This interview with Matthew Waterhouse appeared in DWM 202, August 1993. It is reproduced here without permission.
The Life and Death of AdricIn a frank and extensive interview, Matthew Water house talks to Porl Cooper about playing the Alzarian Artful Dodger who went from E-Space to Earthshock.
Getting Matthew Waterhouse to agree to do a Doctor Who interview is not an easy task. After constant nagging he reluctantly agreed to my request to talk about his portrayal of Adric. "I'm not sure that I have all that much to say about it all", he smiled cheekily.
"Acting always seemed to be the natural thing for me to do", he told me. "I was quite shy but always had unnervingly high-flown taste; that is, I read quite a bit of Shakespeare in my early teens and had always liked poetry. Yet at the same time I spent most of my childhood imbibing trash on the telly, and I was wild about Marvel Comics, especially Fantastic Four. I decided to become an actor when I realised I would never become a superhero! But there was a dichotomy, which a lot of actors I've known share, of having simultaneosly utterly exquisite and toe-curlingly awful taste. And of course, I didn't know the difference. I had read Hamlet and watched Doctor Who, and was vague about which was better. I probably still am."
So how did the part of Adric come about? "At the time the BBC had an in-house casting director, which I believe it no longer has. She had cast me in one of these middle-brow period serials at which the BBC then excelled called To Serve Them All My Days. There was an article in the Evening Standard mentioning that Doctor Who, which at the time I adored, was looking for an Artful Dodger character. I asked her if she thought I was right for it, and if I was, whether she would suggest me. She did so, and I was called in to read. They made a decision to cast me quickly, after one recall, and bingo!- there I was in green pyjamas for two years. I had my signature drying on the contract before they had the chance to change their minds."
I wondered how Matthew felt on getting the part- presumably very happy? "Failure is more interesting then success. After ten minutes of exhilaration I found myself ambing around the park behind out house, kicking a stone and feeling midly depressed. I'm not sure why that was- it's odd, isn't it?" he laughs. "I think it's quite common."
With the show's stars Tom Baker and Lalla Ward having worked together as a team for a while, what was it like gate-crashing an established unit? "I felt really guilty, and I wanted to apologise to Tom and Lalla because at the time they were a very established unit. I remember on the first day waiting for Tom to come and say hello to me. By lunchtime he hadn't done so I sidled into the pub and stood on the other side of the room and to my naive amazement he still didn't. By four o' clock I thought it was getting silly, so I went over and said hello to him. He told me to piss off, and from that moment on I become inordinatly fond of him. To this day on the rare occassions when I see him on the box, I glow with affection for this quite monstrous, quite delightful man. Another contradiction!
Despite being Adric's second story, State of Decay was the first story Matthew recorded. "Yes. And I think I knew even less about the character of Adric than the rest of the team. Who was he? Where did he come from? In those episodes, Adric has a breezy, boyish quality at odds with the uncomfortable, unhappy, rather blocked boy that he became. Fortunately, that story was written by the marvellous, nay splendid Terrance Dicks, who could write excellent Doctor Who stories in his sleep. In fact I remember a question was raised about in the House of Commons about that story. Apperantly for years and years all these bat pressure groups had been campgaining on the behalf of a new and more loving view of bats. They thought all those horror films had put around a bad idea. So this ridiculous MP gets all hot under the collar because he thinks Doctor Who has put the campgain back about ten years!
"It was interesting that the next story we shot, Full Circle, came from the other end of the spectrum. A fellow called Andrew Smith, who was, I think, still a teenager, and who had only written a couple of comedy sketches for TV. One of the things that I've never heard acknowledged is the genuine courage of John Nathan-Turner in terms of the risks he took with the new writers. I mean, he could have commissioned the full series from Terrance, who could certainly have done it
In Full Circle the thing that struck me was the pall of misery that seemed to hang over Adric. Here he is on this planet, intellectually brilliant, isolated from both his elders and his peers, and at the end witness to the murder of his brother by a green fellow from the marsh"
weren't they yellowy brown? I'm sure you're right," he laughed. "Anyway, with some people like Katy Manninmg, whom I've never met, if her character (Jo Grant) walks into a room it feels like the sun coming out, and everybody feels good. But to my mind, the people who are that are more interesting are those who walk into a room and make everyone feel miserable!"
Almost as soon as Matthew arrived, the team underwent a change as Lalla left at the end of Warrior's gate. "Was that the awful one with all the white? All I remember about it is flicking this coin for endless re-takes in slow motion. It was a profound story about, amoungst other things,
The rest's coming soon.........