Archive for the ‘Companions: 5th Doctor’ Category

Nicola Bryant (1992)

October 20, 2009

Here’s a brief interview from DWM with Nicola Bryant, talking about getting the part of Peri and her thoughts on the character’s controversial exit during season 23.

“The auditioning process was held up a little because John Nathan-Turner wanted to see if I could get my Equity card. I felt after the second interview that as I had a chance of getting the role of Peri, I had better make the effort to get my card. I had previously done a lot of dancing jobs, so I took my contracts into Equity. They told me that as they were non-Equity contracts I couldn’t get my card, so I did a lot of cabaret, taking my own contracts to pubs, clubs and parties. Eventually I got my card that way.

“In the three months between getting the job and starting filming in Lanzarote, I had worked out a background for Peri and formulated all these reasons why she was going off with this particular Doctor, only to find out that he was going to change! I didn’t know that Peter was leaving when I joined, and I saw no reason why Peri would stay if the new Doctor became a less amicable character, which is what happened.

“I spent most of ‘Timelash’ tied to a pole. It was so small-minded. I have spoken to some of the other assistants and we all suffered from that problem. I found it incredible that ‘Doctor Who’ has come so far and all they could find for me to do was tie me to a pole!

“I loved my violent end. I told John Nathan-Turner that I wanted to go out with a bang, and I certainly didn’t want a tearful ‘Goodbye, Doctor’ scene, or be married off to some hunky Martian. I was disappointed that the ending was negated but I can see that they wanted to soften it, because they were getting complaints from mothers wanting to know what to do with their distressed children, who were all Peri fans.”

Advertisements

Gerald Flood (1980’s)

October 20, 2009

Gerald Flood (1927-1989) was the voice of Kamelion, who was introduced as a robotic companion for the 5th Doctor. I think it’s fair to say that things didn’t quite go according to plan. Kamelion never really caught the public’s imagination, and the robot itself proved very tricky to control in the studio. Consequently, Kamelion was often left behind in the TARDIS during adventures, and he was finally written out in ‘Planet of Fire’.

“It was rather weird sitting in rehearsals. I was amazed because they brought Kamelion in and stood it in a corner. Then I realised I could hear my voice apparently coming out of it. I actually played two parts in ‘The King’s Demons’ – the evil King John and Kamelion’s voice – although they were really one and the same. So I was being King John while listening to this soundtrack I had recorded on an earlier day, sounding strangled. You see, they had to sync up the robot’s mouth to my pre-recorded voice and that took a long time. A very odd experience.

“Originally, Kamelion wasn’t meant to go with the Doctor and the others in the TARDIS, he was supposed to go off with the Master, but the producer and his team liked the idea of this robot companion and rewrote it so that it went into the TARDIS. I gather Kamelion was a rather expensive prop so they made the most of it, but it went wrong a great  deal. The BBC were having difficulties with their staff at the time, with no-one agreeing to work overtime. As a result, we had to go back for an extra day which I frankly enjoyed because I got paid a bit more! It was only a few scenes – just the ones in the King’s bedchamber where the Doctor and the Master are trying to gain control of Kamelion, but all those scenes took a very long time because Kamelion kept going wrong and breaking down.

“I also had to do a spot of singing and I was terrified. I’d sung on stage before, but never in a studio. They pre-recorded the music for safety but I sung along live when I was the King but Kamelion’s singing had to be pre-recorded. Again, this was so that they could match the robot’s movements. It was a very tricky show to do and probably took far longer than they expected. I think the team were under a great strain – we were recording the story only a week or two before it went out and Kamelion’s problems didn’t really help.”

Sarah Sutton (1988)

October 3, 2009

Here’s Sarah Sutton talking about her time as Nyssa, her thoughts on how the character ‘grew up’, and her eventual decision to leave the show.

“I got a phone call from my agent, who said that I was up for a part in ‘Doctor Who’ and would I go for an interview. I went along for an interview with the director of ‘The Keeper of Traken’, John Black, and John Nathan-Turner. Very soon after this I was told I’d got the part of Nyssa, thought it was a little while before they asked me to carry on. I was very pleased to do so, and quickly signed on the dotted line because the regular pay was very appealing.

“In the script for ‘The Keeper of Traken’ there had to be a lot of falling masonry, and we all got knocked by bits of falling plaster. I remember Anthony Ainley getting very worried about it! My only real objection was that the stuff got clogged up in your hair, which was very unpleasant.

“It was a story decision to leave me out of ‘Kinda’, so that there would be more room to do something with the characters of Tegan and Adric. The problem was that the series had four regular cast members, which is spreading the lines a little thin. When my contract for that season came through, it simply said ‘to appear in twenty-four out of twenty-six episodes’, so I imagine it had been planned that way for some time.

“Black Orchid was great fun – we had a super cast, and all the Charleston, Twenties, flapper bit was a laugh. The dress I wore was beautiful, too – I think it was genuine. It was very tiring playing a double part, as far as both effects and acting were concerned. There was a lot of waiting around, and several costume changes, which can be a pain. The worst thing was keeping one’s concentration up and remembering whereabouts one was in the plot of the thing. I enjoyed the end result, although you could see that my double was anotehr actress. Actually, she wasn’t like me at all – not even the same height!

“I liked some of ‘Time Flight’. I liked the way they tried to give Nyssa a bit of extra-sensory perception and all that. I must say that the plot left me standing – I didn’t really understand it. Those Plasmaton mosnters were quite amusing, though – they were supposed to look terribly menacing but the actors inside couldn’t see where they were going or what they were doing, so the effect was rather negated. They just sort of stood there and hoped for the best.

“John Nathan-Turner felt that it was time to see Nyssa grow up a bit and become a bit more sophisticated. Part of this was reflected in the looser hairstyle and the new costumes which were designed to give Nyssa a more adult look. Apparently there’d been complaints from ‘Doctor Who’ viewers that Nyssa kept herself so covered up all the time! Hence the new look – although for filming purposes, mini-skirts are somewhat less practical than velvet trousers.

“I think Nyssa got more sure of herself later on. It was decided before the season started that Nyssa would be written out midway through. John decided that we’d done all we could with her and I can see the validity of that – but before she went, there was this effort made to make her seem a little maturer and more able to cope than she had been before – important, really, considering the circumstances of her departure.

“It was so lovely to work with Nicholas Courtney on ‘Mawrdryn Undead’, he’s as much a part of ‘Doctor Who’ as the Daleks. It was an intriguing story, too, and we had a lot of laughs making it. You can imagine the reaction when we first saw all of Mawdryn’s lot in those costumes and with those wigs and that make-up. We all died laughing because they looked like large salt cellars – and they moved like them too. Poor Peter Moffatt had to tell us off about that.

