“I provoked a strong reaction from the Daily Mail”: celebrities discuss their memorable experiences on Doctor Who – part five.
Martin Jarvis was a recurring actor in multiple iconic series between 1965 and 1985.
60 years ago, I had the opportunity to meet producer Verity Lambert. She offered me a guest role in The Web Planet, playing the character of Hilio, a prince of the Menoptera tribe. Despite my initial excitement, my enthusiasm decreased when I saw the costume designs, which depicted a giant butterfly. However, I ultimately accepted the role due to the payment of 60 pounds per episode.
Jamie Donoughue, the director behind episodes featuring the Fifteenth Doctor in 2024.
As a director arriving at the studios, my first priority was to visit the Tardis. I had heard rumors about its impressive size, so I made the decision to experience it as the audience does. Instead of entering through the open stage, I walked through the police doors to fully appreciate its impact. Needless to say, it did not disappoint. Whenever I had the chance, I would sit inside the Tardis, and it eventually became my second office. By the end, I was familiar with every button and its function. I always entered through the police doors.
Lalla Ward portrayed the character of Romana II, the companion of the Fourth Doctor from 1979 to 1981.
The greatest moment for me was the infinite improbability of meeting Douglas Adams, of the joy of having him as a friend for the rest of his tragically finite life. From that treasured friendship evolved, like the butterfly effect, everything and everybody that has mattered to me thereafter.
Catherine Tregenna, the author of The Woman Who Lived and a writer for Torchwood from 2006-2015.
Reworded: It was enjoyable to imagine a female character who was immortal and also a highway-woman, unable to time travel and forced to endure through history for so many years that she became emotionally detached from the world. The Doctor, feeling compelled to thaw her frozen heart, decided to stay by her side. Science fiction allows for deeper exploration of human experiences, such as compassion, mortality, and grief.
Sheila Hancock portrayed the character of Helen A in the 1988 production of The Happiness Patrol.
I recall comparing the character to Margaret Thatcher and imitating her voice. This angered the Daily Mail, claiming it was offensive. I also wore a wig to resemble her. However, it was a challenging role because I had to work with an impressive puppet, but the puppeteer had to sit below me with his leg between my knees and control the puppet.
April MacLean, portrayed by Sophie Hopkins in the 2016 series Class.
The moment from Doctor Who that has remained with me is when the Tenth Doctor regenerates and utters the words, “I don’t want to go,” which were both simple and heart-wrenching. It gave me chills!
Juno Dawson, the author of the Doctor Who: Redacted audio series starting in 2022,
After Tegan Jovanka departs from the Doctor, she expresses that she can no longer tolerate the constant accumulation of dead bodies. She exclaims, “It’s no longer enjoyable, Doctor!” I also follow this rule in my own life – if something is no longer enjoyable, it’s time to move on. Two decades later, Martha Jones decides to prioritize herself instead of pining after the Doctor. She shares an anecdote about her university friend’s unrequited love for their roommate. Martha chooses not to repeat this pattern and leaves. This moment is recognized as one of the most explicitly feminist moments in the show.
Susie Liggat (producer, 2007-2008)
We shot the final scene of Planet of the Ood at Trefil Quarry while enduring scorching temperatures. Despite the heat, we managed to create a wintry atmosphere with biodegradable paper snow. In this scene, the Ood formed a circle and sang a song of gratitude to the Doctor and Donna. This display of trust and openness was a powerful representation of vulnerability and the value of embracing those who are different. The visuals were minimalistic, featuring only the actors portraying the creatures, Catherine Tate, and David Tennant. It was a rare moment of calmness and simplicity.
Rachel Talalay directed episodes of Doctor Who that featured the Twelfth Doctor and was also the director for the first special marking the 60th anniversary in 2014-23.
I would like to discuss the situation where Tom Baker was flirting with me, but some matters are better left to the imagination (as I mentioned to Tom). Instead, let’s focus on the Cybermen. During my first directed episode, we replicated a scene from a 1960s episode where the Cybermen were approaching the camera with the backdrop of St Paul’s dome. While exploring the vacant cathedral, I stumbled upon a solitary organist rehearsing. It was surreal to think that all of this was happening to a young person from Baltimore.
Azhur Saleem (director of episodes featuring the Thirteenth Doctor, 2021)
There was a big climactic scene I directed on Doctor Who: Flux, set in the Williamson Tunnels. It was a huge set, designed by the brilliant Dafydd Shurmer, with Sontarans blasting through a door while Yaz, Dan, Jericho and Williamson dive for cover. I remember looking across the set and watching all the people involved in this act of make-believe and it brought a massive smile to my face. We were creating something really special and exciting, that took a lot of hard work, yet it felt like we were just playing.
Vinay Patel is the writer behind the episodes featuring the Thirteenth Doctor from 2018 to 2020.
When asked by Chris Chibnall about my preferred episode for the show, I unexpectedly suggested a plot taking place during the partition of India. I visited Abbey Road to observe Segun Akinola directing the recording of his score. The memory of witnessing singer Shahid Abbas Khan’s powerful vocals for the show’s closing theme will always stay with me. After he finished, everyone in the room exchanged looks and I exclaimed “wow”. That was the moment I realized it was all worth it.
Alice Troughton was the director for episodes of Torchwood, The Sarah Jane Adventures, and Doctor Who with the Tenth Doctor from 2006-2008.
As a five-year-old, I remember watching Tom Baker contemplate whether to destroy the Daleks or not, and I wondered if he was making the right decision. His portrayal of the Doctor’s inner conflict was masterful, with a mix of Shakespearean flair and childlike excitement and dread. Even Lis Sladen, who was also present in the scene, patiently listened to my enthusiastic rambling while we were working together on The Sarah Jane Adventures. She even obtained Tom’s autograph for me, which I still have in my possession. The note reads, “Dear Alice, it’s a shame you weren’t here. I would have loved to say hello.”