Ben Miller Cast as Villain in Series 8
The BBC have announced that Ben Miller is set to guest star opposite Peter Capaldi when the new series of Doctor Who returns this autumn.
Commenting on his role, Ben Miller says: “As a committed Whovian I cannot believe my luck in joining the Twelfth Doctor for one of his inaugural adventures. My only worry is that they’ll make me leave the set when I’m not filming.”
Miller achieved fame as half of comedy duo Armstrong and Miller before success in dramas, including Primeval and, more recently, as DI Richard Poole, the central character in the first two series of the BBC’s Death In Paradise.
Miller’s partner in comedy, Alexander Armstrong, appeared in Doctor Who’s 2011 Christmas Special, playing Reg Arwell, but it’s Miller’s first time on the show and he’ll be starring in an episode written by Mark Gatiss.
Steven Moffat, lead writer and executive producer, adds: “Mark Gatiss has written us a storming villain for his new episode, and with Capaldi in the TARDIS, we knew we needed somebody special to send everybody behind the sofa. And quite frankly, it’s about time Ben Miller was in Doctor Who!”
Other familiar faces confirmed to join Peter Capaldi and Jenna Coleman in the new series, which will TX on BBC One later this year, include Tom Riley and Keeley Hawes.
Ben Miller's first photos from set of "Doctor Who"
Ben Miller is staring in the Robots of Nottingham episode by Mark Gatiss. Here he is at Caerphilly castle on the 17th April
Ben Miller solves the pensions crisis – by pilfering from Doctor Who set
The new baddie from Doctor Who has come up with a novel solution to private pensions – stealing from the set.
Ben Miller, star of the BBC’s Death in Paradise Drama, will guest star as “a dastardly villain with considerable sideburns” in an episode penned by Mark Gatiss.
Describing himself as a “committed Whovian” he is such a fan that he is nabbing costumes and scripts in the hope that they will increase in value.
Speaking to Mr S in the West End he said, “I’ve taken stuff from set including loads of photos which is very naughty because you’re not allowed to. I’ve kept everything; schedules and all the things you’ve got to wear and the scripts. I’m hording it, I’m seeing it as my pension.”
Doctor Who villain Ben Miller: ’I genuinely tried to chop off Tom Riley’s head!’
Doctor Who's next mission on Saturday (BBC1, 7.30pm) sees the Time Lord and Clara teaming up with Robin Hood to try and save medieval England from the crazed Sheriff of Nottingham (played by Ben Miller).
There are plenty of amazing archery scenes and sword fights in the adventure - and in the midst of it all is Death In Paradise star Ben, who told What’s On TV how he nearly took one sword fight a little too far.
“In the Sheriff’s sword fight with Tom Riley, who plays Robin, I came at Tom like a bull in a china shop. I have this big thing about sword fighting in films in that it never looks like they’re trying to hit one another. So I thought I’d genuinely try to chop his head off and hit him. Luckily Tom was very experienced with swords, so I knew he could handle a novice like me!“
“I hadn’t done sword fighting before, as Tom Riley will attest to, because I think I actually created a new joint in his thumb during one of the fight scenes! He’s a brilliant sword fighter so if I look good it's only because he’s so brilliant.“
Ben learnt plenty of new skills too, including archery. “I did have archery lessons,“ says Ben. “It was fantastic learning to fire a longbow.“
He loved the Sheriff’s outfit, too, which helped him enormously to get into the villainous role. “I wanted to make my Sheriff as evil and dark as possible, which was so easy when I was dressed up in his amazing costume and sporting a beard. It’s my first time ever playing a baddie, and it was such fun, much more fun than being a goodie. Sadly I can’t keep the costume. I was told it’s going straight into a museum in Cardiff.“
Just as menacing, too, are some new Doctor Who monsters who are controlled by the Sheriff from his castle.
“The killer robot knights are very scary and disturbing, especially with their Darth Vader-like voices! Doctor Who is always great at throwing up oddly frightening new monsters like this. I’m hoping kids will run behind the sofa when they see me as the Sheriff and at his knights!“
Doctor Who: Ben Miller on filming Robot of Sherwood
How actor Ben Miller confused one great city for another on his way to play the Sheriff of Nottingham in Doctor Who
Doctor Who guest star Ben Miller almost didn’t make filming in Cardiff - because he got off the train in Newport!
