Fan Expo 2017: Two Doctor Who Companions Say What It’s Like To Work With Monsters

Doctor Who

Fan Expo’s Toronto audience got a double dose of Doctor Who companion appearances this weekend (not to mention Matt Smith’s Expo-opening panel on Thursday) with visits from both Billie Piper (the reboot’s inaugural companion, Rose Tyler) and Catherine Tate (the hilarious Donna Noble). Both actors took questions from fans about their time on the show, and both had very strong opinions about Doctor Who’s catalogue of iconic monsters.

According to Piper, the Daleks and the Cybermen are the scariest things on set, but not for the reasons you’d think. “Everything takes so long,” she sighs. “They’re glued together or they’re bumping into things. It’s just so frustrating. It frustrates me when scripts mention the Daleks—it’s spending five days on one scene because the Daleks will have to move around the set or whatever. And of course everybody loves Daleks. But I have no time for them. I love the people that play them and I love the voices of Daleks but they just so clumsy and awkward.”

Her kids don’t see it that way, though. They think even the slowest-moving monsters are scary (and who wouldn’t, watching them chase after your own mum). “I’m trying to get them into Doctor Who and they’re not quite there yet,” says Piper. “They still find it quite hard to separate me from the character so they’re like ‘Why are you being chased by aliens? Were you terrified?’ I think they feel a bit threatened by it.”

Tate, who spent her hour on the Fan Expo stage performing a spontaneous, incredible stand up set, has a fondness for a monster she says bears a strong likeness to a pet she once had. “I’ve always loved the Ood, because the Ood remind me of my cat,” she says. “They’re such gentle souls, the Ood, they’re just like my cat, Tiger and I loved him so much. The Ood, with their spaghetti-vomiting mouths. I love the Ood.”

She’s also a fan of the Sontarans, the potato-shaped clones who love nothing more than a good old-fashioned intergalactic war. “So, here’s the thing about Sontarans,” Tate says, “it takes about 10 days to film an episode and we’re working with these Sontarans. About seven days in, I realize there’s somebody in it. I thought they ran on electricity!” she admits. “But there are these short actors in these things. And once, after seven days of thinking they were like robot-things, they called ‘That’s a wrap!’ and one of their heads opens and out pops a guy! I nearly died. It’s quite embarrassing. But yeah, the potato head ones. Love them.”