Peter Halliday Interview
Peter Halliday was a Doctor Who 'stalwart' having appeared in the show from the Troughton through to the McCoy era. He died in 2012. This previously unpublished interview was conducted by Alan Stevens in 1989, and was first published in Celestial Toyroom issue 427/428.
Where were you born?
I was born in Wales, actually. I was born in North Wales, at a place called Llangollen.
What made you decide to become an actor?
When I was in the army in Egypt in 1947, I was standing at a bar, which is not unusual for me, and there was a young man there, terribly good looking, big, butch, full of bulk, and I said, "what are you going to do when you leave the army?" And he said, "I'm going to be an actor. I went to the Old Vic when I was on my last leave, and they thought I was totally good looking, and wonderfully talented, and that I've got a great career in front of me." And I hated him so much, I thought "I'm going to have a go at that." So on my next leave I went to the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts and asked "can I do an audition for you?" And they said yes, and afterwards they told me I could come back and study with then once I'd been thrown out of the army, which was in a year's time. And then I went straight into RADA and immediately after I did my two year course, I went to what was then known as the Shakespeare Memorial Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon, where I worked with people like Peter Brook, the director, and John Gielgud and Michael Redgrave, and then, later, Richard Burton, and I was there for about four years.
Your very first appearance on the big screen was in a film called Fatal Journey...
That's right. I have three grown-up sons and one of their friends came up to me in the local pub a few days ago and said, "oh, Pete, we saw you the other night." Apparently, they were all drunk and playing cards in the filthy pad where they all congregate, and it appeared on Channel 4 at about three o'clock in the morning. I wish I'd known it was on as I would have taped it. That's one of the advantages of being an actor and on film, you see. You can show your grandchildren what you were like, years and years ago. It's a form of immortality.
How did your involvement in the film come about?
While still a drama student, I was approached by a young film producer called Paul Dickson, and he asked me if I'd like to be in a film. At that time it was strictly forbidden to be employed if you were working in a drama school. So I had to have the flu for two weeks. Coughing feebly over the telephone to the Registrar. "Peter, where are you darling? You should be in class." "Miss Brown, I'm terribly ill," and all the time there was this man waiting in a car outside to whiz me away to the film studio. I'd never done a film before in my life and knew absolutely nothing about the practical side of it, so it was a great experience.
What did you play?
I played a gypsy lad. I had a lot of long black hair in those days, and was fairly unconventional. I also had to wear an earring, which was considered rather daring. And I hope I wore it on the right ear. The left ear, I mean. Yes, the left ear. Otherwise, you know... [LAUGHS]. I remember I went out shopping with the designer, and we went to this jewelers' in Victoria, and he said, "I want to have a look at some earrings." These two shop assistants came over, a man and a woman, and the man said, "oh, yes, yes sir, certainly. Tell me about the lady..." and he said, "it's not for a lady, it's for this young man here." And they said, "oh, um..." and they all looked nervously around. And he said, "come on Pete, what do you think?" and I said, "I like those there!" And I pointed to some plain earrings. I tried one on, and these people were absolutely horrified. In those days, 1948, a boy wearing an earring was seen as something very strange. So the designer said, "all right, we'll have those. Oh, he'll only want one." "One?" "Yes, we only want one. He's just wearing one earring." Well, they were muttering to each other as we left. We left them in a state of complete shock. The only other thing I remember about that film was that I had to try and drive a pony and caravan. And we filmed a lot around the lanes of Arbourfield, in Buckinghamshire, and later in the studio at Bray.
In 1961 you played John Fleming in A for Andromeda, but you'd done some television before then...
Yes. I was doing quite a lot of television around that time, and I did quite a lot for the BBC. I was youngish in those days, and I played a lot of leading parts in live television, which was very alarming. The abiding thing I remember about doing live television was that if you were doing an hour and a half play, you just had to go straight though, you never stopped. They used to have a "blab off" thing, the PA, the girl assistant, used to carry the scripts around with a little switch on the end of a long lead. And she used to stand behind the camera and if anybody dried, she used to cut the sound off and scream a prompt at you. Mercifully, I never had to have that done, but that was very frightening, because you knew you were going out to X-million people live, and if you forgot your line, you'd just be standing there with egg all over you. You can imagine what it was like.
Live television sounds pretty intense...