The actor told the Radio Times in his Doctor Who diary: “My bag is packed, and on the train to Cardiff. Which is a shame, because I just got off at Newport. Basically I saw a castle and panicked. I forgot that every Welsh city has a castle, just like every English one has an Ikea.“
The mishaps didn’t stop there either, with the actor, who plays baddie the Sheriff of Nottingham, mistaking the Vale of Glamorgan’s Cosmeston Medieval Village for an impressive set.
“Somehow, from nowhere, an entire medieval village has been created in the Vale of Glamorgan. I can’t believe the budget. On a two-acre plot are at least a dozen wattle houses, kitted out with authentic cooking implements, with suitably ancient breeds of chicken pecking in the dust. I sidle up to one of the crew. Amazing attention to detail, eh? He looks at me strangely. ’It’s Cosmeston Medieval Village, Ben. It’s a theme park’.“
The sightseeing and confusion continued with a visit to Caerphilly Castle, where the cast were greeted by Whovians.
“Possibly one of the most exciting days of my life. We arrived at Caerphilly Castle to see hordes of extras thronging the gates. I check the call sheet, which lists the day’s business. No sign of a crowd scene. Have they changed the shooting order? My friend on the crew shakes his head. ’Those aren’t extras. Those are the fans’.“
But the journey had to come to an end, concluding with a day’s filming on set in the capital complete with a very real sword fight with Robin Hood.
Miller said: “The studios here in Cardiff rival anything I’ve see in the US, and we have spent the week shooting on colossal interiors with an army of crew.“
Ben Miller's Doctor Who diary
The star of Armstorng and Miller and Death in Paradise chronicles a fanboy's dream - taking on Doctor Who as the Sheriff of Nottingham
A Time Lord calls
11 March 2014, 7.23PM
“Darling, can you ride a horse?” I’m on stage at the Vaudeville Theatre in London, doing my warm-up, which basically consists of eating cake while chugging a triple espresso. In a few minutes, the curtain will go up on The Duck House, a slapstick-farce about the expenses scandal. Six months in the part have left me with a cavalier attitude to the truth. “Who wants to know?” I ask, “Doctor Who,” says my agent. “I’m a natural,” I say.
Seventy-three sight gags later, I return to my dressing room to find an unusually verbose email from my agent. “B – Interest in you as Sheriff x.” The attachment reads, “Robot of Sherwood by Mark Gatiss.” Is this a wind-up? Is it really possible I could be in an episode of Doctor Who? Wide-eyed, stripey scarf-wrangling Tom Baker was my first idol, and the show gave me a fascination with time travel that inspired me to study physics. I lock my dressing-room door and sit down to read...
Like joining MI5
Everything about Doctor Who, I’m beginning to learn, is shrouded in secrecy. Landing a part is like trying to join MI5, only with tighter security. My overwhelming love for the script has been relayed through the official channels, and since then... Nothing. I decide to say nothing to my boys just in case it doesn’t work out. Both of them have been schooled in all things Time Lord since birth. Sonny, eight, has an enviable collection of sonic screwdrivers and Harrison, two, genuinely believes he is a Dalek. Pull this one off and I may be their hero for ever.
Ben Miller as the Sheriff of Nottingham in Doctor Who
A secret chat
Paul Murphy, the director, calls me for a chat. We have an in-depth discussion about my character and the way he intends to shoot the fight scenes. It’s all very professional, but what I really want to ask is, “Will the Master be coming back?”
My bag is packed
It’s on. Shout it from the rooftops: tomorrow I have my first day’s filming on Doctor Who. The last few days have been a blur of costume fittings and make-up tests. Claire Pritchard-Jones has fashioned me an extraordinarily malicious suite of facial hairs, and Howard Burden has kitted me out in so much tasselled leather I wouldn’t look out of place playing bass in Nine Inch Nails. My bag is packed, and on the train to Cardiff. Which is a shame, because I just got off at Newport. Basically I saw a castle and panicked. I forgot that every Welsh city has a castle, just like every English one has an IKEA.
