Archive for the ‘Dalek Movies’ Category

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.

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.

Philip Madoc (1990’s)

October 21, 2009

Philip Madoc was in a number of classic original series stories, as well as the second Peter Cushing film. Here, to talks to DWM about how he’d have liked to have reprised his character from ‘The War Games’, and about Tom Baker’s magnificent head.

On ‘Daleks – Invasion Earth 2150 AD’

It was a reasonable part. I mean, it wasn’t two lines, and it stood out, in its way. It was clear, you see, that he was a villain. He ended up in a shed being blow up, but that was his fault for not realising that the Daleks don’t have a conscience. They’re not going to help someone just for that particularly, and it was enjoyable seeing how the Daleks worked. That in itself was fascinating.

On ‘The War Games’

I remember the story appealing to me very much with the idea my character had of what was the solution to all the problems that were going on. I don’t remember how well it was done, but I thought it was quite original. Towards the end, there was a lot of thought going into what they were going to do with me. The idea was that they didn’t kill me, but disintegrated me to all the corners of the universe. I wasn’t there, I was everywhere so they could bring me back – like the Master. I would have liked to have played that role again. You see, once you’re doing a part that appears on a regular basis things get adapted to you, and things that you want to do go in. I remember once in the BBC club, after ‘The War Games’, some other director said to me ‘Without a shadow of a doubt, that was the most sinister character I’ve ever seen’.

On ‘The Brain of Morbius’

Solon was a sinister character – let’s face it, anyone who’s making a body has got to be sinister – but at the same time there were light points in it. Or at any rate, you could interpret them in that way; for example, one of the funniest lines was after the scene where we learn that he’s looking for a head to make up his body, and thrown away the insect one. The Doctors comes in through those doors, with the storm outside, and I just look at him and he says ‘What are you looking at?’ and I say ‘What a magnificent head’. I mean, you know they’re funny lines and if you can have that humour in it, the other things actually become more sinister. If you can have that combination of things then, in whatever level of drama we’re talking about, it helps enormously.

On ‘The Power of Kroll’

Whoever sent me the script said ‘For the part of so-and-so’, which is what I read, but when I turned up on location I wasn’t playing that. We sorted it out and I ended up playing the other part, whatever it was. I didn’t find it a particularly interesting story.

Peter Cushing (1990’s)

October 19, 2009

Here’s a brief quote from Peter Cushing, talking about the success of ‘Dr. Who and the Daleks’, and the fact that the films were, rather inevitably, panned by the critics.

“I had played Winston Smith in ‘1984’ on television, and the next thing I played ‘Doctor Who’. I was doing it in the cinema while Bill Hartnell was doing it on TV! That’s the way it goes. It was no surprise to me to learn that the first ‘Doctor Who’ film was in the top twenty box office hits of 1965, despite the panning the critics gave us. That’s why they made the sequel and why they spent twice as much money on it. Those films are among my favourites because they brought me popularity with younger children. They’d say their parents didn’t want to meet me in a dark alley but ‘Doctor Who’ changed that. After all, he is one of the most heroic and successful parts an actor can play. That’s one of the main reasons the series had such a long run on TV. I am very grateful for having been part of such a success story.”

Terry Nation (1987)

September 30, 2009

Here’s Terry Nation, creator of the Daleks, talking about his time on the show in a DWM interview. He discusses his hopes for the Mechanoids, his dislike of the Troughton Dalek stories, and his thoughts on Sylvester McCoy’s Doctor.

“I went to London, where I auditioned as a stand-up comic, and I failed time and time again. Somebody told me ‘the jokes are  very good, it’s you who’s not funny’, and that was hurtful, but then I figured I had to make a living. I was hustling around, and somebody gave me an introduction to Spike Milligan. Milligan wrote me a cheque for five pounds, which was a lot of money then, and he said ‘Why don’t you write a ‘Goon Show’, and if we like it, we’ll represent you. Anyway, I wrote a ‘Goon Show’ that night, delivered it the next morning, and he liked it.

“After two or three weeks of doing that, I was doing a BBC radio show called ‘All My Eye’, and it was fine to have said that you were a comedy writer, but the truth of it is that you’re suddenly faced with the possibility of doing thirty minutes of radio comedy for thirteen weeks, and it was truly an ordeal by figre. I went on to other comedy shows, worked with other writers, and ultimately having worked through a lot of comedy, decided that I wanted to do drama.

“ABC were doing a series called ‘Out of This World’, and I was asked to adapt a story by Philip K. Dick called ‘Imposter’. This was maybe the first science fiction being done in Britain. That was successful, and I did some more episodes. I now had a leg in each camp; I was a drama writer, and I was also a comedy playwright, so I was three-legged in one way, and nobody quite how how to slot me.