Oh, it was. There was no breaking of tape or editing, or anything like that, you just had to get on with it. The young dressers in the costume department... these boys, who were occasionally rather fay, would be standing there, quivering with nerves, and waiting behind a flap, so you'd go out in mid August and say, "I'll see you at Christmas," or something like that, and you'd disappear through a door, and there'd be this quivering boy throwing hats and overcoats and scarves and mufflers on you and then ten seconds later you'd be back on set saying, "by god it's cold out there," and carrying on as if it were another six months later. And that was the great fun of "live".
So, how did you get to play the part of John Fleming?
Well, it was down to the director, Michael Hayes, who I knew and who I'd worked with before. It was he who asked me if I'd be interested in doing a science fiction serial. We then had lunch at the BBC with the producer, and the author, who was Professor Fred Hoyle, the great astrophysicist, and they seemed quite happy with Michael's suggestion that I should play the lead. Fred was quite keen, he said (ADOPTS YORKSHIRE ACCENT), "oh yes, he's alright. Just like the other buggers I used to know and have under me at university, he's difficult, and looks a bit like them too."
Apparently you were the first actor to be cast in the series.
Yes. I remember saying to Michael, "who are you getting to play the monster?" and he said, "I've got this wonderful looking girl, she's not really a great actress, but she's the most beautiful thing I've ever seen, and she's just finished at the Central School of Drama." And it turned out to be the great Julie Christie.
Julie played two parts, first Christine, who dies in episode four, and then Andromeda, who is a clone of Christine...
When it came time for Julie to play Andromeda, I remember she had to speak in this monotone, which she wasn't at all happy with as she wanted to act and be animated. I remember her saying to Michael, "but I can't go on playing it like that all the way through, they'll think I'm boring," and he replied, "no they won't, just do as I tell you and say it in a flat low voice. As low as possible." He then put the cameras all around this wonderful face.
There was a good deal of location footage shot....
It was quite an expensive production. They did some filming around London and also a lot in South Wales, on the Pembroke coast. Being a Welshman myself, I felt almost at home there. I'm North Walian, which is slightly alien from South Walian. I think we were there for about a week, down in the caves and on the sea shore. The beaches and cliffs are quite stunning, and it was the summer, so we all had a lovely time.
Some of the filming took place at Manorbier army camp.
That wasn't normally open to the public, but we were able to get permission to film, and we did a lot of night filming there. It was all great fun, and then we went back to London and did the studio recording at BBC Television Centre.
Was the studio material shot on video?
As far as I recall, they were using film, as it was easier to edit, but they still preferred to keep the editing to a minimum, so if there was a cock-up in the middle of a scene they'd want you to do it all again from the start. There was one particular instance where I had about a seven minute scene with Esmond Knight. All Teddy had to do was sit on the bed in my room and say, "yes, John. Yes, John. Yes, I understand. Yes, but... yes..." whereas I had about three or four pages of intense emotional dialogue, while packing a suitcase at the same time, throwing clothes in and shouting and swearing, and carrying on... Just like me at home really [LAUGHS]. I wasn't looking forward to it. You always get keyed up before a big scene. And I went through it, whistled through it, beautifully. And then Michael said, "no, we need a retake as there was a camera slightly in shot." So as they began to set things up again, I put on my cardigan, as I had start to feel a bit chilly, having done this long energetic scene which had caused me to drip with sweat. A few minutes passed, we did the scene again, and this time it was a lovely take; no fluffs, no hassle, nothing. Michael said, "alright, we'll wrap," and I felt terribly pleased, and quite relieved that it had all gone so well. I went up to the bar, had a few drinks, and went home. Then, at about four in the morning, I suddenly leapt out of bed and screamed, "oh my God." This woke my wife up who said, "what the devil's wrong with you?" "I've suddenly remembered something... that take... I still had my cardigan on!" I then thought, "dare I tell them? Will anyone notice that suddenly this idiot is wearing a cardigan, whereas, ten seconds before, on a reverse shot, he hadn't? I went back the next day to rehearsals and said, "I've got some terrible news." And Michael said, "what's the matter?" And I said, "we can't use that last take we did yesterday." "Why not?" And I said, "because I had my cardigan on." There was a deep awful silence and then there were telephone calls, and they went back and played it through, and Michael eventually came back to me and said, "you're absolutely right, but the set's been taken down." So we had to wait about another two weeks until they could put the right set up, which meant that I had to relearn it and do it all again, but this time without a cardigan.
Did you know there was going to be a sequel series, The Andromeda Breakthrough?
