Samuel Anderson found out he’d landed a gig on “Doctor Who” the day after Thanksgiving last year. He was hanging out with friends, listening to loud music and generally relaxing when his agent called. He took the call alone on the balcony and found out he was going to play Danny Pink.
“I went back inside and told my friends ‘Bloody hell, I just got “Doctor Who,”‘” Anderson said during a phone call from England the day before his first episode, “Into the Dalek” was set to debut. “Just then my phone rang again. It was my agent again, who said, ‘Don’t tell anyone.'”
Lucky for Anderson, that momentary slip didn’t hurt him.
“My friends are too cool for spoilers,” he said.
Anderson wasn’t in the first episode of the new season, “Deep Breath,” but that doesn’t mean his character, a math teacher at Coal Hill Secondary School, is a minor one. In fact, Pink is about to become part of the show’s recurring cast of characters, off on the adventures of the Doctor (Peter Capaldi) and his companion, Clara (Jenna Coleman).
The school has been a recurring setting for “Doctor Who” since the classic science-fiction adventure series’ first episode, “An Unearthly Child.” In the 1963 episode, the Doctor’s granddaughter Susan Foreman attends the Coal Hill School while the Doctor (William Hartnell) repairs the TARDIS, and two teachers discover their secret.
The Seventh Doctor (Sylvester McCoy) revisited the school in 1988’s “Remembrance of the Daleks,” and last year’s anniversary special revealed that current companion Clara Oswald is now a history teacher at the school.
Anderson, whose previous credits include “The History Boys” and “Doctors,” has also worked with Coleman; both are alumni of the long-running British soap opera “Emmerdale.” Coleman played Jasmine Thomas, the niece of the local vicar, and Anderson portrayed police officer Ross Kirk. The pair shared several scenes together.
“We got to hang out quite a bit back then,” Anderson said. “But the workload is quite a lot on ‘Doctor Who.’ The Doctor and Clara are in almost every scene.”
Anderson can’t say much about the journeys his character will take with the Doctor, but he did reveal that Pink and the Doctor won’t always see eye to eye.
“There’s a bit of friction that arises between Danny and the Doctor midway through the season,” Anderson said. “And [Danny’s knowledge of math] is a tool for that friction.”
So what do Danny and the Doctor disagree about? Mainly Clara, and who has her best interests at heart.
“Danny is an ex-soldier and he’s an ex-soldier for a reason,” Anderson said. “The Doctor isn’t sure about that when they first meet… He’s a bit of an opposite to the Doctor.”
Anderson also says Danny is quite shy, despite his description of being a “lady killer” in his first episode. That said, he isn’t entirely bookish.
“The military training is there when it’s needed,” Anderson said.
As the title of his first episode suggests, the Doctor’s mortal enemies the Daleks figure prominently into Anderson’s first episode. And the actor said that even at the table read of the episode, the alien creatures’ creepiness was undeniable.
“They have a little voice encoder right there for the read-through,” Anderson said. “You hear that voice say, ‘Exterminate! Exterminate!’ and the hairs prick up on the back of your neck. You remember it from being a kid and you want to run.”
– Patrick Kevin Day and Noelene Clark | @patrickkevinday
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