In this weekend’s Doctor Who mid-series finale, Amy Pond has been kidnapped and the Doctor is raising an army to rescue her. But as he and Rory race across galaxies, calling in long-held debts and solemnly given promises, his enemies are laying a carefully concealed trap.
‘A Good Man Goes To War’ airs at 6.40pm on Saturday 4th June on BBC One.
Watch the episode’s trailer…
CultBox caught up with actor Simon Fisher-Becker, who plays Dorium Maldavar, to discuss his role in the story…
When you filmed your part in ‘The Pandorica Opens’ for Series 5 last year, did you know that you’d be coming back this year?
“No idea at all! I was very happy to have my six lines and to be sat opposite Alex Kingston. I mean, people were saying things like ‘we must have you back’, but to be honest that’s said all the time – so, as much as I hoped, I didn’t hold my breath. What’s happened subsequently is far beyond any expectations.”
Can you tell us a bit about your role in ‘A Good Man Goes To War’?
“It’s a major part in the storyline, Dorium becomes a bit of a hero!”
Do you see him as a good guy or a bad guy?
“Dorium is at heart a good guy, but he lives in the murky depths. Think of him as Arthur Daley. Oh, you’re probably too young to remember Arthur Daley! He works in the murky world of black marketing, so that’s why River Song went to him to get the vortex manipulator [in 'The Pandorica Opens'].”
Do we find out a bit more about Dorium Maldavar’s background this episode?
“You see, because everyone always talks in code – and I’m very bad at picking up code – everything is kept quite secret, so any development of the character I have to find from the page and in-between the lines.”
What was it like working with Matt Smith and the other regulars?
“Yes, although not Alex Kingston this time, which was a shame as I wanted to say thankyou – the way these things work, you don’t always get the chance to say goodbye properly. So I didn’t get to work with her this time, but you never know!
“Matt Smith was delightful – he talks a lot about football! He helps keep me at ease because I’m a visitor. As visiting artists, we’re a bit edgy and on our toes as we’re very grateful to be there, but at the same time you don’t want to mess things up! I have to say, the experience has been delightful. The whole team was lovely, it was a dream job; to be working on a programme I’ve followed since William Hartnell.
“I wouldn’t call myself a fan, but I’m definitely a follower. I was born in 1961 so I was very young when William Hartnell became Patrick Troughton but I do remember it. I was delighted when Christopher Eccleston came on and rebooted it.”
What was the secrecy like surrounding the episode’s cliffhanger ending?
“When filming the episode, for example Episode 7, because of the secrecy we weren’t really told what has happened before. We only know what’s in the episode we’re doing. So now, having seen Episode 6, I’m saying ‘ahhh, yes, okay!’ – I had to chuckle, I was with some friends and the expression on their faces was a picture!”
Were you all given complete scripts for Episode 7?
“Well, because my character is in it throughout, I did have a complete script. Our very first scene that we filmed, we were all together, but it was all out of context, it was all in the wrong order, so it was all very confusing. We had no idea what was going on, but it was an absolute hoot!
“What I will say is that a lot of questions will be answered, but then a whole bucket load of new questions will come forward. And the cliffhanger is very good, as you would expect!”
Did you have friends and family trying to get you to reveal stuff?
“To be honest, we’re contractually tied, but I don’t know much more than what I actually filmed. There were certain things in Episode 7 which I only read in the script. By the time they’ve done all their bells and whistles and trickery-pokery, I’m really looking forward to seeing it!”
Were there many special effects involved in your scenes?
“For me, there were a number of special effects, for reasons which will become apparent when you see it. I’m dying to see the special effects!”
Did you get to perform any stunts?
“No, being a roly-poly – because I’m a big chap – I think they were very wise in not encouraging me to do anything too exciting. There is a surprise and I can tell you, because it is out in the domain, when you see Episode 7 just remember that I do come back in Episode 13.”