We didn't hear until about half way through the first series that they were going to do another. Andromeda in Azaran was the working title for the second series, as part of it was set in this fictional country in the Middle East. I remember they did some filming in Cyprus for that one.
Did you get to go along?
No, you never did in those days. Now you go everywhere at the drop of a hat. They'll pop to Sri Lanka just to film a little beach scene, but back then they'd think twice before taking you abroad.
Julie Christie didn't return for the sequel, why was that?
Well, she'd got a film contract and the dates clashed. Julie was very upset, she was in tears, and I was also very upset she wasn't doing it, because we were very fond of each other, and we worked together very well. So, there was this desperate panic to find somebody who looked like Julie Christie, and, of course, nobody did. It was very difficult. Finally, they got Susan Hampshire and she agreed to have her hair blonded like Julie's, and slightly altered so that she fitted in with all the shots taken for the pre-filming Julie and I had done in March. They scrubbed all her close-ups, and kept all the long-shots, so lucky BBC. They didn't have to go back to South Wales and film everything again, and it also saved them having to give me an additional fee! Although there was one hair raising experience I wouldn’t have wanted to repeat, and that was the scene when Julie and I were supposed to be escaping in a motor boat. We were being piloted by a young army officer from the local camp, actually I think it was his boat, and the cameraman was sitting on the prow photographing us as we sat in the back, but the sea was so high the whole thing started to founder, and we got swamped. We were all dressed in oilskins and boots, and Julie was saying, "Pete, do you think I should take my Wellingtons off?" and I said, "everything, you fool. Take everything off," and we jumped into the sea, and swam to the shore. It was bitter cold, and when we arrived, we stripped all our clothes off and went running up the beach, while holidaymakers hid their children's eyes [LAUGHS]. The production crew rushed up, and we were both wrapped in blankets and towels and fed brandy and hot coffee to warm us up. Luckily, the film footage was saved, but I think sea water got into the camera.
I don't suppose anyone took any photos to record the moment?
I don't think they did, actually, although during our time together, I took a lot of funny snaps of Julie Christie, and I've still got them. One is of Julie emerging from a gentleman's lavatory at Saundersfoot, dressed in combat uniform with a sub-machine gun and a helmet. I could sell that to the News of the World.
Prior to your appearance in Doctor Who, had you seen any episodes?
Of course, my three boys always used to watch it. I remember coming home one day and my smallest boy, who was about three and a half, came into the kitchen and started wandering around, picking up a sandwich and eating a little bit, and then going over and examining something else. My wife asked "Ben, aren't you....where are the others?" and he replied, "they're in there watching Doctor Who." I rumbled what the matter was and said, "is it the Cyberman?" And he didn't answer, so I said, "I must confess, the Cybermen frighten me. I don't really like the Cybermen. I think they're a bit scary. But I wouldn't mind watching them if I had somebody sitting on my knee." At which point he enthusiastically perked up and said, "oh, I'll sit on your knee."
How did your part in "The Invasion" come about?
The director Douglas Camfield asked for me, although I'm nothing like the character he wanted me to play. Packer was originally meant to be a heavy, a side-kick thug of the villain, Kevin Stoney, dressed in black, with leather jackboots and very macho, but really, I'm not that sort of person at all. So, rather than play him as a straight up and down bad character, I looked for other things that could be interesting, or amusing, or ludicrous even, to make him more human. This is the sort of thing that comes out in rehearsal, and so I worked with Kevin to make Packer seem very downtrodden. Every time he came into the room Kevin would raise his eyes to heaven and say "oh, for Christ's sake Packer, what have you done now?" And as Douglas had a great sense of humour, he was willing to go along with it. And you needed that to make a contrast with the Cybermen, these ruthless and desperately evil half machine creatures, who wandered around murdering people. Packer, on the other hand, was totally bewildered most of the time. He'd fire madly at anything that moved, but he never hit anyone, he was absolutely, totally useless. Packer finally got zapped by a Cyberman and was transformed into negative, where I've remained every since.
What were the regular cast like to work with?
