Somebody called Truman is at my door..? On 24 Sept 2000, Nigel Fairs popped round to
our house for a chat about his time on the Audio Visuals...

 

Truman: The Early Years

I have a very strong memory of the first Doctor Who that I saw, which was of the Doctor and his companions hopping from circle to circle, and I have no idea what that's from, but I remember the daleks being in it, I may be wrong, so I've no idea what it was. It would probably have been when I was about 3 (1966) or something. I remember quite a lot of the Patrick Troughton stuff. Jon Pertwee was my Doctor, in fact I didn't get heavily, seriously into it until the Three Doctors, although I'd always watched it, and loved it, it was that point that I got fan boyish, because I had a Radio Times with all three of them on, which I just thought was the best thing ever. I thought it was absolutely amazing, and I really got heavily into that, and I wrote to Jon Pertwee several times, sent him stupid little questionnaires. He did write back, I've got a whole load of signed photographs from Jon Pertwee, Katy Manning and Elizabeth Sladen and Patrick Troughton, before he died, so I really got into it then.

But I do remember the Patrick Troughton stuff, I remember the Tardis being invisible at the beginning of one, and then walking into a field, I have no idea what that's from. But that was definitely Patrick Troughton. I remember them repeating Spearhead from Space, knowing that I'd seen it before and really excited that it was on again, and my father was saying to me, I'm sure you've seen this one. And I remember saying "No! No I've no idea..." So really Jon Pertwee was my Doctor. I thought Tom Baker was a bit silly when he came in, I didn't like him, I didn't like him at all, and then I suddenly got it. After a little while, I thought, "Ah, I do like this"

When I was 12 I did 3 seasons, with two or three people in them, and "Doomed to the Daleks" was the second serial, and it was televised on BBC South, on "Hey Look, that's me", it was awful. I could give you a copy of the Radio Times interview, it was the most embarrassing thing, they made me hold up a poster of Tom Baker with the face cut out, that's more embarrassing than 'Truman in distress'. After that went out on the telly I was mercilessly bullied by not only the pupils but some of the teachers, and in fact I left the school a year after, it was just dreadful, so after that in 1977 I became a closet Doctor Who fan.

When "Hey look, that's me" rang me a few years later to ask, because I was the first person on the programme, asked me if I'd go back, I said "Absolutely, No" and slammed the phone down on them, so I wasn't even mentioned. A lot of people who are in the industry of my generation, who were Doctor Who fans, went into the industry just to be creative in a Doctor Who sort of way, because they wanted to be involved with it. I suppose that was my way into it.

When I went to the new school, because I wasn't publicly doing Doctor Who, I kind of got into the acting side more, and that's why I went to Bretton Hall. I was going to go and get a degree so I could teach, as I had taught drama, speech and drama therapy occasionally, and I liked the scenery, it's set in the Yorkshire sculpture park, and it really is beautiful. In fact Linda Baker, who is 'Pisces' went there as well, at the same time, and so did Mark Thomas, who's a stand up comedian, he was in my group, and so did Beatty Edney, who is Silvia Sim's daughter.

Season One

I thought the AV's were great, the first one I ever heard was the Time Ravagers, and I thought the production values were excellent, not what I was expecting at all, I was very impressed by that, and by Nick of course. Another of the first ones I heard was Cloud of Fear, where the Tardis dies, and things like that. I really liked that one, and the premise behind it.

In fact I did that with more than a messiah, putting him through an emotional crisis, that was a physical crisis, because it was to do with drug addiction.

I suppose I must have listened to the Mutant Phase, with the wrap around cover, that was quite good as well, that was all very Nick Briggs. So I just thought this sounds excellent, I want a bit of this.

I met Bill at a convention and he was selling these things. So I said I'd have a couple of those, and if you ever need any actors I'm one. But he didn't take me at all seriously. And then I started collecting them, but this was the first season and this must have been about 1985 or something, which is I presume when they were first making them. I collected the first and second season, and then I wrote to them saying how I really like it, and once again I'm an actor. And then I think Bill was probably going to ignore it, but Nick Briggs... he recognised my name from having done the BBC South thing. So he said to Bill get him along because it would be funny to laugh at him. So that's how I got involved, and I went and did 'Minuet in Hell' in Bill's sitting room, with Michael Wisher, and that was a great thrill.

