UPDATED Doctor Who: John Simm on The Master

News Louisa Mellor 23 Oct 2012 - 10:15

John Simm has revealed he would “take the Master to a very, very dark place” if he reprised the Doctor Who role…

Update: on his Twitter feed, Simm has clarified that "The Master thing is honestly a non story. I was answering a specific question at a Q+A. [It's] been taken out of context"

Speaking at last week’s Cheltenham Literature Festival, actor John Simm told fans that he’d like the chance to provide “…another take” on the Master, the Doctor’s arch-enemy, making him “…a bit quieter.”

“Russell T Davies had a specific idea of what he wanted him to be like. So I just had to do exactly what he wanted me to, and he wanted a giggling lunatic” Simm told the Cheltenham audience, “I started annoying myself after a while”.

Simm intimated that he'd welcome the opportunity to work with Steven Moffat on the character: “There’s a new writer now and I’m sure his take on him would be very different so I’d be interested to have a look at it. I’d like to take the Master to a very, very dark place.

Read our celebration of the Master in Doctor Who, here.

Radio Times

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Simm doing The Master that everyone knows he CAN do? That would be awesome!

I found it difficult to believe at the time that that version of the Master came from Simm as it is just so much against his style of acting. I'm glad he's open to returning and rectifying that ridiculous stain on his acting career however I suspect he might be doing a Derek Jacobi if he does.

I feel like this story is resurrected (or regenerated?) every few months or so. Yes, we get it. Simm would love to come back and has ideas for the character. That's fantastic. But without any response from Moffat it's just idle wishing isn't it? I'd love it if he would come back and face Matt Smith's Doctor. especially in light of the Question. But it's just torturing us to keep getting our hopes up without good reason so far.

"So I just had to do exactly what he wanted me to"

Equally, if Simm (who I rate very highly as an actor) had an issue with this way of portraying the Master, he really didn't need to take on the role, did he?

I think that John Simm is a fantastic actor and could probably do a terrific job if he was allowed to play the version of the Master that HE obviously wants to play.


If they're going to bring the character back, I think that it needs to be a interesting new take on the character and not this ranting OTT panto villain with no clear motivation (I thought that the "Drumming" in his head subplot was woolly, to say the least). In that respect I didn't think that there was anything particularly new or inventive about the way that Simm's Master was presented - we'd seen it before in other villains both within and outside Doctor Who.

I say, if the Master returns, let's have a real shake-up in terms of the motivation and presentation of the character. And that may mean that they have to go to the extent of recasting it.

IMHO, of course!

I'd like for John Simm to return as the Master, rather than immediately switching to a new actor. But I am actually worried about how Moffat would handle the character, as I suspect he'll just make the Master identical to the baby-faced Moriarty in Sherlock.

Way back when the Silence hadn't been mentioned outside of "The Pandorica opens", I had a theory that it could possibly be about the Master returning. I was thinking that without the drum-beat he would go even more insane because he couldn't get used to it being "too quiet", so he'd go on yet another omnicidal rampage.

The best part of Simm's portrayal of the Master was in the telephone scene. So understated, quiet and filled with menace ... Then RTD had him dancing to the Scissor Sisters. *facepalm*

I don't think Simm should play the Master again. His incarnation is what it was and to change it all now would be a bit odd. I'm not averse to the character returning though.

The Master was last seen disappearing with Rassilon into the time locked Gallifrey, how could he return?

Actually, I believe that's the first time that he's said with any certainty that he would like to come back, I think previously it's been statements like: David was very much my Doctor, I don't think it would be right to come back in the current show.

I cba to look them up so I may be wrong, but this is the first time that a statement from Simm about The Master has been interesting in a long time.

It wouldn't be the first time that The Master's personality has changed while the same actor plays him, Anthony Ainley's Master started out as pantomime and cheesy, but then when Andrew Cartmell had control in the last season, and wanted a more serious show, he allowed the Ainley to be a bit more calm and menacing. And thus we got the Master in Survival, a fantastic portrayal of a man that would do anything to avoid death.

To be fair, an actor playing the Master revising the character for a return appearance isn't unprecedented. Compare Anthony Ainley's Master in "Survival" to any one of his earlier appearances.

I read it as Joan Simms...

if a bunch of Time Lords can't find a way to open a lock then nobody can :)

And then come back 2 years later...

RTD has a strange place in my affections. Thanks for bringing the Doctor back, but God he lost the ability to write halfway through the first season.
Would love to see John Simm come back and have a crack at The Master again, with some decent writing he could be a properly dark and sinister character.

he's got kids, right? wouldn't be the first time an actor took a gig he didn't really burn for because of his kids... what do I know, though.

That scene was all kinds of awesome. Just listen to the lyrics.

I've definitely read before that Simm would love to return and face Matt Smith's Doctor, even if it is just to pass on the baton to another guy by regenerating...

Well yeah, I have heard that, but it's not the same as "I want to carry on and develop my role"

I want Eric Roberts back!

...runs and hides.

i am not sure the fans need John to return. i would love to see Derek Jacobi to return first.

Dan Kirkman Bellingham Wa

He escaped before the end of the war don't forget.

I'd rather see The Master back as a sort of an anti-hero, rather than the arch-villain he's been to date, especially now he's probably free of all that drum-beat cobblers. Eg, killing off The Daleks without all that 'do I have the right' nonsense Tom Baker's Doctor had.

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