Oh, they were all smashing. There was Patrick Troughton, who had that marvelous hatchet face and shock of black hair, he was a lovely man. Then there was Frazer Hines, who played a Scots puppy with a kilt, he was very young in those days, and then there was little Wendy Padbury, tiny but perfectly formed. It was great fun, and sometimes you couldn't even look at each other without falling about laughing. I've got a picture taken during the location shoot, of me sat at a table dressed as Packer in this black uniform, and looking rather sexy if you like that sort of thing, with Pat Troughton, Frazer Hines, [Production Assistant] Christopher D'Oyly John, and the director of the Park Royal brewery, all getting hideously drunk. They gave us marvelous hospitality. Douglas was a very strict and military director, and meticulous in where we should all stand, you weren't able to move a millimetre. So he wasn't very happy when we all turned up swaying. Another great favourite was Pat Gorman, he used to come into my dressing room between recordings and I'd help him strip off his Cyberman outfit, which was absolutely awful, it was so hot that summer, it was boiling, and Pat used to be dripping, this poor Cyberman fainting from the heat. I still hear from him. He's still around. He does extra work mostly, but I think he's also graduated to speaking parts. He's always working. If I ever telephone him he's nearly always away, doing something. And, of course, there's a great demand for extras like him. He's a big, good looking guy and he'll double up for anything. In any film you see where there are heavies, he's usually gainfully employed. Extra work can earn an awful lot of money, a lot more money than actors do, because extras are working every single day. The poor actor is waiting around for a lift back in the extra's Mercedes.
You also did the voices of the Cybermen. What do you remember about that?
Nothing at all, but I do recall doing the voices for the reptilian Silurians in a Doctor Who I later did with Jon Pertwee. I had to create three separate personalities for three separate Silurian creatures. I think I made one of them a rather nervous, rather neurotic sort of Silurian, and another I made sound a bit dopey, and then there was the lead Silurian, who was very arrogant and bossed the other two around, saying things like "don't be such a bloody fool" and "do as I say." The technical staff from the Radiophonic Workshop, who I worked closely with to get the sound of the voices right, gave me a special microphone, which they fitted up in the studio. So when all the actors were on the set, I just had to sit out of camera view, cue myself in, and then read my lines into a lip mike, while my voice was put through these various filters. I certainly enjoyed that, especially as I got my usual fee without having to learn the script or do much rehearsal. The story went on for several weeks, and I even had my own chair, on which someone stuck a picture of a terrible Silurian face with the words "Pete's chair" written underneath it.
Your next Doctor Who on-screen appearance was in "Carnival of Monsters," where you played a bureaucratic alien called Pletrac from the planet Inter Minor.
The way that came about was rather interesting. Barry Letts, who was the producer, and who had decided that he was going to direct these four episodes, rang me up at home on the weekend and said, "are you doing anything tomorrow?" "no," I replied "apart from mowing the lawn," and he said, "okay, I'm sending a script around in a taxi, can you start rehearsals first thing Monday morning?" And that's how I ended up playing one of three weirdos with Terry Lodge and Michael Wisher. I remember we had to wear these bald caps, have our heads painted a pale eggshell green, and dress up, I think, in long green nighties. All very strange.
How did you get along with Jon Pertwee?
We got on rather well. I went to his house in Hammersmith, where he suggested that I put a programme together about his life that he could perform on stage. I hadn't done any writing before, I'd wanted to, but at that time, as a working parent, bringing up three kids on my own, I never had the opportunity. So I got all this material together for Jon to do, right from nursery age until the seventh time, containing stuff I thought he'd like, favourite bits of literature, poetry, anecdotes and things which he could slot in as a biography of himself in a one man show. I put a rough draft together and sent it on for his approval, but by then he was doing something else, and had completely lost interest. Which was a bit disappointing.
Your subsequent role in Doctor Who was playing a Renaissance soldier in "City of Death."
That was again down to Michael Hayes, he said "come and play this part for me Peter. There's nothing to it, you've just got to dress up in a funny costume and get punched on the chin by Tom Baker." I only had a couple of lines, and the pay, as always, was ludicrously small, but you don't do it for that, you do it just to see mates and have a giggle. Also I have a great affection for Doctor Who, so it was nice to appear in another episode again.
What was Tom Baker like? I've heard he was going through a manic period around that time.
Yes, apparently. He was tall, and rather wild, with rolling eyes. I subsequently saw him being very, very good in She Stoops to Conquer at the National Theatre. I also met him again in a local pub in Chelsea, and we had a very jolly evening actually. He was charming and we remembered lots of things about doing Doctor Who. I told him that during the very early days of television I'd done a play with the first Doctor Who, William Hartnell. "Really?" said Tom, "what was the old bugger like?" And I explained that he'd been rather severe and po-faced, so I wasn't a bit surprised when he became Doctor Who and played him as this rather irascible man. But I have to say, Hartnell was very successful; he launched it marvelously well, I thought.
