Doctor Who: Karen Gillan on The Time Of The Doctor

News Louisa Mellor 21 Feb 2014 - 08:10

Amy Pond has been chatting about last year's Christmas special, Matt Smith's final episode as The Doctor...

Warning: contains a spoiler for The Time Of The Doctor.

We're sure we're not alone in finding Karen Gillan's brief mid-regeneration cameo in The Time Of The Doctor one of its more affecting moments. The reappearance of Amy Pond, hallucination or no, to say goodnight to her Raggedy Man was a wonderfully warm, affectionate and fitting end to the pair's children's bedtime story theme.

Gillan appears to feel much the same, as she told this month's Sci Fi Expo panel. "I was so happy! My agent phoned me and said, ‘They want you to come back to Doctor Who,’ and I was like ‘Yes!’ immediately.

“I think part of the reason that Steven Moffat wrote me into that scene was just so that Matt would have me around for his regeneration. And that was the nicest part for me, just to watch him do that, his final moments in the character.”


Asked how it felt to see Peter Capaldi on the TARDIS set, Gillan answered how "weird" it was to be "just watching from the outside all of a sudden. I was thinking 'This is their TARDIS now. Then seeing Capaldi walk in the studio was funny because it was really dark inside and light outside so when he walked in the first time he was just this silhouette. I was like ‘Oh my god!’ as he came towards us dressed in the Doctor’s clothes.” You weren't alone in that reaction, Pond.

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For me the absolute high point of the superb 'of the Doctor' trilogy and a perfect way to wrap up the Matt Smith era. Beautifully done, a great way to bring the character development for the Doctor to a close and a lovely little meta moment as well. In other words "I don't wanna go" done properly! Best of all was the last little moment when both Karen and Matt look so... happy? Proud? Sad? Not sure what the word is exactly but it works for both the actors and the characters and is a thing of beauty.

I liked the regeneration and it was lovely to see Karen one last time, just such a shame it was an crap episode.

Yeah, I started to tear up when she came down the stairs. Couldn't have asked for a better regeneration, his little speech ("We all change, and that's good.") was perfect although I'm not a fan of the episode as a whole.

The episode was deeply flawed but two good things came from it. The moment with Gillan and the fact that Smith can come back for any future multi-Doctor stories and even if he's older looking it'll make sense!

"I don't want to go" WAS done achingly-bittersweet departure for the best-loved and most popular Doctor of all time. Smith's bow-out was tagged onto the end of a desperately-patchy episode at the end of a disappointing era. I hope Capaldi can turn the show around but until we get a new showrunner (or at least one with more than two ideas) it looks like it's going to be more of the same but with a new face in the TARDIS...

Was it crap? I don't know because I'm still trying to figure out what happened. Can someone please explain it to me? Did the Doctor really get all of those simpletons in Christmas slaughtered?

Wow... you and I have very different views there. For me Tennant's departure was a massive low point in the show's history wallowing in sentimental drivel more suited to a teenage drama with no actual emotional weight behind it and a Doctor that was no longer the hero. It was a relief when he went and I've NEVER thought that about a Doctor before, much less one I liked a lot at the start of his run. In contrast Matt's era I found much more grown up, subtle and nuanced with far better story telling and acting across the board. The worst part though was I desperately wanted to like The End of Time! There were so many good elements in that story, great casting choices and the potential to be epic but - again IMO - you can clearly see where time pressures and the temptation to treat it as a meta-goodbye for both cast and crew overwhelmed it.

Of course the joy of this show is that it DOES mean different things to different people. I might not have enjoyed the Tenth Doctor (and, I'll freely admit, I have lower opinions of earlier episodes now because of what came later which might not be entirely fair) but I can see why it did appeal to others. Frankly that's *why* I love Doctor Who, the drive to change the entire makeup of the show keeps it fresh and means that while some find themselves disappointed there's always more that love it. And if you or I ever find ourselves in the 'ugh' camp all we have to do is wait a little while for the wheel to turn.

That said I'm not *entirely* sure you can claim he was "the best-loved and most popular Doctor of all time". Even now I'd suggest that Tom Baker would take that title and, with all Doctors, the real test is how well they stand the test of time once those who came into the show with a specific Doctor have had a chance to move on...

