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For the first time at San Diego Comic-Con, the newest actor to come out of the regenerative light of Doctor Who, Matt Smith, and the actress who plays the Doctor’s newest companion, Karen Gillan (who has confirmed she’s returning for Season 7), took the Con by storm on Sunday. Joined by exec producers Piers Wenger and Beth Willis and writer Toby Whithouse, the crew definitely gave its American fans a great panel.
There were a total of not one, but three video montages shown. One was a recap of Season 6 to this point, another with snippets from Whithouse’s next expisode and yet another of what’s to come when the series returns for the season’s second half. Also, get this, audience members could ask their questions with the help of daleks. That was nuts. Smith says he really appreciates the series’ American fans.
“It’s really exciting for us that it’s growing so much in America,” Smith says. “And it’s being so widely received.”
The panel fielded several fan questions and discussed some fun behind-the-scenes details from the series.
Here are 10 things revealed during the panel.
1. River Song’s real identity kept secret. Smith and Gillan said that the script delivered for that episode contained a dummy ending. “We had a dummy ending on the actual script,” Gillan says. “So, what happened is we did the read-through and then after [showrunner] Steven Moffat took us outside, Matt, and [Arthur Darville, who plays Rory], and he showed us the real ending. We just started running up and down the corridor saying, ‘Oh my God!’” Of course, Alex Kingston, who plays River Song, knew the whole time.
2. Neil Gaiman, fan to the end. Novelist and creator of the Sandman comic series, Gaiman wrote “The Doctor’s Wife” and when he first writes “INT TARDIS,” his next line in his script is “I’ve been waiting my whole life to write that.” The producers loved it so much, they kept that line through to the final script.
3. Regeneration may be the secret to Doctor Who’s success. “I think that’s why the show has been able to survive for so long,” says Willis. “Because it can constantly be rebooted and updated.”
4. The secret to a good monster? “You have to find the humanity, sympathy of it,” Whithouse says. “There’s nothing more boring than a straightforward villain who just wants to do evil. What you have to find are the mitigating factors, the sympathy and complexities of the character that make them interesting.” In fact, they point out that the Doctor always tries to find the reason an alien is doing something and never just assumes it’s the enemy.
5. More of the parennial Doctor Who enemy, the Daleks? “Yeah,” Smith says. “I’m sure we can organize that.”
6. 50th Anniversary. Back in 1983, five Doctors reunited for a special commemorating the series’ 20th Anniversary. What can we expect for the upcoming 50th? Whithouse says that would be a question for showrunner, Moffat, but then says, “Yeah, why not? Let’s bring them all back!”
7. Will there ever be a female Doctor? This question came from a very young fan dressed as one of those creepy angel statue villians. Willis says that she believes that every time a Doctor is being replaced there is some thought given to making the character female. But, she says it really just goes to the right actor for the job at the time and thus far that’s always been men. But, she says it’s definitely possible.
8. How much of the Doctor is Matt Smith? Wenger says that Smith is the Doctor just less astute. To which, Smith replies, “I’ll never be as cool as the Doctor.” He then says, Karen will never be as cool as Amy! It’s true.” And Gillan agrees.
9. There method to the madness of operating the TARDIS. This was pretty amazing to us. There’s a manual for the TARDIS. Yes, folks, the crazy of driving the Doctor’s time machine isn’t random. Smith says he was given a manual when he was first cast and if we watch closely when he’s landing it, it will always be the same buttons and levers pushed.
10. America crossover potential? Who should come back? Smith says he’d love to do something with The Big Bang Theory, which makes frequent references to the BBC series. And as far as guest writers, Smith would love J.J. Abrams (Lost) to pen something. And, Whithouse would love if Russell T. Davies returns to write something.
Doctor Who returns to BBC America on Aug. 27. Watch the sneak peek from the panel below.
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