Your last Doctor Who appearance was in "Remembrance of the Daleks".
Yes, it was nice to do a Dalek story. I didn't actually meet them on screen, but I did go on set and watch them gliding about in the studio. I don't know how my name first came up, I hadn't appeared in Doctor Who for years and years, but I went to see the producer, John Nathan-Turner, and he said, "it's only a very small part, so I'll understand if you say no." Well I told him I had to take it, as I had this friend who was a huge Doctor Who fan, and if I didn't do it he'd never forgive me! So that's how I came to be playing the Reverend Parkinson. My scenes all took place in Willesden Lane Cemetery; I had to walk down this long path with Sylvester McCoy, while being followed by a floating coffin, which we didn't have that day, as it was to be superimposed later on. The Reverend Parkinson was supposed to be blind, so I wore dark glasses and carried a white stick, although, I think he must have been pretty stupid as well not to work out that there was something dodgy going on with this particular funeral. At one point he had to say, "your pallbearers are very quiet." What an idiot! But, you know all this, as I invited you down to watch the recording.
Yes, and you introduced me to Sophie Aldred.
I did. I remember that with great pleasure. A terribly nice girl. And Sylvester, of course, is a lovely man, and we laughed a great deal. I was quite keen on appearing with Sylvester's Doctor, as I'd missed a couple of Doctors out since doing my one with Tom Baker. I'd also seen Sylvester quite recently at the National in a wonderful children's musical called The Pied Piper, and he'd been absolutely stunning. I went to see it and took along a friend's two children. They had never been to the theatre before, and I love infecting people with theatre, particularly as I enjoy it so much. The boy was about eleven, and he was slightly laid back about it. He thought it was sissy stuff, people going to the theatre, whereas the little girl was much more excited. The boy sat next to me, and the girl sat next to him, so we sort of hemmed him in between us. The lights went down, the rats came on and the hamlet lit up at the back. All the rats were played by South London school kids, and they looked quite formidable with these furry ratlike costumes. The girl sat forward, the boy sat forward, and his body started to quiver with tension. Then, when Sylvester came on, the boy turned round and clasped my hand, and he's not a very touchy kid at all, and he said, "Pete, this is wonderful. I've never seen nothing like it." And he was absolutely captivated.
Following on from your turn as a vicar in Doctor Who, you then appeared as another Reverend in an episode of Hannay.
Yes, I'm getting into a rut with Reverends, although this one turned out to be a psychopathic killer, who tries to shoot Robert Powell and his girlfriend. I was given this lovely .303 bolt action rifle to use by this young armourer, and he said, "Peter, I'll explain how this works," and I replied, "I think I know," and he said, "ah, well, we want to make you seem proficient." and I said, "I think I can do that, you just don't look at what you're doing," and I went, KERCHANG-CLICK, KERCHANG-CLICK, KERCHANG-CLICK, and he looked at me with amazement, but you remember these things from the army, where it's drilled into you by some mad lunatic Sergeant Major, and if you don't learn it you get your arse kicked. So I knew it very well, even after forty years.
Your character, Eric Dearth, dies in quite a spectacular fashion...
He gets shot three times. I had two explosive plates fitted to either side of my chest and another one to my back. Around these plates were then packed various latex devices that had been filled with trick blood. Tiny wires were put down my trouser leg and these were then attached to a thirty yard long cable that led to a junction box from where the charges were detonated. I had on a rather nice suit, so I had to get it right in the first take. There's a tremendous WHOOMPH when it goes off, as it's quite a charge. And it blows great holes and blood and everything out through the suit. Which pleased the wardrobe department.
Was that your most memorable demise?
Oh, no. The very best was in a Jacobean play I did at the Mermaid Theatre, called The Maid's Tragedy. I played a wicked king who was having people murdered all over the place, and I'd dishonored this beautiful young girl, in the most divine way, and now she had decided she was going to come and murder me. So there I was, lying in this huge four poster bed, with my head towards the audience, having done great things with crossing myself and praying. Then Irene Hamilton, a very beautiful actress, comes in with a low-cut gown on. She'd got a long rope around her waist, which she undid, and she had to say things like, "oh, you foul seducer, now is my time to kill thee," and she was prowling around like a tigress, tying my one hand to one side of the bed, and my other hand to the other side of the bed, and then I had to wake up, and finding that I'd been tied down say, "what pretty new device is this, Evadne?"