Couldn't disagree more.'Hamlet' is Shakespeare and Doctor Who is something completely different.'The End Of Time' despite Russell T Davies' best intentions is not really his finest hour and that story has giant problems from the way it returns the Master,it's characterisation of the Doctor and his attitude to regeneration and the ambiguous appearances of the Time Lady figure.I don't think i really like the way the Master was written out of the programme by redeeming himself,saving the Doctor from the Time Lords in retrospect either.Have to beg to differ with your opinions about Moffats writing too,which continually demonstrates more creativity and invention than most writers in his industry,yet alone Doctor who's history.

Stephen you are right about how different fans opinions are. The Tennant era for me is where most of the best episodes of new Who are to be found. The Smith era left me feeling cold and out of love with the show. I hope Moffat is not too stubborn or stuck in his ways to try something new with Capaldi's Doctor.

Thanks for the measured reply. it's nice to get a response which isn't "f.... you , you don't know what you're talking about Matt and Karen were the best evah!" As you say, what's so fascinating about DW is the fact that everyone has different views on it. For me David T's era was the show at its populist best - great immersive characters and stories, interesting arcs and in DT himself a Doctor who really crossed the show's usual barriers, embracing not just the show's core audience but a demographic which wouldn't usually touch anything even vaguely sci-fi with a bargepole and I'd say he was probably as popular in his day if not more popular that Tom Baker was in his. Matt Smith frustrated me because I see a great actor hamstrung by poor stories and scripts and a misjudged over-wacky performance. Far from being more grown up, I found his era far too childish and lightweight, characterised by this 'fairytale' ethic Moffat brought to the table. Weak stories, little jeopardy, very little actual death (and I agree with Russell T who said that DW is and ought to be "steeped in death"). I find it just too twee and sentimental when the show should be gutsier and more challenging. I agree that 'End of Time' wasn't RTD's finest hour - he was clearly played-out by then - but I think the finale was a fitting farewell to a much-loved Doctor even it was a bit self-indulgent - but I just think he was so universally popular he deserved a protracted and slightly-mawkish send-off.

To an extent I agree with your comments re 'End of Time' but I couldn't disagree more re Moffat. His writing for Who as showrunner is repetitive, predictable, slapdash and reliant on seriously over-used tropes and ideas. His scripts during RTD's time were excellent but he's just not cut the mustard as showrunner and I'm hoping his rumoured replacement (Phil Ford) can bring something fresh to the table because new ideas are desperately needed. IMO.

"I don't wanna go" was one of the most affecting moments of that entire farewell to David Tennant's run. Frankly this episode had nothing on that send off. So I'm not sure what at all you're on about. The 50th anniversary was far better than this inferior botch job. The other two parts were pretty good, but this one, no way you can compare it to Tennant's sign off moment.

It's certainly ten times better than Time of the Doctor. And have to disagree with you about Moffatt's writing. It's been hard to stay a Who fan during this middling Matt Smith era, and it is certainly no fault of that talented actor. I think he had some great input as a contributor, but as a showrunner, extremely lacking.

Well I'll tell you this. I'm entirely sure that Matt Smith will never be the best loved and most popular doctor, but I don't think that is entirely his fault. He's very capable, but was obviously hindered by Moffatt's inadequacies as a showrunner. This has been the weakest Who era of the new generation and I am hopeful Capaldi can rise above the repetitive and poorly written era that has been this recent incarnation. I think though we shouldn't forget that the diversity of the Whoverse is something to be appreciated. Some like Smith, some Tennant, some Baker, etc etc. I personally loved Eccleston's run. I think I'll love Capaldi's too. So while we might disagree on our viewpoints, we're still Who fans!

Such a shame that actual discourse is a rare thing these days. Curse you Internet!

One thing I'd really recommend, espeically if you're a fan of the RTD era, is get hold of a copy of "The Writer's Tale". It's a great book with the second edition (I think it's subtitled The Final Chapter) covering everything from series 4 and the specials. It's the format that makes it such a fascinating read though as it's one huge email conversation between RTD and Benjamin Cook that shows a *lot* of the behind the scenes problems. Fair play to RTD actually, it doesn't always present him in the best light as the pressure to deliver Who, SJA and Torchwood builds up but it's so much more interesting for the honesty.

Yep, terrific books, read them both. Due a reread, in fact...

Amen to that!! I have some worries about what I'm hearing of the next series - more of the same, basically - but hopefully an actor of Capaldi's maturity and stature will give the material a lift.

