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Feature: Doctor Who (2000s)

The article…

Has the Doctor finally met his (love) match? Director Euros Lyn tells us about the Doctor's latest adventure

Fresh from filming Tooth and Claw (see Cult Times #128), Doctor Who director Euros Lyn found himself travelling further back into the Past for his next story, The Girl in the Fireplace. Between the Victorian-era Tooth and Claw, the 1700s setting of The Girl in the Fireplace and the 1950s-set The Idiot’s Lantern, Lyn certainly seems to be carving out a name for himself as the go-to guy for episode’s set in Earth’s history… “I think that’s purely accidental,” he says. “My second block was going to be two different episodes, but the way that the writing schedule panned out, they changed their minds later on. It’s something I’m very glad of, ‘cos it’s brilliant to be able to step back into the past.”

The Girl in the Fireplace sees the TARDIS crew embroiled in a plot in 18th Century France to ‘assassinate’ the King’s mistress, the Marquise de Pompadour. Oddly, though, the would-be assassins aren’t disgruntled peasants or would-be revolutionaries but clockwork androids from the 51st Century. Only in Doctor Who

Madame de Pompadour is played by David Tennant’s significant other Sophia Myles, which, together with a script from Coupling’s Steven Moffat, leads us to suspect that the subject of romance might be on the cards for the Doctor. “The Doctor spends the episode in her company, and is blown away by meeting her really,” says the director. “It’s basically a love story; the Doctor meets this incredibly erudite, attractive polymath of a woman, finds in her his equal – and falls head-over-heels in love with her. But, obviously, with all of the complications that ensue from a man who’s over 900 years old meeting a younger woman.”

Hang on a sec – isn’t the Doctor already spoken for? His companion Rose might have something to say about that. “Well, I think they’re still madly in love with each other,” Lyn agrees. “There are characters that they meet across the series that drive them insanely jealous, and that makes for an interesting development.”

It’s a plotline that lends itself to David Tennant’s Doctor; after all, the actor’s already been gadding about the 18th Century in Russell T Davies’s Casanova. But how does the new Doctor measure up to Christopher Eccleston’s ninth incarnation? “I think Chris brought the Doctor’s pain to the fore, and he had this dark past which weighed heavily on him – which I thought brought a complexity and a kind of… well, I was going to say Humanity, but a kind of Gallifreyity to it. That pathos and survivor’s guilt is still there, but changed and slightly different. David’s got a lightness of touch – it’s almost like he dances through his adventures – and he’s got a sharper wit, which I think is great fun.”

This is the first time Lyn’s worked from one of Steven Moffat’s scripts; how do the different writers compare in terms of how much leeway they give the director? “I think on Doctor Who, all the writers make it very clear what it is that they’re after,” Lyn notes. “In the pre-production process, we have meetings with Russell and the heads of the creative departments and the writer, just to clarify exactly what the tone is for the themes and each of the scenes; for Episode Four it was ‘art and beauty’.

by Stephen Graves

Read the full interview in
Cult Times Special #38

Image © Visual Imagination, Doctor Who © BBC
Feature © Visual Imagination 2006. Not for reproduction

Taken from
Cult Times Special #38, see below for ordering options
Cult Times Special #38
Special 2006
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