“The ageing make-up took hours, and it was most uncomforable because you’d get an itch under your latex skin and you couldn’t scratch it for fear of ruining the make-up and having to go through the whole process all over again. It made your skin feel very tight when you actually got it off, and it wasn’t pleasant.

“Dropping my skirt was my parting gesture to all those fans who wante to see the real Nyssa. It was my idea and John okayed it, but in retrospect I wish I hadn’t bothered because it caused such a stir, I get asked about it whenever I’m interviewed about ‘Doctor Who’. We’d seen Nyssa grow up over the two years, and turn from a very protected and aristocratic young lady into a mature and well-balanced woman. She was a scientist with a strong sense of good, and in spite of the awful events thorugh which she’d lived, she always managed to carry on.

“There was a strike going on when we made ‘Terminus’, and so on my last day I didn’t finish. I had to come for a brief re-mount during the recording of the next story, ‘Enlightenment’, and so my farewell scene wasn’t the last thing I did at all. It left me with a bit of an empty feeling – I went home thinking ‘Well, I’d at least have liked a clean break’.

Janet Fielding (1986)

September 26, 2009

Tegan was probably the companion most closely associated with the 5th Doctor. In this interview from DWM, Janet Fielding talks about working with Tom Baker on ‘Logopolis’, putting up with some of the terrible costumes she had to wear, and fighting to make sure Tegan wasn’t sent off to make tea in ‘The Five Doctors’.

“Tegan was so bolshie! She was quite aggressive, although this was naturally toned down as we went along. It was possible for a lot of people to identify with her, because the Doctor is in some ways an irritating character. You can imagine being with the Doctor and getting fed up with his whimsicality but at the same time liking him enormously because of his charisma. She gave voice to that feeling for he viewer. She was also practical when it came to getting down to things, even if she wasn’t always right.

“After a while, her lack of intelligence began to get very repetitious. I had a lot of fun, though, especially with stories like ‘Snakedance’ and ‘Kinda’. Funny that they’re my favourites! It was nice to get Tegan out of her character’s rut and change things a bit. I could do some underplaying instead of the same old exaggerations – characters don’t always do well in ‘Doctor Who’, so I was lucky with those two. After ‘Snakedance’ I never got such a good opportunity again, sadly. But when the season reviews for ‘Kinda’ came out and we got the reaction of the fanzines, it didn’t do very well. I couldn’t understand that – when we all picked up that script, we said ‘This is terribly imaginative, an amazing script with some super ideas’..

“I was full of admiration for Tom Baker with ‘Logopolis’, right up until the end he was constantly inventive, he worked very hard and had a lot of enthusiasm. Obviously I didn’t get to know him very well – he was thinking about leaving mainly, and after all, seven years is a very, very long time. Peter’s character was more vulnerable, more fallible, so that was one immediate difference, whereas Tom had been more flamboyant. Peter I loved, he was always a lot of fun, very considerate and very hard-working. He came in only ever intending to do three years – just like Patrick Troughton did. I think that because Tom did it for so long, people expected Peter to stay as well.

“On ‘Castrovalva’, I’m terrified of heights so the rocks were agony. Those tears were real. Sheer, blind terror. They took us down there on ropes with this mountain climbing lady who got us down from grip to grip, hung me on this sort of root and told me to stay put. ‘You bet,’ I said, grimly hanging on. Then the smart alec cameraman said ‘Can you just lean back a little more?’, so I replied ‘I am’. ‘Can you look a bit more upset?’, to which I replied ‘I am upset! Very upset!’.

“I did think ‘Enlightenment’ was a good script, but it wasn’t radically new. ‘Terminus’ was very hard work. I used to like all Eric Saward’s s cripts because he’s such a good straight adventure writer – I think he’s brilliant. I didn’t like my first ones, ‘Logopolis’ or ‘Four to Doomsday’, largely because I was busy finding my feet. It’s difficult to enjoy something which you’re totally unaccustomed to. They were consequently very taxing in that respect.

“I got that white outfit for ‘Arc of Infinity’. Words can’t describe how I loathed that thing – it was just so horrible, I couldn’t bear it. The new hairstyle was my idea, becuase I hadn’t gone a bundle on the first one I’d been compelled to have. Later on, I did get a say in having the leather skirt and that very bright multi-coloured mini-dress I wore from ‘The King’s Demons’. They are sort of my taste and I thought they’d suit Tegan as well. The thing I hated most about all of them was that they were totally impractical for locating filming. That’s why I’ve always preferred a studio to work in. Invariably on location it was freezing cold – I used to go literally blue. ‘The King’s Demons’ was filmed in pouring rain in the middle of December, and the worst cold I’ve ever experienced was when we filmed on the roof of Heathrow car part for ‘Time Flight’. That was agony.

“In ‘The Five Doctors’, there was a scene where I meet Carole Ann Ford and Richard Hurndall, and as it was written I was to go off meekly with Carole Ann to make the tea. When I saw this, I said that in no circumstances was this to happen – absolutely not! Not without a strong word of protest. Tegan would never just meekly comply with such orders. I’m a feminist to a reasonable extent and when I say I don’t think Tegan is, it’s because I don’t think any right-minded feminist would choose to be an air-stewardess – it’s just not a feminist occupation. On the other hand, she’s a very headstrong and forthright girl who doesn’t like to be pushed around.

“It was an abrupt departure, wasn’t it? It was so quick. I loved ‘Resurrection of the Daleks’, though – it was great fun. It was a buzz to do because the chaps who play the Daleks are terrific jokers, misbehaving in studio and having a whale of a time. There was a special feeling in rehearsal simply because the Daleks, to everybody who grew up with the series, are ‘Doctor Who’. It was a good one to leave in. A character never goes on, as viewers will know, much beyond three years so really that was one reason behind it. Also Mark had decided not to extend his contract, then Peter too, so there were three people to leave before the end of the series and new characters to be established in their places. I couldn’t – wouldn’t – have chosen to do any more. That was it.”

Sarah Sutton (1992)

September 20, 2009

Here’s part of a DWM interview with Sarah Sutton, talking about her time as Nyssa, including being freezing cold at Heathrow airport while filming ‘Time Flight’.

“I didn’t really think too much about Nyssa as a character because she wasn’t terribly complicated. I did like the fact that she was an alien, so there was no set way of doing her. She could react to any situation quite unconventionally if she wanted to, which was nice. I got on well with all my co-stars. Peter Davison and I shared a similar sense of humour and this made things go smoothly in rehearsals.

