Archive for the ‘5th Doctor’ Category

Peter Davison (1981)

January 11, 2010

Here’s Peter Davison talking to Radio Times back in 1981 about his approach to playing the Fifth Doctor. Davison had big shoes (Tom Baker’s) to fill, and this interview – published shortly before he made his debut – reveals he met Baker for a drink to discuss the role, but couldn’t hear what his predecessor was saying. Nice story, hope it’s true!

The producer rang me up one day and said ‘How would you like to be the new Dr. Who?’. I was speechless. I was staggered to see it announced on the news. I really had no idea ‘Doctor Who’ was so important. I bet some of my friends thought I’d died when they saw my picture.

Tom Baker and I did meet in the bar one evening to discuss the part, and he was all set to give me some advice. But it was ‘Top of the Pops’ that night, and the noise was so furious, all I heard was ‘good luck’.

It’s a lot more than just an acting job. You take on the mantle of Dr. Who, and that kind of instant charisma that goes with the job.

I’ll be a much younger Dr. Who, and I’ll be wearing a kind of Victorian cricketing outfit to accentuate my youth. I’d like my Doctor to be heroic and resourceful. I feel that, over the years, ‘Doctor Who’ has become less vital, no longer struggling for survival, depending on instant, miraculous solutions to problems. The suspense of ‘Now how’s he going to get out of this tight  corner?’ has been missing. I want to restore that. My Doctor will be flawed. He’ll have the best intentions and he will in the end win through, but he will not always act for the best. Sometimes, he’ll even endanger his companions. But I want him to have a sort of reckless innocence.

I don’t consider it a disadvantage taking on a part that is well-known. It’s not as if you have to continue the same characterisation. You can start from scratch. I don’t overtly copy (the other Doctors), but I do bear in mind a particular aspect of each one.

Peter Davison (1980’s)

October 24, 2009

Here’s Peter Davison reflecting on his departure from the show, telling DWM how he got the role in the first place, why Nyssa was his favourite companion, and how there were no behind the scenes arguments when he left.

“John Nathan-Turner phoned me at home one Saturday, and after he’d put the idea to me I nearly dropped the receiver. I remember Sandra (Dickinson) shouting out ‘If you’re going to be the Doctor, I want to be your companion’, and then mumbling something about having a bit of time to think it over. It took a few weeks before I finally accepted it, because I had to think about exactly what it was I would be taking on – from the effect on my career, to whether I felt I could actually do it justice. I had lunch with John, who basically persuaded me to do it. I decided, too, that after being offered it, I couldn’t have stood watching someone else play it.

“I found it a great help to film out of sequence. The idea was for me to plunge straight into the part and then to pull back a bit in ‘Castrovalva’, so that the first one we recorded was ‘Four to Doomsday’. Now, if you watch that, you’ll notice that we’re all working very hard, perhaps even forcing it a little, and that was because I was feeling my way into the part, and the others who were already there were adapting to me. It was a very tiring one to do from that respect, because we were all being careful not to tread on each other’s toes. Later on, as we became much more familiar, the whole process was a lot easier. So I was grateful we did it that way, although you’ll notice my hair grows between stories.

“I thought about the character a lot. I decided that I’d like to take elements of all the previous Doctors and mould them into one, adding a kind of innocence and impetuosity of my own. I didn’t include anything of Tom’s because he was too recent and we wanted a contrast with his very dominant figure. Another feeling was that the Doctor had become too much of a super hero figure, and that he needed to be made more vulnerable. Of all my influence, I suppose the most dominant was drawn from Patrick Troughton’s playing of the part, because he was the one I’d most watched as a kid and I admired his lighter touch a lot. But I did try to make it my own, because if I hadn’t it would have been an exercise in impersonation rather than acting.

“As far as the costume went, I came up with the cricketing motif simply because cricket is a game of which I’m very fond, and it seemed to suggest a good sort of profile. It fitted with our desire to make him young and a bit more physical in his approach, as well as being a nice link with that whole Earth ethos which the Doctor has always been so involved with. The celery was John’s idea. He just came to me one day and said ‘I think the new Doctor should wear a stick of celery on his lapel’, and so that was it. Funny, really, because I don’t much like celery and I usually ended up getting presented with tons of the stuff at conventions! It was nice that it was actually explained before I left the series.

