Q/A: Nicholas Pegg

We're asking, they're answering.



Nicholas Pegg in the countryside


What's your desert island Doctor Who story?

It changes all the time. I've a very soft spot for The Time Warrior. And The Ribos Operation. And Kinda. And the Bad Wolf two-parter. But when all's said and done, it's got to be City of Death, hasn't it?


Who's the best actor that should have played the Doctor?

Brian Cox. That's Brian Cox the Shakespearean actor with the fabulous voice, not Brian Cox the TV astronomer with the peculiar lips. He wouldn't be quite so good.


Who is the sexiest Doctor Who producer?

What? Well, I met Graham Williams once or twice. He was a strikingly good-looking man, and very intelligent too, which is a key ingredient of sexiness as far as I'm concerned. But I can't say I actually fancied him.


Who's the most famous Doctor Who related person you've got in your phone contacts?

Either Steven Moffat or David Tennant, I suppose. Or Sylvester. I've got all the Scotsmen.


Ian Levine. Discuss.

John Levene. Javelins.


Do you have all your Doctor Who DVDs in transmission order on your shelf?

Of course. I'm at ease with my inner librarian. Everything goes in order.


Which single episode would you like to be recovered?

Patrick Troughton's first one.


Which is your favourite regeneration scene?

Planet of the Spiders, without a doubt. It was the first regeneration I saw, so that's obviously a factor, but I still think it's wonderful. It might not be the technical firework display we're used to seeing these days, but I don't care about that. Jon Pertwee's death scene is written and played so beautifully.


Which Doctor Who scene frightened you most as a child?

That'll be either the bit in The Sontaran Experiment where the rock goes all porridgey and starts creeping up Sarah's leg, or the bit in The Talons of Weng-Chiang when Greel commands his servant to take the sting of the scorpion. Both of those scared the wits out of me.


On a scale of nought to ten, how much do you like Katy Manning's DVD commentary contributions?

Eleven at least. I moderated the commentary for The Mutants, and poor old Steve Broster had to keep stopping the recording because Katy was making us all laugh so much. She's adorable.


Has a Doctor Who story ever made you cry?

Oh, dozens of them, starting with Jon Pertwee's regeneration again. But the big one for me is Sarah's departure in The Hand of Fear. I was about eight or nine when that was first shown, and I'm still quite incapable of watching it without shedding a tear. And then there's Jamie and Zoe forgetting everything at the end of The War Games. And Ian and Barbara going home. Turn Left had me in pieces. Look, I get a lump in my throat in the jewel robbery scene at the beginning of the second Dalek movie, when Bernard Cribbins comes running round the corner and first catches sight of the police box. It doesn't take much to get me going.


Name a Doctor Who story you've never seen.

Promise you won't tell Steven, but I still haven't seen the Christmas special with Claire Skinner and the wardrobe. I was away at the time, and with work and everything I just haven't got around to it yet. It's waiting patiently on the hard drive, so I'll catch up with it soon.


Have you ever thought about Doctor Who during sexual intercourse?

Certainly not. But I might possibly have thought about sexual intercourse during Doctor Who.


What evidence is there in your home that you like Doctor Who?

Now that I think about it, surprisingly little. I don't have toy Daleks and all that sort of stuff. My keys are on a little Tardis keyring, which was a present from an actor in a play I directed in Nottingham a few years ago. Other than that it's just the DVDs, and a few books, and a set of DWMs. They're all in my study. Oh, and I've got a painting by Anneke Wills in the hall, but that's not particularly to do with Doctor Who. It's a little gouache picture of a house in Goa. I'm very fond of it.


What percentage of your friends would know what "the Cartmel Masterplan" or "UNIT dating" means?

These questions are mad. I'm going to estimate about 15%.


What are the most embarrassing lengths you have ever gone to in order to ensure you didn't miss an episode of Doctor Who?

When I was about 17, I played Reuben in an amateur production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, and on this particular Saturday afternoon we were supposed to be having a big technical run. The director wasn't the most competent I've ever encountered, and the whole day was utterly disorganised. Nothing was getting done. Everyone was looking at their watches because we were supposed to be finishing by late afternoon, and we hadn't even started yet. So anyway, crunch time arrived, and I'm ashamed to say that I just walked out of the building, caught the bus home, watched the second episode of Vengeance on Varos, caught the bus back into town again, and walked back into the theatre ten minutes before the rehearsal finally got going. I must have been gone for the best part of two hours, and nobody had noticed in the slightest, so I got away with it. But I have to stress that this was nevertheless disgracefully unprofessional behaviour on my part, and on no account should it ever be emulated. Especially not for the sake of Vengeance on flipping Varos.


Give us a hint of the most scandalous behind the scenes Doctor Who gossip you know.

Well, there was of course that frightful incident in Streatham in 1996. I'm one of only two people left alive who know about that. And when you're inside a Dalek, you have all sorts of fascinating conversations with people through that grille. But my lips are sealed. The confidentiality of the Dalek Confessional is utterly sacrosanct.


Nicholas Pegg, 79, is an actor, writer, theatre director and cheese fanatic. Since 2005 he's been a Dalek in Doctor Who, and he has also played human beings in things like Doc Martin, Cinderella and Hamlet. He was once an otter, and he occasionally writes documentaries and info text subtitles for Doctor Who DVDs. You can check out his book The Complete David Bowie here, and you can hear him reading the metaphysical poetry of Andrew Marvell here.



Q/A: Nicholas Pegg
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