“In any show with an established star, the rest of the cast tends to look to them for a general tone. If Tom Baker was in a bad mood, everyone felt depressed. If he was buoyant, then we all felt good. Peter was just relaed, but serious about the job. This created good teamwork which extended beyond the actors to the technical crew.

“I developed a good rapport with Janet Fielding, and that added to the feeling that I was going to work every day with friends rather than colleagues. This was a definite advantage on location – you suffered together. Doing ‘Time Flight’ in the snow at Heathrow airport was probably my least favourite experience ever. We were so unbelievably cold and just huddled together between shots to keep halfway warm. It was also quite chilly in Amsterdam, where we did ‘Arc of Infinity’, but it was more pleasant. Amsterdam was fascinating – a bit sleazy, but colourful and full of life.

“When I came to leave the series, it was done really well. Over the two years we’d seen Nyssa change from this rather sheltered aristocratic young lady into a mature and well-balanced young woman. She was a scientist with a strong sense of justice, who’d lived through the awful things life had thrown at her. The only downer was that she had to say goodbye to the Doctor and Tegan – her best friend. It’s always hardest to say goodbye toa friend, especially when you know it’s for good – which in Nyssa’s case it certainly was. Anyway, she was probably in for some interesting times, stranded on a space station full of men.”

Mark Strickson (1994)

September 11, 2009

This is a transcript of part of the ‘Myth Makers’ interview with Mark Strickson. He talks about how he got the part of Turlough, and about the difficulties of fitting the character in to most of the stories.

Q: How did you go about getting into acting?

A: I did the National Youth Theatre for two years, and then I applied for RADA. I think something like 4,000 people applied for 20 places, and who can tell which are the most talented 20? I was lucky to get in. It was great training. From RADA, I then joined a theatre company that works on narrow boats, and we toured on the narrow boat, I did that for two and a half years, and from that I went into ‘Angels’ and then ‘Doctor Who’.

Q: How did you get the job on ‘Doctor Who’?

A: I’d been working on ‘Angels’, which was a hospital soap opera set in Birmingham, and I played a Brummie ambulance guy. John Nathan-Turner’s partner Gary Downie was working as a production manager on ‘Angels’, and I went from ‘Angels’ to ‘Juliet Bravo’. The guy who had the lead in ‘Angels’ happened to get ill, and ‘Angels’ wanted met to take the lead. Like any actor, it’s wonderful to be offered a regular job in a soap opera, but it’s a big decision to make and I thought ‘Well I’ll have a cast around’ and I rang my agent and she said ‘You’re up for a regular part in Doctor Who’, so I took my life into my own hands, knocked on John Nathan-Turner’s door and read for John, he said ‘I can’t promise you anything, but we’ve very interested’. It’s never happened to me before, it’ll never happen to me again, but on the same day I was having to choose between two regular parts, in ‘Angels’ and ‘Doctor Who’.

Q: Why did you choose ‘Doctor Who’?

A: Well, I felt the part in ‘Doctor Who’ was nearer to me. Peter, to take an example, Peter Davison, when he got his breaks in television, he was playing himself, people like you to be yourself, and he’s very relaxed. If you can be yourself, you come across better. And I thought the character of Turlough, well he wasn’t like me, he was an evil sod, but he was more like me than playing Teddy (in ‘Angels’).

Q: So you got the job. What did you do?

A: I did a ‘Juliet Bravo’ in between and then I turned up on the first day of the shoot in North London for my first episode. I’d been out with the wardrobe lady and chosen my costume. I realised soon after getting the job that it wasn’t going to be just another television job. The publicity involved was enormous. I hadn’t realised – I hadn’t watched ‘Doctor Who’ as a child because I didn’t have a television, I watched some episodes of Pat Troughton – I realised very soon after getting the job that it was a cult thing. John had said to me ‘You’ll have to go to the States a lot to publicise the programme’. So yes, I was nervous, but people often ask ‘Did you enjoy working with Doctor Who?’, I got on very well with John and Eric Saward in the office, and I thought ‘This is a really nice cast’.

Q: How would you sum up that first story?

A: It was great, when I got the script, because I had lots of lines! The more lines you’ve got, the easier it is to be good. It’s much easier to settle into something. I remember John Nathan-Turner says to me, because I was masquerading as a public school boy, and in general I’ve got quite a Midlands voice, and John said ‘Do you think you can sound a bit posher, Mark?’, but I don’t think I ever managed it. That was a problem on the first day, but John was very good about it. I had a great time.

Q: Up next is ‘Terminus’.

A: A very depressing story. Ghastly. Poor old Sarah Sutton, her last story. Very worthy stuff, Florence Nightingale stuff. Grey sets. I think that was the one where I spent a hell of a lot of time with Janet, crawling around. I wore through the knees on my trousers.

Q: You were playing this terrible traitor, really. Did you start to realise you were going to spend a lot of time staring into a glowing crystal?

A: Yes, I did. I also realised that the crystal burnt my hand after twenty seconds. In order to make the crystal work in the studio, it had to be very strong light, it had to be on a wire, tiny little thing, down my sleeve, down my leg and it was attached to a car battery, with a chap running round with me with a car battery. After about twenty seconds it used to get so hot. So get your stopwatches out and time the longest I hold that cube in my hand.

Q: Following that, ‘Enlightenment’.

A: Yes, yes, this is memorable for one particular reason. Great cast, wonderful to work with. But there was one occasion where I throw myself off the ship. You use a company called Kirby Wire, and it’s Kirby Wire’s insurance, I presume, they strap you into a think like Peter Pan and you trust them. You throw yourself off into space and hope for the best, so I dutifully threw myself into space off this ship going through the universe, and half the harness broke. It was a bit like jumping onto a brick wall with your legs apart from twenty feet. Any man will be able to appreciate what that was like. It was terrible, I couldn’t walk. There were some shots scheduled from after that, I don’t know if there are any out-takes from that, but I almost blacked out from pain. If you look in that story, you’ll see there are certain scenes in which I don’t move, and those are scenes shot after that. I’m remarkably stationary. Fortunately there was no permanent damage. There was regional swelling.

Q: A lot of people who’ve played companions complain about the quality of the scripts, and the way their characters decline. Did you feel that?

A: Not the quality of the scripts, I think the quality of the scripts was very good when I was in ‘Doctor Who’, but the problem for me, I’d been the villain for eight episodes, now I had to travel with the Doctor, there are only a certain number of occasions that the Doctor can be stupid enough not to notice someone trying to kill him. Turlough had a brain, he could go off and have another plot, and that would have been fine if there’d been time, but in the context of four twenty-five minute episodes, you set the plot up, and then it was very hard to put another sub-plot in, there wasn’t time for Turlough. I understood that. I never went to John and complained. I could see they had a problem, I’m sure they were applying their brains to it. Turlough worked well when he was intrinsic to the plot, and when he wasn’t you had to lock him up.