“I started to write for Tony Hancock, the most beloved comic in Britain. He had a Thursday night show that was giant, tremendous. We were working in a theatre in Nottingham, and my agent called from London and said ‘The BBC wants you to do a think called ‘Doctor Who’, it’s for the children’s television slot, science fiction’, and I said ‘How dare they? I don’t do things like that!’, but then I’d been asked because of this ‘Out of this World’ story. Well, this particular night, Tony Hancock and I had a big dispute. I wanted him to try some new material, and I’m not sure if I was fired or if I walked out, but the result was that I was on a train back to London, thinking ‘Hey, wait a minute! I’m out of work!’.

“I went and talked to David Whitaker, the script editor of ‘Doctor Who’, and I came up with a story idea. They liked it, they bought it, and that takes us up to where the Daleks started. I don’t know to this day what the enormous appeal of the Daleks was. I’ve heard all sorts of ideas about it, but they were slightly magical, because you didn’t know what the elements were that made them work. I’d been a cinema-goer all my life, and loved going to what were rated in those days as horror movies. Whatever the creature was, somewhere in your heart of hearts, you know it was a man dressed up, so my first requirement was to take the legs off. Take away the humanoid form, and we were off and running.

“Further inspiration came from the Georgian State Ballet, the Russian dance trouple which was performing in London at the time. There was a dance that the women did, where they wore floor-brushing skirts, and evidently took tiny steps, so they appeared to  glide across the stage. There was no suggestion of what form of locomotion they were using. That’s what I wanted for the Daleks. The rest of it comes easily, you put on an eye, and something else for hands. We made a big mistake with the hands, of course, we should have been smarter, but I had no faith in the show. It was the old writer’s axiom, ‘Take the money and fly like a thief’. I really didn’t think that it could work.

“After the Daleks, I was for a short time the most famous writer on television. The press interviewed me, there was mail arriving in great van loads. There was stuff coming to my house that said ‘Dalek Man – London’, and I was getting lots of them. Almost all the kids wanted a Dalek, and nobody was quick enough. The BBC, not being the great commercial operator, wasn’t ready, so there was no merchandising, there were no plastic Daleks, there were no buttons, there were no anything. My God, was that to change! Within the year, there were Dalek everythings.

“Raymond Cusick made a tremendous contribution, and I would love to be glib enough to put it into percentage terms, but you can’t do that. You start with something that’s a writer’s dream, that he’s put down in words, and amended, and added to in conversations. Something starts there. Cusick didn’t get anything, to my understanding. I think they may have given him a hundred pound bonus, but he was a salaried employee, and I think he knew the nature of his work, and it was what he did every week. The copyrights resided with the BBC and myself, and there were lovely legal words to cover these things, so that before they could merchandise anything, they had to have my agreement. I was very lucky. The salt cellar part is the legend: that gave Raymond Cusick the idea for the shape. He was restricted by budget, obviously – it wasn’t a big budget show we were doing. But yes, he made a tremendous contribution. Whatever the Daleks are or were, his contribution was vast.

“For ‘The Keys of Marinus’, I was already aware of what one could do with models, which were fairly new to the BBC. We could do models, and they did make them, and if I had an idea and thought the story was more important, then they could find a way to produce it. They were skillful, talented people.

“You’ll recall that we killed the Daleks, so we had to use the logic that this was trillions of years into the future, and we could now go back in history and find out whatever they did. We had seen them in that city, and they could only travel in that city, so the next generation of Daleks had to have something attached to them. I thought if the menace could be brought to modern-day Earth, it would really make the Daleks supreme in the minds of the public; actually bringing them in so we could see them crossing London Bridge, we could see them coming out of the Thames, that was the idea.

“You don’t kill off Carole Ann Ford! Didn’t she marry, or meet someone? That was ‘happily ever after’ and off we go again.

“The Chase was really the demand of the public. They kept saying ‘Can we do another Dalek story?’. We’d done them in their city, we’d done them on Earth, so let’s have a kind of chase through space. It’s a fun thing to do anyway, and we could go through times and locations, and that’s what we set about doing.

“They were so hot at that time, you couldn’t avoid The Beatles. I remember with great pride that the commercial channel was running the Beatles when they were really at their peak, at the same time as a ‘Doctor Who’ episode with the Daleks, and ‘Doctor Who’ got the ratings. I was pretty pleased with that.

“With the Mechanoids, you had your eye on the chance that anything could possibly catch on. The Mechanoids were manufactured as toys, but of course they didn’t take off. I remember the final battle of the Daleks against the Mechanoids. I set a city way up above the trees in the jungle, and the director did a stunning models battle. I haven’t seen it for years, but it’s a knockout battle.

