Exclusive Interview: Douglas Mackinnon

September 13th, 2014
Warning! This article and its comments may contain spoilers...

Earlier this week we caught up with Douglas Mackinnon, the director of several Doctor Who episodes including Listen, which premieres on BBC One later today.

Douglas told us about how he originally came to be involved with the series and shared some of his favourite memories from behind the scenes. Read his responses below and don’t forget (not that you would, of course!) to tune in to his latest offering on BBC One at 7:30pm tonight…

Q. Hi there, Douglas! Firstly, when did you first realise you had a passion for directing?
A. When I couldn’t see that there was anything else in the world that I could do.

Q. Are there any directors that have particularly inspired you, both in your life and your career?
A. John Ford. Billy Wilder. Jenny Gilbertson. Anyone who steps up and directs, really.

Q. Your first contribution to the Doctor Who universe was the 2008 Sontaran two-parter, The Sontaran Stratagem/The Poison Sky. How did your involvement with these episodes come about, and were you already a fan of the series?
A. I’ve been a fan of the series since my childhood, and I’ve been a fan of sci-fi since forever. I love Star Trek, I love Asimov, Arthur, Marvel… But I’d also directed Russell T Davies’ first grown up telly series, the first two episodes of The Grand.

Q. Each episode of Doctor Who is a blank slate in terms of setting, theme and genre. Is this a prospect that is particularly exciting or daunting for you as a director?
A. It’s only ever exciting, and never daunting. It’s a privilege.

Q. What are your favourite memories and moments from working on Doctor Who? We know it’s probably difficult to choose!
A. There’s a big, black, soft leather sofa in the dubbing suite where I get to see my complete episode for the first time – totally completed, when all the pictures are done, and all the sound is done. I also love the moment you get a script for the first time and get to read what you’re going to do, and I love the email or the phone call from someone asking, “Would you like to do another episode?” I love working with the cast and crew, and I love sitting down and watching one of my episodes going out for the first time, knowing that the audience is watching along out there. Oh, and my first day on the TARDIS, with David. He came up and said, “We’ve all been where you are now. You’re eight but you also have to be a grown up. I’d start with a wide shot”.

Q. Drawing from your own experiences, what is the one piece of advice you would give to any aspiring directors reading this?
Make things, don’t just talk about making things.

Q. Finally, have you got any upcoming projects you can tell us about?
I’m waiting for that call…

New series, new Doctor, new adventures. Click here for all the latest on Series 8!

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