Q: Moving on to ‘The King’s Demons’, was that problem surfacing there?

A: Very much so. ‘The King’s Demons’ is memorable because it rained on location. Watch it and have a look. For anybody who hasn’t worked on television, rain is hardly ever picked up by the camera, if you want it to look like it’s raining, it’s very hard. So try and spot it in ‘The King’s Demons’, there’s torrential rain. I’d never worked with horses before, and there was a horse in that and Anthony Ainley rides it, Jasper, and Anthony couldn’t ride at all. And Jasper was a trooper, a mountainous horse, and it would do whatever the chap told it. The problem is he wouldn’t do more than one take. Highly intelligent animal. In the jousting scenes, he smiled at the camera! But if you wanted to do another take, he wouldn’t do it. That was a complete revelation to me, and great fun to watch because I didn’t have much to do.

Q: In ‘The Five Doctors’, there are so many characters…

A: How could any character have a decent slice of the cake in ‘The Five Doctors’? You knew you’d get a little bit. The great thing about that was working with so all those people. I met Pat Troughton for the first time, who had been my Doctor when I was a child. It was great to watch them work. We did all my stuff, and I went on holiday all around Wales, and there was a hair on the gate and they needed to film the whole thing again. So we had to go back and shoot quite a lot again. It was absolutely perishing cold, which was often the case in ‘Doctor Who’.

Q: What about ‘Warriors of the Deep’?

A: I think people think television is more complicated than it is. In TC1, Television Centre 1, you had to finish by ten o’clock, there was a chap somewhere who pulled the plug on all the lights, you had to finish by ten and if that was your last day in the studio, it was disaster if you had to set it up again next time you came into the studio. No director wanted to do that. On this occasion, we were running well to schedule, but about five to six minutes before we finished they realised they’d got lots of shots of the Sea Devils being gassed, but they didn’t have them dying and falling over, as cut-aways. So at the last minute, all the Sea Devils rushed back onto the set, and the production manager was shouting ‘Sea Devils, Sea Devils, Sea Devils! Die! Die! Die! Now go over there! Die! Die! Die!’. These people were madly running everywhere, and dying and getting up.

Q: The Myrka was a joke, wasn’t it?

A: We’d done all this stuff with the guys in rehearsal, and we got in there and all the Myrka could do… It wasn’t even dry when it got into the studio! It was lack of budget, everyone was working as hard as they could. And you have to pretend you’re running for your life, ‘Oh my goodness, Doctor, it’s the Myrka!’. In one of the first scenes, Janet had to kick the Myrka, and she fell over and got paint all over her.

Q: The next story was ‘The Awakening’.

A: What was Turlough doing? He got locked up. I watched it last night and it was twice as good as I remember it being. It was a nice script, visually very nice, lovely weather. I was reminded that when I break out of the shed, that sort of SAS stuff and I say ‘Stiff upper lip, old boy’, I couldn’t get through that door. I was throwing myself at that door. And then when I did, when you watch it, I made a gap in it, I had to do two huge ones, when I came out of there I had a huge bruise on my door. Explosions have a big part in ‘Doctor Who’, and Peter’s examining a box on a hill in ‘Mawdryn Undead’, they cleared a big area, stopped people walking their dogs, but during I think ‘Terminus’ there was a character who had to put a piece of gel in a corridor, it was Liza Goddard, and Dominic Goddard was playing the sidekick or whatever, and the explosion was massive, it destroyed half the set. Liza Goddard shouted ‘What the fuck was that?’. And on the news that night, the news was being broadcast live, and there was an explosion in the background and I think the newsreader thought it was the IRA. They had to dub over Liza Goddard’s lines.

Q: You did some dribbling in ‘Frontios’?

A: It’s quite strange when you get a script in the post, you read in over breakfast, you get to ‘Turlough is writing on the floor, screaming “Tractators! Tractators! Tractators!” He is frothing at the mouth’. Then you get to the studio, and the production manager says ‘Okay Mark, this is the scene where you froth at the mouth’, you go ‘Okay’, you get on the floor, you writhe, you froth at the mouth. I did this, thought it was rather good, I’d given it my all. John came over and said ‘Mark, that was fantastic, but you spat on the camera lens’!

Q: ‘Resurrection of the Daleks’ must have had higher production values?

A: I loved working with the Daleks, they were fantastic. What happens is, first day of rehearsal they ring up whoever plays the Daleks, and the six old guys, they ring up and say ‘Is that Dalek 2, could you be at the rehearsal room in North Acton next week?’. They sit in wheelchairs, then you get on location, they put the Dalek on them, and they frighten you! I was frightened. The Daleks are great because, unlike any other monsters, they can move fast, they can go where they want to. Also, the actor in the Dalek doesn’t have to think about the voice. You can actually interact with the Daleks, and I think that was unique among the monsters.

Q: Janet left in that story. Did you know you were going to leave?

A: I think so. I think I made the wrong decision. After I left, they went through a period of longer stories, and with that Turlough would have had a chance. I think the combination of Nicola, Colin and Turlough could have worked. With Colin, they’d taken on board the fact that they needed more humour. I think it was time for Janet to leave, it was time for her to move on. I agreed with her that she should leave. I don’t remember her saying to me whether or not I should or should not, I think Peter probably agreed with me.

Q: You went to Lanzarote for ‘Planet of Fire’.

A: The only joy of foreign filming, it’s a nightmare, you work from the moment you step off the plane to the moment you get on it, the only joy – we had to get up so early, you know that story about Germans putting towels on all the deckchairs? We were up so early the first day, we managed to put towels on all the seats round the swimming pool and I wish I’d been there at five in the morning when the two Germans came down, and nobody sat on those towels all day round.

Q: And you had to carry Nicola Bryant out of the sea?

Whoever did the recce, I think stood on the beach and thought ‘Lovely sea, lovely sky’, but unfortunately what you can’t see is that the shore was incredibly sharp with rocks. So it was like trying to carry a beautifully proportioned but not feather-light row of needles. I just couldn’t do it. I kept stumbling. There’s a nudist beach just round from where we were filming, so Nicola’s out there in the water, screaming, this chap runs across the sharp rocks, dives in and tries to save her. I’ve just arrived at Nicola and I’m trying to explain that we’re making a film, and there’s this totally naked German guy wrapping himself around Nicola, trying to save her.

Q: What did you think of what came up in that story about Turlough’s origins?

A: Pretty desperate, wasn’t it? It worked. Just. But I’m sure the White Guardian was supposed to come back, but he didn’t.

Q: Were you sad to leave?

