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Q&A: Nick Briggs talks Daleks, Cybermen

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Warning: This article contains spoilers about future Doctor Who storylines that some readers may prefer to avoid.

There's a red one, a blue one... even an orange one! The Daleks are back, and this time they're in colour. Last we saw, this new race of superior Daleks were fleeing WWII Earth muttering something about not being defeated and vowing to return. Not ones to go back on a promise, The Daleks will indeed return later this series for another showdown with The Doctor (and at least one other race of adversaries). Determined to find out more, DS gaming guru Matt Reynolds caught up with Nick Briggs, voice of the Daleks and Cybermen, at the launch of Doctor Who: The Adventure Games in Sheffield.

Was it strange recording polite lines for the Daleks in 'Victory of the Daleks'?
"I always think it's fun doing lines that aren't typical Dalek lines. Equally, it's an extra challenge. Of course I was also doing it with the idea that the Daleks were out there to fool people, so that kind of sticks in their throat as they were asking people if they would like a cup of tea! I had a really nasty expression on my face as I said it politely."

How did you feel when you found out about the race of superior Daleks?
"It's quite exciting, isn't it? It wasn't until the first day of shooting, with the scene set in the spaceship – which was the inside of a cigar factory, and impossibly hot – where I suddenly thought that they should have a different kind of voice, but still sounding essentially like Daleks. I spoke to the director about how I should voice the Dalek Supreme, and he said 'very gruff and deep', so I did a much more guttural voice than I've ever done vocally, something which hurt my throat. And also I altered the ring modulation, adding some low frequency osculation. So there's a new setting for the new Daleks. They're even more electronic sounding, actually."

Now, we know that both Daleks and the Cybermen are back for the series five finale…
"Do you?"

Absolutely! What kind of adventure can we expect?
"Well I cannot confirm or deny if that statement is in fact true! Well, the Cybermen do appear in the trailer, don't they? So you know there's a story arc involving them. If it is indeed the case that I have done another Dalek story, and if it is indeed something to do with the finale, then it's quite incredible. I mean, the energy of Steven Moffat's writing is amazing. There are masses of really cool, exciting information that fly at you, and then suddenly, it's like someone has diverted light with a mirror and it moves in the opposite direction. Imagine a Russell T Davies-style, action-packed adventure but written by Steven Moffat. You know what I mean? So it's not only dramatically frenetic, but it's intellectually frenetic, and idea frenetic. It's just absolutely buzzing. It was a fantastic read – if indeed I have read such a script!"

And if such a script does exist, from a production logistics standpoint, how would you voice both the Daleks and the Cybermen?
"Well I can talk about this from previous experience, because there were Daleks and Cybermen in a story a long time ago, and what I did then was to alter the settings. However, the new Dalek settings are quite radically different, and even though the effects don't sound hugely different, it's actually quite a stretch altering the dials. So were I to be doing Daleks and Cybermen at the same time, it would be a bit of a stretch. I imagine a good solution, that I might employ in such a situation, would to be have two ring modulators next to each other so I can just switch between the two!"

A new series of The Sarah Jane Adventures has just started filming. Are you involved with that at all?
"Not to my knowledge, no. Shame, I would love to work with Lis [Sladen]. I think she's great. I hope to work again with Lis in the future on the Big Finish adventures, if and when we do a Tom Baker one."

What's your involvement with the Doctor Who: The Adventure Games?
"I do the Dalek voices and other voices, and other characters that aren't monsters. I'm doing a session next week where I'll be playing, I don't know… some characters. I won't know until the script arrives, actually!"

So you don't know what's going to happen in the game?
"No, I really don't! For the second session, no. I didn't really know what to expect for the first session as I only got the script the night before, and there were lots of lines because of all the different variables. I kind of hit it cold, apologised to the director and said 'I just got this by email last night and it took me the whole evening just to print it out!'"

So the show scripts come a lot earlier, then? You know what to expect?
"Well, for the show I used to hear a Dalek story was happening, then my agent would contact Andy Pryor, the casting director, and say, 'he knows that the Daleks are coming back - can you tell us when so he can put a little gap in his schedule at some point?' I'm massively busy doing the Big Finish audio, which is a full time job for me, and all other kinds of acting that pops up. They used to deny it, but the brilliant thing this time around is that I got on good footing with Peter Bennett, one of the producers. And he immediately told me when it was coming up. I was told about two months in advance about shooting for 'Victory Of The Daleks', then during that I was told about other things!"

Is the game spinoff something you'd like to do more of in future?
"Yeah. I haven't played the game yet, but I would certainly like to see more work of this kind coming my way! I think this is a great idea, and that it's absolutely right that the BBC should be doing this. I can't remember who said it now, but this proves that freebies aren't rubbish. It's proper Doctor Who, written wonderfully by Phil [Ford] - it's a damn good freebie!"

Doctor Who: The Adventure Games is available for PC and Mac from June 5. Click here to read our in-depth preview piece.

Are you excited about seeing The Daleks and The Cybermen back for the finale? Add your comments to this entry below!

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