“Frontios was excellent, an extremely well-rounded s cript that got hold of the way I saw the part of the Doctor, and made his dialogue and actions fit in with this. I enjoyed it because there was really something there to latch onto in rehearsal and make your own. If you like, it had enough there without the actors having to try to embelish a weak storyline.

“The Caves of Androzani is my favourite of all my stories. It was a terrific one in which to leave. Indeed, I couldn’t have got a better exit, and Graeme Harper was a superb director. That had a pace and a style to it that was quite unique, and I think everybody who worked on it picked up on that.

“I think my least favourite story was ‘Time Flight’, purely because of the money angle. We did some good filming for that, but by the time we got tothe studio, I think it was rather obvious that all our season’s money had more or less been spent. Performance-wise, I was never very happy with the second series. I think it got just a little bit dull, and the stories a bit over-complex. I didn’t feel that I had a lot of room to embellish the character and I think this is definitely one of the inherent dangers of doing ‘Doctor Who’ – the writers tend to latch onto your first portrayal of the part and stick with that. I think there was a conscious effort made during the third season to do something about that, which is why I felt happy about going out on top – or at least at a peak.

“I liked the character of Nyssa best of all. She seemed to me to work best in the ‘Doctor Who’ format. Now I know that she wasn’t as popular a character as Tegan, but speaking from the Doctor’s angle, I don’t think that stroppy type works as well as the more passive, ‘pass the test tube’ kind of assistant. I think if you try and break the mould then the character emphasis changes and you’re veering dangerously into the realms of soap opera. I really like that kind of gentle character that Nyssa had – it was a good contrast, and I think that she went best with the Doctor I played. That’s not to pass any kind of judgement on Janet Fielding or Mark Strickson or anyone, because we all got on tremendously well. It’s just an opinion about the characters.

“It was nice to be able to film abroad. When we went to Amsterdam, I got a lot of recognition because they had ‘All Creatures Great and Small’ running over there – but not ‘Doctor Who’. So I caused a lot of confusion I think, as well as some shock, wandering about with all that decaying face make-up. I think Lanzarote looked great in ‘Planet of Fire’, it gave that story a very polished look, which was something that I felt we could be proud about.

“I have very good memories of ‘The Five Doctors’, because we all got on so well. I think we were originally kept apart in the script, because John Nathan-Turner worried that we might not get on, or that we would start demanding a better share of the action, but as it was we all got on terrifically well. It was all a bit silly in rehearsal, of course, but then it was bound to be, wasn’t it? Luckily the director, Peter Moffatt, knew when to tell us off, and when to let us have a good laugh. I particularly enjoyed working with Patrick Troughton, and of course he has a tremendous sense of humour. About the only bad thing about it was the freezing weather on location in Wales, and a sequence where special effects were a little enthusiastic with an explosion, nearly finishing Anthony Ainley off for good!

“When I left, the press were all looking for a behind the scenes row, indeed the Daily Mail printed that I’d been given the elbow because I was too boring! Unfortunately for them, there was no row – in fact, John Nathan-Turner tried very hard to keep me on for another season. However, when I joined, I remembered meeting Patrick Troughton in the BBC car park, and him saying ‘Congratulations. Don’t stay longer than three years, though’, and I think he was right. It was very demanding, so I was too tired to feel sad when it was all finally over, but yes, one does suffer the odd pang”.

Peter Davison (1982)

September 19, 2009

Here’s Peter Davison looking back on his first season, which had just finished when this ‘Doctor Who Magazine’ interview was published.

“I was quite happy with the second to last story – ‘Earthshock’. It was well written and very pacey, and based on quite a neat idea. In some ways it was reminiscent of old ‘Doctor Who’ from way back in how it came full circle. It was very compassionate and the baddies, the Cybermen, although they were bad, were not thoroughly bad, if you know what I mean. I like the action scenes, which is why ‘Earthshock’ is my favourite. On reading it and when we did it, we established a very fast pace. Plus we had the leap from one place to another – it wasn’t all set in one location, which made it appeal to me.

“I felt, in a way, that I had to be more fallible because I didn’t want to play the Doctor as a hero as such – like, dare I say it, a Buck Rogers type figure. I was never pushed towards this, but the implication always is that if you get someone younger to play a lead part like that, you tend to try and make him dashing. I felt he should be a sort of anti-hero, not evil so much that he doesn’t go about things in the way a normal hero would.

