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Ben Miller wants to be Doctor Who, but looks like the Master

By Mathew Wace Peck     Sep 6, 2014 in Entertainment
Ben Miller has been talking about his upcoming guest spot in “Doctor Who”, as the dastardly Sheriff of Nottingham in a Robin Hood-themed episode of the long-running science-fiction television drama series.
Ben Miller (Death in Paradise), who was cast in the role earlier this year, kept a diary of his time associated with the science-fiction series, of which he is a huge fan.
Reproduced in the current Radio Times, extracts include the first telephone chat the actor had with Paul Murphy, the director of the episode, Robot of Sherwood.
Paul Murphy, the director, calls me for a chat. We have an in-depth discussion about my character and the way he intends to shoot the fight scenes. It’s all very professional, but what I really want to ask is, ‘Will the Master be coming back?’
Indeed, if you study the official photograph of Miller as the Sheriff of Nottingham (reproduced above), he looks uncannily similar to the Master — the Doctor’s fellow Time Lord and long-time arch nemesis — as played by Anthony Ainley during the 1980s (see picture, inset).
The Master was last seen sans beard, now portrayed by John Simm (Life on Mars),
The Master (Anthony Ainley)
The Master (Anthony Ainley)
BBC / Doctor Who
in The End of Time, the 2009/10 two-part serial that marked David Tennant’s swansong as the Doctor and introduced Matt Smith.
Forgetting the Master, however, and moving on from the Sheriff of Nottingham, Miller would love to play the Doctor one day, when the incumbent, Peter Capaldi, hangs up his frock coat. "Anyone who said no would either be lying or mad – it would be like saying no to playing 007," he tells Metro.
Meanwhile, speaking to Radio Times, Mark Gatiss, the writer of Robot of Sherwood, admits that he “threw caution to the wind in portraying the legendary outlaw” much in the same vein as in the classic “Errol Flynn movie.”
“I had an initial concern because it’s sort of like a celebrity historical, except of course Robin Hood didn’t exist,” he tells Radio Times. “So it’s slightly different territory for Doctor Who. But then the whole point of it really is that Clara says, ‘There’s someone I’ve always wanted to meet,’ and the Doctor says, ‘There’s no such thing as Robin Hood.’ And then, when they arrive, it’s practically the Errol Flynn movie. So that was the central conceit.”
Gatiss also spoke about the story to Entertainment Weekly, admitting that he finds it “depressing when people try to make it realistic.”
“Robin Hood is a great fairytale,” he continues, “and that’s what we tried to do with this. It’s amazingly sun-drenched. Even when I was writing the words on the page, I thought, Christ this is a ridiculous hostage to fortune, it’s bound to rain. But it didn’t! It was glorious.”
This weekend’s adventure — Robot of Sherwood — is the third such in the current season of Doctor Who, and also the third to star Peter Capaldi as the Doctor; who took over from Matt Smith in last year’s Christmas special, The Time of the Doctor. Tom Riley (Da Vinci’s Demons plays Robin Hood.
Yesterday, the BBC revealed that they had deleted a beheading scene from the episode, in light of the recent horrific events carried out by the Islamic State.
Meanwhile, speaking about next week’s outing, Listen, Doctor Who showrunner Steven Moffat asks, "What happens when the Doctor is alone?" And what scares the grand old man of Time and Space? Listen!"
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