WonderCon 2011: Neil Gaiman Shares New Details Of His ‘Doctor Who’ Episode

Acclaimed writer Neil Gaiman revealed new details at WonderCon 2011 this weekend about his upcoming episode of Doctor Who and his feeling toward the experience working on it.

“Getting to write a Doctor Who episode — for me anyway — was probably the nearest to being God I have ever been or will ever get,” said Gaiman during a roundtable interview. “I remember a similar feeling of megalomaniac power for about 15 minutes in 1988 when I got to write my first Batman lines.

“But, making Batman talk does not actually compare to the feeling of glorious power you get the moment you type ‘INTERIOR TARDIS,'” he added.

Gaiman’s episode will be the fourth to air in Season 6 and is curiously titled “The Doctor’s Wife,” which the writer remained mum about when pressed for how accurate it might be.

Courtesy warning: SPOILERS ahead regarding footage shown from Gaiman’s episode for those who’d rather stay completely in the dark until the episode premieres on BBC America on May 7, 2011.

The episode is set on a junkyard planet, which Gaiman said he thought worked well since after all, Doctor Who started out in a junkyard with low budget props and a whole lot of imagination. The cast includes Suranne Jones as Idris, a character who may turn out to be an old acquaintance of the Doctor’s with a new face. Also staring is Michael Sheen who plays as “a mysterious baddie” called The House.

A clip from “The Doctor’s Wife” episode was shown to the crowd during the Doctor Who panel [more panel coverage to come in a separate post], which shed some light on who or what “House” is and drew many new questions we’re unlikely to get answers to until actually watching the episode.

The clip began with The Doctor, Amy Pond (Karen Gillan), and Rory (Arthur Darvill) standing on the junkyard planet in the presence of two “residence” and an Ood, the alien race made popular during Russell T. Davies’ run that speaks telepathically through an orb rather than with vocal chords. The Ood’s orb is damaged, thus making it impossible for him to speak and The Doctor pulls out his sonic screwdriver to repair the damage. Upon doing so there is a roar of a crowd of voices that spooks The Doctor out. When Amy asks if that’s the ood talking, she’s told no and that it’s Time Lords who are very near.

Also during the clip, the character Auntie (Elizabeth Berrington) explains that “House” is everywhere and asks The Doctor if he’d like to meet him, which he replies, “Yes, I very much would.”

“It’s funny and scary and it’s exciting and heartbreaking,” Gaiman said. “There are places where I kind of hope it will add to the giant Doctor Who mythos, because you always want to leave something nice behind you.”

Gaiman previously stated on his blog that he was very pleased with the final episode and noted that BBC spent a lot of money on it, which is evident after viewing the clips. Because his episode contained lots of CGI, it pushed the costs higher. In the interview, Gaiman explained that each individual Doctor Who episode contains roughly 100 man-hours of CGI labor that is factored into the overall budget. The first draft of “The Doctor’s Wife” contained 640 hours.

“While lots of things went away [from the script], they still ended up taking other episodes out around the back of the bike sheds, beating them up, and taking their lunch money… and giving it to me,” Gaiman said.

For more details as well as audio clips from the roundtable interview with Gaiman, make sure you listen to the next episode of Geeks of Doom’s Doctor Who podcast TARDISblend hosted by the library of Whovian knowledge that is Greg Davies and myself.

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