Season Two

So in Minuet in Hell, I played Ogolien, and somebody who sounded like they were out of Oliver Twist, that was great fun. We went down to Southampton, Patricia Merrick was dubbed in later, I think she was going out with Bill at the time, and that was very strange walking into that, where everyone knew each other, and I recognised some of the voices, Nick Briggs' voice, and I recognised Michael Wisher obviously.

My death scene, which went on and on and on as a joke, was actually used in the play, and you can hear me laughing in my death rattle. I'd been doing my own productions and I'd got other people involved so I was used to the process. In fact I went back the next week, and helped Bill edit it, I bet he's forgotten that. I was doing all the sound effects and things like that. I thought it was a really good one.

I think the character based ones worked really well, like Minuet in Hell, I'll be interested to hear Paul McGann doing that one, because he's a good actor, and I'd imagine he'd give the doctor a bit of character development.

Season Three

I think they must have suggested Truman to me, maybe it when I went down to do the sound effects with Bill. I do remember them saying they got the name Truman from a beer mat, because I thought Truman Crouch was a stupid name.

Secret of Nematoda

So I joined in Secret of Nematoda, which was brilliant fun. I remember laughing hysterically at Nick Briggs house, where we were doing the rehearsal because Lorraine (someone) had visions of doing it with a Lt. Uhura type thing in her ear, it was great fun. I think early on I got quite creative with Nick Briggs, although maybe not in that one. We were all Nematodans in that one.

I think Nick didn't have Truman in mind to be the companion when he wrote that, because the companions usually have something interesting about them in their first adventure, but there is nothing interesting at all about Truman in that story.

I am the Sarah Jane Smith of the Audio Visuals universe, although my costume you wouldn't see Elizabeth Sladen in.

More than a Messiah

I wrote More than a Messiah before we did Secret of Nematoda, so I had no idea who Truman was at all, all I knew was his name and that I was going to play it. So in fact in the original draft of More than a Messiah, I wrote Truman out after a few scenes, he got shot and he was unconscious for the rest of the adventure. But then they said to me, and I'm sure Trish won't mind me saying this, because she said to me the other day "I was crap in those", which I think is unfair on herself, because I don't think she was, but they said to me "You've shot Truman, can't you do that to Trisha's character because she can't act", and that's what happened, so I got to be in it more than Trish was.

So I wrote him as a fairly whinging companion, really.

They were all done in Bush House, they used to take the Portastudio in, they used the mics, because they were really good quality mics, and we used their doors and windows and stuff, and that is when Nick and I started getting creative, and I thought that I really like working with this man.

Gill Longdon was in the theatre in education company we set up in Burnley, as soon as we left college. So she came down for that, and ended up going out with Bill for a couple of years, I think. And Linda I'd gone to school with, and Bretton Hall with. So I think I wrote the parts with them in mind. I was living in a bedsit, running the Old Bric Youth Theatre at the time, in Maidstone; I did all the sound effects with Corn Flakes and stuff, in my bedsit. And all the voices of the planet, so my neighbours must have thought I was a right loony. And then I did the music, and I'd never done music before, and I did that in an afternoon.

I like all drama to have language that you can actually imagine people saying, with some of the Doctor Who stuff you can't have that. And I used to hate it when you got scripts with language you just wouldn't say.

Jumping ahead a bit, when it came to do More than a Messiah for video, with Colin Baker as the stranger, I remember watching one scene in the caves and thinking, gosh this is really nice, because the stranger was the Doctor, obviously, at that time. I thought this is really nice because actually this foreshadows some of Sylvester's Doctor's darkness, and Colin played those scenes very well.

