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Terrence Hardiman talks 'Who' role

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The TARDIS travels over 1,200 years into the future for Amy's first adventure with The Doctor in 'The Beast Below', airing tonight on BBC One. It's a time when the Earth has been abandoned, as entire nations have been transposed onto giant spaceships - but there's something different about Starship Britain. Who, or what, is really in control? We hooked up with veteran actor Terrence Hardiman, who guest stars as a mysterious authority figure, to find out more.

When and where is this episode set?
"My goodness, I've got to throw my mind back a few months, because it's been quite a while since I did it! As far as I remember, the whole thing was set in the distant future on a Starship that the whole of Britain was floating away on. It was mysteriously run by... well,. I shouldn't say what it's being run by!"

What is your role in proceedings?
"I'm the chief winder, who's at a console and helping to run things and keep the whole of the machine, as it were, working. There are other things about him too, that one shouldn't give away. I'm not very helpful, am I?! I am a bit sinister too, but we shall see how sinister by the end."

Did you get many scenes with The Doctor and Amy?
"Two or three, yes. Of course, being a guest on the show, one only has to slip in now and again because the main thing, quite rightly, is what The Doctor and his assistant are doing. So I meet them and we have a little bit of a thing together but not very for long. But I'm certainly there until the end... when things are sorted out!"

How long did you spend filming?
"With any filming on a series, one can perhaps play a nice part but it can be done in a short time. I think I only worked on it for about three days to get all my stuff done. One was very welcomed into the whole setup. We filmed in an old castle in South Wales. They was a lovely crew of people to work with and it happened to be lovely weather too, and in spite of the paparazzi trying to get secret shots of us, we managed to get the whole thing done well."

Are you much of a Who fan?
"Oh yes, I always have been. I'm old enough to remember the very first ones. I've seen all of the Doctors and I think they've all been fantastic in their own ways. I think it's a wonderful idea that they get regenerated, because it gives this superb freshness each time a new series starts. Clearly from the first episode of this series, it's grabbed the imagination of the public. I saw the viewing figures today and they're quite remarkable."

What do you think of Matt's Doctor?
"I think he's splendid. It's lovely that he's completely different to David Tennant - except insofar as they both have this amazing energy - but there's this quirkiness that Matt has got. He's lanky and odd and quirky and funny... I think the public are going to really warm to him. I won't say I'm jealous of him, but I do admire enormously in a young actor that ability."

A large proportion of our audience probably know you best as The Demon Headmaster. How do you look back on that role now?
"With enormous pleasure. You never know in advance if something is going to be an enormous success or not, and it happened to be an enormous success not just with the young people but their parents as well. Obviously because of the nature of it I started to get recognised for that character and it still goes on. People stop me and say 'when I was a little boy, I was terrified of you'. But it went well and I look back on it with a certain nostalgia now."

What are your expectations for 'The Beast Below'? Did The Demon Headmaster ever traumatise you? Add your comments to this entry below!

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