Archive for the ‘Companions: 10th Doctor’ Category

Catherine Tate (Various)

May 9, 2010

Catherine Tate was Donna Noble in ‘The Runaway Bride’, and then returned for series 4 and, later, David Tennant’s final episodes. Here are some excerpts from various interviews:

On her childhood

I wasn’t some sort of walking variety act around school. I think my circle of friends would have said I’m funny, but I wasn’t a class jester. Because I was a shy and awkward child I used humour to deflect attention. It was a controlling mechanism. Because I could use it to control my image.

I used to go red when anybody spoke to me. It’s awful because you absolutely cannot control it. If you are a child that blushes, or is shy, the one thing you want in the world is to be the child who comes in and says, ‘Hi’, to everyone and goes up and makes friends. I had one thing – see, your coat is on the floor… I’d think, ‘Oh, coat begins with c, then I would think of someone I knew whose name began with c who I would hate to see crumpled on the floor and then I’d have to pick it up. So it was quite debilitating for a short amount of time.

On playing Donna in ‘The Runaway Bride’

I’m not in the camp that thinks that comedy is a lesser art. People say, ‘Oh you’re acting now?’.  With Doctor Who there was a lot of, ‘Oh, why have they asked her?’.

There’s a snobbery attached to comedy. They think it’s acting-lite. It has this connotation that you are not really as good as the proper people.”

On returning to ‘Doctor Who’ for series 4

I couldn’t have been more surprised. I went out to lunch with [executive producer] Julie Gardner and I thought we were just there to chat. When people say, “My jaw hit the floor”, I know what they mean! I made my decision as soon as they suggested it – it just took a while to work out the logistics.

For one brief moment (in the series 4 finale) I was the most important woman in the whole of the universe. Oh gosh, I can’t thank Russell [T Davies] enough for just making that possible. For many people, I’m sure, what a gamble to take on someone like me who is known, by the vast majority of people, for wearing wigs and comedy teeth.

On working with David Tennant

I always struggle to keep up with him because he hasn’t got breasts like I have. Breasts aren’t built for running.

On coming back again (again)

I wouldn’t have thought so, but it is sci-fi so you never know. But there are no plans for me to come back.

Billie Piper (Various)

January 29, 2010

Here are various Billie Piper quotes, covering everything from her early days as a singer to the fact that she’s unlikely to be returning to ‘Doctor Who’, although perhaps if there’s a movie…

On her singing career

I liked singing, but I never thought I had the strongest vocals. And so, I was kind of reluctant, but you’re offered that opportunity at fourteen, you’re like ‘What? I don’t have to go to school any more? Yeah!’. I mean, I was freakishly ambitious, and that’s kind of calmed down now. I still have ambitions, but they’ve slightly changed. I’m happy as an actor, I must prefer that.

On watching ‘Doctor Who’ when she was younger

I had to have. I remember it being on, because the theme tune is really spooky. But I would never really settle down to it. It was just never my thing. But you knew it. If you were English, British, you know ‘Doctor Who’. But I had no idea what I was getting into.

On getting the role of Rose

I’d done a few things. I did ‘Canterbury Tales’. But ‘Doctor Who’… the part was written so well, it gave me an opportunity to really kind of showcase what I had, and I know that people liked it, so that was the one that got me started, really.

Rose is the one showing the kids what the Doctor is like. She’s human, he’s an alien – he’s a Time Lord – and she makes the kids think that they could be there. Because she’s sort of the domestic side of sci-fi, you know?

On being replaced by Freema Agyeman

Doctor Who Magazine had the new girl on the cover. I threw it across the room. I wanted to scratch her eyes out. It’s like seeing your ex’s new girlfriend!

On The End of Time

I didn’t have a full script and I had to do it in three hours. It was after filming ‘Secret Diary of a Call Girl’ in the day, and it was too short! I didn’t know anything about the story. I wish I’d been there for the whole episode – but that would have been a bit tedious.

I haven’t seen it yet! I went away for Christmas and New Year, so it would have been a bit weird trying to sly off and watch an episode of ‘Doctor Who’ on my own! I definitely will, though.

On Matt Smith

He called me, ‘What am I going to do?’. It’s really hard. Your life just completely changes, and it’s such a huge show, especially in Britain. It’s about the biggest show on TV. And it’s frightening, you know, being in that type of production, and having people suddenly know everything about you. He’s just about to embark on that.

On playing the Doctor herself

Dr. Who should be a man. It’s a guy’s job. Plus, there’s nine months’ filming in Wales, and it’s full on. You really have to give it your life, and it can get quite suffocating. I loved the show, and I’m grateful to it, but you’re taking on more than a role, just because of the obsession with it.

