Richard Wilson plays Dr Constantine
There are two doctors in this week's episode of Doctor Who - one of
them is the famous Time Lord, and the other is of the medical variety,
played by actor Richard Wilson.
Richard, who is best known for his role as Victor Meldrew in the hit
BBC comedy series One Foot in the Grave, plays Dr Constantine,
a hospital doctor in the two-part story.
Dr Constantine already has his work cut out dealing with victims of
the Blitz, but now even more sinister events start to take place.
A plague seems to have gripped the Albion Hospital in London, leading
to all the patients suffering the same symptoms - they appear to be
dead and their gas masks are fused to their faces.
"Dr Constantine is having a really bad time of it," says Richard.
"He is a good man and really cares about his patients but there's a
limit to what he can do under the circumstances.
"To start off, he thinks the people in the hospital are simply wearing
their gas masks - but later it is discovered that the masks have become
part of them and have actually morphed onto their faces.
"All the trouble and illness seems to have started after a bomb was
dropped. That started everything off - one person became ill and then
it spread like a plague."
Richard decided to take on the role of Dr Constantine because he was
very impressed by the high quality of the scripts for the episodes.
"I thought the writing was of a very high standard and very interesting,"
he says. "I think that is one of the strengths of the new series of
Doctor Who - the writing is very good."
Although Richard's two episodes have been written by Steven
Moffat, co-writer of the comedy series Coupling,
he doesn't get any funny lines.
"Obviously there is a lot of humour in the new series, but I don't
get funny lines in my bit - there isn't much tittering in my scenes,"
Richard has never appeared in a science-fiction series before but he
enjoys the genre. "I do read a bit of science-fiction and also sometimes
dip into science fiction comics," he says.
"I also like a good science-fiction film, something like Minority Report.
I'm not a science-fiction fanatic but I do find the whole idea of other
worlds existing exciting."
Richard is currently directing a play, The Woman Before, at the Royal
Court in London - and he will soon be back on TV for a new series of
the BBC drama Born and Bred, in which he plays Dr Donald
At Christmas he will break with tradition and appear in the panto Cinderella
at Wimbledon. "I once told a journalist that if they saw me doing pantomime
they should call a doctor," he laughs.
"But the Ambassadors group is trying to revitalise the pantomime with
new production values, better writing and more money. They asked me
to do it and I thought 'what the hell'. I'm playing Baron Hardup.
"It'll be my first panto other than a musical version of Peter Pan,
in which I played Captain Hook, and one for ITV in which I played the
"I didn't want to play the dame again, though, as there are too many
costume changes at my age!" he smiles.