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Double Bill

Four years ago he played William Hartnell in BBC Two’s An Adventure in Space and Time. Now David Bradley is returning to the fold, this time as the First Doctor himself. But can he make the old seem new?

THE DWM INTERVIEW

David at the San Diego Comic-Con in 2013.
Photo © Gage Skidmore.

Dr Who is catching 40 winks on Snowcap base, while Polly keeps watch.

Five minutes ago, actor David Bradley, who plays the 450-year-old time-traveller, asked his co-star Lily Travers, a picture in pink as his assistant Polly, to keep a lookout: “If I shut my eyes, nudge me if they call me, then I’ll know, all right?” Now, slumped in a folding chair in the darkest corner of a BBC TV studio, David is copping a snooze and dreaming, no doubt, of alien sand and the cries of strange birds as they wheel in another sky. Lily’s sat next to him, flicking through a copy of Heat.

It’s 11.00am on Monday 3 July 2017. But in the harsh, inhospitable climes of Cardiff Bay, it’s December 1986, the height of the Antarctic summer.

A South Pole space tracking station has been faithfully recreated in Roath Lock Studio 3, just in time for Christmas. Devoid of emotions, their bodies replaced with plastic and steel, the Cybermen are here too. One – his name’s Liam – is quizzing Lily about her blonde do. “It’s a wig”, she explains.

“It’s not your own hair?” asks Cyber-Liam. “No”, she laughs.

“It’s the ridiculous day”, enthuses Rachel Talalay, the director. (Well, ridiculous in a good way.) “It’s like” – she taps her temple – “I’m screaming in there, ‘Fangirl! Fangirl!’” Behind her, two Mondasian fellas are having their handle-shaped headgear put on. Three more are limbering up. “You can’t really go wrong with a Cyber close-up, can you?” says Rachel.

“It’s so awesome.” “Final checks, please”, calls out first assistant director Mark Hedges. He reminds the Snowcap technicians to “look scared and busy”. Something’s coming. Something big. Someone had better give David a nudge. Dr Who is required.

“The fear of the unknown and letting go; I think that’s something we can all recognise”, David tells DWM later, between takes. “When a great job or a great holiday’s coming to an end, however big or small it is, it’s hard to make that leap and say, ‘Oh, it’s back to real life.’ But obviously”, he adds, furrowing his Father Time eyebrows, “this is on a much more cosmic scale, his dilemma.” He means the First Doctor, who’s full of strange fears and mysterious forebodings. And he’s not the only one.

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About Doctor Who Magazine

Doctor Who Magazine 519 has an exclusive interview David Bradley, who will play the First Doctor in this year's Christmas Special, 'Twice Upon a Time'. The contents of DWM 519 also include: • An interview with Sir Derek Jacobi who is returning as the Master for a new series of audio adventures • Interviews with Jared Garfield and Lily Travers who will play the First Doctor's companions Ben and Polly in the 2017 Christmas Special • A previously unpublished interview from 1997 with Michael Craze who played the original Ben • Costume designer Hayley Nebauer tells us how she created the First Doctor's 2017 look • A tribute to Trevor Martin who played the Doctor in the 1974 Doctor Who stage play 'Seven Keys to Doomsday' • Trevor Martin's final interview • Peter Purves and Matthew Waterhouse talk about recreating stories from the Doctor Who annuals • We celebrate Doctor Who's 54th birthday by looking at what else has happen on 23rd November over the years • Part One of a new comic strip adventure featuring the Doctor and Bill, 'he Phantom Piper', by Scott Gray, with art by Martin Geraghty • The Time Team share their thoughts on 2011's 'The Almost People' • The Fact of Fiction explores the 2007 story 'The Lazarus Experiment' • Previews, book and audio reviews, news, 'The Blogs of Doom', prize-winning competitions and much, much more!
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