“Doing the first season hasn’t put me off doing it for any length of time to which I’d envisaged doing it, but exactly how long I’ll do if for, I just don’t know. I will certainly give it what I consider to be a substantial time, but I think I can safely say I don’t want to break any records for duration. At the same time, though, I doubt I’ll be the shortest.”

Peter Davison (2003)

August 23, 2009

This is a transcript of part of a US interview with Peter Davison from 2003, in which he talks about his career, about typecasting, about the audio adventures (which were pretty new back then) and about advice he received from Patrick Troughton to be careful about staying in the role for too long. You can see the original video here.

Q: You come over to America to do conventions fairly often. Do you enjoy coming over?

A: Yeah, I mean it’s a work experience. When we first started doing conventions, many years ago, all the actors leapt at it, the chance to visit and do the conventions, but in many ways it’s harder work than doing the job, because there you’re playing a part, here you’re having to be yourself. Some of us aren’t that good at that. (laughs) We prefer to hide behind the mask of whoever we’re playing.

Q: Do fans ask you about other work you’ve done, such as ‘Campion’ and ‘All Creatures Great and Small’?

A: Well they ask about things they’ve seen, and the first thing they’ve seen over here (in the US) is ‘All Creatures Great and Small’, so yes, they definitely do. And also ‘Campion’, which came out under the ‘Mystery Theatre’ heading. They’re always interested in other work I’ve been doing, although I was very fortunate in the early years that I was doing a lot of stuff that was shown in America, I’ve been doing a lot of television stuff more recently that hasn’t normally appeared on American TV.

Q: You left ‘Doctor Who’ around eighteen years ago, and you’ve had an incredibly versatile career in stage and television, and even some film. If things were very different and they were making ‘Doctor Who’ now, and they only now approached you for it, how might your choices be different?

A: Well I’m still playing him in a way. I’ve no idea, is the answer… I’d be less youthful, is the honest answer, I wouldn’t be running down the corridors quite so quickly.

Q: Wiser?

A: Yes. I thought the way I’m doing it on the audio CD’s, although I’ve not consciously made it different to how I was playing the Doctor in the series, it’s necessarily different, because you do grow older.

Q: Let’s talk about the audios for a moment. After you left the show, you must have known there would always be fan interest, conventions and things, but in your wildest imaginings did you think there’d be books and audios and conventions still going on?

A: Well the audios very definitely fill a gap. I didn’t do anything connected with ‘Doctor Who’ while the programme was being made because I didn’t want to, really. I mean the thing about the audios is I think they fill a gap, and in the absence of the programme being made, which I think’s a shame, it’s nice to give the fans something. I think if another Doctor took over, if the TV series was back on and another Doctor took over, I think I’d probably stop doing the audio CD’s. I think there wouldn’t be a need for it, and I’d feel that I was stepping on another person’s toes. In a sense it fits in perfectly because all the Doctors are ex-Doctors, so we can all do our audio CD’s.

Q: Do you feel that the quality of the scripts gives you a chance to stretch…

A: No, I think they give the writers an opportunity to stretch, I don’t think they give the actors an opportunity to stretch, I mean I don’t think you can stretch the part of the Doctor very much, but they give the writers an enormous opportunity because of course you can deal in any budget you like in audio, you can put yourself in extraordinary scenes and conjure it up simply by the sound effects and the acting. From that point of view, it’s marvellous for the writes, because they can do whatever they want.

Q: Do you enjoy working on the audios because there’s no make-up, you don’t have to wear the costume…

A: Well it’s mainly that you don’t have to learn the lines. You can go in there with the script, I mean obviously you have to research it, read it a couple of times, but what I like is that it’s instant, and you can get tremendous energy on the audio CD’s.

Q: Let’s talk a little bit about the work you’re doing now, the projects you’re involved in these days…

A: Well I’ve got a couple of things going, there’s a series that’s been running at home for about four years, which is called ‘At Home With the Braithwaites’, which is about a family that wins £38m on the lottery, and how it affects them, and I play the father in that. And then recently I’ve made a series called ‘The Last Detective’, a detective show, hour-and-a-half shows, that’s currently airing in Britain.

Q: Among your contemporaries, because you do some stage work, do you get some teasing that you’re in not just one but several shows that have strong fan followings?

