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Christmas Special Production Diaries Part 3

Updated: Jun 13, 2022

Day 37 - 23/11/16

Our incredibly busy week of filming continued on Wednesday, with filming back at my flat. It was lovely to welcome Victoria George-Veale back to the production, filming her first Christmas scene today.

Although this is the first scene we've shot with Steph for the Christmas special, it's actually the third one she's in in the episode. Liam comes to her for advice and gets it - although it might not be the advice he was looking for! The scene is a bit of an emotional rollercoaster, going from anger to sadness to laughter and both Victoria and Andrew are superb in the scene.

Day 38 - 25/11/16

With the second day of filming at my flat, we filmed Steph's first scene in the episode, where Andrew comes to ask her advice about his gift conundrum. Before shooting, it was decided to change the location of the scene from the living room (where the other scenes were shot) to the kitchen. Well, it wouldn't be a Whovians shoot at my flat without a bit of filming in the kitchen!

The scene is quite exposition-heavy, laying out Andrew's dilemma, but there's also a couple of very nice character moments as well where the two old friends are there for one another. There was a bit of debate over one of Andrew's lines (over whether Bacardi Breezers still exist, so the line was changed just in case) but generally the shoot went really smoothly and we got the scene quickly.

Day 39 - 27/11/16

Another bittersweet day, as this was the last day of filming for Victoria. We saved a big emotional scene for the last day, as Steph finally gets to face off against her mother and give her a few home truths. It was a pleasure to welcome Alison Lenihan back as Glenys; she and Victoria played so well off each other in Dinner With Monsters that, when we were planning the Christmas episode, I couldn't resist bringing Glenys back and focusing on the mother-daughter relationship in more depth.

We got the big emotional scene out of the way first. Both Alison and Victoria really gave their all during the various takes of this scene, with Victoria's fury and vulnerability bringing me to tears on more than one take (and I've been living with this part of the script for months). It's a very dramatic moment within the special and it was amazing to be on set to see it come to life.

After a break, we moved on to gentler and less confrontational scenes, two of which took place in the hallway of the flat (which drew a few comments from people in the other flats but nothing too major). Alison is particularly good in the second of these, showing a very different side to Glenys than has previously been seen.

After this, we got the final shot we needed and were able to wrap both Alison and Victoria. Our second main Whovian wrapped for the final time. We realised that this feeling would only intensity as we move ever closer to the final day of filming.

Day 40 - 04/12/16

Today was a day of small scenes and 2nd Unit shots to make our last shoot on the 5th December a lot easier.We all started at Gloworks, this time doubling as a bar for Liam’s date scenes. We had two dates to film with two guest actresses Faebian Averies and Sophie Moore. Both were fantastic and great to work with - the small scenes really pop and are very funny.

We finished off these first few scenes with Andrew Machin filming a one side of a phone call - a few takes and letting traffic pass and he was done. Literally done as Liam. That was it; a wrap for him.

We continued the rest of the day getting shots of Rhys Jones and Teddy Smith who cameo in the episode as two security guards. A few hours later and it was thoughts of the final ever shoot on Whovians... a very weird feeling indeed!

Day 41 - 05/12/16

So, our final day of shooting. Not only was it a night shoot (OK, we started at 8pm), we were also filming exteriors. You would think certain areas of Cardiff Bay on a Monday evening would be relatively quiet. However, stick a camera crew in there and put a few lights up and it's amazing how quickly you attract attention.

We only had three short scenes to get outside and then could luckily move indoors. One involved Matthew Fisher being chased whilst wearing a gas mask- which meant he couldn't see properly, and ended up running into a fence on one take- whilst the other involved Matthew, Ben Wilson and Rob Mealins which we asked them to improvise. It was the very definition of a one-take wonder (as the crew had to bite their tongues to stop them laughing). As for the third... well, watch the episode to find out.

After these scenes, and wrapping Matthew Fisher for the last time, we were able to move indoors to complete the rest of the filming. We focused on the major dialogue scene first- which sees Bradley and Andrew hiding under a desk which turns into a heart-to-heart. Lovely performances by both Ben and Rob in this scene and it provides a lovely dramatic moment in amongst their hijinks.

Once we were happy with the scene, we got Ben and Rob running up and down the stairs with GoPros attached to themselves and to the bannisters, with Rhys following on camera. Once we got the footage needed, at just after 11pm, Rhys called a wrap for the final time.

And so, after 41 days of shooting over six months, principal photography on Whovians Series 2 was completed.

A massive thank you to all our cast and crew- every single one of you mad, dedicated, passionate and utterly talented people- for all your hard work in getting Series 2 and the Christmas special made. You're all stars.

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