Michelle Ryan is Doctor Who… and a whole load of other characters on the latest Original BBC Doctor Who Audiobook, “The Rising Night”.
We last saw the ex-EastEnder and Bionic Woman star as Lady Christina de Souza, flying off in her enhanced double decker in the Easter Doctor Who romp "Planet Of The Dead”. It’s fair to say that she made quite an impression, and the question she inevitably now gets asked is, “When is Lady Christina coming back?" Sadly, she tells us, “I suppose it's a possibility but there's nothing planned as yet. I like to keep my options open. I loved playing Lady Christina, she's one of my favourite characters, but I like to do lots of different things so, it depends really.”
BBC Audio has been picking some star names from the series (including David Tennant and Freema Agyeman) to narrate these tales, and Ryan was more than happy to lend her voice to the range.
“There are some really interesting characters, and it was really fun to play lots of different parts,” she enthuses. “I had to impersonate David – that was the hardest thing. You need to have that energy behind it. The way his pauses are in different places. But it was really great fun. And I thought it was a really good script. That's what's good about Doctor Who. I think the writing is so good. Even though it's about time travel, it's still relevant to the modern day. People can still relate to the relationships and emotions in it.”
"The Rising Night”, written by Scott Handcock, is a historical romp, set in an 18th Century rural Yorkshire village where the sun hasn’t risen for three weeks. The Doctor joins up with local lass, Charity, to solve the mystery. Ryan found playing so many different characters an interesting challenge.
“With Charity I kept her very much how I sound. But then they had another character, a temptress, witchlike character – and I got to go quite flamboyant with her; quite sort of breathy, slightly channelling Joanna Lumley. With all the other town folk I got to do all sort of different accents.
“You can't really prepare. You're the narrator but you're also playing these different characters. The challenge is constantly keeping the energy up; keeping the mood up. Sometimes you have top go from being quite energetic and frenetic and then slowing it right down for the next character. I remember listening to Roald Dahl audio books when I was a kid, and there's something special about the narrator and how they tell the story; if they capture it right, then it's so interesting to listen to. I hope I’ve captured it right. But I'm glad I've done it. It gets you thinking - having to switch between different characters, pretty much improvising it as you're going along.”
A SF and fantasy fan herself, Ryan especially loves "dark comics, like The Watchmen. The ones set in the ’30s and ’40s where the women are like Jessica Rabbit style femme fatales, and you've got guys in their cool hats. It's all dark and edgy and everyone seems to smoke.”
She also names the mind-bending anime Ghost In The Shell II: Innocence as one her favourite film experiences: “I have to say that's one of the most phenomenal films I've ever seen, with all the references to literature and all the quotes. Visually it's so stunning. I thought it was like a Japanese Blade Runner. The music was fantastic as well. There’s a song on the soundtrack, Follow Me, which is one of my favourite songs.”
Recently, of course, we also seen her in the BBC’s Merlin as Nimueh (another character which there are no immediate plans for bringing back, she reveals – "I died, didn’t I?” she muses, "but in fantasy I suppose there’s always the chance of a revival.”) But SFX wondered if they made the same joke on set about her name as we did in the office – did everyone start singing “Nim-a-way, Nim-a-way, Nim-a-way, Nim-a-way…”?
You know, to the tune of “The Lion Sleeps Tonight?
Oh well, just us then.