Hello! Right, just a quick update to the Tom Baker interviews. Well, it’s not really an interview as such, but I only just found out that Mr. B answers questions on his website from time to time in a special ‘Question Room’. So it’s like an interview, I suppose. You can read it here.
Posts Tagged ‘Doctor Who’
A while ago I went through all the interviews on this site so far, and I divided them up story by story, with the aim of creating a kind of companion blog. Have I explained that well? Probably not. Oh well…
Lots of gaps, of course, but you get the idea of what I’m trying to do (and how bl**dy long it’ll take). If anyone likes it, leave a comment or something so I know it’s worth pushing on with it, otherwise I’ll just stick to posting interviews.
Ingrid Pitt died today, and as well as appearing in quite a few classic Hammer films she was in two ‘Doctor Who’ stories, ‘The Time Monster’ and ‘Warriors of the Deep’. You can read a column she wrote about Doctor Who here, in which she makes the slightly odd suggestion that ‘Doctor Who’ was only brought back in 2005 so that there would be an excuse to make ‘Torchwood’. But anyway, here are a few quotes from her:
On her childhood in a concentration camp
The Russian Army was coming, so our camp, Stutthoff in Poland, had to be moved, or liquidated, as they called it. We were marched into the gas chamber and I remember my mother holding me so tight. I don’t know if it was luck or destiny, but we survived. I was eight.
A Jehovah’s Witness told me, `you will survive but tomorrow I will be dead,’ and she was right. Why didn’t the gas chamber work? We must have been in there for hours, because when we went in there it was dark and when we came out it was dark again – so a whole day must have passed. It was a miracle that they opened the door, because we could have just stayed there, and they could have all gone. Nobody could have opened it from the inside. (read more)
On The Time Monster
Towards the end of shooting we ran out of tape. Instead of getting some more the director, Paul Bernard, cut the scenes which hadn’t already been shot. I told him I had some tape under my bed at home, as one does, and offered to go and get it. But he wasn’t interested. The only relief was Jon Pertwee. He just marched on regardless of what was going on around him. (read more)
On Jon Pertwee’s funeral
The vicar who did the service met him on the top of a bus – on his way to the VE Day celebrations. Jon, being Jon, asked him if he would do his funeral when the time came. He also told him a lot of very funny stories. So Jon toddles off to the great cabbage patch in the sky and the Rev. steps in. He repeated Jon’s jokes of the long ago bus ride and everyone fell about. Then came that horrible moment when grim reality intrudes and the coffin slides towards the furnace door. On the coffin was an effigy of Wurzel Gummidge. As it approached the doors the figure fell off and someone in the pews said, “That’s Jon for you. Always plays it for laughs”. (read more)
On Warriors of the Deep
Pennant Roberts was directing. I only got the job because Pennant was sorry for me. He dropped around to see me one day when I was in the throes of extending my house. It was chaos. Pennant decided I needed a break. He had cast everyone but Dr. Solow. A role for a male actor! (read more)
This isn’t an interview, it’s part of a letter from Sydney Newman to Michael Grade in which Newman suggests that the seventh Doctor should be a woman. Covered in the Daily Telegraph, the recently discovered letter doesn’t really inspire much confidence. Thankfully his advice wasn’t heeded; if it had been, we’d never have had Sylvester McCoy as No. 7, and so my favourite Doctor wouldn’t have existed!
“At a later stage Doctor Who should be metamorphosed into a woman. Don’t you agree that this is considerably more worthy of the BBC than Doctor Who’s presently largely socially valueless, escapist schlock?
“This requires some considerable thought – mainly because I want to avoid a flashy, Hollywood Wonder Woman, because this kind of heroine with no flaws is a bore.
“Should you accept these ideas the fee I would accept would be in the form of my being taken on and paid to be its executive director to ensure the concept is properly executed
“Given more time than I have now, I can create such a character.”
Okay, this isn’t an interview, it’s choice quotes from a foreword to Paul McCauley’s novella ‘Eye of the Tyger’, but it’s relevant to ‘Doctor Who’ and it’s a good read. I’ve only quoted a few highlights, to read the full thing (and if you haven’t, I’d very much recommend it), you can either go and find a copy of the novella or you can read the full foreword at Neil Gaiman’s blog.
“The complaint about Dr Who from adults was always, when I was small, that it was too frightening. This missed, I think, the much more dangerous effect of Dr Who: that it was viral.
“Of course it was frightening. More or less. I watched the good bits from behind the sofa, and was always angry and cheated and creeped out by the cliffhanger in the final moments. But that had, as far as I can tell, no effect on me at all, as I grew, the fear. The real complaint, the thing that the adults should have been afraid of and complaining about was what it did to the inside of my head. How it painted my interior landscape.
