The Doctor Who director tasked with introducing the world to the secret new Doctor in Season 12 admits that it was an experience that weighed on her nerves. Nida Manzoor directed the episode "Fugitive of the Judoon," which introduced Jo Martin as Ruth and revealed the Ruth persona was a façade to hide her true origin as the Doctor, who, at this point in her timeline, was on the run from the Judoon. The episode made Martin the first person of color to play the Doctor and opened the door to the origin-altering retcon of the season's finale episode, "The Timeless Children."
"It was so exciting to be part of that piece of casting and to have the honor to direct an actor with the kind of caliber and breadth of ability as Jo and Jodie together," Manzoor tells Digital Spy. "I always felt like I was in some kind of dream. It was pinch-me moments constantly.
"It was honestly such a great experience for me. It was the biggest thing I'd done so far. So coming onto it, I felt nerves, like, 'Oh, I'm really kind of stepping into the big leagues. This is a machine.' They have their kind of ongoing crew, but the crew are so awesome, and they really made me feel welcome."
As an episodic director on the show, the amount of input Manzoor had into the Fugitive Doctor's debut may surprise some fans. "You know, Chris Chibnall's a very generous showrunner," Manzoor says. I was able to discuss with the costume, 'What do we want her to wear? The aesthetic? What does her TARDIS look like?' We had different lighting options. 'What about her skin tones? Her costume?'
"We were really trying to think carefully about how we can really make her just look so badass. 'Is she badass? Does she look cool? What is she wearing?' [laughs] These things were just so important. I felt really lucky with that, actually, because it has so many shifts for both those Doctors. One of my favorite things as a director is performance, working with the actors, and finding the truth, finding the vulnerability, and all the shades. They're both so generous to work with."
What did you think of Jo Martin's debut as the Doctor in "Fugitive of the Judoon"? Let us know in the comments section.