Nicholas Burns reveals his delight at being cast as an evil 19th Century capitalist in Doctor Who and his express pleasure at getting punched by The Doctor!
What’s On TV caught up with Nicholas Burns who plays vile aristocrat, Lord Sutcliffe, in the next epsiode of Doctor Who called Thin Ice.
Back in 1814, the weather was so cold in London, the River Thames actually froze over and locals celebrated with a ‘frost fair’ on the ice. But as history records show, this was the last year it ever happened and in this week’s Doctor Who, viewers find out why.
One of the organisers of the amazing frost fair was Nicholas’s character, the awful Lord Sutcliffe…
“It’s almost impossible for us to believe now that a fast-flowing huge river like the Thames would get cold enough to freeze over,” said Nicholas, who’s best known as Benidorm’s posh holidaymaker Martin.
“But apparently it did, and a lot of entrepreneurial people made money out of it, which is true of Lord Sutcliffe, who spots it as an opportunity, because while the hustle and bustle of the fair is happening he can get on with his nefarious goings on.
“He’s your typical capitalist villain of that era, who’s totally out for himself, forever barking orders and expecting to be obeyed without question. He thinks he’s the elite, and he’s particularly nasty to the little street urchins he comes across.
“When Lord Sutcliffe first meets the Doctor it’s quite a memorable scene as he gets hit by him! It was such an honour to be playing someone so bad he gets thumped by the Doctor, who pretty much despises Sutcliffe from the word go. The scene was pretty exhilarating I have to say!”
Nicholas was amazed by the vast set, and how an 1814 version of frozen London could be so painstakingly recreated by the Doctor Who design team inside the Roath Lock studios in Cardiff.
“I’ve never worked on anything quite like that before in a single studio, especially the scale of it,” he said. “It was so convincing how the Thames was made to look frozen over, and especially creating the arches of the bridge over the river, all the ice and snow. It wasn’t cold at all either in the studio. It was hot inside under all the lights and we filmed it in the summer!
“The serpent monster in this story is huge, but I didn’t actually get to see it because it’s under the ice so out of view for Lord Sutcliffe, and was added in as part of the special effects post production. I haven’t seen the episode yet, but I’ve heard it’s very impressive. I’m sure my three kids will find it frightening. I’m looking forward to my family watching me.”
Nicholas revealed to us that he’s become a fan of Doctor Who since the sci-fi show was revived on BBC1 in 2005. “It’s been terrific watching all the Doctors and seeing it grow and change over the years. I wasn’t an obsessive Whovian, but I’m more of one now I’ve been in the show. I’d auditioned a few years back for a part in the Christmas special with Kylie Minogue but didn’t get it, so I’m glad I’ve finally got to do a Who!’
With Peter Capaldi leaving soon, and a new actor replacing him to be announced, Nicholas said he’d love to take over in the TARDIS if he was ever given the chance.
“Of course I’d love to. It would be a dream for most actors to be the Doctor! I have to say, though, I think they’ll go for a female Doctor next. Someone like Katherine Parkinson or Phoebe Waller-Bridge would be brilliant.”
Nicholas would also love to return to Benidorm one day as hapless holidaymaker Martin. “I did go back for some episodes quite a few series ago. It’s such a lovely show and I still watch it and adore it. Of course if I was asked back I’d be delighted to be in the series again.”
Nicholas guest stars in Doctor Who: Thin Ice on Saturday, 29 April at 7.20pm, BBC1