Doctor Who star John Bishop was so keen to perform action scenes and take on stunts for the new series that the stunt coordinator said he had to ‘reign him in’ at points.
Crispin Layfield, who has worked on Doctor Who’s stunt team since the sci-fi was rebooted in 2005, opened up to Metro.co.uk about working with the likes of Jodie Whittaker (The Doctor) and John (Dan).
As it turns out, the newest member of Team Tardis could not have been more eager to get in on the action.
‘He’s very physical, he loves it,’ the stunt coordinator explained. ‘He runs around all over the place. He’s climbing up cranes and, and all sorts, throwing himself on the ground. He was very good!’
Joking that John could have been a ‘frustrated stuntman’, Crispin added: ‘He was involved in a lot of wires and we had a few bits where he had to fall through the ceiling onto the floor.
‘It’s quite hard – I will always want a stuntman to do that. He’s on a wire but we’re dropping him all the way to the floor and stopping him just before the floor, I mean, we’re talking an inch or so.
‘John’s constantly, “Can I do it? Can I do it?” I said “Okay, we’ll test it with a stuntman” and then we did a slow run with John and he had a great big grin on his face, “I want to go faster!” And he was fantastic, honestly.’
‘I had a job to reign him in a little bit!’ Crispin laughed. ‘He wanted to do everything.
‘The odd time, I said “No John, we can’t do this. I can’t slam you into that wall too hard. If you get injured, then we’re stuffed for a little while! We can’t carry on filming. Certain elements we can use a stunt double for but obviously I want you to do as much as we possible can because it’s all about you!”‘
As for the Doctor herself? ‘Jodie is a seasoned pro. She’s been there, done it now,’ Crispin reflected.
‘She’s very capable, very physical. Whenever her stunt double turns up, she’s always saying, “Why is she here?! Why am I not allowed to do it?”‘ Crispin laughed.
Aside from keeping the incredible cast safe, Crispin has worked with just about every iconic Doctor Who villain you could imagine, from the Sontarans as they rode horses into battle to the fearsome Cybermen – however, they definitely posed a bit of a challenge this series.
‘The Cybermen outfits – because they are such a unique look, as soon as you get a performer in a Cyber outfit, they’re quite rigid, you don’t have a lot of flexibility. When we’re having to do certain moves, then it can be very tricky,’ he pointed out.
Showrunner Chris Chibnall, who has taken Doctor Who to new heights this series by departing from the episodic format to tell one story over six chapters, previously revealed it’s his most ‘ambitious’ series yet.
That certainly translates to the stunts, which are already bigger and better than ever.
‘As far of the scale of them, it seemed to be a lot bigger this time. Certainly a lot more wire stuff – we were doing wire moves that we haven’t done before and they were quite challenging for the actors,’ Crispin revealed.
‘This time was a little more complicated, we had to think on our feet a little bit.’
‘It was a fun series to work on,’ he added. ‘There’s more action involved, and of course we had the new cast – John was involved. It was great, him, Jodie, Mandip, it was a great team. A fantastic team!’
Crispin has been working in the stunt industry since 1996. Aside from his incredible work on Doctor Who, he’s also worked on the action for countless series including Sex Education, Black Mirror, Luther, and Jonathan Creek.
Meanwhile, the next episode of Doctor Who: Flux will see the Doctor come face to face with one of her most terrifying enemies, the Weeping Angels.
All we can say at this point is: ‘Don’t blink’.
Doctor Who Flux: Village of the Angels airs on BBC One on Sunday at 6:20pm.