Exclusive Interview: Nick Briggs

June 13th, 2010
Warning! This article and its comments may contain spoilers...

We were thrilled to be given the chance to speak to Nick Briggs at the Bad Wolf convention this weekend, and, during our interview, the actor spilled the beans on all things Daaaa-lek!

A big thanks to everybody who submitted their questions for Nick throughout the week – you may find yours was included in the Q&A. If not, we apologise for any inconvenience, but watch this space because we’ll have more interview opportunities over the coming months!

We’d also like to thank Nick for taking the time out to answer our questions.

Q. How did you become a voice artist, and how did you then become involved in Doctor Who?
A. Well, I suppose I wasn’t really a voice artist, I was an actor. I’ve been to drama school and trained as an actor, and done various things. I got to be the voice of the Daleks in Doctor Who because I’ve been working on Big Finish Doctor Who audio plays, and Russell T Davies – the executive producer of Doctor Who – buys our CDs. I think he’s a subscriber actually! He said to me that there was no doubt in his mind that if he was bringing the Daleks back, he wanted me to do the voice. So that’s how I got the job. No audition necessary.

Q. What’s it like voicing such an iconic character?
A. Because I’m a Doctor Who fan, and have been ever since I was a little kid, it’s just the most amazing thing. It’s not one of those jobs that you dream of doing, it seems like such an odd job. You would dream of being the Doctor, but I used to love the Daleks, and still do. As a kid, I wanted to see them win because I thought they were really cool. It’s such a joy to be on set and do the voice and people always get excited when they hear the strange voice coming out of the speakers. It always creates a great sense of occasion.

Q. When you became involved in Doctor Who, did you do any research to make sure you got the Daleks’ voice just right?
A. Because I’d been watching Doctor Who since I was a small child, I already had in my head what the Daleks were like, and what they sounded like. Of course, I had all the videos and DVDs and things, so I don’t think I ever sat down and specifically did any research, but in a way my whole life was the research for being a Dalek.

Q. Why do you think they’re such iconic figures?
A. People’s lives, even when times are good, are uncertain. Nobody can quite plan what will happen in their lives. Most people have that feeling that they never really know what’s going on. You’re never really certain what makes someone else tick, things are very uncertain in life. What people like in fiction, especially in science-fiction, which is even more detached from reality in many ways, is the certainty. The brilliant thing about the Daleks is that they’re certain. We know they’re bad. There’s no question about that, but when they brought them back in the new series, in that first one you thought, “Ooh, maybe this Dalek’s good, maybe it’s bad?”, but, of course, it was bad. That’s just playing around with the expectation, but I think that’s the thing. You can rely on them being horrible, and that’s somehow very refreshing. Because they’re displayed as the ultimate evil, it really ups the stakes for the Doctor. It makes the Doctor even more heroic when he’s battling them. They make the Doctor even more Doctor-y than he normally is!

Q. In Series 1, you were able to portray the fear and vulnerability of the mutating Dalek. Is it more interesting to voice them when they’re more than just the typical killing machines?
A. That’s quite a fun thing to do, and it was interesting playing those scenes with Chris Eccleston and Billie Piper. We rehearsed them together. Me and Chris, we went off into a dark room and rehearsed them together, and the director was very determined for me to make Billie cry. He kept saying, “Make Billie cry!”, and he wanted me to get slower, and slower and more pathetic, and that was a nice challenge to do, and a nice way to start off.

Q. Which alien do you like voicing the most and why?
A. The Daleks. Even though people think they just speak in a monotone way, that’s just when they’re going about their business. They do get very cross, and, of course, there was Dalek Caan, who had gone all crazy! There’s always a different challenge with the Daleks. They’re much more satisfying than playing the Cybermen, and much less wearing on the voice than the Judoon, from which I get sore throats.

Q. Are there any aliens that you haven’t voiced that you’d like to?
A. I would love to do the Ice Warriors. I’ve done them a lot in the Big Finish productions, and they’re fun to do. I’d also like to create an entirely new alien.

Q. Did you have any input in the new Dalek look, and what do you think of the finished products?
A. I didn’t have any input at all. I read in the script that there was going to be new Daleks, and the idea was that they were much bigger and more impressive. They’re supposed to reflect the designs from the Doctor Who movies from the 1960s. The Daleks have changed bit by bit over the years, but I think this is the most radical change. The same silhouette is there, and I’ve gathered that the reaction from the kids is really, really good, and that, ultimately, is what counts. I’m a bit of a stick-in-the-mud traditionalist, so I actually like the Daleks from the original series, even though I liked the new ones for the new series that were created from Dalek onwards. There’s more to be seen of them, and they’re an exciting development.

Q. How do you decide what voice to give each Dalek?
A. While we were filming it, only two of them spoke – the Eternal and the Strategist. When we did the post-production sound on it, we changed lines and what have you. The yellow one had to speak a bit, so I did a slightly different voice. The Strategist had a high voice. I also changed the modulation on it, added some low frequency oscillation, so the voice is split up twice, much more electronic. The Supreme had a big booming voice, a bit like the Emperor, and the Strategist had a very high, excitable voice. In the computer game, a load of the Daleks in that are the red ones, the Drones, and they never spoke in the TV series, so I had to come up with a new voice for them as well, which sounds less intelligent because they just go around obeying orders.

