166. The Acheron Pulse
Behind the Scenes
Colin Baker gives his thoughts on The Acheron Pulse, Jago & Litefoot and reality TV to Paul Spragg
Hello Colin. You’ve recently recorded a story I can’t yet pronounce.
It’s The ‘Ack-er-on’ Pulse, I’m delighted to say. It’s history being the lies we tell ourselves. Yes, good story. I enjoyed doing it.
It’s unusual for your Doctor to be companionless.
The joy of having a companion is that it’s someone to tell what you’re thinking to or someone to challenge you, or someone to tease information out of you. So the challenge is more to the scriptwriters to get the same level of information out there without having someone for the Doctor to confide in. And also a way of getting two separate storylines going, with one overarching story. If there’s a companion who wanders off or is kidnapped or is sent by the Doctor to do something, you then get other things going on contemporaneously as it were, which of course, when it’s just the Doctor on his own… you can still do it, of course, because you can get the characters you haven’t seen before going off. But that creates its own problems, because we don’t know enough about those characters, whereas if you’ve got a companion, you’ve got sixty per cent of the information the listener needs already supplied – who the companion is, what they’re like, what they do. If you’re simply using characters who are new to this particular story, you have to know more about them before you get involved.
And prior to that you were voyaging with Jago & Litefoot.
Jago and Litefoot, what a joy! I worked with both of them [Trevor Baxter and Christopher Benjamin] in 1969 on my first telly, so I’ve known them for years and that’s a delight. And I know it’s a completely different part of the range, but I had great fun doing Dark Shadows [The House by the Sea]. I loved doing Dark Shadows because that was ninety-five per cent me! What has been very gratifying has been the reaction of those who listen to it, who really got into it, so the next thing I want to do is I want to play a part in Sherlock Holmes, please.
You’ll have to make nice with Nick Briggs if you want to be in that.
Oh, if I have to do that, it’s not worth it…
What’s been going on outside your life on audio?
It’s been a little quiet of late, to be honest. Ever since I finished panto at the beginning of 2011, I’ve been ‘considering projects’ is what the polite term is, ie doing very little! A few conventions, a couple of Big Finishes and that’s been about it. But I am touring a new play which I’m quite excited about, written by Chris Palin, who’s a journalist – well, principally a novelist. He’s written a play called The Final Test, which is about a man who’s not unlike myself, in that he fails to notice what’s going on around him – the fact that his wife has sold their house and two other people have moved in while he was sitting in the garden listening to cricket. And then it’s the efforts of the incoming owners of the house to get rid of him from their garden. So it’s kind of in the same territory as Alan Ayckbourn; it’s an amusing piece but it’s also rooted in reality.
You’ve been getting a lot of congratulations on the Big Finish message boards for your culinary win…
Oh yes, I did Come Dine With Me just before Christmas. That was quite an experience, because it’s a half-hour programme; they arrived to start filming at nine o’clock in the morning at my house and finished at five o’clock the following morning, which is four hours short of a whole day! So imagine five days of that, going from one house to another, and by the end of it I was a wreck! I think winning was a tribute to the fact I was so shell-shocked things didn’t trouble me at all! And never having cooked anything beyond beans on toast or a hearty breakfast before, I amazed myself by being able to follow a recipe successfully and not irritating the four other people so much that they didn’t give me any points!
Would you like to do more reality TV?
There are certain ones I would try to resist doing, like Dancing on Ice, because it hurts when you fall over, I doubt they’d ask me and I doubt I’d be any good at it! Fifteen years ago I might have enjoyed Strictly Come Dancing but now the bones are too achy. I wouldn’t mind going to the jungle [for I’m a Celebrity]; I’d give that a go, see what it’s like. It’s a good way of losing weight, for God’s sake! The best diet in the universe: survive the whole duration of being in the jungle and refuse to eat everything!
Colin Baker and James Wilby in The Acheron Pulse