Published on May 18th, 2005 | by Christian Cawley
The Empty Child Press Pack 7
Yes! At last it is here, Phase 7 of the Doctor Who Press Pack! The Press Pack focuses on episode 9, The Empty Child and includes interviews with guests Richard Wilson, John Barrowman and writer Steven Moffat…
Steven Moffat tells how he got the job to write for the new series on the way to the Comedy Awards when Coupling won. He also tells how he is a big Doctor Who fan (he did of course script the 1999 Comic Relief Doctor Who skit The Curse of the Fatal Death)
Steven scripted one of three two-parters in the new run, a sinister tale set in London during the Blitz, where a mysterious presence is mutating humans into something not of this world. Best known for his comedy work, he says: “Comedy is just another sort of drama really, and there’s always been comedy in Doctor Who to offset its scariness.
“To my mind, Doctor Who should be predominantly scary, but you can’t make it too terrifying if you’re aiming it at a family audience. I’ve always seen it as a kind of badly-behaved children’s show. It scared and thrilled me as a kid and will hopefully do the same to a new generation of viewers this time round.”
“I started being a never-miss-an episode fan when Jon Pertwee was the Doctor. “But I tried to switch off from being a fan when I was writing because it was hard work. Where being a fan has come into it is stuff like being on the set of the TARDIS, and seeing clips from the episodes by the other writers. I came into the show expecting that it would be done well, because that was the intent, and it really has been mounted at a very high level.”
John Barrowman plays Captain Jack Harkness, an intergalactic conman who turns out to be a Time Agent, attempting to restore his lost memories.
“He’s a rogue Time Agent and he knows he’s done something in his past and he’s not sure what it is or whether it is good or bad because his memory has been erased. But he’s also an intergalactic conman and he starts off by trying to con The Doctor and Rose. He tries to sell them something in order to get money because that’s what he does. He has conned a lot of people in the past. His method is to sell people things that are not what he says they are – and then once he has got the money he runs.”
Barrowman has starred in musicals “Chicago”, “Anything Goes”, “Miss Saigon”, “Evita”, “The Phantom of the Opera” and in the film “De-Lovely” with Kevin Kline. He was born in Glasgow and moved to the USA when he was 9.
“I remember the episode when the shop dummies came alive,” he says. “Mum had to hide me in her coat as we were going down Sauchiehall Street in Glasgow because I wouldn’t walk past the dummies as I’d been terrified by the show a few days before! Later, after we moved to the United States, Doctor Who would be shown in marathon runs on Sunday evenings and I’d stay up to watch it after seeing Monty Python. It was a big part of my life and got me into sci-fi.
“When I was doing Sunset Boulevard in London, Jon Pertwee came to see the show. He’d heard that I was a fan so he came backstage afterwards and brought me a huge amount of memorabilia. They were things that he had that he said he didn’t know what to do with and he said he wanted to give them to someone who was a big fan who would look after them. He was my first Doctor and was a lovely, down-to-earth man.”
Richard Wilson, best known for playing crotchety Victor Meldrew in “One Foot in the Grave” plays Dr Constantine, a hospital doctor dealing with the casualties of the Blitz.
“Dr Constantine is having a really bad time of it,” says Richard. “He is a good man and really cares about his patients but there’s a limit to what he can do under the circumstances. To start off, he thinks the people in the hospital are simply wearing their gas masks – but later it is discovered that the masks have become part of them and have actually morphed onto their faces. All the trouble and illness seems to have started after a bomb was dropped. That started everything off – one person became ill and then it spread like a plague.”
Richard Wilson revelas he took the role as he was impressed by the quality of Steven Moffat’s script, although he points out that he himself doesn’t get any funny lines. This is also the first time he has appeared in a sci-fi production, although he has no aversions to the genre:
“I do read a bit of science-fiction and also sometimes dip into science fiction comics,” he says. I also like a good science-fiction film, something like Minority Report. I’m not a science-fiction fanatic but I do find the whole idea of other worlds existing exciting.”
Remember, broadcast of The Empty Child begins at the earlier time of 6.25 pm on BBC 1 this Saturday night. The original Press Pack can be found here