Q. We know the Daleks and the Cybermen are coming back in the finale. Is there anything you can tell us about that?
A. They’re coming back in a way that you wouldn’t expect. There’s something very interesting that happens to the Daleks in it, which makes them look quite different. I don’t think you’ll be able to predict what the Daleks and the Cybermen do in this story. It’s not a Dalek and Cyberman story, they just turn up in it and fulfill a function.

Q. You write for the Big Finish Doctor Who, but would you ever consider writing for the TV series?
A. Of course. The thing with the TV is that there are loads more script editors and producers with input. When we do a Big Finish script, the writers write a storyline, which hopefully gets approved, then they do their first draft script, then they get some notes, then they do their second draft script. If there’s something significantly not right in our view, then we’ll take over so there will probably be just a third or a fourth draft going between ourselves. On the TV series, they go to something like sixteen drafts, which would create insanity in my mind. I would love to do it but I’d love to have the cheek to say to them, “Yeah, I’ll do it, but can I just do two drafts? You do whatever you like then leave my name on it”. In a way, I think they have to put you through that torture. I think there’s a point with a script that you rewrite it so much that you end up back where you started, only perhaps not quite as good. I think scripts can be rewritten too much.

Q. Have you had the chance to play the new Adventure Game?
A. Only very, very briefly at the launch of it in Sheffield. It looked very good. It’s not too difficult, is it? Because there was one stage that was too difficult and they amended that because nobody was getting through it! I like the Dalek scanning thing. I must have a look. I’ll download it!

Q. Series 6 filming starts soon, can you tell us if you’ll be involved in anyway?
A. I absolutely have no idea, absolutely honestly. I really have no idea, because I’m always the last to know. When my good friend, David Tennant, was the Doctor, I would get to hear in advance, because, frankly, nobody on the production team would ever tell me! They’re so paranoid about secrecy and security, so David Tennant would phone me up. Last time round, when we were recording Victory of the Daleks, I managed to get one of the producers, Peter Bennett, who won’t be working on the new series, to tell me that the finale would be filming in January. I said, “Pete, I just need to know. I’m not going to tell anyone”, and he just went, “Middle of January”, so whenever anybody asked me to do anything for the middle of January I said, “Well, I’ve got some filming dates”. There are stories almost as long as the history of Doctor Who about actors being concerned that the BBC think you spend all your time sitting by the phone waiting for them to phone. That’s why the first Davros, Michael Wisher, only did the one story, because they wouldn’t confirm to him that he was going to be needed again. He got himself another job, but then they rang him and said they need him. That’s the downfall. It’s quite a battle with me finding out. My agent will contact the casting director and say, “We know the Daleks are back in it, when will Nick be needed?”, and then they will completely deny the Daleks are in it, even though I’ve been told by someone. The short answer is I don’t know, but it’d be really lovely. I hope they’ll deal with the CGI element of the new Daleks as well. That hump on the back is to do with weapons that come out around the edge, and they haven’t done that yet, so I’d like to see that.

5 comments on this article
  1. Lee
    June 13th, 2010 at 8.38pm | #1

    Great interview guys!

  2. TSG
    June 13th, 2010 at 10.12pm | #2

    Must be a nightmare to be so out of the loop! Good on Mr Tennant for letting him know!

  3. pirko
    June 13th, 2010 at 11.36pm | #3

    Wonderful interview.

    I see Peter Bennett (current producer) didn’t last long :-s. I have noticed this series that there actually been 3 producers. Tracey Simpson, Peter Bennett and Patrick shwartcejdkldlkdujelkdjekl or something…

  4. JC
    June 14th, 2010 at 12.17am | #4

    I believe I recognised one of my questions in there, and if so, I thank the Admins for including it.

    It was an interesting interview and it’s great that people like Nick are willing to speak to the fans and answer a few questions.

    As has been said, a great interview, congrats to the admins and thanks to Nick Briggs

  5. dani
    June 14th, 2010 at 5.49pm | #5

    great interview!

    mine was there yay!

Leave a comment
By commenting you agree to our comment rules.

Silence will fall…
...next year! What does it all mean, and who - or what - is behind it? Share your theories and speculate the nights away in our ongoing discussion!
RSS Feeds

WhovianNet offers RSS feeds, so you can get our latest news posts to your preferred RSS reader! Here are the links you need...

Windows Live Alerts

You can recieve an alert in Windows Live Messenger each time we add a new post - simply click the button below!

Windows Live Alerts
Top Commentors
  • TSG (580)
  • TE (454)
  • pirko (320)
  • Steve (291)
  • TWWL (199)
  • JC (193)
  • Sam (182)
  • Lee (155)
  • David (153)
  • Mass (140)
Get an avatar!
Want your own avatar next to your comments on WhovianNet? No problem - find out how to get one by clicking here!