Doctor Who Christmas Special 2014: Nathan McMullen interview

Visiting the set of this year's Doctor Who Christmas Special, we chatted to Misfits actor Nathan McMullen about Nick Frost and elves...

Back in October, the BBC invited Den of Geek to have a look around the set of the 2014 Doctor Who Christmas Special, Last Christmas, and talk to some of its cast. Here’s our chat with the wonderful Nathan McMullen, probably best known as Finn from the last two seasons of C4’s Misfits, who plays an elf called The Wolf…

Immediately, Nathan compared his previous sci-fi show to his new one:

Less swearing, first of all. [Laughs] It’s less crude. And it has more of a dramatic feel about it.

Were/are you a fan of Doctor Who?

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Obviously I’m aware of it. Even growing up, when I was 14 or 15 when it made that return [2005 with Christopher Eccleston], I remember my parents saying, “We used to watch it,” and it was the intro music that was the scary part. I guess because I hadn’t grown up with it from an early age, it passed me by.

It wasn’t something I watched and didn’t like or watch religiously – and I kind of feel like I’m missing out now! [Laughs] Especially after reading the script of the Christmas Special. I absolutely loved it. Genuinely, I was a bit like, “Why haven’t I been watching this?” I was amazing. I can’t wait for you to watch it.

What was it like to work with Nick Frost and how does he portray Santa?

I was a bit star-struck, to be honest. For the first time with anyone that I’ve worked with. I grew up watching Spaced and Shaun Of The Dead and Hot Fuzz. At the readthrough, I had no idea who the rest of the cast were. I was the first one there and went to find my name, and then looked to my right and seen Nick Frost [‘s name] and I was like, “The, THE Nick Frost? Is there another actor called Nick Frost? Is this him???” [Laughs] He entered the room and I kind of had tunnel vision.

He’s probably the most iconic Santa I can think of. Obviously, there’s a lot of Santa films, but he brings that little bit of comedy and the little bit of something different. I think it’ll kind of be the one that you remember most.

It might [grinning] involve a sleigh that gets crashed into a roof top and that’s how we discover Santa being a little bit careless.

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Did you get to working closely with Peter Capaldi and Jenna Coleman whilst filming?

Yeah. Most of our scenes are with them but essentially on this polar base where we find ourselves, the elves and Santa usually turned up on one side of the set and Peter and Jenna were on the other. The last scene that we filmed was on a roof top and we were very much in close proximity them and finally managed to spend a bit more time with them. Working with the Doctor and Jenna who plays Clara so well was very enjoyable.

I texted Karla [Crome, Jess in Misfits] just to catch up and told her I was filming the Doctor Who Christmas Special in a couple of weeks. And it kind of went silent. I didn’t hear back for a few hours. then she plucked up the courage to reply, “I hate you! I wanna be in that!” [Laughs]

I’m looking forward to everybody else sitting down on Christmas Day and watching.

It’s definitely up there in my career – I enjoyed working on Misfits but to be involved in something so iconic, with the following that Doctor Who brings, I’m very proud of this achievement.

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Nathan moved on to his character and his costume in the festive episode:

I play an elf [laughs], as you can see by the ears [fingers mighty fine looking prosthetic ears]. It’s very much a trio between Santa [played by Nick Frost] and his elves. They’re a team, they look out for each other. It’s quite a close relationship, you can tell that they’e spent quite a lot of time together. They go on a journey, to a lot of houses! [Laughs]

They’re there as unlikely heroes. It’s not something you’d expect Santa to be doing, going to a sci-fi polar base or land and go and save the day. But I guess that’s what he’s called upon. It’s not “Who you gonna call, the Ghostbusters,” it’s “Who you gonna call on Christmas Day – it’s gonna be Santa!”

I was half-expecting green lycra and a tacky costume but it’s genuinely one of the most exciting costume fittings I’ve ever been to. As soon as you put it on – you are the elf.

I’m hoping to take the shoes home [fellow elf actor Dan Starkey also raved about the shoes in our interview]. I FaceTimed my daughter and the it was the first thing she said, “SHOES!” [Laughs] Whenever I FaceTime her that’s what she wants to see.

As always with Doctor Who, there are monsters – but are they scary?

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I think the storyline itself, not just the monsters, but the storyline brings a creepiness to it. The monsters are essentially Dream Crabs, or Sleepers who [redacted by request of the BBC] We’re there to make sure they don’t cause too much damage.

Could we see a return for your character in the future?

Possibly… [grins]

Would you want to?

Absolutely! If Santa and his elves have got to be involved at Christmas from hereon in then yeah absolutely. I’d love to be involved.