Doctor Who fans converged on Washington, D.C. for Awesome Con on Sunday to see Peter Capaldi and Jenna Coleman. The U.K. actors were interviewed by Kristen Page-Kirby, the Senior Arts Editor for the Washington Post Express. The half hour panel also featured a Q&A with the audience.
“I’m not sure how successfully Clara was able to wipe [the Doctor’s] mind,” Capaldi hinted about future episodes. He stopped mid-sentence before giving away anything else. Though Clara has left, it remains to be seen where these leftover pieces, if any, will take the Doctor.
The children were delightful inquirers, particularly the question about the transformation from Matt Smith to Peter Capaldi. “I’ve actually always been Peter Capaldi,” the actor replied in amusement, once the laughter died down in the packed hall. Typically, fans reference the regeneration cycles by the number of the Doctor, not by actor.
If you’re not aware already, the Doctor Who set is known for pranks and teasing among the cast and crew. Capaldi admits that prior to Coleman’s decision to leave the show, he suggested different actresses that could replace her as a Companion. “Peter’s favorite joke to tease me mercilessly was, ‘We’ll bring back Billie Piper!’” Coleman said about his references to previous Companions. But on one occasion, he mentioned another actress, whose name was not given out at the panel.
“I was doing a scene and it was rather emotional,” Capaldi added. “I turned around to give my lines to Jenna and she was wearing a mask of said actress.”
Coleman described the experience of filming inside a Dalek as “claustrophobic,” but it had an added bonus of having a seat all day on the set. “They had to glue wires onto my head every take. And I got wheeled everywhere,” she shared.
Doing her farewell scene in the episode “Face the Raven” was also a challenge, but for different reasons. At the time, she knew that she would be in episode twelve but she didn’t know the details. Showrunner Steven Moffat emphasized that it was a “real goodbye” as he helped her prepare for the scene. “There was a live raven,” Coleman went on. “It was hard not to be scared!”
A convention in D.C. wouldn’t be complete without a question on Capaldi’s time as foul-mouthed Director of Communications Malcolm Tucker in The Thick of It. Headed by Veep creator Armando Iannucci, the BBC series led to a film, In the Loop, that had scenes shot in Washington, D.C. Capaldi said that he practiced his lines in the kitchen, something he still does for Doctor Who: “I’d pace up and down the kitchen learning [Malcolm’s] lines, getting louder and louder and louder and rude. I’m sure the neighbors must have gotten really upset.”
“I’d get myself into a state of absolutely horrendous Malcolm cruelty and evilness and nastiness. Someone would call downstairs and say, ‘Have you seen the remote control?’ and I’d go ‘Ahh!’ We had to put Malcolm in a box,” he said.
Filming is already underway for the tenth season of Doctor Who, which will introduce Pearl Mackie as the new Companion. The premiere is slated for sometime in 2017.