On returning to Doctor Who

I think it’s done now, isn’t it? I think that ship has sailed. That old, wooden ship! I really loved doing it, but ‘Doctor Who’ has moved on – it’s different people, different crew, different production team and I can’t keep going back. It’s ridiculous! It’s time to move on…

On Doctor Who: The Movie

I’ve heard that they’re doing it, and I know that they want David to do it. I think David’s slightly anxious that there’ll be big American producers on board and they’ll try to hijack it and cast someone like Johnny Depp.

Bernard Cribbins (2010)

January 25, 2010

Here’s Bernard Cribbins at the NFT a few weeks ago, talking about his career and his experiences with both the Cushing and Tennant Doctors.

Q: You were 14 when you started treading the boards?

A: Yes. It was the best possible training that I could have had, I think, because I was watching good actors working the whole time. In weekly rep, you start a new play on the Monday, as a performance, and then Tuesday morning you’re learning the following week’s play in order to know that, and it’s relentless, absolutely. With Shakespeare thrown in, and everything else. And I was able, as child, to watch really good actors doing their job.

Q: You hold the record, 111 episodes, for hosting Jackanory. Beating Willie Ruston, Kenneth Williams, you beat them all hands down.

A: I was out of work more than they were! It’s called availability. I’m sure a lot of you remember Jackanory. The thing I always loved about Jackanory, apart from the fact that I was lucky with the authors I was given, was that you sit there and you contact one child through the lens, and just grab ’em. And if it’s a good story, the child’s going to listen. You don’t need whizz bangs and quick cuts. Just think how simple it was. Camera one would be on you, camera two would be on the caption, camera three would be ready on another caption. And you’d say ‘he walked into the wood’ and you’d get a picture of a child walking into a wood. Nothing moving, just an illustration, as you’d have in a book. That was, I think, the magical thing about Jackanory. It was also at a very good time of the day, Dad would be coming home from work and the kids would be occupied and out of the way. I just wish they’d bring it back without all the bells and whistles, because it still works, I’m sure. Mum, when she’s reading a bedtime story to a child, she doesn’t leap up onto the wardrobe and all that. She sits and she reads, and the child listens.

One thing I’ll mention, and I may cry while I’m doing this, I think it’s a wonderful thing… I got in a cab one day in London, to go up to Paddington. We were doing a bit for the BBC about Roald Dahl. So I got in the cab and the driver was an East Ender, black guy, and he said ‘Where to?’ and I said ‘Sussex Gardens’, I’ve forgotten the name of the hotel, and off we went, and he looks in the mirror and says ‘You alright, Bern?’, and I say ‘Yeah, just doing a bit of filming for the BBC’, and he says ‘Oh, what’s all that about, then?’, I say ‘It’s about Roald Dahl, you know, he wrote stuff for Jackanory’, and he says ‘Oh yeah, terrific, Jackanory. That made me want to read’. End of story. Wonderful. And that’s what it did for kids, it engaged them, it entertained them, it educated them, it fascinated them and that, I think, was its great gift. I rest my case!

Q: Didn’t The Wombles cause an increase in visitor numbers at Wimbledon Common?

A: The rangers said they had problems with children arriving with bags of rubbish (laughs), and they’d spread the rubbish around under bushes and trees and so on, and they’d stand back with their little camera waiting for the Wombles to come out and clean it all up. The rangers had to say ‘No, it’s Wednesday, they don’t come out on Wednesday’ and try to get them to pick it all up.

Q: And Elizbeth Berresford, who wrote the stories, left a lot of room for ad-libbing, didn’t she?

A: Yes. Elizbaeth used to write a very minimal script. The lines for the characters, obviously, and then the films were shot and it was very laborious. Stop-frame animation, it took five or six days to do a five minute animation. And I’d add little coughs and sneezes. I used to do at least five minutes of snoring for every episode, for Orinoco.

Q: The character of Mr. Hutchinson in Fawlty Towers sticks in the mind.

A: I had almost shoulder length hair and a big Viva Zapata moustache, and I went to my hairdresser on the day of recording and got that sort of Hitler haircut, and had my moustache shaved into that bit in the middle. And I walked into the studio, and John Cleese said ‘Good God!’, because he thought this long-haired idiot was coming in, instead of which it was me. When he was trying to suppress me at the table, karate chop me… he’s a big lad, John, a big strong young man, and he was going Whack! on the back of my neck. He was being very strong with me, so we had to mime it.

Q: You suffered for your art?

A: Not really, because I told him to stop it.

Q: Daleks: Invasion Earth 2150 AD is the second Peter Cushing story. Roy Castle did the first, and you came along as PC Tom Campbell in the second one. It was directed by Gordon Fleming, wasn’t it, a big, scruff Scots guy?

A: Yes, Gordon I hadn’t met before, and we were on set doing a scene with the Daleks for the very first time. They were on the ramp in the spaceship, and Peter and I had just been introduced to the Daleks. And the Dalek operator in the machine, Bob Jewell, was Australian, he had all the lines ready to read out. And he read out ‘You will come with us or you’ll be exerminated’ in an Australian accent, and Peter and I couldn’t stop laughing. Gordon said ‘Come on, pull yourselves together’, but every time this Dalek said something, we were off!

