David Bradley and the “Time Travel Fantasy” in All of Us!
David Bradley is famous for playing the meanest of characters, from bitter Argus Filch to Game of Thrones’ nefarious Walder Frey. We rarely got to see him take on the role of a protagonist until this year, when he appeared as the First Doctor in “The Doctor Falls,” the season finale of Doctor Who. His surprise appearance on the show was a hit with fans, who can’t wait to see him again in the upcoming Christmas special. The actor sat down with Inverse Entertainment to discuss his version of the iconic character:
I suppose what attracts me to the character of the Doctor is that he’s a true adventurer. He’s got this endless curiosity. He’s a true eccentric who’s just curious about the universe and everything in it. I admire him for that.
In “The Doctor Falls,” Bradley’s Doctor comes face-to-face with his reincarnation, the Twelfth Doctor, played by Peter Capaldi. The two don’t agree on many issues, despite the fact that they are, technically, the same person:
You’ve got these two Doctors who are not exactly suicidal, but they’ve had enough. I think a lot of the dynamic and the energy from it comes from these two worlds colliding. The 1st Doctor looks at the 12th Doctor and sees sonic screwdrivers [and] electric guitars, and he’s kind of disapproving. It’s a generation gap thing. Of course, the 12th Doctor is looking at the 1st Doctor and thinking ‘who is this crusty old dinosaur with his politically incorrect attitude to everything that’s rooted back in the ‘50s and ‘60s[?]’
Bradley is replacing William Hartnell, the original First Doctor, who died in 1975. However, Bradley happens to be quite familiar with Hartnell’s work, having played the actor in An Adventure in Space and Time. This 2013 docudrama chronicled the early days of Doctor Who in real life, as Hartnell created the character that would enthrall generations:
The script for [An Adventure in Space and Time] was all performance as [Hartnell] as the Doctor. The first time I was playing the actor playing the Doctor. But this time I felt I was playing the Doctor himself, which was quite a difference, really. This time, I studied a lot of his physical and vocal mannerisms but without being too finickity or too fussy about it. I just tried to capture his spirit more than anything else and have a bit of fun with it.
Bradley says he’s thrilled to take on the role again because of his own love for the show and the sense of wonder it inspires:
Haven’t we all at some point in our lives thought, [‘]I wonder what it would be like to go back to Roman times or prehistoric times or Elizabethan England and see Shakespeare and his company performing on the stage[‘]? I mean, that’s my particular one,” Bradley says, chuckling warmly. “We’ve all got, I think, a little bit of time travel fantasy in us. Don’t you think?”
We’re just as excited as he is for the Doctor Who Christmas special Twice upon a Time to air on December 25 at 9 p.m. ET!