The Master is back and he’s feeling inspired. Doctor Who is getting ready for its season finale, which pits Jodie Whittaker’s Doctor against the Cybermen, and co-star Sacha Dhawan is sharing new details on what it’s like going from playing a real-world Doctor Who director to one of the show’s most-significant characters, while noting how his new ensemble honors that initial debut.
In a Q&A posted on Twitter, Dhawan chatted with fans after the debut of the first episode of Doctor Who’s two-part season finale, “Ascension of the Cybermen.” (Our recap will be up soon!) Dhawan shocked audiences in the New Year’s Day premiere with the Master reveal, which he said was so secret he couldn’t even tell former Doctor Peter Capaldi, who was co-starring in a play with him (although Dhawan did accidentally spoil it for former showrunner Stephen Moffat).
You may recall, however, Dhawan made his quasi-Doctor Who debut in An Adventure in Space and Time, a 2013 biographical film about the making of the first episode of Doctor Who, which featured William Hartnell (played by David Bradley) as the first Doctor. Dhawan’s role was that of Waris Hussein, the episode’s director, putting him front-and-center in the making of history. But now that he’s playing the Master, Dhawan realized he’s now a part of it too.
“Playing the first director of Doctor Who, alone, was just an amazing opportunity. I never expected in a million years that, years later, I’ll be then playing the Master. It’s brilliant,” he said. “In a way, by being a part of An Adventure in Space and Time, history had already been written. I guess, with this, I was writing my own history and that was pretty exciting but pretty nervewracking as well.”
Even though his foray into Doctor Who history is with Whittaker’s Doctor, Dhawan is still paying tribute to An Adventure in Space and Time...in his own way. He also said his costume, while based on all the Doctors, notably pays tribute to Hartnell with the cut and design of his jacket. He also mentioned he sent Ray Holman, the costume designer, a bunch of punk rock images to give his Master a sort-of rebellious look. Even now, he said he loves seeing fanart of his portrayal as the Master—something he noted feels especially significant given how he’s the first British Indian actor to take on the role.
“To be the first British Indian actor playing the role, and then seeing fanart that represents me and how I look, is amazing,” he added.
Doctor Who will end its latest season on Sunday with the second half of “Ascension of the Cybermen.” Season 13 hasn’t been officially confirmed, but showrunner Chris Chibnall has indicated he’s already working on it.
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