Do you have quite a substantial part in Episode 13 too?
“Yes, it’s already been filmed. It’s the last episode of the series and, what I will tell you, is that in Episode 7 Dorium is a hero and in Episode 13 he’s more of a tormenting mentor. Again, lots of answers – everything will be answered in Episode 13, but then something else will be asked, so you’ve got the cliffhanger to the new series.”
You’re also in the prequel for Episode 7, how did that come about?
“Again, that was something that came out of the blue too! I was right in the middle of filming Episode 7 and one of the producers came over and said that Steven had asked if I’d like to do an extra scene with three other characters. So I thought ‘right, three other characters, excellent’ and Steven was writing it at the time we were speaking.
“By 11 o’clock, when I got into the trailer, I found that there were three other characters, but they were mute! So I had to learn this monologue by the following morning, so that was fun. I’m very pleased with the result. And to be the main shot on the official website at the moment, that’s extraordinary, I’m very chuffed!”
Would you like to come back next year if they asked you back?
“I’d be delighted to, but it’s all up to the imagination of Steven Moffat. I’d have no hesitation whatsoever!”
How long does the make-up take?
“They allow two hours, but it doesn’t usually take that long. My head is shaved, so then it’s just a case of applying the blue.”
Do you get recognised much by fans or does the make-up help you to avoid that?
“Those who know me can see that it is me in the episode – just blue! But I haven’t yet been recognised while walking down the street. I’ve done a convention and I was pleasantly surprised that people did come running over to my table, I thoroughly enjoyed it.”
Did you have people recognising you from Harry Potter too?
“Yes, that was a bit of a surprise, but several fans came along with their own photos of me as the Fat Friar.”
It’s ten years now since you did Harry Potter And The Philosopher’s Stone, have you watched the other films in the series?
“I’ve followed them all, yes. I haven’t seen the last one yet, but I’d like to sit and watch the whole lot sometime.”
Is it odd seeing the kids all grown up now?
“It just makes me feel a bit old! I’m fifty this year. When I first saw Rupert Grint, he was about 12. It just hammers home how time goes very quickly.”
What’s your favourite memory from filming your three episodes of Doctor Who so far?
“There’s so many! I think, because I do follow Doctor Who, the fact that I actually got to be on the set of the TARDIS…”
Was that in character?
“Oh yes, in character, I did feel like a 12 year old! Also, the actual idea of being part of the Doctor Who family and being asked back, not once but twice. The camaraderie of the team was lovely, the script read-through around the table, getting into the frock! The other thing was getting to meet lots of other actors: Neve McIntosh was lovely to work with… Mark Gatiss…”
Amazing, is he in Episode 7 or Episode 13?
“That’s Episode 13.”
Can you tell us a bit about your ‘The Way It Is…’ talks?
“I was chairman of a group for writers to hear early drafts of their work being performed by actors. A lot of the group would say ‘if only we could do this, if only we could do that’ whereas the reality is you just have to follow the path of how things really are. So we get professional agents in to discuss how it works for an agency – or a director or producer – and they give a little talk.
“I also go out from my perspective as a professional performer to say ‘this is how it is in the big wide world and you have to stop dreaming’. You have to have your dream, don’t get me wrong, but the system is there and if you follow it then it works. I may not be a household name, but I’ve worked regularly and had a thoroughly good time.”
What else have you got coming up?
“There’s a chance to go out to Italy to do a film that I’m jokingly calling a ‘spaghetti horror’; it’s sort of Buffy meets Hammer Horror films. It’s called The Wrath Of The Crows, so that’d be really nice! I didn’t even have to go for a casting, I was just asked if I was available.”
Would you like to do an episode of Sherlock if the opportunity came up?
“I’d love to do anything that involves Mark Gatiss or Steven Moffat, I just think they’re fab. I love Sherlock – and Una Stubbs is in it! I did a corporate video with her a hundred years ago so it’d be nice to meet up with her again.”