'Doctor Who' star John Bishop: 'My audition was on the TARDIS!'

John Bishop as Dan Lewis, standing in front of a wall comprised of glass windows in Liverpool, with the Liver Building visible in the distance behind him
John Bishop as the Doctor's latest companion, Dan Lewis (Image credit: BBC)

John Bishop is the lucky chap who's joining Team TARDIS in Doctor Who season 13 — the comedian and actor is playing Dan Lewis, whose life is set to be irrevocably changed when he and the Doctor cross each other's path.

However, when he was originally approached about the role, John wasn't able to accept it due to scheduling conflicts — and it was only when the COVID-19 pandemic forced him to postpone his tour that he suddenly found himself free and able to take the part after all.

Here John reveals all about his experiences travelling through time and space...

John Bishop on being invited to audition for the part

"We had a conversation about a role that Chris [Chibnall, the Doctor Who showrunner] had thought of, and he thought I might be suitable for it, but as it happened, I was going on tour — the tour was already on sale and was happening, so I reluctantly turned it down. Then, luckily for me, there was a global pandemic — there's always an upside to something! That meant the tour was suspended, so I could do it."

Yaz (Mandip Gill), the Doctor (Jodie Whittaker) and Dan (John Bishop) sneaking cautiously around a corner

Yaz (Mandip Gill) and the Doctor (Jodie Whittaker) with new companion Dan (John Bishop). (Image credit: BBC)

"I had to do an audition on Zoom, with my phone pinned up against the wall with some Blu-Tak, and then when I got through that I had to come to Cardiff and do a chemistry audition with Jodie [Whittaker, who plays the Doctor] to see if we got on — but that was on the TARDIS set, so my application for the job was on the TARDIS! And I thought, 'if I get it, it's a bonus because I've been on it anyway!'"

What has it been like meeting the Doctor Who fans?

"I'm doing the tour now that I was meant to be doing, and I've had people turning up at the venues — you get that anywhere, and they ask for a picture, but they're all turning up with Doctor Who photographs, that's all I'm getting now! I don't think they're even coming to the gigs, they're just coming to get Doctor Who stuff signed and then they're going away! But the hard thing is I'm not allowed to refer to any of the episodes on stage because they haven't gone out yet, so that's something I'm keen to do."

Yaz (Mandip Gill) and Dan (John Bishop) on board the TARDIS, looking apprehensive

What adventures await Yaz (Mandip Gill) and Dan (John Bishop) as they travel with the Doctor? (Image credit: BBC)

You're friends with Bradley Walsh, who played the Doctor's previous companion Graham O'Brien — did you speak to him about the role before taking the job?

"When we were at Soccer Aid, I knew it was happening, but he didn't, so I didn't tell him! I just sat with him at breakfast and asked him a load of questions so he thought I was the biggest Whovian ever: 'what's the set like? What's Cardiff like? What's Jodie like?'. And he was going, 'I've been in it for two years, you've never asked me once!'. I told him afterwards, just before it was announced — I think he had a slight inkling."

What advice did he give you?

"Brad had told me what to expect, and what I expected wasn't what happened, because obviously he was there in a different time. He said things like, 'it's such a social set, everybody has known each other for years, there's a Wednesday club where the cast and crew go out for a drink, there's football on a Thursday' — and none of that happened! I spent nine months on my own in a flat in Cardiff! But there was a real sense of 'we're in this together'."

Yaz (Mandip Gill), the Doctor (Jodie Whittaker) and Dan (John Bishop) hold on for dear life as the TARDIS starts throwing out sparks

The TARDIS in trouble. (Image credit: BBC)

Did you enjoy getting to do stunts?

"Well the problem is, you've got to remember I was all excited about being on the TARDIS. Then on the first day, there was some movement of the TARDIS and they said 'throw yourself', so I literally threw myself around, and everyone went 'what are you doing? There's no crash mat, we haven't got a stunt double, we haven't done a risk assessment!'. I said, 'well, every time I watch it, this is what happens', and they're going 'no, no, you just have to wobble, and the camera wobbles!'. I have to be honest, there's so much more action than I was expecting — I've seen a little bit of the first episode, and it already looks a bit epic!"

Doctor Who: Flux will premiere on Sunday, Oct. 31 at 6:25 pm on BBC1 and BBC iPlayer. Episodes will release weekly on Sundays, with the final episode of the new season set to air on Dec. 5.

Episodes will air in the US on BBC America on the same day.

Steven Perkins
Staff Writer for TV & Satellite Week, TV Times, What's On TV and whattowatch.com

Steven Perkins is a Staff Writer for TV & Satellite Week, TV Times, What's On TV and whattowatch.com, who has been writing about TV professionally since 2008. He was previously the TV Editor for Inside Soap before taking up his current role in 2020. He loves everything from gritty dramas to docusoaps about airports and thinks about the Eurovision Song Contest all year round.