A: Well I’ve always been teased by people who’ve perceived me as working far too much. So yeah, I mean, when I was doing ‘Doctor Who’ and ‘All Creatures…’ and a couple of comedy series, I was on virtually every night of the week. And then I had, after ‘Campion’ and ‘A Very Peculiar Practice’, for me, a sort of quiet patch, but in other peoples’ terms it wasn’t a quiet patch at all, I was still making televisions shows and one-off programmes, and now I’m doing lots of stuff again, so I feel a bit fortunate, maybe I should hand over a few of the roles to other people but I don’t feel inclined to do that. I think the secret is that I’ve been able to move easily from one genre to another. A lot of actors get unfairly stuck in sitcoms, or very serious drama, or soap operas, and I’ve managed to dodge from one thing to another.

Q: When you took the role in ‘Doctor Who’, you’ve said that Patrick Troughton advised you to limit the amount of time you played Dr. Who, to avoid typecasting. Do you think that was good advice?

A: Yes, I very definitely had a choice to do a fourth year of ‘Doctor Who’ or leave after three, and it was a close call, it wasn’t a foregone conclusion that I would leave after three. I wasn’t very happy with season two of my time, we were beset by money problems and strike problems, and had I been happy at the end of season two, which was really when I had to make a decision, I might well have gone on and done a fourth season, but I don’t think that would have been the right thing to do. I mean, when I left ‘Doctor Who’ I went up for a very good part in a BBC2 classics serial and I know there was much discussion about whether I should be offered the part because I’d just done ‘Doctor Who’, and that was something that would have got worse had I done ‘Doctor Who’ for longer. I mean fortunately they did offer it to me, but I was very aware that if you stick to long to something it just takes longer to recover from it, and I think Tom found that.

Patrick Troughton, Jon Pertwee and Peter Davison (1983)

August 17, 2009

This is one of the best multi-Doctor interviews around. To mark the show’s twentieth anniversary, three of the four surviving Doctors got together on the BBC’s ‘Nationwide’ show. It’s defintely worth watching the clip, because part of the joy is the interaction between them, especially Patrick Troughton and Jon Pertwee.

Q: Jon, the Doctor always gets away with it. Is that some deep philosophical message, the triumph of good over evil, or is it ingenious fun?

JP: It’s his brilliance! It’s his brilliance and his experience, is it not Patrick?

PT: Oh yes! What are we talking about? Yes! Brilliant, yes!

Q: We must ask him a question because he’s been waiting. Patrick, the character as you saw it, would you like to tell me about that?

PT: Yes. Well it took me time to see the character because I had to follow Billy, and that was the first follow. And it was a question of doing it differently, really, because you couldn’t do it the same. So we had various ideas, first a kind of captain with one of those Victorian… (mimes a hat)

Q: It was the late 60’s when you did it, wasn’t it? I thought that was a Dr. Who of its time, because you had a kind of Beatles haircut, didn’t you?

PT: It probably was, yes. There was a thing about that, actually, because Mike Craze and Anneke, when they saw my wig in make-up –

JP: What wig?

PT: I had a wig, originally, in make-up, they saw it, they said ‘No, we are not going on’, I looked like Harpo Marx.

JP: That’s where Tom got the idea.

PT: So they whipped it off and they dressed my hair like a Beatle.

Q: Peter, it’s now unashamedly for adults, isn’t it, because they’ve put you on later.

PD: Well I don’t think it’s unashemedly for adults, I think it’s always had a fairly adult audience, and I think they tried to give it an extra boost by putting it on in the week, and it’s certainly increased the viewing figures.

Q: Jon, do children still stop you in the street? Do they still think you’re Dr. Who?

JP: Yes, when they don’t think I’m Worzel Gummidge.

PT: Have you seen his Worzel Gummidge? Fantastic.

Q: But do they believe that you’re some sort of supernatural being?

JP: Yes. They say ‘Hello Doc, I wonder if you could help me out with a little bit of trouble’.

PD: But it’s quite extraordinary, because the day after it was announced that I would be Dr. Who, I was called Dr. Who in the street.

Q: They stopped calling you Tristram?

PD: Yes, they did, that ended it. But before I’d even appeared, you know, people were so used to the idea, they even thought they’d seen me, they said ‘I watch you every week’, they were watching Tom!

Q: But it has to be frightening, doesn’t it? (to Patrick) I mean you’re sending it up –

PT: I don’t! I’ve never sent it up in my life! It’s a different attitude to a desperately dangerous situation.

PD: When you’re doing it, you can’t send it up. When you’re in rehearsal, you can’t afford to send it up.

PT: We might do it here.