A: Yes, I was. I felt it had been a very nice part of my life, I’d made very good friends.

Colin Baker & Nicola Bryant (1992)

August 25, 2009

This is a transcript of Colin Baker and Nicola Bryant at the Visions convention in the US in 1992. It’s a long one, but it covers a lot of ground, including the fan crusade against John Nathan-Turner, the bizarre attempt to sue the BBC for not making ‘Doctor Who’ in the 90’s (!) and the lack of interest some people on the show had for even the most basic matters of continuity.

Q: What have you been doing since ‘Doctor Who’?

CB: (laughs) Well I’ve been doing a lot of theatre. The only television was something I did for the Children’s Channel, which is a cable / satellite channel in the UK, but nobody’s seen it because nobody’s got cable / satellite in England. And I did one episode of ‘Casualty’, which is a sort of ‘Hill Street Blues’ in a hospital, but I’ve been doing theatre, seven or eight plays one after another. I did ‘Run For Your Wife’, I just finished ‘Death and the Maiden’, which is a 1992 Olivier Award winner, which is the same as your Tony awards here – not with me, the good ones left and they got me. It’s actually on stage right now in Wolverhampton with me in it. Tricky, that, isn’t it? But they have these things called understudies.

That play finishes tonight, so I then go back to England on Sunday night, Tuesday I drive up to Sunderland where I’m putting on a show as a production company, at the Sunderland Empire, presenting, trying to write, I’m doing all the linking stuff for it. That’s on next Thursday, to celebrate the fact that Sunderland’s now become a city, my company was asked to put a show on. Then on Sunday I start rehearsing for a pantomime, ‘Dick Whittington’ in Weymouth from the 9th of January, then I’m open to offers.

17th January we’re both filming with Bill Baggs to finish off the latest of his ‘Stranger’ films, that’s a trilogy. or a multi-gy, we hope, lots and lots of them. The BBC owns ‘Doctor Who’ so no-one else can make that, but Bill Baggs is a resourceful fellow and he’s written a series about a man called the Stranger, who travels through time and space with a lady called Ms. Brown, played by Nicola Bryant! And we battle evil people who happen not to be Daleks or Cybermen. It’s a very neat way of continuing without… It’s video only, it’s not broadcast.

Q: What about Nicola in the past five years?

NB: Um, what have I done?

CB: Well that’s enough about Nicola.

NB: Notice some things never change. The first thing I did after ‘Doctor Who’ was going to the West with a play with Patrick Macnee, called ‘Killing Jessica’, and it was originally a TV movie shown in the US called… (pause) I’ve forgotten, which is very clever of me. Anyway, so I did a West End show for about six months, then I went and did a season at Chester, a variety of roles, ‘Come on Jeeves’, upper-crust characters, a whole of things, then I did ‘Blackadder’, the Christmas special, then to the West End for a very political play about the Falklands, four characters stating their opinions about the war and none of them really budged on their opinoin, and the play didn’t fall on any particular side, so depending upon the politics of your audience on any particular night, you were either very popular or in a lot of trouble. I’ve done lots of other theatre, the most recent of which was a nine-month tour of ‘The Great Gatsby’, playing Daisy Buchanan, which was the first time that play had been done in England.

Q: How did you get the part in ‘Blackadder’?

NB: At the time I  auditioned, I was playing Honey in ‘Who’s Afraid of  Virginia Woolf?’, and Honey has a particularly odd laugh, she just laughs hysterically from one crisis to the next, and when I went to the audition Ben Elton wasn’t there but he’d left a message with Richard Curtis that he wanted someone who could do a funny laugh. A lot of it was improvised during rehearsal, it wasn’t in the script. So I said I was playing Honey and I gave them Honey’s laugh, and they liked that. Then in one rehearsal Ben Elton came in and said ‘I’ve decided it should be something like a machine gun’ that you can’t switch off, you just press the button and it starts. He wanted something that would get on your nerves. I kept going off to the ladies’ loo and coming back, saying ‘How’s this one?’ and eventually I came back with this high-pitched soprano machine gun that he thought was right for the character, and he started writing bits about the ornaments falling off the shelves and things like that. A lot of that was improvised.

Q: Both of you have done mostly theatre since ‘Doctor Who’, is that because you’re typecast?

CB: (laughs) It’s entirely because I’m typecast. Typecasting isn’t anything to do with audiences, really. Audience, I find, will accept anybody in anything, they quite like seeing people in other things. What happens is producers don’t want their new piece prejudiced by preconceptions about whoever’s playing that part, so if you’ve played something very high profile on television, it tends to be qutie some time before you get any more television. And my Doctor was very specific, he wasn’t a kind of, well you wouldn’t fail to notice him… so the end result is I don’t get offered much television. Also unless you’re under contract, television tends to be quite short, a week or two, whereas theatre is often six months. As I have a young family to support, I have to go with that. That’s the reason. If you ask me which I prefer, I much prefer television. I know that’s not what actors normally say, they like to get the buzz of the live audience, well I like the buzz of going home at night and seeing my family. I enjoy working in television studios, I enjoy working on a bit and getting it right, or as right as you can, then moving on to the next bit.

NB: I had a lot of offers for screaming American teenagers when I left ‘Doctor Who’. Every part that had a screaming American teenager landed on my door. And I was very lucky to get ‘Blackadder’, because a lot of casting directors think I’m American, and it goes the other way because they might want an American but they go ‘No, we don’t want her, we’ve found out she’s English’, so you can get caught between that sort of problem and the fact that ‘Doctor Who’ is a rather strange show, in that they think it’s a children’s show, yet it’s under drama, and if you’ve made yourself a large-size character (laughs) it’s very difficult to break that image. These casting directors most of the time won’t take the time to meet you and discover you can do many other things. As Colin says, it’s not the audience’s fault, and it’s not the same in America. In England it’s ‘Oh my goodness, we’ve seen them before’. It’s a different attitude. I do love doing theatre, but I like doing something different every time, not just the character but the medium.

Q: Has it caused any regrets, doing the part in ‘Doctor Who’?

NB: No.

CB: No, I wouldn’t be asked to do all these plays if I was ‘Doctor Who’. I mean it’s a two-edged sword, it’s slowed down my rate of… before I did ‘Doctor Who’, I used to do television all the time, but as soon as you become identified with something then you’re stuck for a while. But soon I’ll be an unknown face again, which will be quite useful.

Q: Tell us about John Nathan-Turner, because there are these right-wing fanzines that blame him for all the problems with ‘Doctor Who’.

