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Digital Subscriptions > Doctor Who Magazine > 517 > TIME and SYLVESTER


Thirty years after he first appeared as the Seventh Doctor, Sylvester McCoy reflects on the role that changed his life.
Sylvester McCoy is reunited with his spoons in this publicity still from A Joke.

Sylvester McCoy stands on a darkened stage in a woolly hat and a nightie. He’s having an existential crisis. Over the course of an hour, Sylvester and his co-stars Richard Oliver and Robert Picardo ruminate on the nature of jokes, stories and life, in Dan Freeman’s new comedy A Joke – a crowdfunded show for the Edinburgh Festival.

Afterwards, while Doctor Who Magazine is waiting for Sylvester in the bar outside, we spot a familiar face. Tomek Bork – who played Captain Sorin alongside Sylvester in The Curse of Fenric back in 1989 – is a friend of the production. He’s very struck by A Joke, comparing it to Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot. “When I translate it into Polish,” says Tomek, “it will be called Waiting for a Joke.”

It’s a thoughtful and humorous piece, but owing to its cast it obviously attracts a certain audience. Robert Picardo, of course, is well known in science-fiction circles for having played the waspish Emergency Holographic Doctor in Star Trek: Voyager.

“That’s how we got here,” says Sylvester, when we speak to him later. “I got to know Bob doing conventions in America. And we got on really well. He’s great fun – very witty, very sharp, great company!

“In the play, when the other guy says ‘Doctor, doctor…’ and we both say together, ‘Yes?’ – that gets the biggest laugh.”

It’s not entirely unbidden. The two of them strike a particularly Doctor-ish pose when delivering the line, both of them tipping their head back and grabbing their lapels. And there’s more. Early on, a spoon appears on stage.

Sylvester’s character calls the mysterious spoon ‘Chekov’s phaser’.

“Chekov said if you have a gun on stage, you know someone’s going to fire it before the end of the play,” says Sylvester, quoting the famous Russian playwright.

So, don’t bring spoons on stage unless Sylvester is going to play them?

“Yes, exactly!”

Sylvester has form, playing spoons as a percussive instrument in many of his roles over the years.

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ISSUE 517 OF DOCTOR WHO MAGAZINE CELEBRATES 30 YEARS OF THE SEVENTH DOCTOR WITH SYLVESTER McCOY! Thirty years after he first appeared as the Seventh Doctor, Sylvester McCoy reflects on the role that changed his life... Also this issue: DEBORAH WATLING TRIBUTE DWM remembers the late Deborah Watling, who played the Second Doctor's companion Victoria from 1967 to 1978, with contributions from Colin Baker, Nicola Bryant and Frazer Hines. VICTORIA'S SECRETS A previously unpublished interview with Deborah Watling from 1990. VICTOR PEMBERTON TRIBUTE Remembering the late Doctor Who writer and story editor Victor Pemberton. GAIL BENNETT An interview with original American Doctor Who superfan Gail Bennett. FURY FROM THE DEEP This month's Fact of Fiction explores 1968's Fury from the Deep, the last story to feature Deborah Watling as Victoria Waterfield. THE PARLIAMENT OF FEAR Part Three of our brand-new comic strip adventure, The Parliament of Fear, featuring the Doctor and Bill; written by Scott Gray and illustrated by Mike Collins. DOMINIC GLYNN The composer recalls writing and recording the score for 1989's Survival. THE TIME TEAM The Time Team continues its mission to watch every episode of Doctor Who with 2012's The Doctor's Wife. PLUS! Previews, book and audio reviews, news, the Watcher's column, prize-winning competitions and much, much more.