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Toy Cars, Screaming, and Simon Says: How Doctor Who Brought an Alien-Possessed Car to Life

Serious work, this.
Serious work, this.
Image: BBC

Stunts on Doctor Who tend to lean a little more towards the more esoteric: big sweeping monster attacks, lots of explosions, planes crash landing thanks to sneaky plans from familiar foes, you know, same old same old when it comes to adventures in Time and Space. But in its season premiere last night, the team found one of its most dangerous to do involved a car going backward.


Now that Doctor Who is back on our screens, it’s time for lots of lovely little snippets of behind-the-scenes interviews looking at how the show’s latest adventures were put together. Sure, it’s no Doctor Who Confidential (oh, those were the days), but it’s still nice to get something examining how some of the show’s most intricate scenes were put together.


The car chase sequence from “Spyfall” part one—in which the Doctor and her friends’ escort to MI6 headquarters was hijacked by a sinister, beam-shooting alien force and taken for a nearly-deadly joy ride—was apparently one of the most challenging stunts the production team has had to layout. That might be surprising, given that said car chase didn’t include all sorts of pyrotechnics or rubber-suit-covered extras as alien monsters, or whatever other elements a typical Doctor Who action scene might encompass. But driving a car at high speeds through traffic in the dark of night, and then having to do it backward, is indeed a much more daunting prospect than it initially sounds.

That’s for the stunt team at least, whose intricately-planned route to film the chase was aided by the toy cars of Crispin Layfield, Doctor Who’s stunt coordinator. Well, the toy cars of his children—we just get to see Layfield playing with them as he lays out his plan to the stunt driving team, which is frankly hilarious (but a helpful visual aid nonetheless!). And that’s even before you get to throwing the actors into the mix, who, thankfully, did not have to get in an actual speeding car.

Instead, they got into a green screen studio set with a car on it, and simply pretended to be vaulted back and forth while directors yelled which way they were meant to be being flung around in the world’s most lavish game of Simon Says. That’s acting for you: all the fun of being in a kidnapped killer car, none of the deadly threats associated with it.

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James is a News Editor at io9. He wants pictures. Pictures of Spider-Man!

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That was an impressive sequence; good job Team! The motorcycle chase was less engaging though; they might as well have been riding Mopeds.