162. Protect and Survive
Behind the Scenes
This story takes place after the TV episode Survival.
Philip Olivier and Amy Pemberton, aka Hex and Sally, talk to Paul Spragg about sharing a TARDIS. Or TARDISes. Maybe TARDI?
Hello Phil. You’ve had a year off from Doctor Who; have you been reminding yourself what’s happened to Hex so far?
Yeah, I’ve been going through his back catalogue. That’s the only difficult bit; sometimes when you do three stories a year and you have a year in between, it is a little bit hard to remember everything. But this script, Gods and Monsters, it brings everything back. So I’m glad that I’m giving the interview while recording this because it’s all come back to me!
Let’s go back to Protect and Survive.
Protect and Survive was a great script because it was Groundhog Day, basically. It’s about a nuclear holocaust if it would have happened, and Ace and Hex get to relive it over and over again. But the good thing about this was, it was a smaller cast. It was just four of us, which is really nice because it meant we could have a lot more play with the script; there’s a lot more time in the booths and more interaction going on. But it was also nice me and Sophie [Aldred, Ace] got to do a bit of character acting and copy Peggy [Elizabeth Bennett] and Albert [Ian Hogg], two Yorkshire people. It was fun having a play with that.
What was good about Protect and Survive was that the Doctor wasn’t around much, so the relationship between Ace and Hex was nice without it being interrupted by the Doctor putting his grounding rules on. It let it flourish a bit.
Was it a happy cast reunion?
It’s been brilliant to be reunited with Sophie and Sylvester [McCoy, the Doctor]! Especially after the good news of Sylvester; he’s got The Hobbit so he’s been telling us untold stories. But it’s always a pleasure to see them, especially my era. I’m thirty-one now, and growing up I was watching Sylvester and Soph. And now I’ve been working with them eight years, I feel like I’m part of the family and it’s nice to be friends with people I admired when I was young.
What’s the dynamic like with new companions in the mix?
It’s nice having the other two companions and bouncing off; having Ace with Aristedes [Maggie O’Neill] having their conflict. It was always skirting the fact that Hex was flirting with Ace and their relationship was kind of going that way, but I think after Black and White it’s cemented that they’re more brother and sister. Especially when it’s explained that he fancies Sally [Amy Pemberton]!
What did you make of the whole black and white TARDIS concept?
Wow! The Black and White story, I must have read that script about three times. I personally like to read my own scenes, I don’t like to read the rest because my character shouldn’t know what else is going on. In this: different story. You have to read everything because it was flashback city! But once I got my head around it, it was very complicated and a great script. And it sets up nicely for the next one.
Credit to the writers because I don’t know how they put it all together, and also linking this history from 1989 – wow. So you’ve gotta trawl right back through and go through the archives and pick up all these bits of information and incorporate it into a new script, and they have done and it sits beautifully.
I thought this would have been in the back catalogue but Ace, Hex, Lysandra and Sally, they were all asking if it’s TARDISes or TARDI! When I heard that, I was like, ‘Wow, there’s never been two TARDIS before so this is a new one’.
What’s Hex’s journey through these scripts?
I’ve really enjoyed watching Hex develop from this young, naïve lad to creating his own rapport with Ace. It’s nice to see in the past couple of scripts how he’s gone towards resenting the Doctor, which is a bold move, to be honest; the Doctor’s given him most things. Then when I was doing these two scripts [Protect and Survive, Black and White], I was like, ‘Oh God, he’s kind of gone back to a little bit of a bumbling idiot’. But when you read Gods and Monsters, you go, ‘Aha!’ I’m really excited for this final one and how it ties it all together and I just want the next script!
This is one of my favourite jobs. You come here and I think the imagination is better than any CGI you can have. The human imagination is the best, and every time you step into the booth, everyone’s got their own picture of what’s going on. And in my head it’s just a great job to do because… I can’t explain it! It’s like we’re filming CGI. Sometimes I close my eyes, I’m imagining sonic screwdrivers and it’s crazy; it really has opened my eyes up to the world of Doctor Who. I’m watching the series avidly now. It’s created a fan out of me!
Sylvester McCoy, Sophie Aldred and Philip Olivier
Elizabeth Bennett and Ian Hogg