Not sure certain is really applicable in your comment considering anybodies opinion is purely subjective.

Would encourage anybody reading this article to look for this appearance Karen recently made at the wizard world expo in Dallas on You tube where she talks about this .Sylvester Mc Coy was with her too.Matt Smiths appearance in New Orleans, now his theatrical run on American Psycho has concluded was also posted.

Just saw 'In the Loop' with Capaldi as Malcolm Tucker. Enjoyed it. Capaldi acted it very well. But has anyone else noticed that he looks like a corpse? I've heard of dry Scots, but come on: he looks like he crawled out of a sarcophagus. What will the kiddies think?

The episode was deeply flawed but ...[names two flaws].

It doesn't cease to amaze me how now, on the Internet, people can use critic-speak and all the jargon therefrom to defend total mediocrity.... 'achingly-bittersweet', my ass. Only if you overlooked everything in front of your eyes and imagined a totally different episode.

This is like debating a kick in the face versus a kick in the balls. Mediocre entertainment excused as 'kid show' then defended by adult fanbois on obscure websites. Cheers.

The thing is, some people are able to articulate their opinions and don't have to resort to sneering at other people's opinions or use foul language. Try it some time.

Maybe,if you were generous enough to pay attention and think about what's been produced rather than rumours about what's coming,you might enjoy it more.I suspect your opinions are totally prejudiced by your personal expectations and preferences though,so probably not.

I agree. "I don't wanna go" was even used in the 50th and I don't think Matt Smith's final words will be remembered as much. I have been very disappointed with not just the Time of the Doctor but series 7 on a whole. I enjoyed Day of the Doctor, Name of the Doctor, Asylum of the Daleks and Angels Take Manhattan but that's it. I don't think it really helps that I'm not a fan of Clara.

and just to add a third perspective--I loved BOTH departures. I loved the way Tennat gave his "farewell speech", so to speak, to Wilfred before releasing him & absorbing all the radiation & then the way he checked in on all his former companions, Wilf's tearjerker salute to him, and of course his hello/goodbye to Rose was a beautiful lead up to ; "I dont want to go". Now, having said THAT--Matt Smiths departure is my favorite regen so far--from Clara's speech to the Time Lords, to the sky opening & gifting him with more regens, to his IMO, touching and beautiful farewell speech to Clara ending with: "I will always remember when the Doctor was ME"--my favorite part of the episode--to Amy wishing her "raggedy man" goodnight--geez, Im choking up just writing about it.

So you aren't a Doctor Who fan I take it. But you decided to take time out to come on here and insult people who have an interest in it. There is no respect to be had for you. Try not being an a hole sometime.

Don't Cheers someone after you've just insulted them and things they are interested in. It's obvious you want to be disrespectful, just don't expect us to lap it up with your stupid Cheers at the end of it. I'd say grow up, but you're clearly too old to change and are just waiting to be retired.

I liked both regenerations but the truth for me is RTD became so soapy. I've love Moffats approach to the show but for every fan of the era there will be someone to disagree. And that's as it should be.

Well duh, I paid perfect attention to "what's been produced" and for the last three years I've found it severely wanting. I stumbled across a repeat of 'Nightmare in Silver' on BBC3 tonight and it almost made my brain bleed it was so bad. I desperately don't want the show to carry on like this but rumours suggest it may well do so. Do keep up.

In fairness, that's intentional. During filming (and the same thing was done in 'The thick of it') producers deliberately kept changing his lines, so he'd be forced to stay up all night learning them. This made him look all the more like an overly stressed and nearly murderous political advisor, so it's basically enforced method acting. He looks about ten years younger when he's not playing Malcolm Tucker.

Everyone I spoke to about Matts regeneration told me the same thing; they were just about keeping it together until Pond came along.

Well,it doesn't look like you've been paying perfect attention if you can deliberately compare 'The End of Time' with 'The Time of The Doctor ' and claim it was a perfect send off and made more sense.It does appear,going from what you've already said here that you're much more interested in rumours than actually watching what's already been made.Your comments have demonstrated that you have a deliberate agenda and feel somebody else should be running Doctor Who because you personally don't like Steven Moffats' writing.

