Doctor Who: Ingrid Oliver on series 9, Osgood, Zygons

On a June set-visit to the Cardiff studios, we chatted to Doctor Who's Ingrid Oliver about Osgood, the Zygons and series 9...

One of the most pleasant surprises in the run-up to the new series of Doctor Who has been the news that Ingrid Oliver will be returning as fan favourite Osgood. Details of her return are still tightly under wraps, but back in June we snuck onto set with a handful of other journalists to speak to Ingrid about returning from the dead, future costume choices and much more…

So we thought you were dead…

So did I! So did I… Or am I?

Had you worked out that there might be a return on the cards for Osgood?

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No, because I really wanted to come back, and you always hope you will come back, but I read an interview Steven Moffat had given saying ‘No, she’s definitely dead’. So I had no idea.

What was the first you heard of it?

Well they check your availability first, to see that you’re actually around, so I was like “Oh right, okay…” But as with anything, with Doctor Who everything can change, so you don’t get too excited until you actually know you’re coming back. It was quite shortly before we actually started filming the eps that I knew I was definitely coming back. So it was all quite a quick turnaround, very exciting.

So which version of Osgood are you playing?

There’s lots of different possibilities, and I’ve heard all of them! Even the Doctor asks me what I am, and I don’t tell him…

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Is it fun being the focus of so much speculation?

It’s extraordinary, actually. It’s quite unexpected. I think because the manner of her death last time… Someone sent me a YouTube clip after the episode had gone out – you know fans film reactions of people watching it? Someone sent me a clip of a boy, a northern lad, and when Osgood got pulverised or dematerialised or whatever she got, he was like ‘NO! NO!’ and he was really shouting. And it was the funniest thing I’d ever seen, and I was quite shocked. It was quite unexpected. I mean, it was a shock for me when I read the script! I was really upset. On the day I pretended that I wasn’t going to go down. Obviously they were running behind on filming time, so I had to stop that quite quickly! I was really sad about it.

Why do you think people have taken Osgood to their hearts?

I think visually in the 50th, it was such a strong first impression for a character to wear the Tom Baker scarf, and she’s quite an endearing character I think; she’s quite relatable. What’s really funny is I get sent on Twitter pictures from Comic-Cons and things like that of people cosplaying, and one of my favourite pictures that I’ve seen was about twenty Osgoods, and there was a 60-year-old man who was cosplaying as Osgood! I thought that was absolutely bizarre and brilliant, and again, quite unexpected! I’m not going to question it…

Have you considered the possibility that they might have you wear the sixth Doctor’s costume at some point..?

Do you know what? I have actually thought about this… I was wondering, because I have question marks on the collar in this one, if I do come back, would we just work our way through all the Doctors? And I looked them up and I was like ‘Okay, well that would certainly be interesting…!’ You could take maybe an element of that. But I loved Colin Baker, you see. I used to quite fancy him. I also used to fancy Peter Davison, so that’s a weird thing…

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What’s it been like acting alongside Zygons?

On the second day of filming, I had quite a dramatic speech, quite a moving speech, and as an actor you’re used to just saying a speech like that to the other person, and there’s probably soaring music in the background and it’s all very gentle; and I realised very quickly that we won’t be able to do that because we’re also looking for Zygons! It was very odd; it’s an adjustment, but that’s the world of Doctor Who, and Peter was saying that you don’t just stand there and deliver dialogue, you’re always doing something, whether it’s running from a blowing-up building or looking for monsters. It’s good fun though, it’s really good fun.

Have you met the men inside the monster suits?

Yeah, yeah they’re lovely, they’re so nice. I couldn’t do what they do, it’s absolutely horrendous. I’ve had a full face cast done before and it felt like I was being buried alive; I had a mini panic attack. What’s very funny is that Aidan, who plays one of the Zygons, is the softest-spoken man you’ve ever heard in your life. He’s brilliant, he’s the main one, all snarling and stuff, and then he talks and he’s very polite and it’s very funny. But they’re brilliant; genuinely terrifying.

When you’re filming, is a tiny part of you scared?

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Quite a big part! We were filming a scene earlier where I’m hiding from the Zygon. I couldn’t see him, but I could hear him, and it was genuinely quite terrifying! he does this thing with his mouth which is really quite disgusting; he snarls, and he’s got these little jagged teeth and it’s really quite scary! They’re really good; they’re really good monsters.

Why do you think Osgood became obsessed with the Doctor?

If you’re working in UNIT, I can see why you would, if you’re going to get obsessed with someone. He’s the One Direction of that world, I suppose. And he’s constantly changing, so you’ve got your pick of all of them. I don’t think it’s a crush, I think she’s in awe. It’d be like meeting the biggest celebrity you could possibly imagine. It’s quite easy to act, because Peter Capaldi is absolutely incredible. I remember on the 50th there was a point where it was David Tennant, Matt Smith and John Hurt, and it was a hero shot where they were all walking towards me, and I just stopped acting; I went “Oh my god, that’s the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever seen!” And I completely ruined the take, because I wasn’t acting! They are quite impressive people, quite impressive men, the Doctor, so it’s quite easy to act against.

Do you worry that you might get kids coming along to your comedy performances thinking they’re going to see Osgood?

No, not at all. I’ve done one convention, and I had one person coming up because they were a Watson and Oliver fan, and I was like “Oh my god! I’m so happy, thank you!” I did a play recently and there were lots of Doctor Who fans outside and they kept asking if I was going back, and I knew at that point that I was, so that was very tricky – lying to people’s faces I found very hard! But no, it’s lovely.

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Are there any future appearances on the cards?

I genuinely don’t know; anything’s possible. But I’d like to – I love it, I really do. It’s one of those jobs, it’s just ridiculous – we were on set the other day and it was like a proper Indiana Jones set, the kind of thing you’d never get to film unless it was Doctor Who, the kind of stuff that when you were a kid and you walked round Universal Studios or something you’d go “One day I want to be an actor.” It’s brilliant, so I would always come back.

Ingrid Oliver, thank you very much!

The Zygon Invasion airs on Saturday the 31st of October at 8.15pm on BBC One.

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