More than a Messiah on video was when I first met Sophie, and Colin's a very nice man, he's fiercely intelligent. I think Bill did a really good job on More than a Messiah, it's dated now, but at the time I thought it was splendid, and that's were I met Peter Miles, who's a dear friend of ours, and Barbara Shelley the Hammer horror actress was in that too, and she was wonderful, because there was a point during filming where we had all just had enough, we were tired and pissed off with shooting in Sandy Balls, everybody was getting a bit fractious, and Barbara went round each of the actors, stage hands, and cameramen, and said a little encouraging word to them, and I watched her do it, and you could see everyones ego being slightly massaged, in a really nice way, and she came up to me, and it was my turn, and I just said, "Barbara don't worry, I've seen what your doing, and I think it's admirable, and I'm fine"

Enclave Irrelative

 I wouldn't have minded the rhyming couplets, if we'd got to play them as rhyming couplets, but we didn't. We had to speak it naturally, not in rhythm. To be honest I thought the script for Enclave Irrelative was bollocks. I thought it was dreadful. I thought it was better when I heard it, it made no sense whatsoever when we made it.

There is one thing about the actual tape, which is a crying shame, because they had Barry Killerby and Michael Wisher playing these two goblins from hell, and they were playing it like Frankie Howard, and it was really very funny, and they just voice-effected them to buggery, so you couldn't understand a word they said, which is such a shame. Linda Baker and I drove up together, and then on the way back down she turned round and said "Did you understand a word of that?" and we laughed for the rest of the trip.

Sword of Orion

Was Sword of Orion really that popular? I was one of the Cybermen in that, because they wrote me out, because I was a Dalek [Agent] or something, it was something that I just did not understand at all. That was in Nick's bedroom, in Peckham. I kept saying "Leader" every third line, as the 80's second-in-command Cyberman would say it alot.

Carny

Carny had Andy Stocker in it, I really enjoyed that one, apart from the fact I had a splitting headache, but it wasn't very popular was it, nobody seemed to like it. It was all about drug addiction, and I was a dalek at that point, Truman was a dalek agent by the end of Sword of Orion, and I just could not get my head around this stupid supposed to be a dalek.

Because when they said you're a dalek, I started to play it a little bit strange, and Bill would say "Oh No, that's too obvious that your a dalek", so I'd play it normal and he'd say "No, you've got to remember you're a dalek", and I just got so confused. Some of those scenes are beyond belief because it is a really difficult thing to play, someone who is not actually who your playing, but is pretending to be who your playing.

Sophie had the same problem in Genocide Machine; I thought she did it quite well actually.

Planet of Lies

Planet of Lies, my favourite... For some god unknown reason, Bill decided to direct it as if it were a stage play, so we'd be rehearsing these scenes, and he'd say "No I think you'd come in from the left", and he made Nick lie down on the table, and I had to go and take the plugs out of his brain, it was just absurd.

He gets some barking ideas sometimes, really weird. I think he was frustrated with just the audio medium, and he really wanted to do video at that point, so he thought that a way to do it was to direct his radio plays as if they were videos, which was fine for him, but as an actor it is one of the most stupid things you could do. If you've got any idea about technique and somebody says "You need to be walking up to a table" then you just turn away from the microphone and turn into the field, you don't go to the other end of the studio, walk towards where the microphones going to be and sit down on the table.

I remember tempers getting a little bit frayed on that one. But I did enjoy being a dalek, as I could do some dalek acting in that one when I died, I liked that bit.

I'm pretty sure we knew it was going to go on, I don't remember approaching it as if it was the last one, I would imagine that we knew that Gary was going to take it on, and carry it on. I remember when I first heard that Gary was going to take it on he actually said to me I really like the character of Truman, so don't worry, and I remember saying to him "As long as I'm not a dalek, I can cope"

Alan Lear was either very ill, I can't remember, something was very wrong there I remember. I met Arthur Wallis, and Erica Galloway was well fit, bit of a problem with a receding hairline. I don't remember Bill going.

The ending of Planet of lies was a good strong ending, a bit like the ending of Pisces episode six (grin), which I haven't edited yet, another ten years...

Season Four

Deadfall I had more of an emotional part in Deadfall, I remember being so intimidated because Nick got a whole load of fresh actors in from Rose Bruford, where he trained, and they were all excellent, and all really nice. And I remember thinking, oh my god it's all these really good actors who all know each other, and they are used to working with each other, so they were great in their scenes. And little old me, and I remember thinking, "They must think I'm dreadful", because I was over the other side of the studio, and they were doing their bits down there. And I remember being very uplifted when, at the end of one of my little emotional bits, when I said "Doctor, don't leave me" or something like that, I was in a tank or something, they all gave me a round of applause. It might have been completely sarcastic, but I remember being uplifted, and thinking they don't think I'm so bad.

