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Riding on the Wind: David Tennant and Michelle Ryan Discuss "Doctor Who: Planet of the Dead"

Following the recent announcement that BBC America had acquired first-run rights to the five Doctor Who specials featuring David Tennant's swan song as the Doctor, the digital cabler has announced that it will air the 2008 Christmas special, entitled "The Next Doctor" on June 27th.

This will be followed closely by this year's first Doctor Who special "Planet of the Dead," which aired on BBC One this past Easter and will make its US debut in high-definition on July 26th. The special stars David Tennant, Bionic Woman's Michelle Ryan, and Lee Evans. It was written by Russell T. Davies and Gareth Roberts.

So, what is Doctor Who: Planet of the Dead about exactly? Let's turn to series lead David Tennant for the answer.

"Well, it’s about a bus that ends up on an alien planet, it’s about an international jewel thief who meets the Doctor and is quite intrigued by him. And it’s about two alien races, one of which is just doing what comes naturally and one of which is trying to get home," said Tennant, who will depart the series at the end of the year. "And all of those elements kind of combine into a story that is a bit bonkers, very fast moving, very exciting, and sort of on a scope. Bigger than we've managed before, which is very exciting. It’s very exciting having done the show for four years and still finding new stories to tell and ways of telling those stories, it’s great, and it’s what makes it such a great show to work on."

Tennant's Doctor will also cross paths with a rather unusual bus passenger, Lady Christina de Souza, played by Michelle Ryan.

"Christina is a mysterious, adventure-seeking aristocrat and she is very much a loner, she’s off in her own little world," said Ryan. "And she’s very daring and exciting and smart and sassy. She’s a cool character."

"I first heard about the part just before Christmas and it appealed to me," said Ryan, speaking about how she got involved with the project. "I was reading lots of different scripts at the time and then I read this one and I was so engaged with the character, with her journey, and it was just a really interesting, dynamic script and few of those come along for young actresses, so I was kind of like, 'yeah, I’d like to be a part of this.'"

And the million quid question: what is it like working with David Tennant?

"It’s amazing, he is genuinely one of the most professional, lovely, brilliant actors I’ve ever worked with," she said. "And he has such a good vibe, and he gives a great energy to everyone, he’s really cool. It’s quite family-like and fun – it’s been such a laugh to work on. The rest of the cast, the supporting cast as well, have been brilliant, Daniel, David, Vicky and Reggie and everyone, it’s been brilliant."

So can we expect to perhaps see some romantic sparks flying between the Doctor and Lady Christina as they're thrown together on this mission of survival?

"There is a little bit of a romantic spark between The Doctor and Christina," said Ryan coyly. "I think Christina feels like she’s met her equal, and The Doctor feels like he’s met his match with Christina. Christina doesn’t come across many men that intrigue and inspire her the way The Doctor does."

"He manages to show her that actually she can use her skills to help other people, and that actually it’s more fun when you’re part of a team rather than being a loner," she continued. "She goes on a journey with him and I think she’d like it to be more, and he’s quite closed off to that because he’s been hurt in the past – he’s off doing his thing and she’s like, ‘well, okay’ and off on her next adventure!"

Still, filming "Planet of the Dead" wasn't exactly a walk in the park as the production moved from South Wales to Dubai in order to capture the stunning desert vistas that viewers will see in the special.

"I think we get slightly more time to film the specials. I don't know if that's even true – we get four weeks to film an hour-long special whereas we get about two-and-a-half weeks to film a normal 45-minute episode," said Tennant. "So we've got a little bit more time to play with but then they tend to be a bit more ambitious. Certainly this one was, and you know the fact that we wanted to film in an actual desert and there aren’t a lot of them in South Wales."

"So we had to find somewhere in the world that we could get to that, had an infrastructure that we could use to film in and that would have us, you know," he continued. "Some of these deserts exist in some less than friendly regimes."

"We went to the desert and we got some incredible shots, I mean I think you'll notice it on screen that we went a long way, and that the director and the camera particularly made it count," said Tennant. "I think it’ll look like an alien planet in a way that nothing we've ever done before has ever quite managed, just because it is an is an extraordinary sight, just miles of sand and the blue skies, the sun beating down, it is like being in another world really, so quite useful for us!"

Doctor Who: Planet of the Dead will air Sunday, July 26th at 8 pm ET/PT on BBC America.


Heatherette said…
I can't wait to see David Tennant and Michelle Ryan starring together in a Doctor Who special. Brilliant!
Mazza said…
Can't wait for this. Have had to stop myself from illegally downloading as Siffy hadn't said when they were going to air this. Glad BBCA has it now but hope they don't chop too much out of each special.

Love Michelle Ryan and DT so looking forward to this!
Batman said…
Was going through Doctor Who withdrawal before I saw this. Thanks for posting!!!

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