Phil Ford interview: Wizards Vs Aliens series 3, Russell T Davies

As Wizards Vs Aliens returns to CBBC for series 3, we talked to co-creator Phil Ford about Russell T Davies' departure, series 4 and more...

On October 25th the BFI South Bank played host to an alien invasion, as hordes of terrifying Nekross – and hordes of even more terrifying children – descended upon the building to join the cast and crew of hit CBBC show Wizards Vs Aliens for a special screening of the third series’ opening story, The Secret of Room 12, which airs tonight at 5:30pm on CBBC.

Our full review will appear on the site in due course, but suffice to say the opening adventure is a confident new start for the series, following up on last year’s climactic finale with a heady mix of action, horror, humour and some heartfelt character moments. The new series brings with it some new characters, and one or two surprises to excite the fans.

After the screening and a Q&A with the cast, we caught up with the show’s co-creator and executive producer, Phil Ford, to ask him a few questions about the new run…

Did you ever think the show would make it to a third series?

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Yes! I never had any doubt we’d get to series 3; when Russell (T Davies, co-creator and former exec producer) and I first started talking about it, Russell was always saying “This could run for ten years!”. I think the great thing about the show is we’re not limited to one universe, the space universe; we also have the whole magic universe – and that is, believe me, a very big universe.

How was it flying solo this year following the departure of Russell T Davies?

It was a little bit scary, to be honest. I mean, I loved it, and it was great. But when Russell told me he wasn’t going to be around for this series, when he told me he was going off to do Cucumber, at first I laughed, I thought he was joking. Then he told me “You’ve got the keys!”. Which was wonderful, and liberating and marvelous.

But at the same time, although I wasn’t worrying about it while I was writing or anything, and Russell and I didn’t really talk about the series while it was in development – apart from anything else, he was busy on Cucumber and Banana and all of that stuff he’s doing – while we were in post I started thinking “Oh, I wonder what he’s going to say”.

I had lunch with him quite recently – I hadn’t seen him in a year – and I was so relieved that at that point he still hadn’t seen it, because I worried if I went to have lunch with him he’d start saying “And another thing..!” But he has since seen it, and he loves it.

Were you worried about trying to keep the show fresh in the third series?

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It wasn’t a worry, but it’s always what you strive for. The fact is that Russell’s season finale – which was mad in a good way – was so explosive that it gave it an energy that in some ways I used to roll into this series, because there is the whole thing about this being a coming of age story for both boys. And without giving anything away, the events on the Zarantulus at the end of series 2 have a profound effect on Tom, and it drives the story this time very strongly. So that helped me enormously.

This year is very different in as much as there is a very strong story arc throughout the whole season, so events that happen in the first episode really carry on through the series.

Is there any word on a fourth series?

That would be lovely, but we haven’t heard necessarily whether that’s the case yet. I certainly know where we could go…

Do you have a message for Wizards Vs Aliens fans?

Yeah – watch it! (laughs) Watch it, enjoy it… There’s going to be an awful lot of laughs, an awful lot of scares, there are a few shocks coming up – and make sure you’ve got a big box of tissues handy…

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Phil Ford, thank you very much!

Brand new Wizards Vs Aliens starts on Monday 27th October at 5.30pm on CBBC and CBBCHD.

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