Russell Tovey talks Being Human, Doctor Who, and Sherlock
At last weekend’s Kapow Comic Convention, Russell Tovey talked to fans about his role as a fixture of British sci-fi…
This story contains potential spoilers for Being Human series 3.
Russell Tovey has been ticking off British sci-fi series one by one since popping up in the 2007 Doctor Who Christmas special, The Voyage of the Damned (and then again briefly in The End of Time – Part 2). Tovey was the only member of the Being Human pilot to make it to the show proper, and his departure at the beginning of series 4 prompted many more tears than hurrahs from fans. Add to that a supporting role in Sherlock’s The Hounds of Baskerville, and you can safely call him something of a fixture of UK sci-fi and fantasy telly.
At this year’s Kapow, Tovey chatted to the convention’s attendees about his experiences on Being Human, Doctor Who, and Sherlock, and we’ve scribbled down what he had to say below. (US readers might like to know that “cushdy” is UK slang for something good, as in “A Russell Tovey interview on Den of Geek? Cushdy!” Impress your friends…).
Which is your favourite series of Being Human?
I like the third series. I think the third series went… The first series was very light, the second series went very dark, the third series was a combination of the two, and I liked the fact that George and Mitchell’s characters in the third series kind of were living separate lives and not aware of what was going on, and then when it all came together at the end it was even more dramatic and painful. I’m very proud of series three.
What was it like to do George’s werewolf transformations?
Long days, fun at times, uncomfortable at times but the finished product was always really good […] I get asked that question loads about the make-up because it’s such a big part of when they do transformations in sci-fi and werewolf films. I signed up to play a werewolf so I had to put myself through it. It’s kind of a bit annoying, cos when you see Lenora who plays Annie, she just wears the same clothes every day, that’s her transformation, and Aidan playing Mitchell, he just puts a couple of teeth in, they CGI his eyes and maybe he has a bit of blood that tastes like mouthwash, that’s as far as it goes for him, so I kind of got the raw deal, so I should earn more money!
What’s going to happen in the next series of Being Human?
I’ve no idea. Lots. Lots of sci-fi things.
Are you still going to watch it?
Yeah, yeah I’ll watch it, I love it.
What was it like working on Sherlock?
It was good. I went and did a screen-test for it - I do a show called Him & Her and they had a screen test next door at Twickenham studios and they had a lighting change and I ran next door, I had ten minutes free, and I went in and put it on tape, and then went back in to set, and I got it.
So then I shot it straight afterwards, it was right cushdy, a massive fluke, and then I did Being Human and then sort of forgot about it because everything just started to happen work-wise. Then it started to come out and there was loads of promotion for it and people were coming up to me the night before it went out saying “Biggest show on TV, how you feeling?” and I was like “Pretty nervous, now you’ve said that”, I wasn’t really thinking about it.
It’s the most nervous I’ve ever been when something’s come out on TV, because everything I do is quite cult-y and digital and it’s got a fan-base and it’s found its audience but that’s like prime-time, proper. You know, I had the same thing when I did Doctor Who with Kylie Minogue but that wasn’t as big a part but with Sherlock it was like [pulls scared face]. But yeah, it was good to do and Benedict and Martin are awesome and it was a Mark Gatiss script and he’s also awesome.”
As an added extra, Tovey’s chum, Doctor Who writer Tom MacRae (The Girl Who Waited, The Age of Steel, The Rise of the Cybermen), who was also present, had a few words to say about what to expect from series 7.
Tom MacRae: All I can say about the upcoming fiftieth is that obviously there’s a big Dalek story opening the new series which is absolutely brilliant and any expectations you’ve got, double them, it’s that good. It’s so, so, so, so brilliant. And then the fiftieth which obviously is going to be a big hark back to everything that’s gone before, there’s going to be lots of nostalgia for Doctor Who fans over the next year or two years.
Are there rules when writing Doctor Who, things you are and aren't allowed to do?
Tom MacRae: I think you’ve got to be conscious that it is at its heart a children’s show, so there are rules about swearing obviously. We don’t show blood, so you can have green alien blood or humans zapped and falling down but they can’t bleed. We don’t tend to have human on human violence, which is kind of an unwritten rule. But I suppose the point is really that it’s so flexible as a format…
Tovey interrupts: I had blood, when I got shot. I had blood everywhere!
TM: You did, didn’t you. But you didn’t have that much blood did you?
RT: Yeah I did, I got shot and I was holding it…
TM: That’s another thing [on Doctor Who], people don’t get shot with guns, it’s always like laser guns…
RT: I got shot with a gun and I bled! And it was human-on-human violence!
TM: There we go, Russell Tovey, redefines a genre… But you can change it, like The Girl Who Waited didn’t have any guest characters, and I don’t think anyone’s ever done that before so that was something that was new but it still feels like Doctor Who”.
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