For Michelle Gomez, violent death is fast becoming a habit. First, Doctor Who‘s female Master was obliterated by a Cyberman in the final episode of series eight. She then returned from the grave for last week’s opening episode of series nine – only to be exterminated by Daleks at the end of it.
Or was she? Going on recent experience, you wouldn’t bet against another comeback this week. And so it proves in the second episode of Steven Moffat’s two-part storyline when Missy and Clara live to fight another day as they attempt to escape from Skaro and evil Dalek creator Davros.
TV&Satellite Week caught up with Michelle to find out how she’s coping in the hazardous role…
Missy was a big hit when she made her debut last year. Did you ever think you’d be back for series nine?
“I hoped there might be life for Missy beyond last year, but I had no idea – especially because she exploded. It was a bit of a surprise to be back so soon.”
Were you pleased to get the call?
“I’m very happy to be back. There’s an odd moment in an actress’s life where you tend to disappear until all the older parts come along. Missy is a real gift because I’m not playing somebody’s mum. I actually get to have a lot of fun.”
Why do you think Missy struck such a chord with viewers?
“She’s the sort of villain everybody wants to be, because she says the things they wouldn’t dare to say and does the things they wouldn’t dare to do. And that’s fun to watch.”
Was it nice to be thrown into scenes with the Daleks?
“Last year I thought I’d died and gone to heaven – so to be back with my wee bobbly friends… [pretends to swoon]. My particular favourite is the black one: it looks like the perfect Prada bag. And there’s a fabulous little blue and gold one, which is a little more Chloe.”
Missy forms an unlikely duo with Clara in this story. What do you think she really makes of her?
“I think the two of them are genuinely having fun together, and Clara thinks they’re actually becoming friends. But I wouldn’t trust Missy as far as I can throw her. I think she treats Clara as a toy to play with.”
Missy famously snogged the Doctor in series eight. Is there a genuine attraction there?
“No, I think it was just another way for her to get his attention. Missy would snog anything. She’d happily snog a Dalek. So I’m not so sure that was sexual. She was just messing with him.”
The Master’s gender was a big deal for fans last year. Was it a big deal for you too?
“I’m a Doctor Who fan first and foremost, so I knew what it meant to change the Master to a Mistress. Yes, it felt like a big deal. But I didn’t want to be too daunted by that, either. The brilliant thing is that it doesn’t seem to be a question anymore. It seems to have just been accepted.”
How have you coped with the scrutiny that comes with Doctor Who? Is it ever overwhelming?
“Only if you look out for it – but I don’t Tweet, do Facebook, any of that. But my son Harry is now at school and older siblings turn up at the school gates because they’ve heard the Master is picking up her kid. Stuff like that is really sweet, though.”
When you’re out and about, do kids ever react to you with alarm?
“There was a moment where I couldn’t resist scaring the bejesus out of a 12-year-old boy as we both reached for the last copy of Doctor Who magazine where I live. He looked up and went: ‘You look a lot like Missy.’ And I said: ‘That’s because I am Missy’. He dropped the magazine…”
Doctor Who continues on Saturday September 26 at 7.45pm on BBC1.