Rachel Talalay (born 16 August 1958) is an American director who directed all three series finales during Peter Capaldi's tenure as the Doctor, as well as his regeneration story in the 2017 Christmas special, Twice Upon a Time. She was both the first woman in the show's history to direct a finale episode and the first woman to direct a Christmas special.
Alongside writer Steven Moffat, Talalay directed:
- Series 8: Dark Water / Death in Heaven
- Series 9: Heaven Sent / Hell Bent
- Series 10: World Enough and Time / The Doctor Falls
- Christmas 2017: Twice Upon a Time
Talalay graduated from Yale University, where she majored in mathematics. She was working as a computer programmer at Johns Hopkins when she got her first job in film, a production assistant on the 1981 John Waters film Polyester, a job which led to her working at production company New Line. She most notably worked on New Line's Nightmare on Elm St. franchise, working her way up from accountant on the first Nightmare film, production editor on the second, produced the third and fourth, and then given her first directing job on the sixth.
She is known for films such as Freddy's Dead: The Final Nightmare in 1991, Ghost in the Machine in 1993, Tank Girl in 1995, and The Wind in the Willows in 2006.
Talalay was a fan of Doctor Who as a child and identified Tom Baker as "her" Doctor. She was a fan of the revived series, and actively pursued a job on it through her British agents. She credited her work on genre films such as the Nightmare on Elm Street series with granting her invaluable experience to working on such a special-effects-heavy production as Doctor Who.
Talalay's hiring to direct 2014's episodes Dark Water and Death in Heaven made the news in feminist circles, due to Talalay being the first female Doctor Who director since Catherine Morshead directed Amy's Choice four years earlier.
I did joke around with [showrunner] Steven Moffat in our first meeting. Immediately there was press saying, "woman woman woman" and so I said, "It's clear if I read the internet that you hired me because I'm a woman." And he said, "Oh, you're a woman? Maybe I just looked at your resume and your reel and your credentials and hired you because of that." We both agree that that's what we hope I was hired on.
Talalay returned to the show the following year to direct the episodes Heaven Sent and Hell Bent. Following the broadcast of the series 9 finale, Talalay posted her detailed annotations of the Heaven Sent script's opening scenes online.
- Dark Water
- Death in Heaven
- The Doctor Falls
- Heaven Sent
- Heaven Sent Previsualizations
- Hell Bent
- Tests for the Mechanism of Heaven Sent's Confession Dial
- Twice Upon a Time
- World Enough and Time
- Doctor Who Guide