Daniel Mays: ‘I get chased by Peg Dolls!’

Ashes To Ashes star Daniel Mays guests in this week’s Doctor Who, as the father of a boy who scared of monsters. Here, he reveals more…

Tell us about the character you play in Doctor Who?

“I play Alex, who’s father to a little eight-year-old boy called George, who’s absolutely terrified of everything. Alex really is at his wits’ end and can’t understand why George is petrified all the time. Alex and his wife Claire (Emma Cunniffe) phone a doctor – and Matt Smith turns up at the door!”

Alex and Claire lock scary things away in George’s wardrobe, where the sinister Peg Dolls live…

“Kids have got such active imaginations and are frightened of so many things. Dolls are meant to be sweet, but these ones certainly are not – they’re scary.”

And soon the Doctor and Alex get sucked into the wardrobe. What was that like to film?

“That’s such a great part of the episode, the set begins to shake and close in on them. Then we get chased by the Peg Dolls. We had strobe lighting and everything – it felt like we were at a rave!”

So you enjoyed battling the monsters, then?

“It was a lot of fun. But what really attracted me to this episode is that it has a real human element; at its core is this heartfelt, meaningful and moving story about the worries that fathers have for their sons. I have a five-year-old son, Milo, and this is about dads accepting who their kids are, regardless of what problems they have.”

Did you suffer Night Terrors as a kid?

“There was a Jekyll and Hyde thing that Michael Caine did and I was utterly petrified of that, I was only about 10. That terrified me to the point where I had to sleep in between my parents. It came on the telly not long ago and I was like: ‘No!’ Just the make-up he wore; the creature was really scary. I’ll probably watch this episode of Doctor Who with Milo – under the covers!”

Does Milo think you’re the coolest dad in the world, now you’ve been in Doctor Who?

“Matt Smith, who plays the doctor, did give Milo a video message and very kindly signed some stuff to give to his classmates. Milo’s best friend Malick is a mad Doctor Who fan, so it was like all his Christmases had come at once. Milo likes Doctor Who, but Malick LOVES Doctor Who. We went to the park the other week and he kept asking me: ‘So, what are the dolls like then?’, ‘What are you doing in it?’ and I was like: ‘Malick stop!'”

*Daniel Mays stars in Doctor Who on Saturday, September 3 on BBC1