CB: Well I have extremely strong opinions about that, I feel very very sympathetic towards John because what he’s done for the programme is ten times what anyone else has done for it. There’s a tiny, tiny coterie of fans who are very frustrated because they’ve never been producer of the programme, they’re mainly in Britain, but there are two or three that I could name but won’t, in the UK, who have made it their lifetime job to do everything they can to sabotage John Nathan-Turner, and I think it’s miserable, petty, ghastly behaviour and I think they’re worms that ought to be trodden into the ground. (laughs) Don’t mess around, Colin, tell them what you really think.

But John was the producer for a very long time, and he’s responsible for it being over in the US and he came over and marketed it, he always cared about the fans, he always made sure people like myself and Nicola came to conventions when our first inclinations were that we weren’t too sure about it. He persuaded people like Pat Troughton, who never wanted to talk about the programme, who found out he loved it! And John kept the programme on the air in Britain, he was the only person fighting for it. Witness the fact that now he’s been ousted, there’s nobody in the BBC who’s waving the flag.

But those same people are still campaigning to get rid of the little bit that John’s still doing, he’s working on the videos and they’ve orchestrated a sort of hate campaign based on his choice of videos now! It’s so stupid, and it’s all jealousy, simple jealousy. I think the right-minded fan… it’s like all vocal minorities, they can swamp the majority, which covers a wide range of opinions, I’m not saying that everyone agrees with everything John’s done, of course he’s made mistakes, I’ve made mistakes, you’ve made mistakes. But they’ve said ‘Doctor Who has become a pantomime’. One article said that once. I don’t see men dressed up as women, that’s pantomime, I don’t see terrible jokes, apart from mine, and that’s my choice, not John’s. John is a friend and for a while he shrugged it off but now it’s beginning to get to him. If some people want to make someone unhappy, that’s up to them, but I think the rest of us should make sure that’s not allowed to continue. I rest my case.

Q: They seem to be unable to divorce personal opinions about the man from thoughts about the programme.

CB: Yes, and he’s set himself up, being involved with the programme for ten years, there’s an awful lot of stuff there to criticise, or to praise. Other producers came in for three years, didn’t give a hoot about the programme, and popped out again, and they’re kind of safe because they haven’t done anything controversial.

NB: He took all the risks.

CB: I think the fact that the BBC gets these very irritating letters from these fans less likely to bring the programme back rather than more likely.

Q: What do you think about this idea of them suing the BBC for not making ‘Doctor Who’?

CB: It’s ridiculous. You can’t sue an author for not writing a book you like, nor can you sue the BBC for not producing a programme you like. It’s a bizarre nonsense. It’s simply a matter of law, you can’t sue a company for not making a programme you like.

Q: Do you think the public stations in the US, and the Sci-Fi Channel and PBS and cable stations, could have any influence, by saying that the overseas sales are strong?

CB: No, sorry, I once had dinner with a nice man called Ray Kraft, alas no longer with us, who was president of Lionheart Films. He said to me, at the end, ‘Colin, when you go back to England could you tell Michael Grade we need more episodes? You’re making 22, we need at least 52’. I said ‘Hang on, I have no access to Michael Grade’. A lead actor in the US will probably know the guy in charge, that doesn’t work in the UK, actors are employees. I have no say with the top brass, and if I meet them it’s only for a nod at a cocktail party and they probably haven’t got a clue who I am.

If you bear in mind that the BBC is an organisation that annually has received more from ‘Doctor Who’ than it’s cost to make it, it’s got 28 years of product to sell, any other organisation would have a vested interest in keeping it going. But because the income doesn’t go back to the programme, it goes to the general BBC coffers and is spread very thinly, so the programme-making arm of the BBC has no incentive whatsoever to make more of it. You also have producers there who have projects, and if there are ten of them coming and saying ‘I want to make this’, and there’s no-one coming saying ‘I want to make Doctor Who’, then there’s no-one batting for it.

Q: Do you think the plans to make the Doctor a less likeable character might have been a mistake? And do you feel that during the hiatus, you were very vocal and you were ousted because of that?

CB: To be honest, I wasn’t that vocal, it’s one of those things that’s been perpetuated by fan magazines. I didn’t really speak out, maybe I should have done. Actually, I was quite careful not to criticise anyone for the simple reason that I didn’t want to be hampered with the baggage from that, so I don’t think that’s a reason. I think it’s more casual than that,  I don’t think any attitude towards me caused any of the decisions anyhow. I don’t think they were aware of my existence!

I thought it was quite exciting to have a character who was a little inaccessible, a little enigmatic. I don’t know if you have this experience in your life, but I have it in mine, the people who are my best friends are the ones I didn’t like much at first. Some of them I loathed at first. There’s a book called ‘Pride and Prejudice’, I don’t know if you’ve read it, there’s a character in that called Mr. Darcy who for the first two thirds everyone thinks is the villain, they think he’s a deeply selfish swine because he doesn’t go around wearing his virtues on his sleeve. And I think those characters are very interesting, and I wanted to play the Doctor like that.

Q: I think a lot of people liked that in the character. Your Doctor seemed more personally violent at times, and I didn’t have a problem with that, but some fanzines did.

CB: If the character was just slightly different all the time, but basically the same, if you have twelve versions of yourself, as we discovered with the Valeyard, who’s a kind of interface between two versions we discovered, there are going to be different qualities. It’s more interesting.

Q: Isn’t it true that every new Doctor has a period when they have to be accepted?

CB: Oh yes, I mean the hardest job was poor old Peter after seven years of Tom. Tom being such a strong and particular Doctor, I mean every interview I get with non-fans has ‘Where’s your scarf?’, but Tom was the only one who wore a scarf. But the scarf’s so associated with a lot of peoples’ idea of what ‘Doctor Who’ is about. So Peter has a tough job there, actually, which is why he chose to play it totally different. You have to overcome, in that case it was a generation of children. A young child will have seen as his Doctor only Tom Baker for about six years, and suddenly it changes. Nobody likes change.

Q: A lot of channels, when they start showing ‘Doctor Who’, they start with Tom Baker.

CB: Well I suppose they thought they couldn’t start with black and white. You can’t start a show in black and white. They had seven years of Tom Baker to get the show started.

Q: Do you know anything about the lost season, in particular the unknown story of ‘Penecasata’?

CB: All I know is that I read ‘The Nightmare Fair’ and thought it was a damn good story. I knew there was an Autons in Singapore story. And that’s all I know!

Q: They’ve been novelised, some of them. But not ‘Penecasata’.

CB: (‘The Nightmare Fair’) got as far as a full script. I read the ‘Nightmare Fair’ novelisation and I enjoyed it, having been very excitied when I read the script for it.

Q: There have been comments that one of the problems with ‘Trial of a Timeload’ was that it was confusing for the actors. Was that true?