Q: Have any of you any regrets about doing it? Has it ruined your lives?

ALL: No!

JP: Good heavens, no.

PT: Absolutely not.

JP: The repeats are marvellous.

Q: Listen, it’s been worked out that the Time Lord, he can regenerate himself thirteen times –

PT: Hey?

Q: It’s very mathematical. Listen, 45 years more he’s got to live. What I want to know is, when is a woman going to be Dr. Who?

PD: That depends on when I give up, don’t you think?

PT: What a good idea.

Peter Davison

July 28, 2009

In this 2008 interview, Peter Davison discusses ‘Time Crash’, the Big Finish audios, and his daughter’s role in the revived series.

This interview has been taken from the Digital Spy website.

How did you react when you were first asked to play The Doctor again in the Big Finish audio stories?

“I was fine, I didn’t think about it really. It was fulfilling a need. The BBC had effectively dropped Doctor Who and this filled a very important gap in the market. I never had a problem about going back to Doctor Who and I don’t quite understand people who have a problem going back, albeit temporarily.”

Was it easy to slip back into the role?

“I did find it very easy to slip into. You’d think it would be hard. I have aged a bit. I did worry about that, I don’t know if some of the fans do or not. You play it as I see it. In many ways, I suppose [I’m] thinking that if I had a chance to go back and do my original Doctor Who stories I’d do them again. So this is a chance to make up for any shortcomings in the original stories that we did.”

Has the character been expanded compared to the television series?
“I don’t know. There’s certainly more talking than there was in any television show. Inevitably there has to be as it’s for the radio. I certainly think the writing, as a generalisation, is better. There were some very suspect scripts we did, knocked off by TV writers who’d turn their hand to anything. Fair enough, but they weren’t science fiction fans. You do get the impression, both with the television series now and Big Finish, that they are fans of science fiction and that’s why they are doing those stories.”

 How did you find the ‘Time Crash’ experience last year and acting on the new Tardis set?

“It was a kind of weird experience really. I was dressed as my Doctor and what did strike me is that my Doctor’s outfit was really built for those awful oval sets at Television Centre – whereas David [Tennant] was cooly dressed and everything seemed to fit in with that fantastic Tardis console set in Cardiff. I felt slightly out of place, like a fish out of water. But after a while I was really getting into it and it was fine.”

 Did you ever look at Colin Baker’s Sixth Doctor outfit and think ‘thank God that wasn’t me’?

“Haha! Many, many times yes! I don’t know what was going through [former Doctor Whoproducer] John Nathan Turner’s head there. I wasn’t entirely happy with mine, but mine was heaven compared to Colin Baker’s!”

David Tennant has openly stated that you were his favourite Doctor. Did you click on the set?

“Well yeah, I think we did. We were both, in a sense, in a kind of awe. I think he’s a marvellous actor. In a way, I was trucking along to his territory as well. So I felt slightly in awe of the situation I was in, he felt slightly in awe because it’s weird when you’re acting with someone who you’ve watched on television. In almost the same way, although not quite as I didn’t have so much to do with him, it was about the same way I felt when I was doing something with Patrick Troughton – who was my Doctor – on ‘The Five Doctors’. 

“But ‘Time Crash’ was such a well written piece. It worked on so many levels, commenting on the fact that David watched me when he was young, on the fact the Tenth Doctor had been the Fifth Doctor. It’s something that could, if you like, be left in that story [‘The Last Of The Time Lords’]. I was very happy and pleased to do it.”

 Has it whetted your appetite for another, perhaps longer appearance in a future story? Russell T Davies certainly likes the old mythology.

“He does to a certain extent. I would certainly be able to do it. I’m not suggesting for a moment that it would ever happen. I think it won’t happen. But I would have done it anyway. I have two young boys, six and eight, who love Doctor Who, so I sit there and I watch all the new series Doctor Whos about three or four times. And now my daughter [Georgia Moffett] is going to be in it…”

What were your feelings when she broke the news to you?

“It was a weird thing, because she went up for a particular part in it which wasn’t that big. They came back to her and said ‘we’d like you to do this, but we’d prefer you to wait another three or four months because there’s a much nicer part coming up later on that is really special and would suit you really well’. So she said she’d wait. I was very pleased for her. People think she got it because of me. I think she got it despite me. I think they had to think very carefully they cast her, as people would say ‘oh, it’s Doctor Who’s daughter’, but she’s a great actress. I’m looking forward to it.”