What can you tell us about “Night Terrors”?
It’s a stand-alone story: it’s not really connected to the bigger arc of what’s going on in Doctor Who at the moment. It’s about a young boy primarily, called George. His parents are Alex and Claire, played by Emma Cunniffe. It’s a contemporary story set in a tower block, and George is an incredibly sort of nervous young chap of about eight years old. He seems to be absolutely petrified of everything. He can’t sleep; he imagines that there are voices coming from his wardrobe and that his toys are coming to life. He’s a got a really over-active imagination and his parents really are at the end of their tether with it really, particularly Alex. And so a Doctor is brought in to help the situation. I think Alex imagines or thinks that it’s going to be somebody from social services and all of a sudden the Doctor turns up and begins to help him and find out what’s causing these night terrors as the episode unfolds. But there’s other characters within the tower block and you get introduced to them as the episode unfolds as well.”
Do you think it will mess [the younger audience] up?
Mays: “Yeah, scare them senseless.” [Checks with PR person present] “I can talk about the dollhouse? We end up kind of being miniaturised and trapped into this dollhouse, where you then get introduced to these really scary peg dolls. So we’re running around being chased by these oversized dolls, which was quite interesting to film. But I’ve come straight off of Outcastsand then went straight into Doctor Who so it was my sci-fi period. What actually happens at the end is really great. I can’t reveal too much but it’s a very well written episode.”
How was that shot then? Were people dressed up or special FX?
Mays: “No, it was people dressed up. And I’m running round with an oversized pair of pink scissors, and anything else. I thought my career was over.” [Laughs] “Alex is dragged along for the ride. So he hasn’t really got a clue what’s going on.”
A bit like The Borrowers then?
Mays: “Yeah, yeah, I guess there is a sort of homage to The Borrowers. It was real fun to film, it was very funny on set. Matt was just great to work with. I think he’s fantastic in that part.”
How does Alex react to the Doctor when he turns up?
Mays: “I think he thinks his wife Claire has phoned social services and all of a sudden he turns up on the doorstep. So he’s quite taken aback as to how quickly he’s turned up, but also the methods that he uses to examine the boy and the different theories that he comes out with. I think at one point he says monsters do exist and monsters are real and Alex is kind of, ‘What’s going on?’ And then they get sucked into the wardrobe.”
Wardrobe? So is there a Narnia vibe as well?
Mays: “No, but all of that is in there as well, I guess. Maybe it was subconsciously rolling around Mark Gatiss’ head.”
One of the things we’ve seen a lot in Moffat’s two years on the show is that apparently one-off characters come back, suddenly and unexpectedly – like Churchill and pirate Captain Avery. Might we be seeing you again?
Mays: “I guess it is open; you could bring the character back like they’ve done with James Corden’s character. Or maybe it’s a story that ends and then that’s it. You could definitely bring back the young boy.”