Doctor Who’s Season 8 Female Director Has Wanted To Work On The Show Since The Reboot

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For Season 8, BBC’s Doctor Who welcomes a female director. No pressure, right?

The Globe and Mail posted an interview with Rachel Talalay, a University of British Columbia film professor, and the first female director BBC’s Doctor Who has had since 2010. You may also remember her as the director of Tank Girl as well as episodes of Reign and Continuum. I’m sure the biggest question on everyones’ mind is – how did she get the job? She explains:

I campaigned very specifically to get on Doctor Who. The minute I saw the reboot – which I was very skeptical about before I saw it – I saw how good it was. I have an agent in the U.K. I said to her, ‘Get an interview if possible.’ I had done The Wind in the Willows, which Mark Gatiss was in. I said to Mark as well, ‘Could you please put in a good word for me?’ I sent a reel full of effects and action to show I was not just any old filmmaker, but had experience in that world. As a woman, you have to remind people you do the things that you do. From the time my agent contacted me and said, ‘There are two episodes. Are you interested?’ to my leaving B.C. was nine days.

Yes. That’s right. She’s been wanting to work on the show since at least 2005. Though we don’t know exactly when her agent started trying to get her the gig. Why was she hired now?

I said to Steven Moffat, ‘If I was to read the Internet I would believe you only hired me because you were pressured to hire a woman.’ He said, ‘I think they need to know I hired you because of your reel and your material and what we believed you would bring to it.’ I know that I brought effects experience, but I don’t know what makes anybody hire any director, really.

For the record, Moffat has spoken similarly on the reality of the Doctor being played by a woman. To that end, Talalay said, “They should consider whoever seems right for the role at that moment and things changed…I would embrace that absolutely, but I don’t think it needs to happen. I think it has to be true to who’s right to be the Doctor at that point.”

Talalay also spoke a bit about the internet reaction to her getting the job: “There’s a lot on the Internet, questions about the fact that there have been so few women – even fewer women writers than directors. There’s been attention to that. To my surprise, the Internet has been incredibly kind – so far. I should not jinx anything. It has been kind about it being offered to me.”

“There are many, many women filmmakers who are pigeonholed into women’s stories. I’ve never had that problem,” Talalay also told The Globe and Mail. “I love visual effects. I love action. I love that kind of material. A lot of women filmmakers say, ‘How come you get those projects?’ You have to prove yourself. Women, more than men, have to prove themselves.”

And in case you were wondering, Talalay was a Doctor Who fan growing up and mentioned Tom Baker is her Doctor, but what can she say about her episodes?

I am doing the two-part finale. Both parts were written by Steven Moffat, which is fantastic. There’s so much action and effects and emotional material. It’s a Cyberman episode…Part of what we were tasked to do was replicate some classic shots – from the sixties show – of the Cybermen outside St. Paul’s. It’s a whole new story.

Read a whole lot more in the full interview posted at the Globe and Mail.

Previously in Doctor Who

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Jill Pantozzi
Jill Pantozzi is a pop-culture journalist and host who writes about all things nerdy and beyond! She’s Editor in Chief of the geek girl culture site The Mary Sue (Abrams Media Network), and hosts her own blog “Has Boobs, Reads Comics” ( She co-hosts the Crazy Sexy Geeks podcast along with superhero historian Alan Kistler, contributed to a book of essays titled “Chicks Read Comics,” (Mad Norwegian Press) and had her first comic book story in the IDW anthology, “Womanthology.” In 2012, she was featured on National Geographic’s "Comic Store Heroes," a documentary on the lives of comic book fans and the following year she was one of many Batman fans profiled in the documentary, "Legends of the Knight."