“The shape of reality – the way I perceive the world – exists only because of Dr Who. Specifically, from The War Games in 1969, the multipart series that was to be Patrick Troughton’s swan song. The Doctor and his assistants find themselves in a place where armies fight: an interminable World War One battlefield, in which armies from the whole of time have been stolen from their original spatio-temporal location and made to fight each other. Strange mists divide the armies and the time zones. Travel between the time zones is possible, using a white, boxlike structure approximately the same size and shape as a smallish lift, or, even more prosaically, a public toilet: you get in in 1970, you come out in Troy or Mons or Waterloo.
“These days, as a middle-aged and respectable author, I still feel a sense of indeterminate but infinite possibility on entering a lift, particularly a small one with white walls. That to date the doors that have opened have always done so in the same time, and world, and even the same building in which I started out seems merely fortuitous – evidence only of a lack of imagination on the part of the rest of the universe”.
Here’s a brief quote from Tom Baker, talking about Jon Pertwee. Short, I know, but worth it because there aren’t too many examples of him talking about other Doctors:
“I only met Jon Pertwee for the first time at the changeover shot in his last episode. So up till then I had no knowledge of him.
“Later I met him in various sound studios where we doing voice overs or commentaries and so on. Also I met him on several occasions at Sci-fi conventions. He was always very glamorous and charismatic and he obviously felt I was a bit peculiar.
“I used to tease him by pretending I was earning huge fees. This made him pink up a bit. But he was the generation ahead of me so there was a gap too wide for us to become friends.
“But I respected him and greatly admired his Worzel Gummidge series. I was sorry to hear of his death although envious of the manner (he died in his sleep). He did not know the fear of dying”.
Here are some quotes from Sylvester McCoy, talking about life in Dunoon, becoming the Chieftain of the Cowal Highland Games, and his thoughts on Matt Smith and David Tennant:
“I was born in Dunoon, I left here when I was 18. Every year, the Cowal Highland Games was an exciting time in Dunoon. “When I was a little boy I used to climb over the wall and sneak in here without having to pay, to watch all the events. Now I’ve come back, and my penance is I’ve got to be Chieftain.
“As a little boy, Dunoon is a small little insular place. When the games arrived it brought in the whole world, and that was really exciting. God, wow!
“Matt Smith is wonderfully strange. He’s got a great, strange look to him, a great face, and his timing is terrific, his concentration and everything. And he’s very young! I wasn’t mad about the idea of him doing it, but now he’s done it I think he’s done a really good job.
“I watch it. I’ve been working all over the world so I don’t see it always, but I do dip in now and again. Partly out of duty, but I enjoy the duty, especially because of Matt Smith, I like what I’ve seen of him. And David was terrific, you know. I also liked Christopher Eccleston because he was the first real working-class Doctor, I was disappointed in a way that the next one wasn’t equally.
“I would have loved it if someone like Billy Connolly came out, and said [doing Billy impression]: ‘Oh my God, look at that planet, I love it! Bleep bleep bleep, I love it.’ I would have liked more of that, but apart from that it’s good”.
You can read the whole interview here.
Here’s a transcript of David Tennant interviewing Steven Moffat for ‘Doctor Who Confidential’:
Tennant: So, Steven Moffat, television writer of some repute, where did you grow up?
Moffat: I grew up in Paisley.
Tennant: Just down the road from myself.
Moffat: That’s right.
Tennant: So growing up in Paisley, how remote did television feel to you?
Moffat: Well it was more Hollywood than Hollywood. I mean, this place (BBC Television Centre) is more exciting to me, to this day.
Tennant: You grew up watching Doctor Who. What was your era?
Moffat: I remember Patrick Troughton being bewilderingly the Doctor, and being confused by that, and really from the start of Jon Pertwee I was watching every single episode devotedly.
Tennant: This is Studio 8. In this very studio, TC8, we had ‘The Sea Devils’ was in here, ‘Planet of the Spiders’ was in here.
Moffat: Jon Pertwee turned into Tom Baker somewhere in this room.
Tennant: Well, quite a few studios were used for ‘Planet of the Spiders’, but let’s just say he did.
Moffat: All those events happened in this very big, dull grey room. I don’t know about you, but I got interested in background stuff, how television was made, because of ‘Doctor Who’.
Moffat: It wasn’t really background information about television I was researching, it was ‘How do they make Doctor Who?’.
