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At the official Doctor Who convention last weekend we conducted an interview with a difference: 12-year-old Alex Hill, son of SFX Ad Manager Adrian sat down with genre legend Mark Sheppard and asked him questions. Production editor Russell Lewin was there to witness it. So read on for what may be the greatest SFX interview ever! Oh, and a certain Time Lord pops his head round the door at one point…
Alex: What’s it like working with Matt Smith?
Mark Sheppard: I tell you, Matt Smith is exactly like his character appears to be – he’s really kind and really nice. He’s just a lovely bloke, a really nice bloke to be with. You know when you see him on interviews, he’s exactly like that in real life. He’s my favourite Doctor. Who was your first Doctor?
Alex: It was David Tennant.
Mark: Interesting thing for me is I started out with Jon Pertwee and then Tom Baker came along and I thought he was a brilliant Doctor Who. And then through all the other incarnations no one really excited me as much as Tom Baker. I liked David [Tennant], I thought Christopher Eccleston was good, but Matt was something really spicy, something we haven’t seen in a Doctor, and he’s been getting better and better. Are you starting to like him more and more?
Alex: Yeah, I think he’s brilliant.
Mark: Good man. What do you think of Amy?
Alex: I like her but she hasn’t been in much Doctor Who lately. She was hardly in the Christmas special.
Mark: What about monsters?
Alex: I like the Cybermen and the Weeping Angels and the Silence.
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Mark: So who’s scarier, Weeping Angels or Silence?
Alex: Because, if they were real, in your bedroom at nighttime, you’d look at them and then one second later you’d forget about them. It’d be really scary.
Mark : Steven is a very scary man, thinking up those monsters. The Silence as an idea just gets scarier and scarier the more you think about it. Did you understand it the first time you saw it, or did you have to watch it again?
Alex: I had to watch it again the next day.
Mark: Did you sleep well after seeing them?
Alex: No, I had weird dreams.
Mark: At the start of the second episode, did you think Canton was a good guy or a bad guy?
Alex: I wasn’t sure… Are you American?
Mark: No, I’m not.
Alex: Because you sometimes speak American don’t you?
Mark: That’s right, because I’m playing an FBI agent. It was funny, Steven Moffat said we went all the way to America to get an Englishman to play an American.
At this point Matt Smith enters the room!
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Mark: Hey Matt, I’m being interviewed for SFX by this gentleman here.
Matt: Oh wow, cool! What’s your name?
Matt: Nice to meet you, Alex.
After several minutes of feverish excitement for the youngster while Matt signs various bits of merchandise, the lad plucks up the courage to ask his hero a question.
Alex: When you were 12 what posters did you have on your bedroom wall?
Matt: Footballers. Probably had the Forest team, one of Alan Shearer and the first girl I had on my wall was Cameron Diaz in The Mask . Cos I didn’t have Doctor Who when I was a kid, which was a shame, so I was all football, really.
Russell (helpfully interjecting): Matt was a great footballer!
Matt: Well I was alright…
Alex: I’ve got you on my wall!
Matt: Thanks! Well, I’ve got to go now but nice to meet you, little man.
Matt sweeps out of the room, leaving the little man very happy, and a bit dazed.
Mark: There, I told you he was lovely! Now, any more questions, Alex?
Alex: What do you think of the convention so far?
Mark: I think it’s great any chance I get to hang out with this lot.
Alex: How did you become famous?
Mark: I’m only a bit famous, I’m not really that famous…
Alex: How did you get to do Doctor Who ?
Mark: I was asked to do it. I didn’t even have to audition, they just asked me to do it. That’s probably because I was on a series called Battlestar Galactica and a series called Firefly and a series called Dollhouse which were known to the writers and producers of Doctor Who . I probably had the coolest role in Battlestar . It was the hardest, strangest role I’ve ever done.
Alex: Do you get recognised in the street?
Mark: Yes I do, and they’re all really nice to me. I think that’s because I play a bad guy most of the time and they’re a bit scared! People are generally really nice and I’ve gone from the stage of people going “you’re that bloke aren’t you” to actually knowing my name. Doctor Who helps with that too.
Alex: Would you like to see Matt Smith again?
Mark: Love to. He’s great isn’t he? He had me at fish fingers and custard.