They were all nice; I thought that was a good script, actually.

Justyce, that was the start of Justyce, with a 'Y'. I think that was quite a good idea, at the beginning, but by the end it just got so complicated and bizarre. Nick was sick and tired of it by the time he was writing Justyce, I think, because Gary was getting more and more particular...

I found out from John, that Justyce was meant to be all hinging on my character, on Truman, their was a draft written all hinging on the fact I'd been some space cadet, or something. But the production office, in other words Gary, vetoed that. Gary wrote Deadfall, which was great.

Requiem

I edited and directed Requiem, I loved Requiem, and I thought that was one of the best Radio scripts. I thought it was a really simple script, an effective script, and a radio script. It was very well written, not all the Audio Visuals scripts were radio scripts, a lot of them were Doctor Who scripts that happened not to have a picture, which is fine for Doctor Who fans, but as pieces of radio drama, they wouldn't have worked.

I think that's what went wrong in the end, in my humble opinion, not that I've ever said it to Gary, or John, or Nick or anything. But I think they got too complicated, and too sci-fi, and you can't tell what's going on. But Requiem is just a few characters in fairly but not very lengthy scenes, so you can actually get into a scene and get to understand the characters and what's happening and it's simple and it's well laid out, a good idea, I thought it was one of the best ones, in my humble opinion.

Nigel Peever was in that, playing Gregori Glasst. I think he was going to play Gregori Glasst as Patrick Troughton, at one point, and it really worked, but for some reason it was decided that it wasn't appropriate. He does a fantastic Patrick Troughton impression. I remember the scene where Gregori Glasst dies as being quite moving.

The thing about doing these as radio drama, rather than Doctor Who on tape, then you can explore the character more, the emotive side of it, which is something the TV series shied away from, although less so in the early 80's stuff. The end of Earthshock, which touched on the more human... and actually the later Sylvester McCoy stuff, where they explored Ace and all that.

Cuddlesome

Cuddlesome was originally Cuddleson, something to do with this mad scientists idea of creating a son for himself, an amalgam of teddy bear and son, which kind of got caught into Cuddlesome. John reminded me that we did it in just three hours, which just seems extraordinary. When I think of More than a Messiah, we obviously rehearsed the whole play, without recording a thing, and then recorded it. With Cuddlesome we must have just rehearsed a scene then recorded it, really quick.

We only had the studio for three hours or something, in the Dungeon. Hideous place, but cheap. I enjoyed it, although the plot of Cuddlesome is so basically flawed, the Martin Milne thing, Askran set up this huge company of teddy bears to find Martin Milne, who is due to be an investigative journalist in the future, and the way he is finding this out, is to get the teddy bears to ask the boys their names, and it's just so stupid, he's got a brother who says he's Martin. It's just a ridiculous thing, but then that's Doctor Who

I chose the pseudonym Neil Douglas, as my middle name is Douglas.

Cuddlesome was reviewed by the DWAS, and they called it Doctor Who with teeth, which I really liked, because Cuddlesome is quite a dark story, despite the teddy bear motif, it was a complete rip off of Terror of the Autons, it was meant to be Terror of the Autons, taken to an extreme, and why not I say.

Sergeant Furlong in Cuddlesome was played by one of my first pupils, because when I was in my teens I used to teach in the local theatre, and I had this group of 8 year olds, and I met them when I was doing the Audio Visuals, and this tiny chap was now a young man, and I said you couldn't do a Doctor Who for me up in London, and he was thrilled bless him. Not a very entertaining story, cut that. ;*}

Endurance

Endurance was written by Erica Galloway, and was the one were I caught a cold, and I put some extra lines in like "Not having found a cure for the common cold", that was about the time that Nick Briggs and I started improvising an awful lot, and changing things around while we were recording. I seem to remember it was quite fun putting little bits here and there.

Gary was a creative input the whole time, which was good as he had a view of the whole play. Mind you I think Nick and John were taking more of an artistic line with it as well, with quite a lot of input into the Justyce side of it, and the script editing side of it, John was very much in that role. I was going to be the script editor at one point, but that never happened.