Q: So, the phone rings for the Christmas episode with Kylie Minogue and David Tennant. Did you know, at that point, that you’d be returning in series four?

A: Not at all. The reason I was brought back into it was that I’d done the Christmas episode, as a silly old news vendor in my parachute regiment jacket and my silly hat. And then a few months later, the actor who was playing Catherine’s dad sadly died, and they wanted another man in that household, but Phil Collinson said ‘Well, we don’t want to put in another actor as Dad, hang on, Cribbins, we’ll have him back’ so I was re-introduced as Grandad.

Q: When you found out that you killed David Tennant…

A: Yes! (laughs) That was a surprise, wasn’t it? To find that it was Wilfred. But you must remember that Wilfred had already gone inside that booth to save somebody else, without realising really. And I did the four knocks. Good bit of story, though, wasn’t it? But he was going to change anyway, it’s just Wilf who happened to be there.

Kylie Minogue (2007)

January 12, 2010

Can someone be counted as a companion if they only appear in one story? I’d argue they can’t, but apparently Astrid Peth from ‘Voyage of the Damned’ was definitely conceived as a companion. Here are a few very brief quotes from Kylie Minogue about her role as Astrid, and her acting career up to that point.

I went into Neighbours at 16, was probably a good actress at first, but I did dodgy movies like Street Fighter (1994). Everyone makes mistakes, and I’ve made enough.

I’ve got a low boredom threshold and jump at opportunities. ‘Doctor Who’ goes back to my roots as an actress. At the read-through, I tried to look cool, but I was petrified. Then, on my first day of filming, I realised I was in my spiritual home. I’ve a lot of affection for Astrid. She’s a waitress, a dreamer, alone, and she wants to travel. Perhaps that’s like me when I was younger, but I had opportunities. She’s still struggling.

Bernard Cribbins (2008)

November 24, 2009

Here are transcripts from two BBC interviews with Bernard Cribbins back in 2008, around the time of the transmission of ‘The Stolen Earth’ and ‘Journey’s End’. One’s from ‘The One Show’, the other’s from ‘Breakfast News’, but I’ve merged them for the sake of convenience.

Q: What’s Wilf like to play?

He’s a very nice character. He’s an avuncular, in a way, granddad, who is in cahoots with his grand-daughter, Donna, against Mum really, because Mum is pernickety and niggles them both. I say at one point ‘Was she nagging you?’, because she comes up to the allotment with a cup of tea. It’s a lovely relationship with Catherine, and with Jacks who plays Mum.

Q: It must have been great fun for you to get the call, having been in the film in 1966.

A: Yes, forty-two years ago! It’s unbelievable. That was with Mr. Cushing, who was a totally different Doctor, he was a waffly old professor, very stereotyped professor, and then you’ve got David, who’s on springs all the time, he’s wonderful. I think I’d have to say that David’s my favourite Doctor of all of them. I think Tom Baker – sorry, Tom – runs him a close second, but I think David’s the guv’nor, for me.

Q: Why is that?

A: It’s his intensity. He’s also, he’s a damned good actor, it’s a very intense, good acting performance. He’s a spooky guy. He comes on, he flashes a smile, and you think ‘Where’s he going to go with this?’.

Q: Is it true you were once in line to be Dr. Who, after Jon Pertwee?

A: I was interviewed. They were looking for a new Doctor, and I went along and the producer there said ‘What can you do?’, I said ‘Well, I’m a very good swimmer, I can’t ride a horse, I was a paratrooper, and I can fight’. And he said ‘Oh no, no fighting’. And I think I lost the job because I said I’d fight, and of course the first thing you see Tom Baker, who got the job, the first thing he did was going Smack! and knocking someone over. I’d have loved to have been Dr. Who.

Q: You’ve done a lot of television. ‘The Wombles’, ‘The Railway Children’…

A: The Wombles would be good in ‘Doctor Who’. A Womble planet.

Q: Have you mentioned that to Russell T. Davies?

A: I’ll ring Russell when I get off the air and say ‘What about the Wombles, then?’.

Q: But you must have had such fun doing such a variety of things.

A: Yeah. Ducking and diving. Don’t stand still, keep moving around.

Q: One of the things that’s so different between ‘Doctor Who’ now and working on it back then is the special effects. Do you stand around going ‘We wouldn’t have done it like that’?

A: I do remember that when we did the film, which was forty-two years ago, I got terrible giggles because one of the Dalek operators – you’re not supposed to know this, there’s a man inside – he had to learn all the lines in order to communicate with the actors, and he was an Australian guy called Bob Jewell, and he’d say ‘You will be exterminated’ (in an Australian accent) and I started wetting myself with laughter. The director, Gordon Fleming – God bless you – got very upset and swore at me.