NB: No, it’s not confusing for the actors because we film in bits anyway. One day we’re filming a sequence where you go into the TARDIS, and the next day you’re shooting a scene that relates to something you shot two weeks earlier. As an actor you’re always working in bits, and it’s up to you to keep a track of the story. I think the only problem of making it bitty was that as a programme you’d just get into a drama sequence, then you’d get thrown back out again into the trial. Whether that was the best thing, I don’t know, but it definitely wasn’t confusing for the actors.

CB: I was very confused by it, but I had a very different problem, especially in ‘Mindwarp’ because there was a point when I said to Eric Saward, the script editor, ‘When I’m tying Peri to this rock and threatening to torture her, am I doing it for some subtle reason of my own, because I think I’m being watched or whatever, or because I’ve been affected by the mind probe, or is the Matrix lying?’. Those were the three alternatives as I saw it. He said ‘I don’t know, you’d better ask Philip Martin’, so I got in touch and gave him those three alternatives, he said ‘I don’t know, Eric wrote the trial stuff, all the Matrix stuff was added after, by Eric, you’d better ask him’. So I went to John Nathan-Turner, he said ‘Oh, whichever you like’. This is the level of involvement at the time. Eric was going through his own problems at the time, disagreeing with John Nathan-Turner on all sorts of things. I felt that was all very sloppy, it was all cobbled together a bit. The stories were written independently, and the trial theme was put on top. I felt it was the Matrix lying, so I really was torturing Peri. But it was very difficult. You expect the writers to know what’s happening, but that’s not always the case.

NB: It’s like finding out later that suddenly I ended up being married to Yrcanos, when we were never playing that. You think ‘I might have played a couple of scenes slightly differently if I’d known that was what was happening’, and it’s not the way the script was written, it’s not the way either of us were playing it.

Q: You can tell it’s hacked on the end.

CB: That was my fault. I said ‘No mention is made of whether what happened to Peri is true or false’, and they said ‘Well what do you want?’, I said ‘I want to know your intentions’, they asked me! And I said ‘Well I’d like Peri to survive because I like her and she can come back’!

Q: You said the other night that the BBC probably won’t bring back ‘Doctor Who’, but they’ll probably bring back something to replace it. How would you feel if that something was ‘The Stranger’?

CB: I think there’d be absolutely no point the BBC bringing back ‘The Stranger’, because if they’re going to do that, they might as well bring back ‘Doctor Who’. Whatever fiction we all put together for the purposes of avoiding litigation, the similarities are so close that they might as well use the property they’ve got. I wasn’t the one who said they’d bring back something to replace it, I think they’ll bring back ‘Doctor Who’ or something totally different.

NB: It’s like the attempt at ‘Star Cops’.

CB: Every now and then the BBC have dabbed in sci-fi. They did a series called ‘Moonbase’, they did two or three series of it, I never see it shown now.

Q: It was destroyed, that’s why.

CB: Oh was it?

Q: The BBC wiped it all. Speaking of development of the Doctor, how did you get the part in ‘The Ultimate Adventure’?

CB: Well I got the part because when they decided to do it, they approached all the Doctors, a kind of blanket approach, and I think at the time two of them said ‘Yes’, that was Jon Pertwee and myself, and because Terrence Dicks who wrote it had worked with Pertwee he was keener to write for Pertwee, so they went down the Pertwee path, as it were. But just as it was beginning, Jon said that three months was his maximum, and they wanted to get six months out of it, so they asked if I wanted to do the rest of it. I said ‘Yes, I would’, so I met up with Terrence Dicks, who asked me what alterations I’d like, and it struck me there was no point making any, if he could trust me to change a few lines here and there that were hyper-Pertwee, as it were. Things like ‘reversing the polarity of the neutron flow’, and even then I just changed it to ‘reversing the linearity of the proton flow’ as a little homage.

The only change I made was that I had all the lines that Pertwee had written all over the set rubbed out, because I  could remember them. Sorry Jon. And I developed a different relationship with Zog, I think Jon felt that Zog was a little furry alien who was a companion, he was extremely cute, and I think Jon felt it was distracting from his charm as the Doctor so he tended to ignore it. But I thought there was potential for humour with Zog, so we built up a relationship.

Q: Nicola, as Peri you had a lot of screaming to do. How do you feel about Ms. Brown, is she more like the character you’d like to have been as Peri?

NB: When I first auditioned for Peri, the description was ‘tall, blonde, leggy Californian’, so I said ‘Yeah, I can play that!’ (laughs), but the character wasn’t very well formed and as the auditions went on over a few months I finally got to read the first draft of ‘Planet of Fire’. I thought she was obviously an intelligent young girl, extremely unhappy family background, young, naive, but a spunky little kid. So I thought there was a good chance of taking this somewhere, because (a) it was the beginning of her growth period mentally, and if she starts out as a courageous kid she’s obviously going to expand from that, and I liked the fact that in the very first story she was giving the Master what-for, and I thought ‘this is good’. And I expected the character to develop from that.

But by the time I got into my second season, they just harped on about the bickering between the two of us, and the language thing, and stories popped up like ‘Timelash’ and they seemed to forget where the character had come from. I was much happier with ‘Trial of a Timelord’ because at least they acknowledged that time had moved on and their relationship had changed, because if they’d gone on the way they were going they’d have killed each other, or she’d have said ‘for God’s sake, get me out of here’, or Colin would have said ‘get out’, because there was no reason for them to stay together. That seemed to get lost. But I would have taken her in a different direction if I’d been in the driving seat.

Q: And Ms. Brown in the Bill Baggs stories?

NB: Yes, it’s a little closer to what I would have done. Especially in the second story, she’s a little more intelligent, it’s not a case of… she’s dealing with situations herself and using the Doctor in a different capacity. And the story that we’re filming at the moment is extremely interesting, and I can’t reveal why, but it gives us a chance to form something new.

Q: You mentioned making script changes in stage productions. Did you have that power in ‘Doctor Who’?

CB & NB: No!

NB: I think I got about three words changed. I got ‘mincer’ changed to ‘meat grinder’, I remember that was a long saga, that took three weeks, I would say ‘I’m sorry but you don’t say mincer in the States, you say meat grinder’, and they said ‘no-one in England will know what a meat grinder is’, I said ‘Well cut the lines, I’ll say something else’, and it was like the whole thing about saying ‘cop’ when I’m American. And then there were times when we’d say ‘I can’t say this, because four stories ago we established that I never knew this’, so when he says ‘Shut the TARDIS door’, I can’t do it if I haven’t been shown. And most of the time they’d listen to you, but it was always ‘How annoying of you to remember that’.