My daddy left home when I was three
And he didn't leave much to ma and me
Just this old guitar and an empty bottle of booze.
Now, I don't blame him cause he run and hid
But the meanest thing that he ever did
Was before he left, he went and named me "Sue."

Well, he must o' thought that is quite a joke
And it got a lot of laughs from a' lots of folk,
It seems I had to fight my whole life through.
Some gal would giggle and I'd get red
And some guy'd laugh and I'd bust his head,
I tell ya, life ain't easy for a boy named "Sue."

Well, I grew up quick and I grew up mean,
My fist got hard and my wits got keen,
I'd roam from town to town to hide my shame.
But I made a vow to the moon and stars
That I'd search the honky-tonks and bars
And kill that man who gave me that awful name.

Well, it was Gatlinburg in mid-July
And I just hit town and my throat was dry,
I thought I'd stop and have myself a brew.
At an old saloon on a street of mud,
There at a table, dealing stud,
Sat the dirty, mangy dog that named me "Sue."

Well, I knew that snake was my own sweet dad
From a worn-out picture that my mother'd had,
And I knew that scar on his cheek and his evil eye.
He was big and bent and gray and old,
And I looked at him and my blood ran cold
And I said: "My name is 'Sue!' How do you do!
Now your gonna die!!"

Well, I hit him hard right between the eyes
And he went down, but to my surprise,
He come up with a knife and cut off a piece of my ear.
But I busted a chair right across his teeth
And we crashed through the wall and into the street
Kicking and a' gouging in the mud and the blood and the beer.

I tell ya, I've fought tougher men
But I really can't remember when,
He kicked like a mule and he bit like a crocodile.
I heard him laugh and then I heard him cuss,
He went for his gun and I pulled mine first,
He stood there lookin' at me and I saw him smile.

And he said: "Son, this world is rough
And if a man's gonna make it, he's gotta be tough
And I knew I wouldn't be there to help ya along.
So I give ya that name and I said goodbye
I knew you'd have to get tough or die
And it's the name that helped to make you strong."

He said: "Now you just fought one hell of a fight
And I know you hate me, and you got the right
To kill me now, and I wouldn't blame you if you do.
But ya ought to thank me, before I die,
For the gravel in ya guts and the spit in ya eye
Cause I'm the son-of-a-bitch that named you "Sue.'"

I got all choked up and I threw down my gun
And I called him my pa, and he called me his son,
And I came away with a different point of view.
And I think about him, now and then,
Every time I try and every time I win,
And if I ever have a son, I think I'm gonna name him
Bill or George! Anything but Sue! I still hate that name!

I don't remember Tom Baker saying any such thing.

Not a great episode but It was a perfect ending. Pond appearing proves he never got over her, just like a lot of the audience. I think because we saw Amy's whole journey from a child to a confident woman it hit us hard as well. Clara hasn't had the same impact, hopefully now she can find her place alongside Capaldi.

This has been done to death, but I prefer an objective view of the regenerations. In RTD's version here we have a near thousand year old alien moping and moaning to an old man of 70-80 that he may soon have to change face. Not die, change face. This is an individual who has done this now 10 times and as a hero has been presented as someone who doesn't fear death. It was a clear attempt by RTD to differentiate 'his' doctor from the rest and by doing so almost alienate (no pun intended) the casual fanbase who would have trouble accepting Matt Smith was playing the same character. Smith's exit was nice (we all have to change) but the best was Ecclestone's of new who- 'yeah I'm off, it's been good but I'll still be here, just looking different'. Simple.

So someone doesn't share your opinion, that doesn't make them a troll by default.

RTD did say Dr Who should be "steeped in death" but he drew the line at killing companions saying he felt that would "cheat the audience" especially youngsters who may have put a lot of "emotional investment into the character" Moffat's approach seemed to be making Rory into a live action version of Kenny from South Park... .

Generally, I liked Moffat's era, but for the sake of the series he should move on before Capaldi's second season, allowing the show a behind-the-scenes refresh, once Capaldi has established himself.There have been some decent stories but there have been rather too many others where the audience have been left confused and the storytelling has become far too insular. All the exposition seems to be the result of something that hapened to the Tardis crew several stories earlier or several stories in the future. If the new production team can get us away from story arcs and return the series to a likeable but eccentric alien in a blue box, who together with assorted companions, has adventures which last 45 or 90 minutes to which the audience can emotionally invest without confusion. The plot need not necessarily be linear but a story which sets out it's stall from the off and 45 minutes later concludes without resorting to a deux ex machina coda...

