Doctor Who writer Chris Chibnall has been talking to SFX about tonight’s new episode – which is of course entitled, Dinosaurs on a Spaceship – and as well as teasing the pre-historic action, he revealed that the cast and crew of the show had great fun filming it.
First, when asked, “What was the origin of ‘Dinosaurs On A Spaceship’?” Chibnall said, “It just started with the title…
“I had a meeting with Steven Moffat, and he said, ‘I have just four words to say to you: Dinosaurs On A Spaceship.’
“At which point my heart leapt internally, and I tried to look cool.
“I just went quiet for a second. My thought process was, very simply: ‘He can’t mean that. How on Earth could we ever achieve that?’
“And at the same time, ‘Fantastic. That’s the best title ever!’ In reality, I just said, ‘Oh yeah, okay, great. I get that. I can see that. I’d love to do that.’
“And I went away and came back with a proposal of how we’d do it.”
Of the “challenges” in creating the episode, Chibnall said, “There were two sides to it, one of which was, you know going in that it’s not a Michael Bay budget.
“It’s a Doctor Who budget. A BBC budget, although a very good one.
“But you know you can’t do dinosaurs endlessly for 45 minutes, so there has to be a big ‘other’ story going on.
“That was my job really, to go, ‘Okay, this is the story I want to tell around the dinosaurs, why they’re there and who’s with the Doctor’ and all that kind of stuff.
“Then the other side of it was talking to The Mill – who do the effects – and saying, on a technical and practical level, ‘How can we achieve this?’
“Because this should actually be impossible on Doctor Who’s budget. We should not be able to do this.
“So, it was also a technical challenge: writing something they could make, but still to deliver on that promise of ‘dinosaurs on a spaceship’. That was an enormous challenge.”
As to the creation of the scary dinosaurs, Chibnall revealed, “They all got created from scratch.
“I went into the meeting thinking, ‘They did Primeval. Fantastic. We’ve got a catalogue.’
“And they said, ‘Yeah, we can’t use any of those. They belong to Impossible Pictures.’ Which is, of course, correct and fair enough.
“So everything has been built from scratch. So it was a bit of a catalogue of favourites, to be honest. But also what the story demanded.
“You want some herbivores, you want some carnivores, you want some big ones, you want some small ones.
“It was just, really, how many can we do? And what variety? Very difficult to imagine doing it without pterodactyls, for example, because the Doctor running away from pterodactyls… you can’t see that often enough.
“I don’t know why every episode doesn’t have that in.”
And finally, when asked, “How much of that… plot can you reveal without being too spoilery?” Chibnall replied, “The Doctor is summoned to the Indian Space Agency and is told that there’s a craft which is about to collide with Earth.
“And so he rounds up a gang and goes to investigate what’s on there. Because there are some ‘very large’ life signals on there.
“And that’s really the main thrust of it to be honest…
“The whole thing with this is to think of as many ideas as possible and as much fun as possible.
“That was the big brief from Steven. It was [a] ‘big, fun, loud romp’.”
Doctor Who: Dinosaurs On A Spaceship airs tonight at 7.35pm on BBC1, but for now, here’s a reminder of the episode’s trailer…