You both graduated from the University of Exeter. Do you have any fond student memories?
Nicholas Pegg: Oh, hundreds. For example, there was the time I first met Barnaby Edwards. I recall he was wearing very silly trousers at the time. But it was the 1980s, so you have to make allowances.
Barnaby Edwards: You can talk. I remember you used to have an earring in the shape of a parrot. We first met in the old coffee bar in Devonshire House. Nick was in the year above me. I was a fresher, and he was already a leading light in the student theatre society, so I was a bit in awe of him.
NP: That didn’t last long. I was always a fan of Doctor Who, but it would be fair to say that in the 1980’s the show did not have the student cachet that it has these days. There certainly wasn’t a Doctor Who Society at Exeter University. Back then it was regarded as decidedly unhip. My first term coincided with The Trial of a Time Lord. Braving the common room in Hetherington House to watch the Vervoids on a Saturday evening gave rise to a certain amount of ridicule, I can tell you. But hey, we won in the end, didn’t we? Doctor Who is cool again.
BE: The geeks have inherited the earth. Seriously though, yes, I have very happy memories of my time at Exeter. I studied French and Fine Art.
NP: And I was reading English Literature. Looking back, we were blessed – or cursed, depending on how you look at it, but I think we were blessed – to be students at a time of extraordinary activism and politicisation in the universities. It was the heyday of Margaret Thatcher and everything that she entailed. Asset-stripping, student loans, Section 28, the poll tax looming on the horizon. The campaign to release Nelson Mandela was at its height. Whatever your political views, these were big causes, and we were all quite exercised by this stuff.
I think we were blessed – to be students at a time of extraordinary activism and politicisation in the universities
BE: For a while in the noughties, student politics seemed to ebb away a bit, didn’t they? I’m thrilled to see young people becoming more politicised again lately. Oh, listen to us. Pair of old twits.
NP: I wouldn’t want to give the impression that we spent all our free time manning the barricades in dungarees. When we weren’t studying, I think we spent most of our time putting on plays. Some of them weren’t too bad, I think. I directed The Merchant of Venice and Hamlet at the Northcott Theatre, and I’m still very proud of those. And the first thing that Barnaby and I ever did together was a play on the Edinburgh Fringe.
Every Dalek has to have a hobby. What work do you do beyond the TV series?
BE: We’re both actors, so normally we play human beings. We’ve both done lots of theatre and radio and audio, the occasional film and TV. I’ve done everything from Children of Men to Hollyoaks. Just recently I’ve been recording a lot of audiobooks for companies like Audible and Whole Story. I also run my own audiobook company, called TextbookStuff.com. We specialize in set text authors, both poetry and prose, and I’ve been blessed with some terrific readers: people like Miriam Margolyes and Martin Jarvis. And even David Soul!
We’re both actors, so normally we play human beings …. I’ve done everything from Children of Men to Hollyoaks.
NP: Oh, stop it. Besides acting, we both write and direct as well. We’ve both directed a lot of theatre, and we’ve both written and directed for the Doctor Who audio plays that are made by Big Finish Productions. Over the years I’ve also written a great many theatre shows for children – mostly Christmas pantomimes. This year you can see a new version of Aladdin ‘what I wrote’ at the Queen’s Theatre in Hornchurch. I’m also the author of a book called ‘The Complete David Bowie’, which is a fairly self-explanatory title. It’s available from all good stores, of course.
BE: And I’m a painter as well. I’ve had a few exhibitions. And I accept painting commissions via my website, which is BarnabyEdwards.co.uk! Sorry, this is just getting shameless, isn’t it?
NP: Yes, for goodness’ sake, let’s stop. Actually, maybe I could just tell you about a very interesting project I’m working on right at the moment. This isn’t about me; it’s about someone else. There’s a brilliant songwriter called David Palfreyman, who records and releases under the name ‘Malf’. He’s currently recording a new album, and I’m working on it with him, writing a linking narrative that we’re going to use to bind the whole thing together. The working title is Decades.
Finally, where do you think the Daleks are heading to in the future?
BE: An obscure body in the SK System, your Majesty.
NP: I’m going to Bristol on Saturday. After that, who knows?
You can ‘see’ Barnaby Edwards and Nicholas Pegg as the Daleks in Doctor Who: The Magician’s Apprentice/The Witch’s Familiar currently on BBC iPlayer.
Read part 1 of the interview here.