Internet fandom summed up. "That thing you like? You are wrong to like it because I don't!"

“I think part of the reason that Steven Moffat wrote me into that scene was just so that Matt would have me around for his regeneration."

Says it all really...

Excellent book. I agree with you about the lack of discourse in these internet days. Compared to his predecessors, RTD has arguably been able to realise a great many of his ideas. In part because initially the BBC were keen the revival would succeed and when it did, it became a prime BBC show mentioned in the same breath as the greats - especially when the BBC are looking to increase the licence fee.

Previous producers such as Philip Hinchcliffe and Graham Wiliams had to make the show in the hyper-inflation of the late seventies, with Mary Whitehouse stirring things up in the violence debate.

RTD made the programme "soapy" in an attempt to appeal to women, so the show was suddenly something that a guy could watch with his girlfriend as much as a with his family. Arguably this created a new demographic - the fangirl, who adored Tennant, learned to love Smith but actively hate Capaldi because the Doctor "should always be young!"... RTD made liking Who cool again and repositioned it away from the stereotyped "sad single geeky guy, socially awkward yet frighteningly knowledgable about (admittedly) a very special tv show...

Most internet discussion,especially about Doctor Who is apparently barely conducive to serious and fair criticism anymore.It tends to be nothing but a lot of nobodies making basic generalisations to support their own agendas and it's increasingly impossible to actually discern what is properly vox populi.At least fanzine reviews produced writers like Rob Shearman and Paul Cornell.

"We all change, and that's good", "I will aways remember when The Doctor was me" and amy apareance really got to me.

Couldn't agree more. It was done with a delicacy and genuine understanding of the bond which the characters and actors had between them and with the audience. I think proud is the correct word - together they made an amazing team as characters and brought Who to heights of magic, intelligence and grace it has never before reached but also proud that as actors they had found a depth and beauty inside which simply has not been bettered in the history of the show. Just when you think Matt Smith can't top his performance damn if he doesn't go ahead and break your heart in pieces.

They are a beautiful Who family, aren't they? With Matt, Karen, Arthur and Moff it just seemed as though the show was full of love and joy and affection. It shows on screen too, not to mention the delightful behind the scene videos. Everything you hear from behind the scenes is so full of respect for Matt. Moff once said Matt was the reason that morale was so high during his time on the show - the first on the set, never complained, treated cast and crew with the same respect, totally professional but with that spark of magic, full of energy and still time to do all other stuff - fan mail, TV and magazine promos, go to conventions. After the unhappy days when Eccleston left and Tennant's gap year which threw production into turmoil, the show was lucky enough to find a beating heart to set it right again.

Not that I have any knowledge on the matter but I'm convinced this is Moffat's last year in the big chair.

Ok so lets not talk about the episode and just talk about Gillan's appearance.

I have always like the regeneration sequences when the Doctor has some kind of illusion of former enemies and companion. Tome Baker's and especially Davidson's were great. I did not like Tennant's as without this or even a companion being present it lost some connectivity to the audience. Although of course it made sense with the 10th Doctor deciding he was too dangerous to travel with.

I do like the idea the new series developed of the character of the Doctor being somewhat removed from his regenerations. Tennant's reference to it being more like dying and seeing someone else walk away. Maybe this will be the answer on how we have often seem the actors who have played the Doctor make other character appearances in the show.

I felt the writers were taken by surprise that Matt was leaving and had no real time to finish up the plot lines so the episode just seemed rushed.

I keep feeling that the 11th Doctors speech open up the idea that the Doctors regenerations somehow live as echo's after being the Doctor.

RTD and Moffat have changed a lot the idea of what is regeneration with the departures of the 10th and 11th. Now the idea seems to be the incarnation basically experiences death and a new regeneration walks away. Very much giving each regeneration more of their separate identity.

So eighty then.

I notice that you didn't really dispute anything I said...but seized on a non-existent rule of etiquette concerning 'Cheers'. I'm guessing you're female.

The thing is, just because you have hurt feelings doesn't mean the sneers and foul language aren't deserved...

The way the Doctor dispatch all those Daleks is way too much deus ex. Seriously, an entire Daleks strike force snuffed out by a waver of his hand?

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