Lindsay Duncan talks about joining David Tennant on a trip to Mars in the latest Doctor Who special…

The clock is ticking down for David Tennant as Doctor Who this week when BBC1 airs the penultimate story before the Time Lord regenerates into Matt Smith this Christmas.

It certainly looks like he’ll be going out with a bang as the new episode, The Waters of Mars (on BBC1 and BBC HD, Sunday, 15 November at 7pm), is one of the darkest and most spine-chilling to date.

Lindsay Duncan guest stars in the dramatic special episode as tough Adelaide Brooke, the commanding officer of a team of scientists at a research station on Mars in 2059. She soon teams up with the Doctor when it becomes clear there is something nasty in the Martian water supply which is having a devastating effect on her colleagues.

We asked Duncan to tell us more about the episode…

So, what’s your character Adelaide like?
“She’s in charge of the research station on Mars and is a very strong, reliable woman with great leadership qualities. She is really challenged by events that take place on Mars, but rises to the challenge admirably. She’s a heroine.”

How does she meet the Doctor?
“They are a small band of isolated scientists on Mars who are interested in finding signs of other life forms, but they aren’t expecting another human being to appear. So when the Doctor turns up, he’s not given the warmest of welcomes, especially by Adelaide. At first, she is suspicious of who he is but, as events begin to unfold, they have to become allies and get to know each other.”

What kind of threat do they face?
“They are terrorised by water creatures. They look extraordinary and bleed water all the time, so their faces, and particularly their eyes, are very strange. They seep water with a relentlessness which builds up the fear.”

It sounds like a very dark episode
“Well, there have been questions over whether the monsters are too scary, but I think Doctor Who has to be properly frightening. This is really a very disturbing, dark and emotional episode, and visually it is really impressive, too. You believe you are in this strange but beautiful alien landscape.”

Was it unsettling to film?
“It was disconcerting looking at the actors playing the monsters because I had to remind myself that there was somebody in the costume. It was much worse for them, though, because they had long make-up sessions and had to cope with people’s strange response to them.”

What was it like working with David Tennant?
“I loved it and I really hope we will work together again. He’s the ultimate professional. He turned up with the highest energy of anyone on set and, irritatingly, knew his lines far better than I did. But you can tell from the humour he brings to the part that he is great fun to be around.”

Did you enjoy the action scenes?
“I loved them. A lot of actresses have got a bit of action woman secretly tucked away inside them. I also adored the costume because it was comfortable. I’ve done lots of period roles where you look good, but you’re in pain because of a corset biting into you.”

Were there many stunts?
“The closest I got was riding on the back of a robot called Gadget, holding on to David. It looks faster than it actually was, but it was still pretty fast and I really enjoyed that.”

How did your family feel about you getting the part?
“My son is 18 and into music, so he hasn’t watched Doctor Who – it passed him by. He didn’t spend his childhood watching it, so he doesn’t have an emotional attachment.”

Would you like to return as Adelaide?
“I would absolutely love it. I even started lobbying while we were filming. In fact, I wouldn’t mind having to put on a mask and coming back as a monster.”