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.
You're tuning in to Confidential on BBC Three.
It's all set in a creepy hotel.
A Doctor Who story in a hotel with lots of corridors.
That struck me as very Doctor Who.
It is disturbing...
We've got such a good monster.
We've all got to face some big fears.
Check in with Confidential, as we reserve you a room
with a view of all the backstage action.
February 2011, and the Doctor Who team gather together
for the script read through for episode 11.
Right, everybody. Welcome to Toby Whithouse's God Complex.
I'll read out the stage directions very fast.
"It looks like a perfectly ordinary corridor, doors on either side,
"some with shoes placed outside.
' "We follow the back of Lucy Miller, as she plods along the corridor.
' "She stands outside the door, peers into the bedroom." '
When I'm stuck alone in a hotel,
I always think it's a bit creepy and strange
and you can get lost easily. I can anyway. Um...
So I suggested that to Toby.
"There's a hotel. The corridors shift around. What can you do with that?"
"You were surprised to be back, you walked in the opposite direction."
The walls move. Everything changes.
You, clever one. What's he talking about?
'The hotel in The God Complex'
is a sophisticated prison that's going around
plucking up sacrifices and tributes.
But this is a hotel you definitely wouldn't want to stay at.
Finding your room isn't a problem, but finding your way out might be.
'The hotel is, essentially, a maze.
'It struck me that,'
obviously, you want a threat, some kind of monster.
What creature would you have in a maze?
'It struck me that the most logical thing to have in a maze would be a minotaur.'
-I'd like to see Spencer walk that corner.
You know, the route that he would take...
Just come in, stopping in the middle and going out towards that door.
OK. Shh. Here we go, then.
Three, two, one, action!
-Stop, stop, stop, stop!
It was a Scottish monster,
because it was wearing a kilt and a sporran.
The minotaur in The God Complex is a god of a civilisation who,
as the people have become more secular,
and more religiously apathetic,
the god has become redundant and so,
they deposited this god into a very complex prison.
They're not doors, they're walls, walls that look like doors.
The windows are... Right.
The prison travels around through space,
plucking people from different planets and different civilisations
who have a very strong belief system.
-You're a Muslim.
-Don't be frightened.
This faith is what actually feeds the creature.
And...it will take these people, pop them into this environment
and generally frighten them.
Filming the biggest fear scene called for the Doctor Who team
to turn a few heads and try their hands at some creepy puppetry.
We wanted a big kind of bold visual image.
Um... And so we walk in,
and there is this whole gaggle of ventriloquists' dummies.
There is something very macabre about ventriloquists' dummies.
So we had this idea that they would walk in
and there is a whole room of them.
One wasn't enough, you want a whole room of them and surrounding him.
With a room full of dummies,
extra pairs of hands were needed to help handle them all.
Because we have so many dummies,
we have had several people coming in all lending a hand.
We had our production manager lying on the floor operating dummies.
We've had several of the runners in doing some dummies,
the rigger, lots of people lending a hand today.
We've basically been trying to make them like talk and interact,
turning their heads, trying to put in some movements
to make it look like they are talking to each other.
And then that kind of creepy turn of the head
which really, really makes them feel quite unnatural and unnerving.
All the way through,
the creature has wanted nothing more than its own death.
' "The Doctor creeps out of the bedroom. The minotaur is stumbling away down the corridor,
' "its back to the Doctor.
' "The minotaur's legs give way and it falls to the floor with a crash." '
' "It lays there, its breath a wheezing rumble.
' "The Doctor looks down at the dying minotaur. There's no sense of victory, no triumph." '
I severed the food supply, I gave you the space to die.
By severing the food supply at that moment,
it allows the creature to withdraw because the creature is
a creature of instinct and so, even though it's yearning for this thing, yearning for its own oblivion,
every time it's offered more food it can't help it.
It has to just go and feed.
' "There's a clanking sound like generators shutting down.
' "The entire hotel starts to flicker off.
-' "Amy joins the Doctor. They look down at the creature." '
-What is it? A minotaur or an alien?
' "The creature is speaking. The Doctor and Amy hurry over." '
The line where the creature says,
"An ancient creature, drenched in the blood of the innocent."
Drifting through space in an ever-shifting maze.
For such a creature,
death would be a gift.
That was the first line of dialogue I wrote for the whole episode,
because it felt as though there was this bizarre similarity between, um,
the creature who constantly sort of uses people up and consumes them,
and also, trapped in this bizarre labyrinth going through space.
And the echoes between that and the Doctor and the TARDIS
felt so kind of obvious.
And accept it. And sleep well.
It's like the creature has held up a mirror to the Doctor,
so that he can see the comparison between his life and the minotaur's.
I wasn't talking about myself.
It quickly transpires, to the Doctor's chilling horror,
that the minotaur was actually talking about him.
Of course, since we know the Doctor is two episodes from death,
'that hits close to him.'
Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd
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.