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Playing one of Doctor Who's scariest monsters

Louise Bowen as Weeping Angel
Image caption Louise-Marie Bowen on set as a Weeping Angel

One of Doctor Who's scariest foes is returning to do battle with the Time Lord in this weekend's series finale. The Doctor, played by Peter Capaldi, will encounter the Weeping Angels for the first time in two years. But what is it like playing one of the scary statues?

Louise-Marie Bowen played a Weeping Angel when they made their last appearance in the 2013 Christmas show with previous Doctor Matt Smith. She spent four years performing as monsters in the hit BBC series and said the menacing statues - who can only move when no other living creature is looking at them - were her favourite.

Even the studio crew who knew the storyline "got scared" and would "turn round and stare" when the Weeping Angels arrived on set, said Bowen, from Radstock in Somerset.

"It's a very believable monster and one that everyone can relate to because we see them in our lives," she said. "As a child, we've probably thought 'what if that statue comes alive?'

"If you look at statues in graveyards, their posture is very upright, so I think they wanted to portray very angelic, quite beautiful statues but which have menace. So the girls who were hired were all dancers."

Image copyright Louise-Marie Bowen
Image caption Louise-Marie Bowen appeared as a Weeping Angel in 2013 with Matt Smith as The Doctor

The 27-year-old actress grew up in Germany but moved to England in 2005 and began working on Doctor Who four years later.

She said playing a Weeping Angel could be a very long day, partly because of the complexity of the statue costume, but added: "It was fantastic, don't get me wrong.

"You're in a skirt that doesn't move and you can only move your upper body.

"You're on your feet for the best part of 15 hours a day, it takes two-and-a-half hours to get ready and then about one-and-a-half hours to get it all off again. So the crew goes home and I've got to stay another hour-and-a-half. But it's great, it's really good.

"I've done workshops with children and when I tell them I've been a Weeping Angel they suddenly start behaving."

Image copyright Louise Bowen
Image caption Louise-Marie Bowen said it took two-and-a-half hours to get ready and one-and-a-half hours to "get it all off again"

Stephen Nicholas, production asset and studio manager for Dr Who, said: "Weeping Angels have a mystery to them which frightens whoever encounters them.

"They can appear anywhere and out of the blue and I think this is what's very clever in the creation of the character, they can appear without notice.

"Whatever the monster for whatever story, the Weeping Angels are going to be up there with the Daleks and the Cybermen."

He said the show used prosthetics company, Millennium FX, which worked with Steven Moffat who created the monsters, to "finalise the look we have today".

"It was an incredible and stressful process as we had to work with schedules, budget restraints and also how were we going to achieve the stone-like feel that they needed to be," he said.

"All in all the Weeping Angels turned out better than we imagined and still scare us."

Image caption The Weeping Angels reappear on this weekend's 12th and final episode of series nine, titled Hell Bent

In her time on Doctor Who, Bowen played a number of different monsters and filmed in the Tardis, spaceships and in caves in Monmouthshire.

"I've been a Silurian, a peg doll and a handbot," she said. "But Weeping Angels are my favourite as you get most reaction - although peg dolls are very scary and as a child I was afraid of peg dolls and rag dolls.

"I once did a Doctor Who convention and dressed up as a peg doll and had to jump out and scare people, which was fantastic - I couldn't do that as a Weeping Angel and connect with the real-life audience.

"But when I tell people I was a Weeping Angel they don't believe me until I show them a photo - or they joke that I've got the best Halloween costume."

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