Tennant: Here’s another studio, TC7. I think all the studios in Television Centre have been used at some point by ‘Doctor Who’. This is currently being used by ‘Newsnight’, but we’re going to invade. ‘Robot’ was filmed in here, this is where Tom Baker began. In fact, this might be the very studio where – I remember, very famously, there was a scene-shifters’ strike, wasn’t there, and ‘Blue Peter’ transmitted from the set.
Moffat: That’s right. I remember my Dad shouted ‘Doctor Who’s on’, I thought ‘That’s amazing, it’s Wednesday’ or whatever day it was, and I went running down and discovered it was just ‘Blue Peter’ and burst into tears.
Moffat: Sorry, ‘Blue Peter’, it just doesn’t measure up to ‘Doctor Who’.
Tennant: So what was it about ‘Doctor Who’ in particular that fired your little infant imagination?
Moffat: It was a children’s programme, it was also frightening, there was no other show like this. It works you hard as a writer, but I think if you’re prepared to work hard, it helps you.
Tennant: Russell (T. Davies) says that. He says it’s the hardest thing to write. Why is that?
Moffat: ‘Doctor Who’, you’ve got two minutes – if that – of the Doctor and companion in the TARDIS, they walk out the door and it’s a new world of some kind or other, a whole bunch of people you have to introduce and dispose of in one episode. It needs a big, strong idea every week. I think you know you’ve got a good idea for a ‘Doctor Who’ episode if you think ‘Well, I’ve just blown that feature film idea forever, haven’t I?’, that’s the size of story that gets you through forty-five minutes of ‘Doctor Who’.
I think this is Tom Baker’s first interview after getting the role of the Doctor, and to be honest it’s less an interview and more a series of press quotes. Perhaps the most interesting thing is that while he’s now turned the interview into something of an art form, this is Baker way before he became such a seasoned interview ‘pro’…
“Perhaps what clinched it for me was my appearance in the special effects film ‘The Golden Voyage of Sinbad’.
“We are not playing Dr. Who for laughs. I am trying to stress his strangeness, that he is out of this world, not human, therefore his reactions would be different from ours. I may only be a middle-aged ten-year-old, but I take Dr. Who very seriously. He has to be genuinely loveable, not pleased by violence, and he must be honest. Humourous, but never comical.
“I seem to have played so many psychotics, it will be a pleasant change. The Doctor’s a fantastic character and I’m not sure yet how I’m going to play him. It’s very difficult. Fortunately, kids have such elasticity of imagination that it is easy for them to accept that he has to be killed, but because he is a Time Lord he doesn’t really die. He regenerates into another form.
“I have a nine-week break in the summer. I’m under contract with Sam Speigel to do a film then. I don’t know what. But if I wasn’t acting I would take some job. I don’t like saying ‘I’m resting’ when I’m out of work. It’s a fallacy that actors get paid astronomical sums of money. I get paid very well sometimes, of course, and it’s a temptation to blow it on a flash car. But I live very simply. I have hardly any possessions and I live in a bedsit in Pimlico. I read in a national newspaper that I was getting paid £1,000 a week for ‘Dr. Who’. That’s absolutely preposterous. The BBC must have had a good laugh.
“(The Daleks) are terrible creatures that just want to kill everybody. They’re terrible. No humour, no jokes. And without jokes, there’s no optimism!”
Here’s Camille Coduri (Jackie Tyler) talking about Daleks, Cybermen and freezing nights in July:
Jackie’s not very good in a crisis. She’s a bit of a scaredy-cat, a bit of a screamer, she’ll run away. Or she’ll just get her daughter to save the world.
On fan attention
A couple of guys chased me in their cars, which is a bit worrying. But on the whole people have been lovely. I have been getting heaps of fan mail, mostly from men. But perhaps I am too old and too mumsy for them to be saucy. It’s more on the respectful, romantic side than the drop-your-drawers side – and thank God for that! It’s definitely been one of the happiest times of my life. It’s hugely funny to film. More often than not you are tearing down the road screaming when you really want to be wetting yourself laughing.
Daleks terrify me. I remember coming on set the very first year that we did it, series one, I walked through the set and came across a solitary Dalek. I have to say, I did back off and walk back round the other way.
On the Cybermen
They’re really terrifying. No acting required.
On Journey’s End
It was weird. It had been two years, and if felt like it was Sunday and we came back on the Monday. You’re thinking ‘What was she like?’, and then the moment something happens, you remember. It’s great being back with everybody.
Jackie’s a little braver. Still frightened, not of losing Rose to the Doctor but of losing Rose full stop. She knows that when Rose is with the Doctor, wild things happen and she could lose her life.
On The End of Time
We were very lucky when we filmed the Christmas special in July, because we had one of the coldest July’s on record. There were times when we were out shivering, and we really were shivering, and it was the middle of July! It was quite bizarre.