Press and Publicity Articles for The Magician's Apprentice / The Witch's Familiar
Michelle Gomez arrives in Cardiff this week to rejoin the Doctor Who cast and reclaim the role of ‘Missy’ for series 9. She joins Peter Capaldi (The Doctor) and Jenna Coleman (Clara Oswald) for the opening episode of the series.
Speaking in Cardiff, Michelle Gomez says: “Things have been a little beige since I left Missy behind, so I'm delighted to be putting my lippie back on. I'm positively dying to see The Doctor again!”
The second two-part episode to be filmed, The Magician's Apprentice and The Witch's Familiar, is written by the show’s lead writer Steven Moffat, produced by Peter Bennett and directed by Hettie MacDonald (Blink, the Hugo Award-winning Doctor Who episode).
Steven Moffat, lead writer and Executive Producer, says: “Everybody hide - Michelle Gomez as Missy was an instant hit last year, so she’s straight back to plague the Doctor and Clara in the series opener. But what brings her back into their lives is the last thing they’d expect.”
Having filmed The Day of The Doctor in the series’ 50th anniversary special and Dark Water and Death in Heaven in series 8, Jemma Redgrave returns to the guest cast for series 9, alongside the Laurence Olivier Award nominee and film, television, radio and stage actress Kelly Hunter.
A familiar theatre and television actress and one of the UK’s most proficient performers, Clare Higgins also joins the guest cast for the opening of the series. Jaye Griffiths has been gracing our screens in some of the nation’s favourite TV programmes such as Silent Witness and Casualty and also takes up a guest role in the opening episode.
Doctor Who is a BBC Cymru Wales production for BBC One and will be back on-air this Autumn.
Press reaction to this years season première, The Magician's Apprentice has been overwhelmingly positive, with most of the reviewers enjoying the storyline and the performances in the episode.
Rare praise for the BBC came from the The Daily Mail whose reviewer thought "Doctor Who was ridiculously good - a sharp, fast, thrilling, piece of historic, futuristic, television: the BBC at its best". The Telegraph was less convinced by the show's storyline but more by its lead actor. "Rarely has a show been so dependent on the skills of a single actor - and Capaldi is a good one: able to bring just enough emotional depth to a comicbook caper to render it dramatic".
The Mirror thought the show belonged to Missy. "Michelle Gomez steals the episode as the demented Time Lady who kills for fun and prances around in the face of greater evil". While The Express thought the episode should have been Peter Capaldi's first episode. "The Davros genesis story is a stroke of genius by Steven Moffat. We've seen the maniacal Nazi-esque creator of the Daleks as a craggy old man, hellbent on destroying the Doctor, but rarely have we seen how the mad genius came to be. And that's exactly what fans got with this episode.".
The Guardian also enjoyed Julian Bleach's performance as Davros. "The bleak devastation he wreaks by the end of the episode is more powerful than any madcap plot to enslave the universe that has come before. And Julian Bleach, returning to the role, wrings every drop of menace.". The Evening Standard called the episode a "gripping start to the latest series. Ray-Bans on, an electric guitar swinging from your neck. To the ever-expanding list of abilities that the last(ish) of the Time Lords has, we can now definitively add one more: Doctor Who can shred."
Patrick Mulkern in Radio Times calls the boy Davros a brilliant idea and says the episode rattles along with barely a bum note, with the gradual reveal of Skaro being beautifully realised.
Over in the States Entertainment Weekly said "From the minute the Doctor’s sonic screwdriver flies through the air and lands at the feet of a child yet to be named, The Magician’s Apprentice feels like coming home"., while Forbes thinks the show is back to its rare form and called the opener "an edge-of-your-seat thriller for recent Who fans and absolute magic for old-school Whovians".
Over in Australia the Sydney Morning Herald praised Michelle Gomez, "A breathtaking performance as Missy, full of gasps, one-liners, moments that lurch from underplayed to overplayed in a breath"
Online Digital Spy thought the episode was mixed. "Not everything works, but with the ideas, twists and gags being packed in at such a rate of knots, there's enough that does - and some of it very well indeed.". CNET described the show as" one of the most idea-packed and high-stakes episodes I can remember", while IGN said it was a "cracking opener to the season with a combination of exciting action, creepy visuals, and tense situations". Games Radar called the episode "a supremely confident series première, and said the show was full of wit and menace, unafraid to take on the show’s museum piece classics."
The Register thought Season 9 a brought Doctor Who back on form with a bang, "from the eerie handmines, to the glorious return of Missy to some excellent clowning around from Capaldi, this episode had it all.", while TV.com said the "episode made me care about Doctor Who and its characters by playing on the show's strengths—especially the relationship between the Doctor and the Master, who's still stealing scenes thanks to a perfect performance from Michelle Gomez"
You can read Doctor Who News's review of the episode on our reviews site.
The Independent felt much of the success of the episode was down to Julian Bleach's performance as Davros. "Steven Moffat’s dialogue was on top form this week, but it shone thanks to Bleach’s superb performance. It’s incredible how much physicality he brought to the role considering how limiting the costume is, utilising body language and facial expressions to maximum effect and pairing them with a powerful vocal performance"
The Guardian also liked the Davros/Doctor dynamic. "Peter Capaldi and Julian Bleach crackled with such warped chemistry", with Radio Times agreeing "Capaldi and Julian Bleach are superb in these moments. There’s a coup de théâtre when, for the first time, the wizened Davros opens his eyes. We’d always assumed he had none. No one but Steven Moffat would have thought to do this."
The Express said you can't help but love the villains."Missy is like a deliciously dangerous cocktail of dry wit laced with a sneaky shot of psychosis. She pulls you in with hers charms and makes you feel comfortable, then the moment you let your guard down or even consider trusting her, she'll have you strung upside down from a tree". The Registrar also loved Michelle Gomez. "Missy once again delivers some of the best lines, such as: "The friend inside the enemy, the enemy inside the friend. Everyone's a bit of both. Everyone's a hybrid.".
TV Fanatic loved the pairing of Clara and Missy "I lost it when Clara mentioned throwing a stone down into the sewers and Missy pushing her in saying. I'm sure we haven't seen the last of The Mistress, but I already can't wait for another team up like this one."
Mashable also loved the duo. "A fantastic comedy double act of psycho and straight person, fighting their way through Skaro towards the Doctor with nothing but a sharpened stick", a sentiment agreed with by 411Mainia. "I know not everyone is in love with Missy, but Michelle Gomez is a highlight of the first two episodes. She is able to have some more wicked fun, which is an important balance since the Doctor is busy being deadly serious"
The Metro loved the pace of the story. This was a thoughtful character piece in which the Doctor saves the day with an act of mercy rather than a simple wave of his sonic. I found that pleasingly old-school, while The Daily Mail loved the fact that Doctor Who can still come up with something fresh. "Seeing the Doctor’s assistant Clara Oswald strapped, trapped, inside a Dalek and only able to communicate like them was ingeniously vivid – palpably claustrophobic and perilous: the fairground ride from hell.".
Not all was positive with TV.com disliking the conclusion to the episode "this climax was dumb. Daleks turning on one another is fine enough, but the sludgey poo of not-quite-dead Daleks attacking their comrades was just... dumb.", while IGN thought the episode a bit of a letdown. "It just can’t satisfactorily resolve some of the bits and pieces showrunner Steven Moffat left dangling last week in the grand first episode."
Digital Spy however thought the episode bleak but rewarding. "Scenes between our effusive hero and a creepily still Davros are dark and uncompromising, they're also utterly scintillating."
You can read Doctor Who News's review of the episode on our reviews site.