My kingdom for a horse rider
First day of shooting. I’m about to do some marauding. Somehow, from nowhere, an entire medieval village has been created in the Vale of Glamorgan. I can’t believe the budget. On a two-acre plot are at least a dozen wattle houses, kitted out with authentic cooking implements, with suitably ancient breeds of chicken pecking in the dust.
I sidle up to one of the crew. Amazing attention to detail, eh? He looks at me strangely. “It’s Cosmeston Medieval Village, Ben. It’s a theme park.” I nod sagely.
“Do you want to meet your horse?” I am led towards a sable-black beast 15 hands high that looks like the steed of a Norse warrior god. Perched on top of it is the bass player from Nine Inch Nails. Oh – hang on, I’ve got a double. And he can ride! This just gets better and better.
Back at base, I bump into Peter Capaldi, who is filming a different episode. He greets me warmly, which is a relief, as the last time I saw him he tried to throttle me with a yard of piano wire. He claims it was part of the play we were doing at the time, The Ladykillers, but I have my doubts. He is dressed as the Doctor, and something about the frock coat and the tieless, buttoned-up white shirt is instantly iconic. Suddenly I place it; that’s how Peter always dresses.
So, how is he finding it? “I’m like a kid in a sweet shop,” he says, grinning. “I was meant to have a day off yesterday, but I saw they were shooting a fight with the Daleks, so I came in anyway. Couldn’t miss that, could I?”
Tom Riley's Robin Hood with Peter Capaldi and Jenna Coleman
I wield my sword
Swordfight rehearsal. A little humbling. Tom Riley from Da Vinci’s Demons is playing Robin Hood, and as well as being a devastatingly handsome, impossibly witty and brilliant actor, he is a master of the blade. When I wield my sword I look more like a painter and decorator trying to get some wallpaper up in a hurry.
After five minutes’ swashbuckling I am exhausted and call for time out. Tom offers me a carrot stick. I take one, artfully draping my coat over my bag of doughnuts.
Kid in a candy store
Possibly one of the most exciting days of my life. We arrived early at Caerphilly Castle to see hordes of extras thronging the gates. I check the call sheet, which lists the day’s business. No sign of a crowd scene.
Have they changed the shooting order? My friend on the crew shakes his head. “Those aren’t extras. Those are the fans.” I have Sonny with me today, and his eyes are out on stalks. One of the true joys of the set is how welcoming it is to children. Whatever’s happening in front of the camera, you can guarantee that somewhere behind it is a huddle of lucky ten-year-olds wearing head- phones, listening in to the scene, their eyes glued to the monitor.
At the end of the day, Peter and Jenna sign a Day of the Doctor poster for Sonny. Peter signs his name over the picture of Matt Smith, and Sonny and I smile appreciatively. This is the only show in the world where that makes complete logical sense.
Last day of shooting. The studios here in Cardiff rival anything I’ve seen in the US, and we have spent the week shooting on colossal interiors with an army of crew.
My last-scene-but-one is my swordfight with Tom Riley. What I hadn’t quite counted on was the fact that we rehearsed with wooden swords, but the ones we are shooting with today are very, very metal. After some particularly inept clanging on my part I end up making a new joint in Tom Riley’s thumb. He is far too polite to say anything, but when we say our goodbyes I can’t help noticing he shakes my hand with his elbow.
For my final scene I am to be winched right into the roof of the studio on a wire, then dropped some three storeys onto a crash mat. Paul Murphy is shooting in a different studio, and directs over the intercom. As I dangle in the rafters, waiting for the first assistant to call it, I can’t help feeling that this is a metaphor for the whole job. I’ve been carried to great heights by this magnificent team, and had experiences that will last me a lifetime. And now I’m about to be dropped back into reality.
“Action!” says the first, and I kick and flail into the abyss, the wire pulling tight inches above the mat. Everyone applauds. Tears well in my eyes. Then Paul comes over the radio, “Can he do it again? The monitor cut out and I missed that one.”