Behind the Scenes of The Poison Sky / The Sontaran Stratagem (Part Five)

Excerpts from the DVD Commentary with David Tennant, Russell T. Davies, and producer Susie Liggat:

RTD: Do you know, I’ve always wanted to ask you, David.  When you get a script what do you do?  From scratch
DT: I read it.
RTD: Yeah, but…
DT: I just read it to read it the first time.  And then I’ll read it and I’ll usually mark it up, which is literally just underlining my bits
RTD: Yep yep yep
DT: Which is the first stage of learning it, I suppose, and then you just read it again and you go over certain scenes.  Depending upon how much time you’ve got, whether it’s a script that you’ve had a few weeks in advance or whether it’s one of the ones that creep in at the last minute
RTD:  [laughs] Like they do
DT: …for whatever reason.  Sometimes you have to sort of just buckle down and start learning specific scenes if a schedule is in front of you…
RTD: Do you have to learn it according to the schedule
DT: Yeah, you do.
RTD: Sort of going, “Right, all of the UNIT scenes are first so I’ll learn those first”
DT: Yeah, yeah
RTD: That’s hard, isn’t it?
DT: Well, it’s easier than just learning it chronologically, because you’re just kind of keeping up with the schedule as it comes
RTD: Because it always strikes me, and actually everyone always says this, that you come to read-throughs incredibly prepared.  Do you, or are you winging it?
DT: Weeellll, it’s somewhere between the two, I think.  I think probably as the years have gone on, I enjoy winging it a bit more
RTD: Right
DT: Because I think it can be a bit more… sometimes you can over-prepare things, I think.
RTD: Yep
DT: and I think when we started I think I probably, sort of, would come to the read-through having practiced
[ RTD & SL laugh ]
DT: having made some decisions.  As time goes on it’s better sometimes to… especially when you’re meeting actors for the first time and responding to what they do for the first time, if you’re less… Because the first read-through, you’re sitting there thinking… and everyone… all the BBC bods come up from London… and we did three scripts!  We did The Christmas Invasion, New Earth, and School Reunion in one day and I’d never read The Doctor out loud before
SL: [ gasps ] How frightening!
DT: …and there’s all these people, all these bods coming up from London to kind of… and you’re just sitting there thinking, “I’m going to get sacked!”
RTD: [ big laugh ]
DT: That’s all you’re thinking.  So you’re very precious about it, and I think as time goes on you begin to feel slightly more confident of your position, and you think, well, it’s more interesting, actually, to maybe be a bit looser with it.  A bit freer with it.
RTD: And when do you learn the lines?  Is it late at night?  Is it first thing?  
DT: Just as you go.  Weekends a lot… you know.
SL: Because you are extraordinary.  I can say, I’ve worked with you now virtually solidly for four years - on Casanova and then on to this…
DT: Yeah, yeah. That’s true, that’s true
SL: …so I have seen HOURS of television with you
[ DT & RTD laugh at how she dragged out the word “hours” ]
DT: Hours of it!  
RTD: Sound a bit happier about that!
SL: Hours of Russell’s great writing!
[ waiting for the laughing to die down ]
SL: No! What I’m going to say is, I think in all that time, in all those days and all those lines, I think you’ve probably fluffed twice. You know, it’s extraordinary, you are extraordinary.  
RTD: That’s cursed it!
DT: Yeah!
SL:  No! You really are - at learning your lines
RTD: You are, that’s true
DT: It’s the homework, isn’t it?  You’ve got to do the homework.
SL: Well, you say that but you know some people don’t.  It’s brilliant - you are a great leader by example.
DT: I think you’ve got to. I think we’re in such a privileged position, and I don’t want cameramen standing around waiting for me to remember my lines, you know?
RTD: But also it is a skill of yours, actually.  Actors who have learned their lines, who’ve done all the work, can fluff on the spot
DT: Sure, and sometimes we all do, yeah
RTD: Yeah, but you do it less than most.  Now we’ve cursed it - it will all just go to pot!
DT: Yeah!  Tomorrow’s going to be a really long day!
RTD: Never speak about it out loud. 

A big “thank you!!” to everyone who shares set photos

Additional parts of this photoset: [ one ] [ two ] [ three ] [ four ]
The rest of the behind-the-scenes photosets are available [ here ]


Behind the Scenes of The Poison Sky / The Sontaran Stratagem (Part Four)

Excerpts from Jason Arnopp’s set report from DWM 396

[Discussion while eating deserts and tea with David]
The Doctor’s relationship with violence is a complex one, though, isn’t it? Much as we’re doing now, he often has his cake and eats it.  “The violence is the final resort,” David stresses.  “You should always give people the benefit of the doubt.  In the final moment of the story, the Doctor basically knows he’s gonna have to sacrifice himself and go back up to the Sontaran ship.  But it’s important and valid that he allows them the chance to back down.  It’s important that he will always allow people to find the good in themselves.  He gives them that opportunity even though he knows that because they’re Sontarans and because of what they’re about, they’re not going to back down.  But it’s the morally correct thing to do, to allow that possibility”

That ‘second chance’ opportunity is a very Tenth Doctor thing, isn’t it?

“He would have you believe that he has quite strong rules about it,” nods David.  “'You get once chance, and then I’ll do ya!’  And again, that came up in Partners in Crime, when he tells Ms Foster, ‘You get once chance.  I’d advise you to take it.’ And she doesn’t, and ends up splattered on the pavement!  Of course, it’s not quite as straightforward as that, and he will bend his own rules now and again.  But that moral framework, that moral righteousness, is very important to him.”

A big “thank you!!” to everyone who shares set photos

Additional parts of this photoset: [ one ] [ two ] [ three ] [ five ]
The rest of the behind-the-scenes photosets are available [ here ]