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The Doctor Who Interviews: Peter Davison
I THOUGHT I WAS TOO YOUNG
TO PLAY THE DOCTOR!
I was a fan of the Doctor Who Programme for the start and it had a
very big impact on me. Along with millions of other children I used
to hide behind the sofa every Saturday evening. The stories used to
terrify me and even now I can still vividly remember certain parts, in
particular, the Hartnell-Troughton eras. For about five or six years
I watched it absolutely avidly.
You can imagine, then, that when I was offered the part of the Doctor
my reaction was one of disbelief! At first I didn't know what to think,
the idea seemed crazy. But gradually it grew on me.
I think it was because I was the first young actor to be asked to play
the part that I was so taken aback. It seemed to me I was too young for
the role - that the character of the Doctor, as a kind of professor-type,
was just not me. It also meant that I was much close in age to the fans.
So I knew there would be special problems I would have to face.
I have a starting point, of course. I could draw a little from each of
my predecessors. So I watched old episodes of all the Doctors to see how
they had played the part.
I also soon realised that as Tom Baker had played the Doctor for seven
years there would be some young viewers who had never known anyone in the
part but him. So I had to set out to create a character who was quite
different - and this I hope I have achieved.
I see my Doctor as well-meaning - although he doesn't always act for
the best. But his overriding consideration is still to sort out whatever
problem he is faced with as best he can. He may even endanger his companions
in doing this. And he always starts out being polite, but usually gets less
and less so as disaster looms!
Funny things happen all the time when we are making Doctor Who. For
instance, I remember an incident when we were filming Arc of Infinity
in Amsterdamn. I was playing two parts, you may recall - the other being
Omega who was trying to turn himself into the Doctor. Once he turned into
me, he started to decay.
In one of the scenes I had to cross Dam Square, which is in the middle
of Amsterdam, wearing horrific make-up - a mixture of rice crispies and
glue and all sorts of things fixed down one side of my face.
Anyhow, I had to run through the square - which is rather like out
Trafalgar Square, full of people and pigeons. It must have been quite
terrifying to those people - who, of course, had no idea we were making a
film. They just couldn't believe their eyes as I ran by! It wasn't easy for
me, either, having to dodge the trams and cars as well.
Getting that scene done was really hard work. We had to do it four
times and after all that it was decided it was too horrific and cut from
My total view of Doctor Who is that I am playing a part. However, I
realise that there is a lot more to it than just acting on the screen. You
somehow take on the mantle of the Doctor and a kind of instant charisma
goes with the job. You have a responsibility - it is important to be always
polite and cheery in public. Fortunately, I'm not a rebel rouse in my
It is really no surprise to me that the programme has been going for
such a long time. It is unstoppable now, I think, and has a vast following
that just goes on increasing all the time.
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