Carry on Doctor
Comedian Toby Hadoke really likes Doctor Who. In fact, he likes it so much that he wrote a show about how the Time Lord took over his life. Now, after making a radio version of “Moths Ate My Doctor Who Scarf” for the BBC, Hadoke’s taking his show back on the road. We caught up with him for a chat.
Do you think there’s more buzz about the show now you’ve done the audio version?
“I don’t know if it’s because of the radio version, or if it’s because obviously I did a sort of piecemeal tour last year which was just bits and bobs here and there. Now we have a major producer who’s kind of taken the show on, so maybe he has the equipment and the facilities to create more of a buzz than me and my producer could do with our limited resources.”
Has the show changed much since last year?
“I have done a couple of references to stuff that’s happened in series three, but not particularly because obviously the ending of the show is so set around the school reunion, but there are references I’ve chucked in. And I’ve got a bit surrounding the furore about the casting of Catherine Tate. I’m going to take a big long look at the show before I start again, and I’m going to throw some stuff in and see what sticks. I don’t want it to be set in stone and stuck in the past. It should constantly evolve otherwise I shouldn’t still be doing it.”
What did you think of the news that Catherine Tate will be the Doctor’s new companion?
“I think she’s fantastic. She’s got a background in acting, that’s how she began. The reason her sketch show was commissioned and successful and popular was she is a bloody good character actress, and I think her observations for the nuances of people are superb, and what you want in Doctor Who is good actors, and to have somebody who’s got their own show, their own BBC series and has had three runs at that playing the Doctor’s companion is unheard of. People should be astonished and pleased. I think some people will hate her anyway, but the problem when you’re a ubiquitous comedy face on the telly is that people will always say they hate them. They might not make you laugh, but don’t hate them. They’re only trying to make you laugh! I think she’ll be great.”
As a lifelong fan of the show, have you been happy with the way new-Who’s evolved?
“The first series was astonishing. It was undiscovered country for all of us. And then you had Eccleston go and David Tennant come along so then there was another wow, and then the third series without Billie Piper… so there was always a sort of hook, but I was worried it was going to lose its momentum, or familiarity would breed contempt, particularly in the newspapers. But people are still very excited. Fortunately I’m cynical about most things, but I’m not cynical about Doctor Who, and I think they’ve managed to keep it fresh and they didn’t peak to soon with it – ‘The Family of Blood’ and ‘Blink’ were as good as anything Doctor Who has ever done, so even three series in they’re capable of surprising and delighting and keeping the quality up.”
Have you noticed a change in your audience as you’ve developed the show?
“Yes, girls come and talk to me and everything… that certainly wouldn’t have happened seven years ago! [laughs] The general audience tends to be people who quite like Doctor Who who bring in their mates, and what’s nice is when it’s their mates who come up and go, ‘I’ve never seen Doctor Who, but that was great – now I might go and watch Doctor Who’. And families as well, because I think word got around at the Edinburgh festival in 2006 that there’s no swearing in it, it’s a show suitable for families, so you’d get kids dragging their parents there, and the parents look like they’d rather be anywhere else, thinking ‘We’ll be able to see Russell Brand later,’ and by the end they’re really enjoying it because they realise the show’s not just a catalogue of how Doctor Who happened, it’s much more personal than that, and they can identify with it. I think that’s why it works. As word’s spread, audiences have definitely got bigger, and maybe there’s an expectation as well. And also there’s people who’ve bought the CD who I hope are pleasantly surprised by the amount of stuff in the show that isn’t on the CD and vice versa.”
When other comedians talk about Doctor Who, do you get touchy about it?
“Well, when I went to Edinburgh first I was terrifed that when I got the brochure through there was going to be three dozen comics doing shows about Doctor Who, because people had started to mention it sets. You’d hear people at comedy clubs doing bits and bobs from Doctor Who and having always mentioned Doctor Who for ten years of being a comedian I kind of bristle a bit and go, ‘Oi, that’s my turf!’ I think if I’d left it a year there may have been a fair few shows, because obviously it’s a popular zeitgeisty thing. But I was booked in for Edinburgh before the second series aired. I know some comedians who are Doctor Who fans, but they don’t know who wrote ‘The Sensorites’ – I do. I think had the extra level of geekiness that got me in early.”
Toby’s Moths Ate My Doctor Who Scarf tour comes to New Milton on Saturday, before setting off around the country. For details, click here.