OTB Speaks To Doctor Who Guest Star Charlie Baker
After some work experience kid blabbed about Doctor Who plot details last month (much to Steven Moffat’s chagrin) the BBC have kept this weekend’s mid-season finale A Good Man Goes To War under lock and key recently, but we do know that stand-up comedian and Comic Relief dancing champion Charlie Baker is making a guest appearance. So what could he tell us?
How did Doctor Who come about?
I had stopped acting for a bit to get more into comedy, but over the last couple of years my agent’s started to ask for a bit of the acting stuff. I did the IT Crowd and a nice couple of other bits and pieces and when Doctor Who came up I was very excited even though I’ve never watched it a lot. I’m a fan of it because I thought it was such quality television and I thought this would be a great thing to be in, a real quality thing… and what a laugh to be in it as well.
So did you audition for the part?
Yeah I auditioned, no-one knows who I am, so you see the casting director first and its so tight, they try to keep it secret especially as my episode is a finale series and they watermark all the scripts in case you try to sell them on ebay [laughs] but they’d go in to see the casting director and you do it that way… It is quite a long process but they have to be pretty thorough as every actor wants to be in it…
When you go and do the job it’s amazing as you sit in this room and suddenly Matt, I know Matt from the National Youth Theatre so I sort of know Matt anyway, but Matt walked in and suddenly Doctor Who walks in and then you think “That’s Doctor Who. I’m in Doctor Who!” and then Steven Moffat walks in and then you think “This is a great moment in my career, they can never take this moment away from me”, and then someone reads the stage directions and they go…
“Space… the year 5 million and 86 and whatever it is..” and that sends a shiver down your spine and then you think ahhhhhh actually this is great! What a laugh, what a job, what a hilarious job! I haven’t seen it so I can’t actually wait to see it.
So you basically know what is going to be happening in this episode and the second part [in the autumn] as well?
No I don’t know what happens then I’m only in this one. I’ve only read the script of this one. It’s a cliffhanger, and you’ll see why. Have you seen it?
No we’ve not seen in. The BBC is on Doctor lockdown!
You’ll see why I can’t be in it again. I had a right laugh and I was delighted to be in a space one, I didn’t want to be in one set in Victorian times… do you know what I mean? You’re in the 70s and the 80s, it’s not really time-travel to be honest! [laughs] It is quite cool to be in the star wars-y one, when you’ve got a laser and things like that.
Doctor Who is known for a gruelling schedule, it was rather intensely filmed I take it!
Yeah this is the amazing thing. You know in a film they shoot about twenty seconds a day but on doctor who they film it as standard, and the standard was so high with everything to do with it, the rate they go through it and the quality they get from that through from performances to the sets.. is amazing. They are shooting more or less four or five minutes a day but I guess they do that because they are filming so much. The guys who work on it basically live on set, but what a great job. If you’re doing costumes or makeup for Doctor Who you are pretty much at the top of your tree.
I guess the cybermen are in this episode…
I didn’t meet them!
Flicking through the script when I got the script I thought “ahh good I’m in space” and that the cybermen would be in it, but nothing with the cybermen at all. In my bit there are monks, called the headless, and these aren’t your normal monks they are the horrible Doctor Who “hide-behind-the-sofa” monks, and I thought that’ll be alright, but when they’re walking round set, cos it’s blokes in them you know, when they’re walking round set and they’re in the distance… We filmed in Newport Power Station and it is all lit amazingly and there is smoke everywhere… you do go “oh my goodness [laughs] it is worrying. Are they actually like this very much?” When your being chased by a dalek or a cyberman, the ones earlier in the series, the silence, my word they were amazing!
In terms of the character you play, how do you think the role went? How does it compare to others you’ve played?
Well it was a nice role for me, a bit of comedy and that was good, and that was how I thought I got thought of for the part. I never want to be the person who ruins Doctor Who [laughs] “Yeah Doctor Who was good, apart from that bloke…
He jumped the shark in that one…
Yeah that was the moment… [laughs] You just want to give a truthful performance because you know that you are going to be surrounded by good honest performances, so as an actor you just want to do your best work, and they make it completely possible to do that because they are also good.
Must have been a fantastic experience. What else have you got planned for in the year ahead?
I’m doing Edinburgh, I’m doing a play, called Wedding Band at the Gilded Balloon at 2.45 everyday. I used to be in a wedding band, and basically it is about my experiences at people’s weddings, good and bad, and its set the hour before the wedding party turn up at reception so the bands are in it, and the DJ and the wedding planner catering woman.. are in it. It is funny… I think you will enjoy it if you like weddings or you don’t. If you were going to Edinburgh we’re not clashing with anything, after a deep-fried mars bar and a pint you’ll enjoy it.
Have you played Edinburgh Fringe many times before?
I’ve done the Fringe a few times. I did it as a child when I was 12-15 when I was in the National Music Theatre, and that was good fun, and then I went back and did So You Think You’re Funny in 2007 and then I did a thing called Big Value, a group show where a lot of comedians come on and it’s a good thing to do, I did my own show two years ago called The World’s Greatest Show-off which was great and I won an award for that, I took last year off for a bit and then I’m going back this year with the play that I’m really excited about. Rest of the year is a lot of gigs, and there’s one with Mark Watson on Dave on green-screen which is really good… and loads of stuff going on. All very positive.
Quite a busy year then…
Yeah that’s what you want. You try to stay busy!