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Sylvester McCoy as the Doctor
Sylvester McCoy as the Doctor

A night with the Doctor

Doctor Who fans made the most of the Great Yarmouth Film Festival with the opportunity to spend an evening in conversation with Sylvester McCoy, the seventh actor to have played the Doctor.


Doctor Who fans experienced a trip back in time with the Great Yarmouth Film Festival on Sunday. Sylvester McCoy spent an evening on the east coast as part of the town's second annual celebration of the moving image.

The two-and-a-half hour show gave fans the opportunity to hear what life was like working on the series.

Terry Molloy as Davros in Resurrection
Terry Molloy as Davros

They also enjoyed classic clips from Battlefield and Remembrance Of The Daleks, which also starred Norfolk-based actor Terry Molloy as Davros, on the Hollywood Cinema big screen.

Much to the fans' delight, Sylvester work his way through the audience to answer questions, allowed them a glimpse into his life as a variety entertainer.

He shared stories that included a night playing the spoons on Kate O'Mara's chest and a demonstration of what you can do with very strong knicker elastic!

Honoured to be the Doctor

"It was a great honour to play the Doctor, but I didn't quite realise how much of an honour until years afterwards when it still carried on and people still adored it," said McCoy.

"It’s wonderful the way they respond to you. They like Doctor Who and to walk down the street and be liked is wonderful - better than being Dirty Den.

"I didn't feel I was a true Doctor until I worked with the Daleks as they're the quintessential great enemy of the Doctor. They are extraordinary and they do still frighten people," he added.

During Sylvester McCoy's reign as the Doctor, BBC executives decided it was time for the axe to fall on the cult TV series - much to his surprise.

"They kept that from us, I wasn't told until about eight months after we'd finished the previous series. I was told when we should have been told when they were starting the new one, but it happened and that was it," he said.

"I'm an actor and that what happens in my profession – you do a job and it finishes and you go onto another one, but it was a bit sad as I felt I hadn't finished with the Doctor.

"It's lived on in the conventions and with Big Finish where I've been making audio versions of the show which have been successful all over the world, so that's carried it on.

Sylvester answers questions during festival
Sylvester McCoy - in coversation

"Colin Baker, Paul McGann and others have been playing their Doctors on these audio books. That's kept it going, the fans have kept it going and it's kept me travelling around the world in between acting jobs, it's been terrific," he added.

Type-cast as the Doctor?

After three seasons on the show, McCoy isn't concerned that he's been typecast as the Doctor. In fact, three seasons seems to be the magic number when it comes to playing the role.

McCoy recalled, during his stage performance at the Hollywood Cinema, that Peter Davison had told him 'don't do more than three' - advice which he'd been given from Patrick Troughton.

"I haven't been worried about being typecast and I haven't stopped working since I stopped Doctor Who.

"The actors who played the Doctors tended not to get typecast. The ones who suffered in Doctor Who were the companions, they are the ones who didn't necessarily go on to do a variety of other work," he said.

After the global success of the new series, McCoy is delighted the show is back on our screens and admitted he's excited at seeing David Tennant in the role of the eleventh Doctor.

"It's terrific [the new series], I enjoyed it immensely and was also full of envy," said McCoy.

"They had just such good sets, the amount of money that was spent on it - ours were just flung together really on a very low budget. They've also got great writers.

"The magic of Doctor Who is in the writing. It's not necessarily the Doctors, the Daleks, but it's in the writing and they've got great writers," he added.

Appearing in Great Yarmouth as part of the town's film festival, McCoy believes the event is feather in the resort's kiss-me-quick hat.

"I think it's terrific. It focuses on an area of Great Yarmouth where you can come and enjoy different things, like a serious discussion on films," he said.

"For a long time it's thought of as end-of-the-pier. It's got all that, it's a delight and you must keep it – but at the same time it's good the focus is being turned on something else.

"... the arts, it generates so much, as has been proven all around Britain. Arts festivals have been opening up and then, bang, good things come from that so I wish them every luck," he added.

Sylvester McCoy appeared at the Great Yarmouth Film Festival on Sunday 2 October, 2005.

last updated: 10/10/05
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