i Was A Teenage Computer
At the table read through for 'Mummy On The Orient Express', several of the actors were unavailable due to prior commitments. This meant that various staff members read in for some of the roles. I was offered Quell or Moorhouse and declined.
I mean come on. The last time I acted was in a school play. (Okay, so I was a stand up for six years, which is kind of acting, in that every night you have to act as if you just thought of your material, rather than the truth, which is that you've repeated it so many times over the years that it's been reduced to a series of syllables without meaning that somehow get laughs.) But actually acting? Opposite The Doctor and Clara? Unthinkable.
Ten minutes before the start, as we all settled into our seats someone realised that the role of Gus the computer wasn't cast. I was asked - did I want to cover it for the read through?
I said yes impulsively.
This wasn't really acting. Not really. All I had to do was read the lines in as impassive a voice as I could muster, like a plane safety announcer.
So I did. And it was fun.
After the read through the Director and Producer for the episode complimented me on my 'performance' and asked me if I could record the lines for Gus to be played on set. I was flattered and said that I would.
A few days later, I sat in front of my laptop and tried to do just that. And I hated my nasal blocked sounding voice so much I abandoned the project for about a week. At which point I reasoned that, what the hell, I should do it anyway. Everyone hates the sound of their own voice, don't they? This was a chance to be heard on set during the recording of my first Doctor Who episode. I would there with them all in spirit, the ghost in the machine... and other pretentious guff.
So I rattled through recording all the lines in about half an hour and e-mailed them in. I didn't even have a proper mic. This was through the tiny hole in the side of my laptop.
And then I started getting rushes through. With my voice as the computer. Which was incredibly cool. I even made it as far as full assemblies of the episode before some nefarious pretender called John Sessions was employed to do it 'properly', whatever that means (joking of course. He is brilliant) But for a few months there, I was the voice of Gus, my vaguely brummy twang echoing through the train.
I would never say 'Original and best'. That's for history to judge.