The Doctor’s off to Roswell for new animated adventure Dreamland, and since The Infinite Quest he's ventured into the third dimension. Written by Waters Of Mars co-scripter Phil Ford, the story will air on CBBC, via the Beeb's Red Button and on the Doctor Who website from tomorrow (opens in new tab) . We spoke to director Gary Russell to find out what to expect…
Is this the first time the Doctor’s ever visited Roswell?
As far as I know, yes. Certainly in terms of telly Doctor Who. I don’t think anyone’s ever done any of the books there, and I know no one’s never done an audio there, so yes I think it probably is the first time we’ve played with Roswell.
It seems like a logical fit for him…
Yes, absolutely. Why has no one ever done it before? Either everyone else is mad, or we are!
The story is that good thing that Doctor Who usually offers, that everyone is just shades of grey. Everyone has the motive for doing what they do in one scene and then by the end of the story they’ve got a really good motive for doing something completely different, whether they’ve gone from good to bad or bad to good.
Dreamland’s being shown both in full on CBBC, and in bitesize pieces on the Red Button and on the website. Did you approach it as one long episode, or as a collection of small chunks with cliffhangers?
It was written with the intention of being broken down, but I think Phil approached it as a good 45-minute episode, so you can see it in both versions. He always knew it was going to be in bitesize chunks, so he was writing it having peaks at various points. I think people watching it in bits will get the lovely thing of the cliffhangers, but actually, watching it as a 45-minuter, I don’t think there’s any obvious moment where you go, ooh, that must have been the cliffhanger. It works on both levels, which is a testament I think to how good Phil is as a writer.
Where does it fit into the Doctor Who timeline?
It’s between Waters Of Mars and episode 17 [the first of the Christmas specials].
After the events of Waters Of Mars, does that mean the Doctor’s in a dark place?
I suppose you could say it’s a slightly darker Doctor, but the Doctor’s always done things where he leaves one story feeling a bit morose and then he puts on his happy face and goes off and does something else. So I think that’s probably what happened here. But we always knew that it would fit in between Waters Of Mars and the final two-parter.
Tell us a bit about the Doctor’s companion in Dreamland…
Cassie Rice [voiced by Doctor's Daughter Georgia Moffett] is the daughter of somebody who owns a truck-stop diner in Nevada, although she appears to be running it – her mum used to run it but now Cassie has taken it over. The Doctor stops off for a bowl of chilli and that’s how they meet. Then he sees this thing in the café that she says is a bit of alien tech that apparently came down in Roswell and amuses the tourists, and the Doctor says that, actually, it’s not fake.
And the baddies are the Viperox, a species of giant bugs…
There’s lots of them, an entire army of them, and they come in different forms. You get the leader class and the warrior class, and then there are a few others that I’m not going to spoil. They’re an entire race, and it’s not like one of those faceless millions duplicated races. There are lots of different versions, in the same way that if you put lots of different humans in a room they’d all look slightly different.
Why did you go for a new 3D animation style after the 2D Infinite Quest?
We wanted to go to the next stage and I think if we’d sat down and said, let’s do another 2D, everyone would have gone, well, what’s the point? Where’s the excitement in that? So we’ve gone for nice 3D and everything’s properly rendered, and it looks beautiful. There’s some fantastic moments in and around the Nevada desert, we’ve got some beautiful lighting in there. I’m very pleased with the whole 3D thing.