Meet Claudia Grant, alias Carole Ann Ford - AKA Susan, the original unearthly child - in An Adventure In Space And Time ...
You're sat here in full costume and make-up, looking uncannily like Carole Ann Ford in 1963. Are people freaking out when they see you?
I think I freaked out! My agent rang me – first of all she really wanted me to get it because her grandfather is William Hartnell! So when she rang it was like “No pressure!” So then, obviously, I googled Carole Ann Ford, and I thought “Oh, this is kind of weird…” My hair was long, but I could definitely see such a clear comparison between the two of us. So it was kind of freaky, but exciting because I was like “I really should get this because I really look like her!”
Have you met her?
Yeah, I met her at the readthrough. She looks great, she’s very glamorous. That was the first time I met her, so I was quite nervous, because not only were there 40 people in the room but she was there in my eyeline watching me every time I delivered a line! But she was lovely. She’s very supportive and she wants me to do well.
How do you think she felt about you playing her?
It must have been quite strange for her. She hasn’t actually vocalised what she thought of my performance or anything like that but she’s been very supportive. She was at a similar stage in her career as I am – well, she’d done more work than me – but I think she can kind of identify with me. She’s really rooting for me, which is lovely.
How have you approached the part?
Basically I’ve watched everything that she’s done. The first thing I had to try and get to grips with was her voice, because it’s much higher than mine, and it’s very particular – I’d never heard a voice like that before. It’s quite breathy, and the accent’s unusual.
It’s almost Welsh, isn’t it?
Some people say South African… I think it probably comes from having elocution lessons and stuff like that. So that was the first thing that I approached, because for me if I can find the voice then I can find it in the body and everything else. It’s just constantly watching her over and over again, to clarify her intonation, her accent… I break it down into phonetics and all sorts of stuff. I’m quite good at accents, and if I can break it down phonetically then even if it starts off sounding really weird the more and more I practice it the better it gets.
How much did you know about Doctor Who before you started on this?
I’d dipped in and out from childhood, but I didn’t know that much about it. Now, obviously, researching it and getting into it I suddenly realised what a massive fanbase it has. And I’ve suddenly realised that so many friends of mine are massive Doctor Who fans. They find out I’m playing Carole Ann Ford and they’re like “Oh, wow!” Someone wrote me a message on Facebook saying “Did you know that she’s only got an e on her name because the BBC wrote it wrong in a press release? And she had a child? And she was married?” And I was like “Oh my god!” (laughs)
An Adventure In Space And Time is on BBC Two on November 21st at 9.00 pm