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Andrew Sachs - Manuel turns evil as Skagra
Bearing in mind that Shada's about an unusual book, what's the oddest book you've ever read?
The books that come to mind are books from childhood, those always form the strongest memories for everybody.
My childhood was spent in Berlin in Germany so they're all in German. I still have some of them at home.
Not the oddest, but the most influential book in my whole life was a book called The 35th Of May by Erich Kestner who wrote Emil and the Detectives. There are some English translations which I would avoid, but it was just a fantasy, well science fiction really, but it's a fantasy tale that had a great important role in the development of my own attitude to life and to fantasy and to showmanship.
What's been your worst fashion mistake?
In the sixties I used to have those shirts with matching ties, [with] floral designs. Was that the sixtiess or even the fifties? I can't remember. What did they wear in the seventies?
Flares and camel hair, sheep skin…
Oh, I had my flares, yes. My son had wonderful flares, I wouldn't have dared to wear those. He looked at them the other day, in some old photographs, and even he had to laugh. His hair was down here somewhere [indicates long hair]. It looks crazy now.
How do you imagine your character looking in the animations?
I hadn't even thought about it, isn't that odd, because it's radio. It's just audio and I didn't think about a physical vision of him at all.
That's very unusual for me, except maybe it isn't [because] when you're doing radio, you think totally in terms of the picture that the voice gives. I've no idea what he looks like.
Best of Adams
How much experience of Douglas Adams and his work have you had?
The only experience I've had really is through the Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy and Last Chance To See.
When I've done this job I shall go home and look in my bookshelves and hope to find that book, Last Chance To See, and go back into it. Sometimes one needs a little jolt to get you back into something that you've enjoyed in the past, to read it more than once.
Sci fi versus drama
Do you think you have to bring anything different to working in science fiction drama as opposed to conventional straight drama?
Oh, I don't think so, I think you just have to have an awareness of what it's about, the style, the theme. The writing should give that to you, and if you've got any nowse at all you'll be sympathetic to the aims of the script.
Playing the villain
Do actors relish the chance to tackle a villain or is it no more of interest to any other kind of character to play?
I think it depends on the actor. For myself, I love playing the baddies, the villains. In fact, one of my favourite roles ever was King Rat in Dick Whittington in panto. I played the Dame as well, which I also enjoyed very much for different reasons, but the baddie in a panto is wonderful because you can go over the top, scare the kids, and yet amuse them. They do sometimes get frightened, but if it's tempered with a little charm and enjoyment of his evil, then that's really quite nice to do.
One of the most satisfying things to do is to play baddies. It's closer to my own character really, I think.
Did you watch Doctor Who at all?
I wasn't watching it, except through the eyes of my children, who were into that sort of thing very much.
I saw it once or twice and in fact I was up to take over as Doctor Who but didn't get the part. Sylvester McCoy played it, but at that time they put my name forward for it. Shame, I'd love to have done it.
How do you think you would have approached it?
No idea, I would have waited to see. But I suppose quite eccentrically, although not over the top I hope.
You can be very self-indulgent and go mad and do all the wonderful things, but the script or the director should pull you back and say, 'Come on, stop fooling about, just stop acting, just do it, be in the spirit of the script'. I hope I would have done that, but I never got the chance. One of my sad tales of failure in life.
If the chance came up again would you still be interested?
I would actually, yes I would.
Does the task of working with a robot dog daunt you at all?
No, I've worked with animals before, real ones and not real ones. I'm not really working, I'm only working with the voice, so it presents no problem. I was very impressed with the first reading because [John Leeson's] done it forever, hasn't he? And it's unexpected, the voice, I hadn't heard it before on screen. He's very good, I have to say.
I suppose it must be fun to spark off with an actor such as Mr McGann?
I'd never met him before, so it's very nice. We hardly meet, well, we haven't done so far in the recording. I've got another day to go so I might get to say hello to him properly and have a drink or something.