Starburst magazine caught up with Peter Davison at the recent Sci-Fi Weekender and asked him a few questions. Davison needs little introduction, he is best known for his roles as the fifth incarnation of The Doctor, as well as Tristan Farnon in the television version of All Creatures Great and Small.
What new projects are you currently involved with?
I don’t have a lot of new projects right now. We’ve just finished filming Law & Order. I’ve done a science fiction radio drama called Welcome to our Village, Please Invade Carefully, which is quite funny if I do say so myself, and that’s about pretty much it for now. There’s so many events and functions I’m being invited to this year and I don’t want to miss anything. If there’s a good job worth doing I’ll do it, but I’m currently clearing the decks.
So does that mean you’ll be involved in the Doctor Who 50th anniversary?
I honestly don’t know. I don’t think that we will be involved in anything. I’ve not heard anything, but I have got a meeting with Steven Moffat next week, but I’ve not been advised of anything that’s going on. I wouldn’t be surprised if we’re not involved. We were able to do Time Crash and in the old days we did the Five Doctors. The problem is that half of us aren’t here anymore and we should look exactly as we did when we left the TARDIS. I should look like I did in 1992, and sadly none of us do look like that. It’s slightly problematic. If they called me tomorrow, then of course I would say yes.
Is there a Doctor Who story of yours that you’d like to see redone?
No, I don’t think so. I love the writing now because it’s done by the people who grew up watching the series. They just write really good stories. I don’t think there’s any story from back then that I’d like to retell, but I’d be honoured to do one of the scripts the new team have written. I just don’t think it’s going to happen sadly. Steven Moffat is a huge fan of the classic series and probably knows more about the show than anyone I’ve ever met. You could show him a still from any of the stories and he could tell you not only what the story is and when it went out, but what part of the story the still is from. If anyone can make it work it would be Steven Moffat.
Is there a new Doctor Who story that you would have loved to have been in?
The Empty Child. It was a brilliant story. Some of the stories in the new series have been fantastic.
Are there any other sci-fi, fantasy or horror projects that you’d like to be involved with?
I’m a big fan of the John Wyndham books, but they’ve never been done effectively on television. I didn’t really know where they were going with the recent version of Day of the Triffids. I’d love to look at classics from my childhood such as The Kraken Wakes or maybe something by HG Wells. I’d want it to stay faithful to the books. They aren’t that special effects based and I think the problem nowadays is that they want to put in all these things and it gets in the way of the story. They should have it where they need it, rather than ladle it on too thickly.
What is it like bearing the legacy of being the Fifth Doctor?
It’s very nice. I thought that when I left I wouldn’t be of any interest, being an ex-Doctor. The fact of the matter is we each were our own Doctor. There’s no real rivalry with any of the other Doctors. The only person we used to defer to was Jon Pertwee because he was such a showman.
What memory of the show stays with you today?
I suppose it was the experience of doing Caves of Androzani, because it was so cathartic. It opened up to me new possibilities for the show. We had a classic Robert Holmes script and a brand new director and it all suddenly gelled. I don’t have any regrets about the series, it’s just that with Caves of Androzani I just thought wow, this is how we should have been doing it, even with the limited resources we have. Some of the earlier stories are very static and ploddy and when we moved to a more cinematic style it simply amazed me.
Apart from Caves of Androzani, which of your stories would you describe as definitive?
From my tenure, Earthshock. From the others, Tomb of The Cybermen. I loved The Empty Child and I really enjoyed Tennant’s first story. I saw it being made and though the production values were higher than back in my day, the sense of chaos remained the same. I loved the scene at the end were he comes out with a cup of tea and solves the thing in an instant. There was such enjoyment in that scene.
Is there a none Doctor Who work of yours that you’re proud of?
A toss-up between A Very Peculiar Practice and At Home with the Braithwaites. Both had brilliant scripts. With the Braithwaites, it was tragic but also very funny and I thought how lucky am I to be working with such a script.
If you were stranded on a desert island and could only have one book for company, what would that book be?
The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov. Just a brilliantly weird book. It’s bizarre and the scope of it is incredible. It has everything, including the devil.
Simpsons or Futurama?
My children have almost convinced me that Futurama is better. I’ve gone off The Simpsons very slightly; it doesn’t seem quite as punchy.
Truth or Beauty?
The Doctor’s Daughter or The Tenth Doctor?
Aren’t they the same thing? The Doctor’s Daughter. Where’s the spin off, that’s what I’d like to know.