What’s On TV took a trip to the set of Doctor Who: Last Christmas where comedian Nick Frost revealed how it’s been to play Santa in a very scary festive adventure for the Time Lord and Clara. He also let us in on a few behind-the-scenes secrets…
We love your Santa’s beard…
“I had the beard already when we started filming and they sort it every morning for me with something like a white boot polish. It takes so long to get on the whiteness over my reddish wiskers, so they have to put a brown on first, then a weird grey followed by the white.”
So what sort of Santa is he?
“There’s an expectation of what people would expect Santa to be and you have to bear that in mind, so he’s quite ‘Ho, ho, ho!’. But too much ‘Ho, ho, ho-ing!’ over an hour is a bit boring to watch – he has to be multi-faceted. So I’d say my Santa is a bit like Robert De Niro in Mean Streets, in that he’s funny, he’s flirty and charming, especially with Clara, but there’s a weird thing where the Doctor and Father Christmas have some longstanding beef.”
What’s their beef about?
“We never know why, and it’s never remarked upon, but from the get-go they’re kind of at each others’ throats, which is great because it’ll make viewers think: ‘Where did this come from?’ It’s kind of funny and I’m hoping it’ll be interesting enough to bring me back as Santa next Christmas.”
What was it like acting alongside Peter Capaldi as Doctor Who?
“Just great! He’s a wonderful actor and I’ve managed to turn him into a giggler on set. As an actor you want to work with great actors because it makes you up your game. It’s like in the FA cup when Shrewsbury play Man Utd and the little team just get better. On set I forget I’m dressed as Father Christmas and forget what I look like. Then I’m doing a face-off with Doctor Who and I can see Doctor Who in front of me, so I can keep a straight face, but when he sees me dressed as Father Christmas, it’s a bit tougher for Peter to not laugh…”
Is this adventure, Doctor Who: Last Christmas, particularly scary? And are the monsters – called Sleepers and Dream Crabs – creepy?
“Yes to both! Anything that clings to your face and potentially kills you is really creepy.”
Where does doing Doctor Who rank in your career?
“It’s fantastic, but you have to keep a lid on that, or you’d stop functioning every day. When I did the movie Paul with Sigourney Weaver my head wanted to pop every time I was with her, but I never once mentioned anything about anything she’d done before because then the dynamic would change and you become a fanboy as opposed to a work colleague.”
Will you watch Doctor Who on Christmas Day?
“Maybe just me and my other half. Hopefully the baby will be in bed and there’ll be some Harvey’s Bristol Cream on the go!”
What’s the dynamic like between Santa and his elves played by Misfits star Nathan McMullen and Dan Starkey?
“All three have worked together for like hundreds of years and he’s just really tired of them and they’re back-chatting him all the time so he gets cross because he wants to have the last word and they undercut him constantly. While he’s tired of them, he’s also protective towards them, because he’s their boss essentially. It’s been nice working with Nathan and Dan because we’ve done lots of improvisations in terms of little things and little physical tics. It’s been nice to work that in and have the freedom to do that.”
Are there any scenes or lines you can tell us about?
“We shot a scene yesterday on the top of Clara’s house and bearing in mind it took them six weeks to build the set for a day’s shoot it’s absolutely amazing and it looked incredible. It’s that thing that it snows, they make it snow and you’re on a snowy rooftop – it’s amazing.”
Your Santa has a sleigh too…
“Yes and literally the moment I got on it I broke it, so let’s not talk about that! I broke one of the lamps off.”
Do you always get into the Christmas spirit? And what’s your best ever present?
“I had some golf clubs recently which was pretty nice and I got a Blu-ray player when they first came out which was fantastic. I remember in the 1980s when I wanted a ZX Spectrum and my mum and dad got me it, but without a tape recorder so I couldn’t load the games. To my discredit I really cried, and kicked up a storm. I felt really bad because they felt really bad.
“But I love Christmas and it reignites when you have a child of your own. It’s all about him now and making it magical for him and cooking. I’m a cook, so I spend a lot of it cooking. That period of time between 6pm and 10pm and it’s all done and dusted and I can sit down and not worry about tidying up is wonderful. And watching Christmas Doctor Who drops into that category. That’s right in my ‘me zone’ in terms of a Chocolate Orange and Doctor Who.”
You’re a huge fan of Doctor Who, aren’t you?
“I was a big Tom Baker fan, and Peter Davison lives near me so I see him sometimes and I still have that weird fanboy thing where I go, ‘Helloooo!!!’ Then I loved Matt Smith as the Doctor, he really reignited my eagerness to get home on a Saturday and shut the door to have 45 minutes to myself watching Doctor Who. The baton change from Matt to Peter Capaldi has been fantastic, I love what he’s doing. It’s a treat and makes Saturday nights special.”
Doctor Who: Last Christmas, begins on BBC1 Christmas Day at 6.15pm