“With ‘Dr. Who and the Daleks’, I was giving it away at this point. I’d done that story, my name was going to be over it anyway, it was all going to be based on my work, and David Whitaker was eager to do it so that’s what we did. I would have gone back very much closer to the thing we did on television. I’ve seen those first seven episodes, and they are really good. They are very well-constructed. I thought Peter cushing played the Doctor very well. I would have liked to have seen a little more snap, but he was very loveable, and that’s the way he wanted to play it. Bill Hartnell was, for me, the epitome of what ‘Doctor Who’ should be: a snappy, bad-tempered, absent-minded professor, whose interest in science and needing to know would lead them into terrible problems. Bill was absolutely perfect at that.

“‘Mission to the Unknown’ was clearly one that they brought me in for because I knew the show so well, and could turn one out quickly to cover all the problems. People were probably having holidays and stuff like that, and I think I used the episode as the central theme for the next big one I was going to do. I wanted to give a little trailer for that.

“Somebody up top at the BBC thought that if we had three months of it, we could really make an impact. It was a terrible mistake to think that you could do three months of the same thing, but we did. I don’t know how the figures went, but I imagine by the end, people were getting very bored with the Daleks. Dennis Spooner and I didn’t write them together, because I was working on ‘The Baron’ at that time. We may have met on a few occasions, and given a broad direction as to where the show was going. Dennis was script editor at that time, and we talked about it, and I went away and did my six, and he did his six. We certainly didn’t write them together.

“I think it was a tradition of the BBC that you did a special for Christmas, and we figured we were going to be playing at that time, so we would do one as well. At that time, the most staid of our English news readers would turn up in comic variety shows, and they would do something out of character or funny. On Christmas day, anything seemed to go, and I guess that’s what we wanted: something very bizarre and strange.

“I didn’t like ‘Power of the Daleks’, and I responded very badly to them. The Daleks were something that I understood better than anybody else. It appeared that they were simple robots, and all you’d have them do was say ‘Exterminate’ and you’d have it made. They were very much more complex in the way they should be presented. I didn’t like David’s episodes, where he had them being very sweet, and very polite; that seemed totally alien to me. This is not to say that they were not good episodes; this is just my personal opinion.

“I had known Jon Pertwee for a long time, and I knew what he was trying to do with the part. We were in the height of the 007 period, and everybody was trying Bond movies; I think that’s how Jon saw the role, a little more dashing, a little more daring, and a little more physical. He didn’t like the Daleks, but I always believed that he didn’t like them in the same sense that actors do’t like playing with children or dogs: because they are scene-stealers.

“The Daleks, when they have to make any kind of speech, are immensely boring characters. You can’t have a Dalek doing four or five sentences in a row, so I wanted someone to speak for the Daleks. This thing that was half-man and half-Dalek was a perfect example of this, and I made sure that he was not killed in that one, because we had killed off the Daleks once. He became a very good plot piece, and anyway, any crazy old mad professor is wonderful to have around.

“The Android Invasion was a nice idea. It was an intriguing mystery, and I quite liked the idea of setting up a bizarre situation… I don’t know if you remember the till in the pub, filled with coins of the same year; stuff like that. I don’t think the story fulfilled my vision, but overall, I think it was an interesting story.

“It was a fairly boring thing to have this regeneration of Romana in ‘Destiny of the Daleks’, and I thought it would be funny if we could say ‘No, I don’t like that body; I’d like a different nose’, so it was done for a moment of comedy and light relief. Nobody at that point believed that years later, the show would be examined with such microscopic intent. While it may be an issue for some of the fans, I can tell you that it was just saying ‘That’s a funny bit – let’s do it’.

“They always ask me if I’d like to do the next Dalek story, and when I say no then they say, may we have permission to do it? I felt in Sylvester McCoy’s early episodes, he was desperately seeking a character, but by the end of it, he was tremendously capable, and looked very promising. That age thing doesn’t seem to matter with him, because he’s an interesting face anyway. I really hope it works for him, and if this honest comic figure can snap everyone to attentino once in a while, then we know that there’s a core of iron inside him, and that would be good.”

Norman J. Warren

July 30, 2009

This is an excerpt of an interview with Norman J. Warren, one of the unsung heroes of 60’s and 70’s British cinema. He never worked on Dr. Who, but I’m including this excerpt because of the colour he brings to the story of Amicus and Milton Subotsky, the company and producer respectively behind the two Peter Cushing films.

Q: Can you tell me about your involvement with Milton Subotsky and Amicus?

I had a script called “The Book of Seven Seals”. It was very much in line with the sort of films Amicus made.

Q: The portmanteau?

