Heartbreak Hotel Doctor Who Confidential


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Heartbreak Hotel

Series going behind the scenes of Doctor Who. Writer Toby Whithouse tells why he set his latest Doctor adventure in a hotel with a difference.


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This is Matt Smith. Confidential. Prime time.

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You're tuning in to Confidential on BBC Three.

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It's all set in a creepy hotel.

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A Doctor Who story in a hotel with lots of corridors.

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That struck me as very Doctor Who.

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It is disturbing...

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..and scary.

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We've got such a good monster.

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STOMPING

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We've all got to face some big fears.

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Check in with Confidential, as we reserve you a room

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with a view of all the backstage action.

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February 2011, and the Doctor Who team gather together

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for the script read through for episode 11.

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Right, everybody. Welcome to Toby Whithouse's God Complex.

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I'll read out the stage directions very fast.

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"It looks like a perfectly ordinary corridor, doors on either side,

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"some with shoes placed outside.

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' "We follow the back of Lucy Miller, as she plods along the corridor.

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' "She stands outside the door, peers into the bedroom." '

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When I'm stuck alone in a hotel,

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I always think it's a bit creepy and strange

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and you can get lost easily. I can anyway. Um...

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So I suggested that to Toby.

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"There's a hotel. The corridors shift around. What can you do with that?"

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"You were surprised to be back, you walked in the opposite direction."

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The walls move. Everything changes.

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You, clever one. What's he talking about?

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'The hotel in The God Complex'

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is a sophisticated prison that's going around

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plucking up sacrifices and tributes.

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But this is a hotel you definitely wouldn't want to stay at.

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Finding your room isn't a problem, but finding your way out might be.

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'The hotel is, essentially, a maze.

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'It struck me that,'

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obviously, you want a threat, some kind of monster.

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What creature would you have in a maze?

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'It struck me that the most logical thing to have in a maze would be a minotaur.'

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-I'd like to see Spencer walk that corner.

-Which corner?

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You know, the route that he would take...

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Just come in, stopping in the middle and going out towards that door.

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OK. Shh. Here we go, then.

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Three, two, one, action!

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Amy!

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He's beautiful.

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-Stop, stop, stop, stop!

-Very good.

-Thanks, Spencer.

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It was a Scottish monster,

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because it was wearing a kilt and a sporran.

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CREATURE ROARS

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The minotaur in The God Complex is a god of a civilisation who,

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as the people have become more secular,

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and more religiously apathetic,

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the god has become redundant and so,

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they deposited this god into a very complex prison.

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They're not doors, they're walls, walls that look like doors.

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The windows are... Right.

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The prison travels around through space,

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plucking people from different planets and different civilisations

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who have a very strong belief system.

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-You're a Muslim.

-Don't be frightened.

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This faith is what actually feeds the creature.

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And...it will take these people, pop them into this environment

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and generally frighten them.

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Filming the biggest fear scene called for the Doctor Who team

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to turn a few heads and try their hands at some creepy puppetry.

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We wanted a big kind of bold visual image.

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Um... And so we walk in,

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and there is this whole gaggle of ventriloquists' dummies.

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There is something very macabre about ventriloquists' dummies.

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So we had this idea that they would walk in

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and there is a whole room of them.

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One wasn't enough, you want a whole room of them and surrounding him.

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With a room full of dummies,

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extra pairs of hands were needed to help handle them all.

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Because we have so many dummies,

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we have had several people coming in all lending a hand.

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We had our production manager lying on the floor operating dummies.

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We've had several of the runners in doing some dummies,

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the rigger, lots of people lending a hand today.

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DUMMIES CACKLE

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We've basically been trying to make them like talk and interact,

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turning their heads, trying to put in some movements

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to make it look like they are talking to each other.

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And then that kind of creepy turn of the head

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which really, really makes them feel quite unnatural and unnerving.

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All the way through,

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the creature has wanted nothing more than its own death.

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' "The Doctor creeps out of the bedroom. The minotaur is stumbling away down the corridor,

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' "its back to the Doctor.

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' "The minotaur's legs give way and it falls to the floor with a crash." '

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Doctor.

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Flicker.

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Lighting.

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' "It lays there, its breath a wheezing rumble.

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' "The Doctor looks down at the dying minotaur. There's no sense of victory, no triumph." '

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I severed the food supply, I gave you the space to die.

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By severing the food supply at that moment,

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it allows the creature to withdraw because the creature is

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a creature of instinct and so, even though it's yearning for this thing, yearning for its own oblivion,

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every time it's offered more food it can't help it.

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It has to just go and feed.

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Shh... Shh...

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' "There's a clanking sound like generators shutting down.

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' "The entire hotel starts to flicker off.

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-' "Amy joins the Doctor. They look down at the creature." '

-What is it? A minotaur or an alien?

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' "The creature is speaking. The Doctor and Amy hurry over." '

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The line where the creature says,

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"An ancient creature, drenched in the blood of the innocent."

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Drifting through space in an ever-shifting maze.

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For such a creature,

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death would be a gift.

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That was the first line of dialogue I wrote for the whole episode,

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because it felt as though there was this bizarre similarity between, um,

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the creature who constantly sort of uses people up and consumes them,

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and also, trapped in this bizarre labyrinth going through space.

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And the echoes between that and the Doctor and the TARDIS

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felt so kind of obvious.

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And accept it. And sleep well.

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It's like the creature has held up a mirror to the Doctor,

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so that he can see the comparison between his life and the minotaur's.

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I wasn't talking about myself.

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It quickly transpires, to the Doctor's chilling horror,

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that the minotaur was actually talking about him.

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Of course, since we know the Doctor is two episodes from death,

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'that hits close to him.'

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Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd

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E-mail subtitling@bbc.co.uk

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Confidential is on set with David Walliams as he makes his Doctor Who debut. Find out what made writer Toby Whithouse set his latest Doctor adventure in a hotel with a difference and discover how to make heads turn in a room full of ventriloquist dummies.

Spend 'A Day in the Life' with the writer on a very revealing set visit when he finally gets face to face with his very own creation, plus more teasers on Death is the Only Answer - an exclusive three-minute Doctor Who episode written by schoolchildren.

Featuring interviews with Matt Smith, Karen Gillan, Arthur Darvill and David Walliams.