Endurance has the Silurians in, and there's a really atmospheric bit in that with a man who got carried away with this ancient fear, I thought that was very strong and spooky. With Secret of Nematoda, we got together the day before at Nick's house, or Bill's house in Peckham. We read the whole thing, and had a laugh, which was good. When you listen to it, it all hangs together and everyone knows what he or she is doing. Endurance, Mythos and all that we didn't, or at least I didn't, I just came in and did the scenes. Rehearse/Record, and it wasn't usually in order... I think by the time Endurance came along, we had developed a good working relationship, and we were bouncing things off each other.

Mythos and an excellent adventure

I quite enjoyed Mythos. Truman's Excellent Adventure was dreadful; it was appalling. For quite some while before we did it, there was talk about doing a spin-off, because Endurance was over running or something, and I started writing something, and then all of a sudden we had to rush into the studio the next day and do Truman's Crappy Rubbish, Gary wrote it, and I read it and thought "This is the biggest pile of pants I've read in my life".

I started rewriting bits of dialogue because it was completely unactable, as well as the whole premise of it being dire. It was dreadfully performed, dreadfully written; it was appalling. It was going to link in to some other plot, maybe to do with Justyce, that character was a starting board for something else that was going to happen in the last story. The character of the Time Monitor was due to have a more important part, which is why one forgave it at the time. I remember just doing this voiceover.

Subterfuge

Subterfuge was two stories, with one story in the other one. Did Posedor and Truman meet in that? This is when it started getting a bit bizarre and over complicated, for me. I think it lost its way then. If it's a radio play, you have to be able to follow them; it's not like videos where you can hang on to things.

Geopath

There was another one, Geopath, which when I read it I thought, "Oh, this is really good", but then when we came to act it the lines weren't speakable, at all. It had really good descriptions, and really good ideas, but as a piece of radio drama, it stank, so Nick and I rewrote all our scenes, which is why I think they got rid of me, because we'd be in the green room waiting to do the scene and we would literally be rewriting the next scene, to make it actable, and we got completely carried away.

And Gary would be doing his nut, in the studio, because every time we came in we'd have made actable dialogue. I'd go in and say "I can't say this, Truman wouldn't say this". I think this is why Truman was written out of the last story, I may be wrong, but I have this gut feeling that Gary...

Geopath was recorded without Truman ending, they rewrote the ending scene, and we recorded it at the same session as Pisces episode 2, in Bush house. Nick and Gary were both in that story, so they came to that session, and we did my leaving scene, and that was dropped in. I actually get a leaving scene, it's not as good as Sarah's leaving scene, but at least I've got one.

Nick can act anything. Of course his passion is the Daleks, he loves the Daleks, I've seen him edit his plays, he has one of those plastic Dalek things, and he edits the whole thing in that, it's very sad, he needs some sort of help.

They were living in the same house at the time and they used to interview each other, after breakfast. I think I was only interviewed once, for an on-tape special. I think the last season was all spread out over a couple of years at least.

Season Five

In fact there were vague plans for season 5, where I wrote a synopsis about the Doctor seeing Truman again on the planet he'd left him, but Truman had become a terrorist and was holding up a bunch of hostages on a subway train, and the Doctor was one of the victims, so there would be this small dilemma between the Doctor knowing he had to defeat the bad guys, but Truman was one of the bad guys, so who should he side with, but it turns out Truman is in the wrong, and gets killed.

We were definitely going to kill off Truman, as there weren't any plans to have my character in it again. That would be quite nice, Truman being embittered at being left on this planet; after all he'd been through with the Doctor. But it was never made and instead I went on and did Pisces.

I was off on a six month tour after Geopath, but I had come back before they had even finished the script for Justyce. I could have been there, bastards. To be honest I had really got into Pisces by then, I was really enjoying that, and Nick was involved with that, so was Gary, and so was John, so it was just the same people.

I think I was spurred on by the fact I was written out of the Audio Visuals, and I wanted to carry on doing them.

Pisces

Pisces is about recognising something special about yourself, because each story revolves around someone with a special power, and Pisces is combing Time and Space for these people, and gathering them up for some final confrontation, with the baddie of the piece Darkness, but he's also after them, so it's this sort of quest. I put in lots of little references to Sargol and things like that, plus there was a character that really was Leela, called Alitza.

