Doctor Who - Interview With Mark Strickson

mark strickland Mark Strickson is best known for appearing during the Fifth Doctor's era on the long-running TV series Doctor Who. There he played a character named (or possibly titled) Vislor Turlough. These days he has a different calling, though he frequently returns to the character through Big Finish's line of Doctor Who audio stories. I caught up with Mr. Strickson at the recent Gallifrey One convention in Los Angeles, and we chatted about Doctor Who, Steve "The Crocodile Hunter" Irwin and his thoughts on bringing Turlough back to TV. ME: So how did you end up getting involved with Big Finish€™s Doctor Who range? STRICKSON: You know, I can€™t remember. I think somebody very nice, like Jason or somebody like that, gave me a ring and said would I like to some Big Finishes? And I said, yeah, I€™d love to. I like the character of Turlough that I played in Doctor Who, and I like revisiting him. It€™s great to be back with Peter, and Janet, and Sarah. That€™s half the fun of it! ME: Oh, I would imagine! Like a class reunion you get paid to attend. STRICKSON: That€™s exactly what it is! And acting isn€™t like art; it€™s like any other job. If you enjoy it, one of the reasons is that you€™ve got some work mates and you enjoy their company. ME: Have you been pleased with what they€™ve been able to do with Turlough through the audios? STRICKSON: Yeah. Turlough had problems in the series. He was a very strong character. Somebody asked me how he€™d been if he€™d stayed on and done some Who with Nicola and Colin Baker. And I don't know how well he would have gone over with Colin€™s Doctor! ME: Was that a possibility? Staying for the Sixth Doctor€™s era? STRICKSON: Well, I€™d resigned. So it would have been if I hadn€™t resigned. ME: At least they didn€™t feel the need to slam you into the Earth on a Cyberman €“controlled freighter. STRICKSON: I think Turlough had a good run. I think if we€™d kept Turlough on any longer, he would have become a weaker character. As it is he has some mystery. ME: Yeah, and for me one of the mysteries is that I don€™t, to this day, know if Vislor is his first name or his title. STRICKSON: (laughing) Mark replies with puzzled face! I THINK it€™s his first name. No, actually, I think it€™s a title. Can I keep a bit silent on that one, please? ME: I think that€™s perfectly fine! STRICKSON: And anyway it€™s pronounced VIS-lor, not VIZE-lor! VIS-lor! ME: VIS-lor! Pardon me! I haven€™t seen €œPlanet of Fire€ in a while. And like most males, I was distracted by that first memorable shot of Peri. STRICKSON: Absolutely! ME: What have been your favorite audios with Turlough? STRICKSON: You know, it depends on the scripts, like anything else. I€™ve been watching some of the latest Doctor Who. I watched a couple on the way in from New Zealand. One of them was excellent; the script was good. The other hand just the same writers, just the same actors, and the script wasn€™t very good. Even the best scriptwriter has an off day, and it€™s all dependent on the script. I like funny scripts, because I think Doctor Who didn€™t have a lot of humor in the show when I was in it. Now MY Doctor is Pat Troughton, and Pat Troughton and the Brigadier and those characters, they had humor. There was a lot more humor in it, and that€™s one of the things I like about the Big Finishes. Sometimes you do a funny script. Sometimes you a €œlaugh out loud€ script. It€™s great! ME: This seems like a good point to ask the question I€™m almost obligated to ask: would you come back onto the show if you were asked to? STRICKSON: Absolutely! I had a thoroughly good time on Doctor Who. These days I make natural history and animal films. Nature films, for want of a better way to put it. ME: I understand you were closely associated with Steve Irwin. STRICKSON: Yeah, I made Steve€™s first film. They were very different for the time. They were not staged. They were very much family-oriented. ME: He had that wonderful enthusiasm. STRICKSON: Yeah, enthusiasm! I have to talk about him sometimes when I go to other conventions; the ones where I have my producer€™s hat on. And what I say is that Steve Irwin was exactly the same as David Attenborough. They were both very enthusiastic. They have different deliveries, they do different things, but essentially they bring the same enthusiasm to it. That€™s all that I ask in a presenter. You have to impart knowledge. You have to know what you€™re talking about, and you have to have enthusiasm. And now I€™ve completely forgotten what we were talking about. ME: Would you go back to Turlough on TV? STRICKSON: Yes, I would like to go back to Turlough. I€™d rather go back as the Doctor, which is the best part. ME: If you had the chance to create a dream script for Turlough for a Big Finish audio, what would you most like to do with the character? STRICKSON: I think Turlough would be quite good at pretending he€™s not Turlough. In my mind, he€™d be a character and we€™d only discover he was Turlough at the end. ME: Like if he was undercover or something. STRICKSON: Exactly. If we brought Turlough back into the TV series, wouldn€™t it be great if we didn€™t know it was Turlough until the very end? ME: A fascinating notion.
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Chris Swanson is a freelance writer and blogger based in Phoenix, Arizona, where winter happens to other people. His blog is at