Yes, because, as the title suggests, it had seven little stories. Milton Subotsky liked it very much. Once again, the meetings started, but then they fizzled out. Mind you, the meetings were very strange because Milton had no interest in directors whatsoever. He was more into the writer, the story and, after that, his big love was editing. I think he was a frustrated editor.

Q: He wrote some of the stories for Amicus, didn’t he?

Yes. He was very big on writing. He loved spending time with the writer.

One thing to add: you might imagine Amicus as being very grand, but they literally had a portacabin at Shepperton Studios. It was like two rooms: one was where Milton had his desk, and the other room was for the secretary. She was surrounded by comics. I’d never seen so many comics. Milton was obviously a big collector.


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Roy Castle (1990)

July 30, 2009

I should explain: back when I was collecting these bits and pieces, I was particularly interested in 60’s Dr. Who and, especially, those two Peter Cushing Dalek movies. I know they’re often maligned, but I’m sure with a stretch of the imagination they could be linked into the canonical series. Anyway, this is a very short snippet of a Roy Castle interview, he doesn’t say much of interest about the films but I think it’s worth adding since there’s so little similar material around, plus it’s not clear but I think Roy is under the mistaken impression here that the films pre-dated the TV show!

I’m transcribing these by hand, by the way, so that’s why it takes so long, plus I’m imminently getting a scanner so then I’ll be coming back to these posts and adding hi-res, printable versions of the original sources. Until then, enjoy…

Q: In the 1960’s, you co-starred in two Dalek movies, does that rank as one of your stranger roles?

A: I was only in one of them, but yes, it was quite unusual. Very unlike anything I’ve ever done, but I still get letters about it even today, requests for me to sign things and pop them back in the mail. Crazy, far more than I get for anything else.

Q: Do you oblige?

A: Yes, of course, why not? Sometimes they come up to me in the street. Really I had a very small part to play in something that’s become this very big, well quite big, television institution. I was never in the television version, just the films that started it all. Because we kicked it all off, I suppose people want to know all about it, but I have very little to tell them. I turned up, read my lines and went home, never imagined I’d still be asked about it twenty years later.

Q: What did you think of the Daleks?

A: They were brilliant. I think if you’d said to the producer, you must get rid of the humans or the Daleks, he’d have got rid of us humans in a flash. He knew they were his money ticket, I remember that much. I think he was a little bit in love with them. You had Peter Cushing, this very respectable and successful British actor, and the producer barely spoke to him, too busy polishing his Daleks. Metaphorically, that is.

Peter Cushing

July 28, 2009

In this rare Dr. Who-centric interview, Peter Cushing comes up with a novel idea for finding a place for the two 60’s movies in the ‘canon’. This interview is from the late 1970’s.

Q: What do you remember of the two ‘Dr. Who’ movies you made?

A: They were very enjoyable. A little frustrating, though, because they were not quite what we planned.

Q: What do you mean by that?

A: I think I speak for everyone involved when I say that we intended to make them a little darker. But they turned out well, very good entertainments and a hit with the children.

Q: How close did you come to making a third?

A: Very close. I thought we would, and possibly a fourth. Sadly it didn’t come to pass.

Q: Were you a fan of the TV series?

A: I thought it was very good. Very well made. But I didn’t watch TV then, and I don’t much now.

Q: The character you played in those two films was very different from the character on the TV show. Were those films a complete remake?

A: Well I’ll tell you something I thought once. I just said I didn’t watch TV, but one of the few episodes of the ‘Dr. Who’ series that I saw was one that involved a kind of mystical clown (‘The Celestial Toymaker’? – ed.), and I realised that perhaps he kidnapped Dr Who and wiped his memory and made him relive some of his earlier adventures. When Bill Hartnell turned into Patrick Troughton, and changed his appearance, that idea seemed more likely. I think that’s what happened, so I think those films we did fit perfectly well into the TV series. That would not have been the case had I taken the role in the TV series.

Q: Were you ever asked?

A: Twice, as it happens. When Bill Hartnell was forced to quit, I was asked if I would be interested in taking the lead in the new series. I turned it down, which I now regret a little. It would have been fun. But at the time, you know, I considered myself a serious film actor and stepping into a television series seemed like a step backwards. I don’t know how serious the producers were about hiring me. But perhaps if I’d said yes, they would have been pleased and you would have had me fighting Daleks and Cybermen week in, week out. But I’m glad I didn’t in some ways, because Patrick was so wonderful.

Q: You said you were asked back twice.

A: Yes, another time was quite recently, with Tom Baker’s Dr. Who. I don’t know the part, but they wanted me and I was interested by scheduling conflicts scuppered it. But perhaps in the future I’ll be able to take a part. I’d be very keen on that.