And then what happened?
And then she stabbed me. She said, "this is for my honour, and this is for my brother and for my father's death," WHOOPH, WHOOPH, WHOOPH, and the King did screameth, and by God he did scream. Everything was over the top. I had a blood capsule in my mouth, and my head tilted back towards the audience, so when I bit on this capsule all the blood squirted out, and it went down over my eyes, which I kept open. Irene would then pull back the coverlet, and I'm revealed to be lying in a vast pool of wet blood, although actually it was shiny red and black plastic. They had nurses standing by, as people used to faint and rush out. That was certainly one of the the most dramatic demises ever I had, for possibly the nastiest character I ever played.
As we're on the subject of the Grand Guignol, I'd just like to take you back to a film you did in the early 1970s called Madhouse, where you got to work with horror movie legend Vincent Price.
Ah, yes, now, Vincent is an extraordinary man, he's a millionaire and is very charming, and he's married to an amazing actress called Coral Browne. She's Australian and prone to some rather salty language. I do have a funny story about her...but...
Go on, let's hear it!
Alright, well, one day she was coming out of St. Martins' theatre with this great mink coat on, she's a very tall and statuesque woman, and with an imperious wave and big hard voice, she was able to stop any taxi dead in its tracks. So, Coral was getting in the back of a taxi, when suddenly this young man in a bowler hat and a very tightly furled umbrella, calls out and says, "excuse me, Cabbie, my cab I think." "No, sir," the cabbie replied, "the lady got it first." "Lady?" said the bowler-hatted man, "which lady?" whereupon Coral winds down the cab window, sticks her head out and says, "this fucking lady. Drive on."
Now, Vincent Price is quite different, he's a very urbane, cultivated American, with this really great theatrical voice, and yet he'd became known for playing serial killers, and Madhouse was another of these types of films. I was there to play a psychiatrist, rather appropriately, and while I was sitting with the make-up girls, suddenly Vincent came up behind me, put his hands on my shoulders, and said, "you are Peter Halliday, and I am Vincent Price, and I'm very sorry you've come on this movie with everyone being so foul and ghastly. And I'm really so happy that this is my last day. We're going to have a little thrash up afterwards if you care to join us, but I warn you, they're an ugly brutal drinking mob, the whole crew." At which point one of the make-up girls said, "oh, Vincent, shut up! He's in one of his moods." "Oh, Elsie, you're so cruel to me. Really, I've had such a terrible time. Now, Peter, let me escort you onto the set," and he took me by the arm and off we went. I was quite amazed, as I didn't expect he would even speak to me, being such a big star, but we turned up in the studio and all the technicians started to call out and say, "Vince mate, how are you this morning?" "See how they scorn me?" Yet it was obvious that he was loved and adored by everybody, and he clearly knew it.
For the scene we had together, Vincent had to lay down on a bed and I had to inject him with a truth drug. I remember the director telling me to hold up and squeeze the hypodermic syringe so the camera could get a big close-up of all this ghastly green slime shooting out. I then had to say, "we have a few questions to ask you. You are being recorded. Once the drug has taken effect, you will tell us everything." So Vincent is lying there ashen faced, with glycerine on his forehead to simulate sweat, and he had to go into a trance and start talking about some bodies that had been found. I say, "it's a week last Tuesday. Cast your mind back and describe to me what you see?" and Vincent replies, "I'm standing in the Oval Office. Richard Nixon is talking to me... He wants me to burgle the Watergate building." Everyone fell about laughing, and the director said, "what the hell's going on?" But that was Vincent for you.
Finally, having attended a number of Doctor Who conventions over the last few years, how do you feel about meeting people with this strange obsession?
I don't thing it's strange at all, in fact I think it's terrific to have a hobby. When I was a schoolboy, Film Weekly and Picture Journal used to be my absolute obsession. Rather snooty uncles and aunts would say to my mun and dad, "I don't know why you let Peter read this stuff, it's not good for him," but I think it started off my abiding love of actors and acting that has been with me all my life. And you on the fringes of this know a great deal about your pet subject, and how it all works, you know the technicians, you know the writers, you've met the actors, and you can see what a nice lot they are by and by. I'm very pleased to have been a small part of Doctor Who, and it's amazing how the Doctor Who label sticks, once you've been in the show it's like you've became a member of a great big fraternity. A love for Doctor Who is a wonderful thing, and long may it continue.