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29 October 2014

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Roger Lloyd Pack as John Lumic in Doctor Who
John Lumic, creator of the Cybermen

Doctor Who: Rise Of The Cybermen

When the TARDIS becomes trapped on a parallel Earth, it soon becomes clear that sinister forces are at work. Roger Lloyd Pack talks about playing the evil John Lumic - creator of the Cybermen, working on Harry Potter and his love of life in Norfolk.

One of Britain's best loved actors, Roger Lloyd Pack, assumes a steely resolve to play the sinister John Lumic in Rise Of The Cybermen and The Age Of Steel – the first two-parter of the 2006 Doctor Who series.

Roger, who lives in Norfolk as much as his work commitments allow, is one of the best known faces on British television and film.

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"I happened upon Norfolk when I was filming there more than 30 years ago, I rather fell for the light in a glorious summer. I got this place there which I bought, it was my first home for a bit," he said.

"But then it's easier to be in London to be an actor, but I hung onto that place. I love it too much really to let go of it."

Rise Of The Cybermen and The Age Of Steel is a million light years away from Roger's Norfolk idyll.

Rise Of The Cybermen

The two-part adventure sees the Doctor, Rose and Mickey trapped on a parallel Earth, and Roger takes on the role of the menacing John Lumic – a man on an unrelenting mission to take over the world.

The storyline also marks the return of the Cybermen, 40 years after they were first on screen with William Hartnell as the Doctor in an episode called The Tenth Planet.

Cyberleader in Doctor Who The Age Of Steel
Cyberleader in The Age Of Steel

"I play a kind of evil genius who is creating an army of Cybermen in order to make himself immortal," said Roger.

"He's trying to get governments and people to go along with his plans, and the Doctor tries to stop him," he added.

When Roger was offered the role, he read the script and immediately accepted the part.

Cybermen rock

"I was delighted, of course. What I didn't take into account was quite what a deal the Cybermen were," he said.

"I hadn't realised how much they had captured people's imaginations and that they had such an iconic place themselves within the Doctor Who framework... so the attention it’s received has been really rather amazing."

When Doctor Who re-launched last year, Roger was on tour with a theatre production in Sheffield, and so missed most of the last series. However, Doctor Who was an essential part of Saturday nights when he was younger.

Fan of the Doctors

"I was a kid when it came out – I saw the very first Doctor Who!  William Hartnell and Patrick Troughton were my Doctors… I sort of lapsed a bit, but I saw all of the different Doctors at some point," said Roger.

"I was a great fan of the show. I'm not a great lover of sci-fi, but this was the first of its kind on TV. It was an imaginative fantasy that was rather appealing - this old Doctor, a timelord in a telephone boxing whizzing backwards and forwards in space and time.

"It had good stories, it was intriguing, it was very different. When it first started it was one of those programmes 'It's Doctor Who, you've got to watch that'.

Scene from The Rise Of Steel with David Tennant
Rose and the Doctor get a steely look

Roger Lloyd Pack might have grown up with Hartnell and Troughton as his Doctors, but Tom Baker struck a chord and he admires the work being done by David Tennant.

"I rather liked Tom Baker – he gave it a certain manic quality," he said.

"I've watched a couple of the new series, he's [David Tennant] ever so good. I knew he would be. He's a just a very good actor and he's got a good line in charm which I think helps with the Doctor," he added.

Out to get me

Roger and David are no strangers, having worked together before on the blockbuster movie Harry Potter And The Goblet Of Fire.

And there's a theme developing - their on screen relationship always seems to end up in the demise of Lloyd Pack's character!

"It's true, I hadn't thought about that. It's rather alarming isn't it. [he laughs]

"It [Harry Potter] was big budget, great production values, the job went on for nine months on and off and a nice character [Barty Crouch Senior] to play - something to get my teeth into. It was a big production and there aren't many films made like that, certainly in this country.

"It was a good crack, it’s just a pity he had to die really.

"I'd read the first book as my children were appropriate ages for Potter when he first came out. I did see all the films – I always prefer the films to the books to be honest with you.

"It was a fantastic set. There were dozens of workmen working for weeks on that set, it was stunning and it was thrilling to do those scenes," he added.

Friends reunited

The Rise Of The Cybermen and The Age Of Steel two-parter also heralds the return of celebrated Doctor Who director Graeme Harper who was at the helm for The Caves Of Androzani and Revelation Of The Daleks [starring Norfolk's Terry Moloy as Davros] in the mid-1980's.

"It was great working with Graeme," said Roger.

"I've worked with him before doing a series with Dennis Waterman some years back.  He’s a very nice man, very good to work with.

Doctor Who: The Rise Of The Cybermen
Doctor Who: The Rise Of The Cybermen

"It was extremely cold on set, as we filmed in the warehouse in Newport, and quite technical, because some of the scenes were set in a space ship. I enjoyed the whole experience actually.

"I think Graeme had done a really good job on this episode.

"I saw them back-to-back a few weeks ago and they are like a film, certainly in the impact. The set looks awesome when you add all the CGI effects," he added.

But what is it about Doctor Who that has the cream of British actors lining up to be in the series?

"Yes, it’s true. The money's not that great – so it must be something," he said.

"I think it’s because people want to be part of it, because it's an iconic programme and you want to be part of history.

"The programme has a pedigree and you want to be part of that," he added.

Rise Of The Cybermen was first screened at 1900 BST on Saturday 13 May, 2006 on BBC1.

The second part of the story The Age Of Steel can be seen on Saturday 20 May, 2006 at 1835 BST on BBC1.

last updated: 07/06/06
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