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Cult Interview

Peter Davison ('Doctor Who')

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Peter Davison ('Doctor Who')
Decked out in vintage cricket whites and a stick of celery, Peter Davison played the popular fifth incarnation of The Doctor for three series in the early 1980s - tackling Daleks, Cybermen, The Master and one very annoying male companion along the way. Recently returning to the legendary role for the Children In Need special 'Time Crash' alongside David Tennant, Davison continues to play the role in a series of audio adventures for Big Finish. We caught up with the great man himself for a chat about his continuing association with Doctor Who.

How did you react when you were first asked to play The Doctor again in the Big Finish audio stories?
"I was fine, I didn't think about it really. It was fulfilling a need. The BBC had effectively dropped Doctor Who and this filled a very important gap in the market. I never had a problem about going back to Doctor Who and I don't quite understand people who have a problem going back, albeit temporarily."

Was it easy to slip back into the role?
"I did find it very easy to slip into. You'd think it would be hard. I have aged a bit. I did worry about that, I don't know if some of the fans do or not. You play it as I see it. In many ways, I suppose [I'm] thinking that if I had a chance to go back and do my original Doctor Who stories I'd do them again. So this is a chance to make up for any shortcomings in the original stories that we did."

Has the character been expanded compared to the television series?
"I don't know. There's certainly more talking than there was in any television show. Inevitably there has to be as it's for the radio. I certainly think the writing, as a generalisation, is better. There were some very suspect scripts we did, knocked off by TV writers who'd turn their hand to anything. Fair enough, but they weren't science fiction fans. You do get the impression, both with the television series now and Big Finish, that they are fans of science fiction and that's why they are doing those stories."

How did you find the 'Time Crash' experience last year and acting on the new Tardis set?
"It was a kind of weird experience really. I was dressed as my Doctor and what did strike me is that my Doctor's outfit was really built for those awful oval sets at Television Centre - whereas David [Tennant] was cooly dressed and everything seemed to fit in with that fantastic Tardis console set in Cardiff. I felt slightly out of place, like a fish out of water. But after a while I was really getting into it and it was fine."

Did you ever look at Colin Baker's Sixth Doctor outfit and think 'thank God that wasn't me'?
"Haha! Many, many times yes! I don't know what was going through [former Doctor Who producer] John Nathan Turner's head there. I wasn't entirely happy with mine, but mine was heaven compared to Colin Baker's!"

David Tennant has openly stated that you were his favourite Doctor. Did you click on the set?
"Well yeah, I think we did. We were both, in a sense, in a kind of awe. I think he's a marvellous actor. In a way, I was trucking along to his territory as well. So I felt slightly in awe of the situation I was in, he felt slightly in awe because it's weird when you're acting with someone who you've watched on television. In almost the same way, although not quite as I didn't have so much to do with him, it was about the same way I felt when I was doing something with Patrick Troughton - who was my Doctor - on 'The Five Doctors'.

"But 'Time Crash' was such a well written piece. It worked on so many levels, commenting on the fact that David watched me when he was young, on the fact the Tenth Doctor had been the Fifth Doctor. It's something that could, if you like, be left in that story ['The Last Of The Time Lords']. I was very happy and pleased to do it."

Has it whetted your appetite for another, perhaps longer appearance in a future story? Russell T Davies certainly likes the old mythology.
"He does to a certain extent. I would certainly be able to do it. I'm not suggesting for a moment that it would ever happen. I think it won't happen. But I would have done it anyway. I have two young boys, six and eight, who love Doctor Who, so I sit there and I watch all the new series Doctor Whos about three or four times. And now my daughter [Georgia Moffett] is going to be in it..."

What were your feelings when she broke the news to you?
"It was a weird thing, because she went up for a particular part in it which wasn't that big. They came back to her and said 'we'd like you to do this, but we'd prefer you to wait another three or four months because there's a much nicer part coming up later on that is really special and would suit you really well'. So she said she'd wait. I was very pleased for her. People think she got it because of me. I think she got it despite me. I think they had to think very carefully they cast her, as people would say 'oh, it's Doctor Who's daughter', but she's a great actress. I'm looking forward to it."

Peter Davison is currently reprising his role as The Doctor in a range of spin-off Doctor Who audio dramas from Big Finish, which can be downloaded from www.bigfinish.com

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