at Castle Arcade, some additional footage was filmed with a shop being decorated to become ‘Foxglove & Co’.
24th January saw the TARDIS being put up near Bubbleton on the coast path in Pembrookshire. It appears though that only Millie Gibson was at the filming, with her leaving the TARDIS. This could be for a historical episode or maybe an alien planet. Ncuti Gatwa’s absence can be explained because he was finishing the new series of Sex Education for Netflix. He was, however, later spotted sporting a bright orange hat — maybe a part of his costume?
Now it seems that filming has switched to the opening episode of this new era with a street in Bristol being turned into Notting Hill at Christmas time. Millie Gibson has been seen filming scenes there, including we presume her first interaction with the TARDIS — very reminiscent of Rose and Martha’s first glimpse at the Police Box, she enters then leaves, looking all around it. This follows on from recent footage and photographs taken of Ruby Sunday talking, we presume to her mother, who is interacting with the grey haired woman. She could be heard shouting, “Mum! Mum, don’t talk to her!” then she was seen chasing her down the road before being kicked out of a taxi because she doesn’t have any money. But I would presume this was a later episode in the series as Ruby seems to know that something suspect is going on.
Of course, all these pictures and leaked footage does bring up the question of spoilers. Some people love them and a specific Twitter handle will allow you see all the location news and spoilers. But wherever you stand on the subject, knowing these things and seeing things finally getting underway shows that the love for Doctor Who is still there and it’s nice to get a glimpse of a monster or the new Doctor and companion again.
But more importantly, after Chris Chibnall keeping everything under wraps, Russell T Davies seems to know that these spoilers are going to happen and is using them announce things as we see them. It’s fantastic to be getting excited about Doctor Who again, something I haven’t said for a long time!