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Doctor Who: RTD on Yasmin Finney Casting; Billie Piper's "Rose" Love

Doctor Who showrunner Russell T. Davies offers some insight into casting Yasmin Finney, while Billie Piper sends Finney some "Rose" love.

As we inch ever-so-closer to this November's three-episode Doctor Who 60th-anniversary event, we're starting to learn more and more about what Russell T. Davies has in store for David Tennant's Fourteenth Doctor and Catherine Tate's Donna Noble. For this go-around, Davies is sharing some thoughts on the casting of Yasmin Finney, a Black transgender woman, in a role with a very familiar name – Rose. Writing in Doctor Who Magazine #591 (which you can order here), Davies explained how the show approaches its casting process for every role. "We're looking for good actors. That's the most fundamental line. Good acting, gay, straight, in between, whatever, the actor we choose has to be good. That's the only thing that matters," Davies explained.

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Image: BBC

When it comes to the issue of only casting LGBTQ+ actors in LGBTQ+ roles, Davies admits that their stance has been an "evolving" thing over the course of his career. "I find myself at the heart of a web – of my own making, okay! – discussing the rights and wrongs of casting, especially when it comes to LGBTQ+ roles. And it's an evolving thing. My stance changes over the years as I learn more and more. My opinions change like they're meant to," Davies writes. "When I express a preference for casting gay actors in gay roles, some critic will hold up 'Queer as Folk' from 1999 and say, but you cast straight men in that! Yes, I say, and I owe them everything; their bravery allowed me to move forwards, but more significantly, that was 24 years ago. Do you still think the same as 24 years ago? And then they stick their dummies back in their mouths, and I think, oh, you do."

By casting Finney in the role, Davies sees it as an opportunity to make the viewer's experience (and their own) richer by bringing someone into their lives (through their screens) with a life experience uniquely from their own. "The joy of casting like this is in making my own experience richer, and I hope the viewers' too. That's what's brilliant about working with Yasmin Finney – through contact with her, I've witnessed her ideals, her politics, her family, her fights, her triumphs, her life in this world. A life I might never have known. It's a journey and a joy. I love it, and I hope I can do more, more, more." And it looks like Finney is getting some love & support from the franchise's original "Rose," Billie Piper – who left the following comment in the BBC show's official Instagram post promoting the newest edition of Doctor Who Magazine:

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Image: Instagram Screencap

Joining Tennant and Tate are Neil Patrick Harris in a big bad role (possibly The Toymaker/The Celestial Toymaker?) & Yasmin Finney as the interestingly-named Rose (Hmmm…). In addition, Jacqueline King & Karl Collins are returning as Sylvia Noble & Shaun Temple, respectively, Ruth Madeley is set to appear as Shirley Anne Bingham, and Bernard Cribbins is set to posthumously appear, reprising his role as Wilfred Mott. In addition, fans of the comics can expect to see Beep the Meep and the Wrarth Warriors play a major part, and – as if all of that wasn't enough – Ncuti Gatwa is expected to debut as the Fifteenth Doctor.

With all three episodes written by Davies, we learned the episode titles during this weekend's Eurovision 2023 broadcast: Special One: "The Star Beast" (directed by Rachel Talalay), Special Two: "Wild Blue Yonder" (directed by Tom Kingsley), and Special Three': "The Giggle" (directed by Chanya Button). Now, here's a look at the official trailer/episode title announcement video released this afternoon:

Button, Kingsley & Talalay on Doctor Who 60th Anniversary Episodes

Directors Button, Kingsley & Talalay recently shared their reactions to first reading Davies's scripts with Doctor Who Magazine. "Each special has a really different flavour. It feels like Russell [T. Davies] flexing his muscles and showing all the different things 'Doctor Who' can do," Kingsley shared – a sentiment shared by all three directors. Here's a look at some of the highlights:

Kingsley Discusses "Absolute Nightmare" Episode, Teases "Aliens" & "The Thing" Comparison: "I opened mine and just tore through it. Even as a reading experience, it was so exciting. But I kind of got to the end of it and thought, 'Well, I pity whoever has to direct that cos it's an absolute nightmare!' I was planning to email my agent the next day and say, "It's amazing, but… no way." But when I woke up the next morning, I was still thinking about it, and I started to figure out: 'Well, how could you actually do this?' Because a lot of my episode is quite weird. Even at the readthrough, Rachel, your episode went down so well, and I was really jealous of you getting to direct it. Because there are so many complicated stage directions in mine, the reaction in the room was a bit like, 'Um, sorry, what?' Which made me think it was going to be a disaster. But of course, when you come to film it, it's actually really cool. It's got a lot of similarities with two of my favourite films, 'Aliens' and 'The Thing.' It's a little bit of the DNA of those mixed in with 'Doctor Who.'"

Talalay Read All Three & Outlines Some Key Differences Between Them: "I read all three, and my first reaction was, 'Wow!' The first one is classic family 'Who.' It's bringing back that world that Russell left [in 2010] with David and Catherine. And then after that, it becomes much more expansive, with Russell really throwing his massive imagination at it while also being thoughtful about setting up the next series.

Talalay's Episode Allowed Director a Chance to Embrace "The Stuff That Scares You": "My episode features lots of people in lots of scenes. There's soldiers, there's battles, and I thought, 'I haven't always succeeded in doing the action stuff, with loads of extras, that well in the past. This is really scary for me.' So I was determined to do that part really, really well. It's all about embracing the stuff that scares you."

Button's Episode "Was Just the Most Expansive Thing" That the Director Has Ever Read: "It was just the most expansive thing I've ever read. Every page I turned, it was a different world and a different idea and a different sort of bonkers and inspiring adventure. It was just the ultimate luxury to read it and go, 'This is a writer at the very peak of his abilities, completely unbound and confident in what he's putting on the page.' Which, as a director, is really empowering. It's challenging, in the most positive way possible, for someone to go: 'Here's a big idea; let's see how you do it.'"

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Ray FlookAbout Ray Flook

Serving as Television Editor since 2018, Ray began five years earlier as a contributing writer/photographer before being brought onto the core BC team in 2017.
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