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Rhianne Starbuck discusses the Star Beast

Actress Rhianne Starbuck will be playing Sharon Davies along side Tom Baker’s fourth Doctor. Due to release March 2019, this new retelling of Doctor Who is a comic strip adaption featuring the popular companion. Star Beast is a modern take on the classic comic story that first introduced her to the Whoniverse.

Big Finish recently sat down with the actress to ask her a bit about the new adventure and her experience working on it. It seems several people have been asking about the comic strip coming back. Starbuck, who was a reader of Doctor Who Weekly was more than keen to make this a reality.

2019 will see two new companions for the Fourth Doctor for Big Finish. Ann Kelso, a police officer in 1978 voiced by actress Jane Slavin will debut in The Fourth Doctor Adventures: Season 8. Sharon Davies, previously only seen in the comic strips, will also appear for the first time on the Big Finish.

Recording for Big Finish

Starbuck originally recorded the audio in October 2017, but is chuffed that it’s finally being released. The actress said she loved working with Tom Baker and hopes his Doctor will travel back to her timeline so she can have another go.

When asked about the recording process Starbuck stated she had just moved into a new house which had no heating or plumbing. She explained that she was thuroughly happy to escape into a recording studio while everything at home was being sorted.

“It’s one of the first voiceover works I’ve done, and everyone was so lovely. The cast were brilliant, Nick Briggs was amazing, and it was so much fun. We didn’t stop laughing – laughter all day long, even through the breaks. The atmosphere was electric.” — Rhianne Starbuck

The actress considered how Sharon and the Doctor were portrayed in this adventure and how it differed from what a television experience would have been.

“You get a real sense of the pair of them in audio. In television work, quite often you’re in and out. There’s not much scope for acting. Little of it is about the character. It was really nice to bring more to the character, and you have time to play around with it more. With Big Finish you get a sense of time with the characters[ . . . ] With audio I really got to flesh out a three dimensional person, even without seeing them! [ . . .] When the visual is taken away, you have to work a little harder to portray that person.” — Rhianne Starbuck

Working with Tom Baker

The actress recalled filming with Baker suggesting that he was “very polite”. “When you work with someone with that great reputation, sometimes you can feel daunted”, she suggested. However, she claimed that Baker made her feel comfortable and was “very welcoming”. ” I remember at lunchtime, he was constantly telling stories and jokes, everyone was mesmerised listening to him”, she recalled. She claimed that Baker is very young at heart and acts as though he hasn’t aged at all. Starbuck said of Baker that he was professional and playful.

“The way I would describe it to others would be that you’re like a big kid, you get to play with different voices, different things, you can be aliens on a massive trip, or on a huge adventures… it does take you back. There’s such a playful, light-heartedness about it all. And it works well with the actors.” — Rhianne Starbuck

The New Companion

Sharon Davies was originally created for Doctor Who Weekly. She was the first character of colour to be reoccurring in the Doctor Who universe before Mickey Smith’s appearance on the television series in 2005.

Sharon Davies and Frobisher dancing

Sharon Davies dances with Frobisher in The Stockbridge Showdown

Starbuck took a moment to talk about the character she played in this retelling of the Star Beast. She explained that the character is skeptical of the Doctor at first. Sharon didn’t have a good father figure and has issues trusting people, Starbuck elaborated. “She’s even quite nasty and cold to him in the beginning”, she added.

“In terms of character she’s kind of my dream character to play, she’s very similar to my life story. I never had the father figure growing up, she’s northern, she’s mixed race, just like myself. And a really fun character to play.” — Rhianne Starbuck

The actress suggested that Sharon is strong willed, adding, “If she wanted to do something, she did it”.

The Comic Influence

The actress was informed beforehand that this story was based on a comic strip. She claims that her Whovian uncle remembered the story instantly. Though the actress herself was not familiar with Doctor Who before, she found upon meeting and talking to people involved that it was all “really inspiring”. She stated that someone even brought a copy of the comic strip to the studio which allowed her to see parts of the story visually play out. It also helped her to realise how much had been changed from the original.

“I had no idea what Sharon looked like, then later in the day we saw what she looked like. It was surreal… but when you have the visual taken away, that’s when your brain and your imagination kicks in, that’s the beauty of it.” — Rhianne Starbuck

Starbuck suggested that her lack of insight into Doctor Who was helpful in playing the role of Sharon.  “I think the truth in Sharon is there. I was learning as Sharon was learning”, Starbucks explained.

Sharon isn’t the only encounter the fourth Doctor has in the Star Beast. He will also find himself dealing with the villainous and adorable Beep the Meep. This galactic criminal often refers to himself as the “Most-High” and is not to be underestimated.

Details

Doctor Who: The Comic Strip Adaptations will be released in March 2019. The stories in this collection are listed below.

  • 1. Doctor Who and the Iron Legion adapted by Alan Barnes 
  • 2. Doctor Who and the Star Beast adapted by Alan Barnes

These two epic stories will be released in March 2019 as a 5-disc CD box set for £23 or on download at £20 from the Big Finish website.

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