CB: I remember once, at the beginning of ‘Trial of a Timelord’, being whipped into the court and I said to Eric Saward ‘last time we met the Timelords, the Doctor was the president of Gallifrey, wasn’t he?’, and he said ‘Was he?’, I said ‘Yes, I remember Peter being made president in The Five Doctors’. He said ‘So?’, I said ‘Well all he has to say is I’m the president of Gallifrey, sod off all of you’. So he said ‘We’ll put a line in if it makes you happy’, so they put a line in ‘You’ve been deposed’. But it happened by chance, I knew very little about the history of the programme, there should have been more thought going into it, I thought. I didn’t often get lines changed, but I got lines put in, most of them puns. It was agreed that my Doctor would be allowed to make awful puns.

NB: The only thing I got put in was something that came up in the BBC canteen at one point, we were talking about the budget and John Nathan-Turner said one of the things we got a lot of letters about was that it was very obvious that we built two corridors and ran between them. And I said ‘Well why don’t you stick a line in about it?’, and he said ‘Like what?’, I said ‘Well every time you go somewhere, the companion says All these corridors look the same to me’, and that way it was part of the story, that’s why they got lost!

Q: Did you also get very little input into your costumes?

CB: (laughs) No, Nicola chose hers.

NB: Madonna copied me years later. I was very happy in my first costume, it was very sensible. I was in cotton clothing, but the press made such a big to-do about me being in a bikini, big centre-spread in the ‘Daily Star’, and the ratings shot up and I think John Nathan-Turner thought he’d found a good thing so I didn’t get dressed again, really in ‘The Caves of Androzani’, which was ludicrous because there we were filming in Lanzarote in October, and then in November we’re filming the next series and it’s minus two or three, Peter’s in two layers of thermals and I caught pneumonia and got  frost-bite. And I wasn’t happy running around in shorts all the time, because that had nothing to do with the character that I started out with. I imagined sneakers and jeans and sweatshirts and T-shirts, you know.

Q: Sophie seemed to do pretty well.

NB: Yeah, well I think we went through a sudden fashion change as well. Suddenly we went in for this much more masculine dressing for women. A whole change of fashion happened, so I think it was much easier to choose another young person and let her make a fashion statement. If the press had just ignored it, I think I would have gone into jeans and T-shirt. When I auditioned, that’s what I wore. Then when it came to the press release, John Nathan-Turner said ‘Wear something clingy and short’, I said ‘I don’t have anything like that’, and he said ‘Don’t you have anything that clings to you?’, I said ‘I’ve got a leotard’, he said ‘Wear that’! It was the only thing I had. So I wore that for the press release, and John very kindly handed me this bag as I went to get changed, it was cotton wool. He’d brought me a load of cotton wool to pad my bra out because he thought there was nothing there. Which was rather funny when I put the leotard on, gave him a surprise.

CB: I was asked what I’d like to wear, and I said I’d like something black, a bit austere, ruffled sleeves, long black coat, black trousers. They said ‘That’s the Master, really’. So then John said ‘I think it should be really tasteless’, and he kept coming up with these designs and it’s quite trick for a designe, because you want to do things that are tasteful. Poor Pat Godfrey kept coming up with design after design, and in the end this collection of clashing materials came together and that was chosen. I never cared for it very much, but I was on the inside looking out, I didn’t have to look at it, you did.

Matthew Waterhouse (2006)

August 19, 2009

This is a great recent interview with Matthew Waterhouse, where he’s very genuine and honest about his experiences with Tom Baker. You can see the video here.

“I was absolutely petrified. I remember very clearly my journey on the Tube the morning of the first day and sitting there, I have never been so frightened and excited in my life. And I remember arriving at the read-through and Tom was late, so we were all sitting around the table waiting for the read-through to begin, and he stalked in, in his mac, his brown mac, and I was physically shaking. It was extraordinary. Extraordinarily frightening, a very surreal first day. But maybe since ‘Doctor Who’ is essentially surreal, that’s not a bad way to approach it.

“Tom doesn’t take prisoners, and I think the fact that I was doubtless this immensely irritating, but sweet and unaffected kid, he didn’t give me any leeway at all. It was the most terrifying day of my life. And I wanted him to love me, I wanted him to think ‘Oh what a wonderful boy, what a gifted lad’. I’ve never wanted someone to like me so much in my entire life, and that first day he didn’t really speak to me. He stalked into rehearsals, sat there in his brown coat, read the thing and sat there and smoked cigarettes… he chain-smoked them if I remember rightly. I was absolutely terrified, but it also seemed to be confirming the glamour of it as well. I think he’d be appalled to hear me say this, but to me, as a middle-class kid from commuterville, it was unbelievable. I mean, I’d never been away from my parents for more than two weeks at a time, and there I was working with this frightening man, tall, larger than life man, and I remember on the first day he didn’t really acknowledge me.

“I tried to stand near him in the pub, I remember he went to the pub at lunchtime so I went to the pub and I wanted him to see me. I think I edged a little nearer along the bar so I was only two people away from him, hoping he’d say hello to me, but he didn’t. So I went back and we got back to rehearsal, and we had to do a scene together, and he said ‘Hello, I haven’t said hello to you, have I?’, I said ‘Hi’, I thought ‘He likes me’, he smiled at me… and then I made a suggestion about something, I said ‘Why don’t we try that’, and he said ‘Why don’t you piss off?’. I thought ‘That’s not a very good start, maybe he doesn’t like me after all’, so I went home distraught, thinking ‘He’s my favourite actor in the world and he doesn’t like me, he thinks I’m horrible’. So that was my first day.

“I’m not sure what he thought about having a heroic boy in ‘Doctor Who’. I’m not sure he thought it was the bee’s knees. He’d rather have had twenty-five year old girls rather than heroic teenage boys… in fact I’m pretty sure of that because he once said ‘I hate this fucking character’, so that was a clue. I liked the character because it got me into ‘Doctor Who’ and that was enough for me. But Tom could be very sweet, he could be very kind, very generous to me, and his great quality, which I admire so much, is that he’s so funny, and out of the ordinary, and the only thing I’ve ever wanted in my life is to be out of the ordinary. I don’t want to be ordinary. I don’t know what ordinary is, but I don’t want to be it. And Tom wasn’t.

“The atmosphere on ‘Doctor Who’ with Tom was pretty fraught, there’s no point pretending it wasn’t. In some ways I think I wasn’t equipped to deal with that fraughtness, because I was too young and… stupid to deal with it. But he could suddenly be unbelievably generous. He could be very nice to me in many ways. I think jelly babies have a lot to do with it, and I think the hat has a lot to do with it, and the scarf. Of course I had a vast amount to do with the success and popularity of ‘Doctor Who’ at that time, but I think Tom also made a contribution.” (smiles)