We recorded the first two in Broadcasting House, and the rest in my bedroom, apart from episode six, which is still being edited, we recorded in 1994, in a studio down in Brighton, and that's going very well.

I'm really into Voyager at the moment, so I want to take some of the characters from Pisces, and put them on a Voyager type thing, so what I'm going to do with Pisces, is when I've edited episode six which comes to a kind of cliff-hanger, I'm going to write a new episode which finishes that story arc as it were, in other words jump to episode twelve, and then send the characters off on another quest, a new series. Pisces: The Voyage Home, watch this space.

I reedited episode one, because I've gone all digital now, and I wanted to see what it was like, and how easy it was, and it is easy.

If I did get it up and running again, I'd want to make it an earner for the people involved, rather than give the plays away on the internet. It was fair enough ten years ago, when I was asking people who were fresh out of drama school. The people I would be asking to do it now are pros, and for me doing that entire creative element for nothing galls me a little bit, now, not then because I gladly did it then.

Recent History

I got a bit fed up with it all in 1993, when all the 30th anniversary stuff was going on, like Children in Need, and all the anniversary programmes, and I just thought "No, I've had too much of this now". The first half of the McGann film, I loved, but the second half...

Professional Audios

Bill approached me for Guests for the Night, although he hasn't even heard Pisces, in fact I only told him very recently that that was Pisces rewritten. Maybe it was John Ainsworth who approached me saying that Bill wanted scripts, and John said "Why not rewrite Guests for the Night", which was one of the Pisces episodes that John was in, because he said it was really very Doctor Who, so I did. It was lovely to work with Sylvester and Sophie, I was a very camp zombie, and the line about Mr. Crouch was my nod towards the Audio Visuals.

I really enjoyed Ghosts, although I think it's been sadly unappreciated, I was really pleased with the way it was edited, by Harvey Summers in Bexhill, and I went down there, it was the first time I saw all the digital stuff, I worked with him on Ghosts, and told him about some very specific ideas I had for the Choice as well. He stuck rigidly to what I wrote for the Choice.

Personally I think they came out very well. Actually in Ghosts I tried to put in that emotional nuance, that I think works well in audio. The final scene of Ghosts came across very well at the recording.

I didn't like Blood Sports, which was another Pisces rewrite; I honestly think Bill should have released the Pisces episode, because whoever he got in to edit that should be shot. I was so bitterly disappointed as the cast were great in the studio, Sylvester said this was a really good script; everyone was really up for it. Scenes cut, scenes without sound effects, music that sounds so distant it could be coming over the PA, dreadful I haven't been able to listen to all of it, I was virtually crying when I heard it, I couldn't believe that was going out with my name. Such a shame.

I think the Pisces version is better even though the acting, I might re-edit Blood Sports the Sylvester version in my own style.

The Mistress

Then we did the Choice, but that came out first I think. Lalla Ward, that's another person I worked with, and went gooey over, she's great. The Choice is my favourite of the ones I did with Bill, I hated the scriptwriting, because Bill first came to me and said we're going to do a Lalla Ward Romana and K9 series, and I thought "Oh, fantastic" that's going to be as camp as Christmas, it's going to be great fun because they're just lovely characters, and Lalla Ward is just such fun, so I had all these ideas about, camp isn't the word, light hearted sci-fi season 17, and then he said "No, we want gripping, emotional drama from this series, we want to make it different from the other ones", and I thought "How the hell do you write a gripping drama about a tin dog", it's just barking mad.

So it was a really traumatic thing writing that, because I tried to do what he asked, and it just wasn't working, so I put a little humour into it, and then he wanted to cut the humour out, but then you don't get the characters, so it was a bit of a mess, but it worked in the end which was a bit of a fluke.

I'd rather of written what instinctively I felt was right for those two, because when you get those two into a studio, it's just brilliant, and they fire off each other and they're really good actors. With Lalla and John you've got people who have a feel for what they're doing and they love it, you just let them fly with it really.

