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Graduate directs latest Doctor Who

24 August 2011

BU graduate Richard Senior on set with Matt Smith

BU TV graduate is behind this weekend’s ‘Let’s Kill Hitler’ episode.

BA (Hons) Television and Video Production graduate Richard Senior achieved First Class Honours from Bournemouth University in 2002.

Now, just nine short years later he’s directed the eagerly awaited Doctor Who episode ‘Let’s Kill Hitler,’ which airs on BBC television on Saturday (27 August).

“I loved the series when I was a kid and was gutted when it got axed in the late 80s,” said Richard. “I always said I wanted to help revive it. In fact it was one of the reasons I got into TV in the first place. I've been involved with the series for quite a few years now, but to actually have the chance to direct an episode has been my inner-geek's dream come true.”

‘Let’s Kill Hitler’ is the first of the remaining six episodes of the current series and sees the TARDIS crash-land in Berlin in the 1930s. And Richard’s behind the scenes account is intriguing.

“I started work on it back in March, filmed for two and a half weeks in April, spent a few weeks editing and then what seems like months getting involved with visual effects, sound mixes and grading sessions. I also directed an extra two-day shoot in July because the opening scenes are set in a cornfield, but there aren't any cornfields in Cardiff in April. So we pretty much had to plant one and wait! This means we were the last episode of the autumn series to finish filming but the first to be transmitted, so the turn-around has been quite frantic.”

The show’s writer and producer, Steven Moffat, recently slated fans who spoil the plot surprises, but will Richard reveal anything about the programme?

“No,” he says. “If I say too much they'll have me Exterminated. But I can tell you that it's got Hitler in it. Although you've probably guessed that already! It's probably best described as Terminator 2 meets Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. We answer a lot of questions from the ongoing series arc, so it'll certainly make a bit more sense if you've seen the previous few episodes. But Steven's very cleverly made sure it's got enough stand-alone elements to make it enjoyable for people who just dip in and out of the series.”

But having achieved his Doctor Who directing debut, what’s next in line for this TV talent?

“Right now I want to do a lot more of what I'm doing right now,” he said. “I love directing drama and I've got so much more to learn. Maybe eventually I'll be talking about features but that's a very long way off. And right now I'm in the process of optioning a screenplay which I'm co-writing with another Bournemouth University 2002 TV graduate Mark Hurdle.”

And speaking of his time here, Richard said: “If it weren't for the Media School at Bournemouth University I wouldn't be here now. It's so highly regarded that just having it on your CV will open doors. My work experience placements were fixed through graduates and my first job at CBBC was thanks to some contacts I'd made through the course.

“My graduation film got me my creative job at Red Bee and the basic skills I learnt during three years of practical production projects are what I've been developing for the last nine years in order to end up shooting in the TARDIS,” he continued. “Most importantly my time in Bournemouth gave me the confidence to trust my own ideas and the tenacity to pursue my ambitions. I've never regretted choosing Bournemouth and I'm sure it'll help me in years to come in ways that I will never even know.”

The Doctor Who episode ‘Let’s Kills Hitler’ is screened on Saturday 27 August at 19.10 on BBC1.

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