So after the death of the Doctor's companion Clara, in last weekend's episode, much of the world's Who fanbase are in mourning. Got a message to comfort them?
My message for them would be life is tough. But Doctor Who is never quite what it seems. We haven't told a lie. The story is the story. The Doctor is not going to rest. He is not going to accept that is the last time he will see Clara. The next two episodes, I think, are great and they are driven obviously by the events of last week. They are wonderful episodes ... very strange, very compelling. I don't want to give anything away and I am not being coy about it, it's just more fun not to know.
It must have been an interesting day shooting that death scene.
Yes. Jenna, who plays Clara, I am so fond of and she is a great person to have around. She introduced me to the show really. She was the first person who showed me around the Tardis ... the idea that she is not going to be around any more saddens me. Though I do see her - because we do exist in real life as Peter and Jenna. I think when you have a scene like that, when two characters say goodbye to each other it is infused with the affection - if you feel the affection - for that human being. Maybe it is a way of expressing how much you care about that person without having to go through the embarrassment of the thing in real life.
That's the thing that Doctor Who has long done too - a fantasy series grounded in human emotion.
I always felt this way about it, even as a child. I think people don't like to talk about it because it's discouraging to toy manufacturers and people who want to sell the programme very aggressively, but there is a melancholy to it. There is a powerful strange melancholy that is very present and in moments like that it becomes very evident. It's the only show - the whole thing about regeneration is a strange kind of pre-echo of death - it's the first time that kids get to see what happens when someone vanishes and yeah it's a very powerful thing.
Doctor Who is a show that is always referring to its past, which it did a lot of during the 50th anniversary. But isn't the risk that is starts playing only to its established fans and doesn't reach new people?
I don't know. This is an interesting question. I certainly think that our intention is not to play simply to the people who would watch it anyway, grateful as we are for their attention. I certainly find in my life moving around in the real world, I get a lot of attention from people who are not [old] Doctor Who fans and are enthusiastic about the show and do watch it, who have rituals about it because it is a family show and they do like to watch it at family times. I think it is important that it reaches out. I don't want it to be in a cul de sac.
Is it still a family show? The last episode had the harrowing death of a major character ...
I think it is. One of the things that is interesting when you come out and meet the audience ... they go from little toddlers to teenagers to hipsters to students to middle-aged people and old people and you have to tick all of those boxes and you have to entertain all of those people. There are very few shows that can do that. I think in essence it should be a show that the whole family can watch. That doesn't mean you can't take on complex or difficult ideas. You don't have to be childish to entertain children or to engage them.
You are the first Doctor Who who has played guitar - which you did in a previous life as well.
I have always played guitar. Not in any special way. I've always liked noodling about on guitar as a lot of middle-aged men do. I just mentioned it between seasons that it might be a fun idea on a list of things that might be fun or interesting for the Doctor to do. I didn't realise they would go with it but they did, which was lovely. I had this great day where I had to go about and find Doctor Who's guitar. We had to go to a vintage guitar shop and try lots of guitars on. I was a bit worried I was having a middle-age crisis that I would be wearing leather trousers as well as playing the guitar. But it's fun. It's just a fun thing.
And when you're not doing extended guitar solos, The Doctor has had some long speeches this season, like the one in that Zygon episode.
Yeah it was a really long speech. It's very unusual to have a speech of that length. The challenge is always to make it interesting. You can stand there and say it or find ways to colour it and shape it ... to make it alive - that's the whole point of acting. You have to make it look as if it's just happening and that can be quite challenging when you are with monsters and special effects, which often need a lot of tending and things are done over and over again. Trying to keep the spark of life in it is quite tough.
From the kids
As it's a family show, we asked some younger fans what they wanted to know about Doctor Who
Tim (13): How do you feel about Clara/Jenna leaving the show?
I feel very sad about Clara/Jenna leaving the show because she's a great friend and she's made me feel very, very welcome. I think the Doctor has needed Clara because she has made him more amenable to other people. One of the things we did when I came in was try to make him a little more spiky and distant and I think she recognised that and tried to make him more accessible, which is fun I think. So I think he is going to find it difficult in that way in the future.
Eloise (9): Which was your favourite episode to film and why?
I like Dalek episodes. At the opening of this season it was great to work with [Dalek leader] Davros, who was played by Julian Bleach who is a wonderful actor. To work with him, with his mask on, was amazing. And also in that same episode we were in a Dalek city and we went to the Dalek control room and we had, I think, 20 real Daleks in a room. A lot of them were old-fashioned Daleks. The BBC doesn't have a storeroom full of Daleks, it's got a storeroom with about six Daleks in it. We wanted more, so we put out a call to all the Dalek builders of Britain, of which there are a huge number. Many more than you think. And they build their Daleks to very high specifications. Lots of those Daleks came from private collections.
Billy (10): What's the funniest thing that has happened while you have been filming an episode?
Well of course, lots of the funniest things to happen tend to be funny only to those of us who are there, which tend to be workplace gags. I think the thing other people might find funny was when there was previously talk about another companion - an actress' name was being bandied around as a replacement even before Jenna had gone. I was filming one day and turned around and Jenna was wearing a cardboard mask of that actress' face, which she thought was hilarious. But I didn't laugh.
Madeleine (12): There have been so many Doctor Whos. How did you make the character your own?
I don't know if I have. Doctor Who exists already, so you just come along and occupy that space. In a way that is a great benefit to playing the part because sometimes people say to me, "That was a bit like Tom Baker" or "That was a bit like Jon Pertwee" or "Chris Eccleston". But I am not really doing anything. People are just seeing those people through the current incarnation. So in a way I don't set out to make it my own, I just play my sequences as best I can.