Sacha Dhawan reveals all about the return of The Master as the current series of Doctor Who reaches its thrilling finale
As the latest series of Doctor Who reaches its big finale, it ends just as it started – with the Doctor (Jodie Whitaker) locked in a battle with her long-standing foe, The Master.
At the beginning of the series, former Mr Selfridge and Iron Fist star Sacha Dhawan appeared as the Doctor’s friend O, who she had previously met at the Ministry of Defence. However, it was later revealed that he was actually her nemesis in disguise.
Last time (Sunday, 23 February), the evil Time Lord returned at the end of the first part of the two-part finale in which the Doctor and her crew – Ryan, Graham and Yas – are trying to save the last few members of the human race who are under threat from the Cybermen.
We chatted to Doctor Who star Sacha, 35, who plays the Master, about his epic comeback…
What can you tell us about The Master’s return to Doctor Who?
“I can’t say too much except that his path crosses with the Cyberman and that it focuses on The Master’s relationship with the Doctor. It’s quite dark and very emotional.”
How is your version of The Master different from previous incarnations?
“One of the things I want to do to was uncover a darker, more melancholic side to him, which I felt hadn’t been done before. We’ve tried not to reveal too much about him in one go. It makes him much more unpredictable so you never know what you’re going to get, and that’s explored in this story. It’s quite dark.”
What has the response been like since you were revealed to be The Master?
“I was really nervous about the first two episodes because I wasn’t sure if people were going to like them but there’s generally been an overwhelming amount of support.”
Have you had much attention from Doctor Who fans?
“People shout ‘It’s The Master!’ and I’m like ‘Oh, that’s me!’ It can be embarrassing. The other day, I was on a train and a girl pulled the Doctor Who magazine out of her bag and it had me on the front! It was a weird. Neither of us knew quite what to do.”
Did you do any research into the history of the Master?
“I did, but I didn’t want to be overwhelmed by it, so I looked at the bare facts of the character and some of the history. Showrunner Chris Chibnell gave me the blessing to have some kind of ownership. Both he and [executive producer] Matt Stevens offered me the role without an audition, which was so amazing of them. I still sent them an audition tape though, so they could see how I was planning to play it. I worried that when we got to filming, they would say ‘You’re not playing it like that are you?’”
What was it like working with Jodie?
“It was amazing. We had worked together a long time ago and I wasn’t sure if she would remember me, but on the first day of filming in make-up she jumped out of her chair and gave this big welcome and she remembered me. It just broke the ice really. I realised at that moment that this it the start of a special journey. She’s so amazing. I can’t speak highly enough of her. All the cast and crew are lovely, actually.”
What do you enjoy most about playing The Master?
“The key thing is that he has much more range in terms of being pleasant, playful and funny and really dark, even tortured. He also gets to interact with an array of different characters as well as being an array of different characters. He gets to travel through time, too, which is a bonus! I’d like to explore more of that.”
So you’d like to be in the next series?
“Hopefully I’ll be asked to come back. We’ll see how the finale goes down first!”
Doctor Who concludes this Sunday on BBC1 at 6.50pm