Doctor Who star chats about Christmas show in Northampton

Cast of Peter and the Starcatcher
Cast of Peter and the Starcatcher

You know you are talking to a fellow Doctor Who fan when you casually mention the similarities between the debut stories of both Tom Baker and Peter Capaldi as the Timelord.

But for Dan Starkey, an actor who has become a notable, albeit mostly unseen, presence on the show over the last few years, he is delighted to be appearing in Peter and the Starcatcher coming to Northampton’s Royal & Derngate to indulge his inner fan.

Dan said: “I’ve never appeared here before, but this was where my favourite Doctor Who story The Talons of Weng-Chiang was partly filmed, so it is a delight to be here.”

And on the verge of the story’s 40th anniversary as well I venture.

Dan said: “As I know because it will be my 40th birthday as well next year.”

But temporarily moving away from the series which he has made his name, he was pleased to be in the European premiere of this show which runs until Saturday December 31.

Dan added: “I am playing Mr Smee, but it is not just that character I play, there are parts where I play musical instruments, we do some singing and dancing.

“Stylistically, it is very similar to the stage show of The 39 Steps, where lots of people play different parts.

“I appeared in that show and it has helped staging this. It is tremendously exciting.”

Peter and the Starcatcher is the winner of five Tony Awards for its hugely successful run on Broadway, this fascinating and funny prequel brings one of classic literature’s most beloved characters to life

Dan added: “I wasn’t massively familiar with the show before I was cast in it. I was aware that it was a tremendous success in Broadway, but you have to seek to put your own interpretation on it.

The story sees the Starcatcher apprentice Molly as she embarks on a daring mission to stop a precious cargo of stardust from falling into the wrong hands. And meet a very special orphan and help solve the mystery of how he became ‘the boy who never grew up’.

Twelve actors playing more than 100 characters use ingenious stagecraft, inventive storytelling and live music to whisk audiences to a magical world of lost boys, pirates, and mermaids.

Moving back on to Doctor Who, Dan is a familiar presence, but mainly not face as he is covered to play a number of different Sontarans in the show.

He said: “When I did the first one, they had cast Christopher Ryan as the main Sontaran and they needed someone who was a fairly similar size and shape. Plus I must have been pestering my agent for ages to get me on to Doctor Who.

“It is three and a half hours in the make up chair, but that time does help me to get into the character.”

And while he got to appear alongside David Tennant as the Doctor, he didn’t really expect to become a semi regular on the show.

Dan added: “I did the Sarah Jane Adventures, playing another Sontaran and then in David Tennant’s last one where I got hit round the head with a mallet and I thought that would be nice.

“Then I got asked to come back and appear with Matt Smith, and the dialogue just flew off the page, there was a lot of humour that came with the character. It was very different to all the other Sontarans where I had essentially been evil.

Such was the popularity of his character alongside Madame Vastra and Jenny that there were calls for a spin off show featuring the trio at the time. I ask Dan if there was any truth in those rumours.

Dan said: “I think the best thing about them been in Doctor Who is that if they have four good ideas for episodes featuring that gang, they can make them really good rather than stretching it out and trying to do 10 episodes with those characters and the other six then aren’t quite so good.”

The trio also returned for the first story alongside Peter Capaldi as the Doctor a similarity with Tom Baker’s first story when several recurring characters appeared alongside the new Doctor.

Dan said: “Unusually for television, much of it is shot out of order, but for that story, everything was recorded more or less in sequence as you see it in the episode.

“And while it might have been the first, Peter settled into the part so quickly. He was in that initial sequence saying he was a bit nervous, but you could never tell at all. He’s a great Doctor.”

For further details or tickets to see Peter and the Starcatcher, call the box office on 01604 624811 or visit www.royalandderngate.co.uk.