The traditional Doctor Who Christmas Special finally enters production this week (filming is due to start on 6th August at a familiar Cardiff location) following a script read-through on Friday 3rd August. Details of the episode, as usual written by current showrunner/executive producer Steve Moffat are still under wraps but the BBC have announced that the guest cast of the as-yet-unnamed episode, likely to be transmitted in a prime time Christmas Evening slot will include legendary, iconic 55 year-old actor Richard E Grant. The Swaziland-born British star remains best known to UK audiences for his role as the drunken Withnail in the British cinema classic Withnail And I (which co-starred eighth Doctor Paul McGann). Grant has also appeared in feature films such as Gosford Park, Twelfth Night, Jack and Sarah and most recently as Michael Heseltine in The Iron Lady. Grant has also featured in Spiceworld: The Movie and Horrid Henry: The Movie and provided the voice for Preston in the animated Garfield: A Tale Of Two Kitties.
Richard E Grant is no stranger to the world of Doctor Who. In 1999 he played "the Quite Handsome" Doctor in Steven Moffat's Comic Relief parody The Curse of Fatal Death and in 2003 briefly became the 'ninth' Doctor when he took on the role in a web-only BBC animated adventure 'Scream of the Shalka', the first in a proposed series which was quickly abandoned when the BBC announced the imminent return of the TV series.
The Christmas Special also introduces actress Jenna Louise Coleman as the Doctor’s new companion (who, according to unconfirmed reports, is called Clara), following the departure of Amy (Karen Gillen) and Rory (Arthur Darvill) in episode five of the seventh series, still in production in and around South Wales.
Doctor Who returns to BBC screens at the end of August.