Comic-Con 2015: Doctor Who Panel Report

Peter Capaldi, Jenna Coleman, and Michelle Gomez bring Doctor Who back to San Diego!

Blair Marnellby Blair Marnell

Last year, BBC’s Doctor Who skipped last year’s San Diego Comic-Con International. But there was no escape in 2015!

Nerdist founder Chris Hardwick served as the moderator for this year’s Doctor Who panel, which once again invaded Hall H, the biggest room at the San Diego Convention Center. Incumbent Doctor, Peter Capaldi made his Comic-Con debut with convention veterans Jenna Coleman and executive producer, Steven Moffat. Also making her first Comic-Con bow was actress Michelle Gomez, the first woman to portray The Master. Although The Master is now calling herself “Missy.”

After being introduced, Capaldi mentioned that he had never been in front of 7,000 people before. And yet he worked the crowd like a professional by urging the back of the room to cheer loudly.

The first question was about whether Moffat made the current Doctor more irritable and harsh because he had cast Capaldi in the role. Capaldi joked that Moffat saw those qualities in him, but Moffat’s contention was that the various Doctors are surprisingly similar on paper. He added that the actors are the ones who really change the Doctor, and the writers have to get out of the way and facilitate it.

Capaldi spoke about feeling the weight of Doctor Who when he took on the role, as he had watched it since he was six years old. He also shared a story about his first appearance as a guest star on Doctor Who in which he asked David Tennant (the Tenth Doctor) to show him his TARDIS. Capaldi related that he thought that would be his only appearance on Doctor Who, and he never thought that the series would once again cast an older Doctor.

Coleman revealed that they are currently in the middle of filming the ninth season of Doctor Who. She also added that the Doctor and Clara are more on equal footing this year, after having a more rocky relationship in the eighth season. This season, she is head first in the TARDIS with the Doctor. Coleman also noted that Clara is a control freak, which is why she tried to maintain a life outside of the TARDIS in the eighth season.

Related: Watch The First Doctor Who Season 9 Trailer!

Gomez told the crowd that she loves playing Missy. According to her, Missy is the friend that you love to hate. The one who says the things that we’re not allowed to say. The rules don’t apply to her. Gomez reiterated that Missy and the Doctor are friends, he’s just getting in the way of her destroying the universe.

“We both kill a lot of people,” she said. “He feels bad about it. I don’t.”

Moffat said that Missy isn’t the Doctor’s archenemy and he added that the idea of them being friends dates back several Doctors and several decades. Capaldi said that his Doctor finds Missy distressing. He’s pleased to see her, but his heart sinks when he sees her because he remembers their last encounter.

“Life is sh**, business as usual.” Capaldi added, as he seemed to channel his former character, Malcolm Turner from The Thick of It. The crowd seemed to be a little surprised that he swore on the panel.

Regarding the Doctor and Clara’s near breakup in the eighth season, Coleman said that Clara was scared during “Kill The Moon” and didn’t feel safe at that moment. She was more familiar with the Eleventh Doctor, but now she and the Twelfth Doctor are back on the same page for season 9.

Hardwick then premiered the first trailer for Doctor Who Season 9, which teased Gomez’s return as Missy and hinted at upcoming threats for the Doctor and Clara. The trailer also revealed the season premiere date: Saturday, September 19.

After the trailer, Capaldi mentioned that season nine “has been a gas” and the writers are writing for his Doctor now. He added that he first felt like the Doctor when they threw a rubber spider in his face and told him to fight it.

Related: Game of Thrones Actress Maisie Williams Guest Stars In Doctor Who Season 9

Coleman reiterated that Clara is having a lot of fun pushing forward in their adventures. But she noted that life in the TARDIS is addictive. She added that Clara is tutoring the Doctor about social situations to make him “more of a welcome party guest.” Capaldi noted that he always thought that the Doctor was the guy who said “come with me and all of time and space awaits.” But if you hesitate, he leaves you behind.

As for Missy, Gomez said that there is something different about her now, which has created a new dynamic between her and the Doctor. Moffat added that fans will be surprised by how Missy comes back, but he promised that she will be just as violent and psychopathic as she has ever been.

Moffat sidestepped the question about a possible female Doctor by noting that there is no vacancy in the title role, but he thinks his opinion is fairly obvious within the context of the show. Coleman said it would come down to casting, while Capaldi joked that he could do an episode in drag. Coleman added that he shouldn’t have said that in front of Moffat, because he’ll do it!

Capaldi had a more elegant way of dancing around a fan question. He was asked which past companion would his Twelfth Doctor like to travel with. He said Clara was his top choice, but he added that the Doctor would probably like to see his granddaughter (Susan) again.

Gomez had the funniest answer about a perfect day for Missy: squashing big bugs, starting with some tea and slapping Wonder Woman in the face. Coleman said that Clara’s perfect day would involve teaching a bit of Jane Austen and then jetting off to Jupiter to kill some octopus shaped aliens before having tea with the Doctor. Capaldi admitted that the Doctor can’t handle a perfect day. He would become bored too quickly.

Regarding the potential of a Doctor Who and Sherlock crossover, Moffat said that he wasn’t against it. But he added that many others were against it. Moffat also joked about showing his love to Matt Smith’s Doctor by trapping him in a village for hundreds of years and aging him to death. He added that he will show his “love” for Capaldi’s Doctor at some point on the show.

Capaldi was asked a bizarre question about feeling the other Doctors inside of him while he plays the part. He admitted that he does feel the influence from time to time. He insisted that he doesn’t emulate any of them, but they echo throughout the show. Later, Capaldi mentioned that he was amazed by how popular the show is, and he enjoys receiving the combined affection of 50 plus years from the fans.

Near the end of the panel, the trailer for LEGO Dimensions was played, with Capaldi voicing the LEGO Doctor while teaming up with Batman, Gandalf, Wyldstyle, Homer Simpson, and even Doc Brown from Back to the Future! The crowd seemed to love it.

To close out the panel, Hardwick revealed that Nerdist is producing a Doctor Who special that will be broadcast on BBC America next month.