Cyberons

Recently we did the Cyberons, fantastic masks. I played a detective in a very short scene, I'm a great friend of Jo Castleton, we go back a long way and she was playing the lead, and I went down to play the detective, to Leatherhead, and because I had such a good day I said to Bill "Can I stay on for the afternoon", so I got be a walk-on, and I stayed on for the next day as well, because I enjoyed myself so much in the afternoon, I'm walking on in about four or five scenes, as different characters.

The worst thing you can do with me and Jo Castleton, who have been corpsing with each other, ever since we first went on tour in the Snow Queen in 1812 is actually what they did with my character, which was I had to wait outside in the corridor, with Jo inside, I had to open the door and look straight in her eyes and say something like "Your mother's dead". Every time I came through the door we just cracked up, then the other actors cottoned on to the fact I was giggling, so they were tickling me outside the door, it was just dreadful, but great fun, but I did have my wallet pinched.

I do think that is a good script by Lance, it is a really good idea, it's about Cyberons infiltrating the net, as far as I can gather, and having an affect on humanity, a really clever idea.

Patricia Merrick (Ria) was a runner in the Cyberon thing, it was nice to see her after 15 years, probably won't see her for another 15.

Sarah Jane

I got to act with Elizabeth Sladen in Walking to Babylon, it meant something to me, ahh just walking in to that studio, and there she was looking exactly the same as she did in 1977. Louise Jameson next please..

Bernice Summerfield

Dragon's Wrath was just completely baffling, I didn't understand a word of that either. Lisa was there and she was hilarious, I really get on well with her.

Babies

Sophie's lovely, I love Sophie to bits, you know she's got a baby, Adam, who was born in December I think, she bought him to the recording of the Big Finish thing, so we spent the whole time ogling this gorgeous little baby.

I've just done Summoning of the Scourge, which has a very good script, with Lisa, Sylvester and Sophie, we spent the whole day talking about babies. I did get told off because Sophie and I were giggling and things.

I'd like to do some more, I always enjoy them very much, whether or not I'm seen as one of the opposition because of my involvement with Mr. Baggs, I don't know, that's up to them silly boys, I want to crack their heads together, and you can put that on your website. I've nothing to do with this rivalry thing, but everyone who you talk to who's an actor or writer for either of the things, thinks they're being silly.

They're both very creative people, they're both doing some really good work, and that should be it.

I met JNT once when we were doing the mousetrap, because he was Nick Courtney's best friend, and I said to him, because I see him around Brighton from time to time, "You live in Saltdene don't you, in a bungalow", and he said "Well actually no, I live in Rottingdene, in a house", I said "What's the difference?" and he said "100,000 actually", and didn't talk to me for the rest of the evening.

My embarrassing encounters with the Doctor Who fold.

Star Struck

I thought Sunmakers was fab, intelligent and really quite exciting, and I loved Louise Jameson, I just thought she was wonderful. I saw her on stage several times, I suppose because she'd been in Doctor Who and everything, and she's a brilliant stage actress, and in fact I met her in '96, we went to see an adaptation of a midsummer nights dream up at the Barbican, and John knows her, so he got round to the back at the end, and I knew I was going to meet Louise Jameson all through this thing, because I get incredibly star struck. At the end John said "Hi Lou" and all this, and I shook Louise Jameson by the hand and I just said "Beautiful", which just makes me die when I think of it. I was completely and utterly star struck.

The Mousetrap

It's something about childhood figures isn't it, because I was sort of the same with Nick Courtney, because I worked with him for a year, and at the beginning of that I was very aware that he was a figure from my childhood, and it was just going to be so weird. And you do get over it when you're working with them I suppose but sometimes, even 8 months into it, I'd be on stage with him and be in a scene, and I'd suddenly turn round and think "Oh my god! That's the Brigadier, I've just said lines to the Brigadier!"

You're suddenly that child again. I remember being so moved, he got married to Karen about halfway through our year in the Mousetrap, he had the wedding in the morning, then we had a Saturday Matinee and then a Saturday Evening performance, and I remember looking at him during the matinee, and he'd obviously had a couple of glasses of champagne at the wedding, and he was just swaying gently, and there was just a look in his face which was different to normal, and he came up to me between the shows and he said "Nigel, I've never been happier than I was this morning"