Interview: Stephen Woolfenden on Nightmare in Silver

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Patrick Kavanagh-Sproull talks to Stephen Woolfenden about directing Nightmare in Silver.

Nightmare in Silver is your directional debut into the world of Doctor Who. Was filming Doctor Who considerably different from other projects?

It’s a unique environment. There is a passion from the crew and cast to make the very best episodes possible. It’s always such a positive experience when you know you are working on a show that has a considerable audience and this drives everyone to a high level of creativity. You work incredibly closely with the Series Producer, Marcus Wilson, the Producer, Denise Paul and the execs. They know the show inside out and their knowledge and support feeds much of the creative journey.

Every thirteen days an episode is shot. So every thirteen days you change guest cast, locations, sets, scripts, monsters, visual effects etc etc. It’s an immense effort and a huge logistical, five dimensional puzzle – with a real buzz!

What was it like filming the Cybermen? Did you do any research in shooting them?

Filming Cybermen can be a challenge. I lost my voice trying to get them to walk in unison! In Nightmare we’ve looked at making them move more sleekly and more elegantly to show a strength and an agility that perhaps hasn’t been seen before.

Did you watch the show before you were involved? Did you watch the show before?

I’ve loved the show since childhood. My Doctor was Pertwee. I have been a huge admirer since the show came back in 2005.

What was it about Neil’s script that drew you to the project?

Neil’s script is so wonderfully dense. So much happens in 45 minutes and the characters are beautifully described. The Doctor and Clara both get a great episode here and I particularly like the interplay between them. The script presented an opportunity for Matt Smith to explore his character like never before and I remember how breathtaking it was on set to see him at the top of his game. Truly wonderful.

I have joked with Neil that one day, maybe 25 years from now, the BBC might let us do a Nightmare In Silver deluxe writer and director’s cut.

Do you prefer shooting the action, horror or more dramatic elements of Doctor Who?

“If it’s not on the page, it’s not on the stage”. It’s the quality of writing that appeals to me – Doctor Who has the most wonderful stable of writers and I would go anywhere they take me.

Are there any funny behind-the-scenes tales you could talk about?

Clara has a great left hook.

And finally, would you return to Doctor Who in the future? For another series?

Of course, I would love to!

Step back in time...