The story was a two-parter and fortunately for me, I actually cropped up again in the next episode (or rather my voice did) as the Bandril Ambassador. I think the director, Pennant Roberts, a kind man thought he’d give a young actor and fellow Welshman a bit of extra work by offering me a voice over as well as an acting part. The Bandril was actually (in real life) a glove puppet.
And no, I most definitely didn’t operate the thing myself!
I did however plan to use my deepest most sonorous tones to portray this alien life-form. In fact, it had always been something of an ambition of mine to play a green warty monster on Dr Who. My RADA voice training came to the fore, this was my big chance to live the dream. Sadly not to be! Pennant Roberts had envisaged the Bandril Ambassador as possessing a high, flutey voice. The whole thing ended up sounding somewhere between Mickey Mouse and Margaret Thatcher. After this the BBC sound workshop turned it into something vaguely ethereal. Believe me, not my finest hour. However, I do recall providing the rest of the cast with much amusement whenever I was called upon to deliver the Bandril’s speeches in rehearsal. Not that laughs were lacking during our rehearsals. We all seemed to laugh a great deal and we had to be told off on more than one occasion for enjoying ourselves a bit too much.
About a month or so back I took part in a stage panel and signing at a Doctor Who Event organised by Fantom Films. I’d been invited several years ago to sign copies for fans when Timelash was first released on DVD at a specialist shop over in Barking but this was the first time I’d ever been to an actual Dr Who event. There can’t be another TV show that has grabbed the attention of so many generations of children. I remember feeling quite unnerved as a child when I watched the rather tetchy, almost sinister, William Hartnell. And I’ll never forget the shiver that ran through me when that rubber plunger first came into shot along with that inhuman, mechanised voice, to exclaim, “Exterminate!” A creature, more machine than living organism that could not be negotiated with and which possessed no higher nature to appeal to. Brilliant stuff! For me the Daleks rank alongside fictional childhood baddies like Auric Goldfinger and the terrifying Rosa Klebb.
Classic Dr Who fans are a polite and extremely friendly bunch of people. I must say, I did hesitate before agreeing to go along, but I’m really glad I did. I had a thoroughly enjoyable Sunday morning.