TV Series

Gabriel Woolf returns as Sutekh after almost 50 years

The iconic voice of Sutekh discusses bringing the terrifying villain back to the Whoniverse...

The One Who Waits, revealed! The Doctor and Ruby's pursuit of answers on the mysterious Susan Triad led them to UNIT Tower - where it was revealed that pulling the strings is the Doctor's ancient and terrifying enemy Sutekh, last seen almost 50 years ago in Pyramids of Mars. Not only that, but returning to the role is the voice of Gabriel Woolf, who originally portrayed Sutekh in 1975.

We spoke to Gabriel about bringing Sutekh back to the Whoniverse after so long, and revisiting the original adventure in Tales of the TARDIS...

Watch Empire of Death on BBC iPlayer from Saturday 22nd June and on Disney+ from Friday 21st June where available.

Sutekh in Pyramids of Mars
Sutekh in 1975's 'Pyramids of Mars'

How does it feel reviving Sutekh after nearly 50 years?

It felt sort of inevitable in a way. I’d never lost Sutekh because of the fans. They’ve kept him alive, organised conventions all over the place, so it feels kind of natural.

How does it feel knowing a whole new audience will discover the classic story of 'Pyramids of Mars' when it is revisited in 'Tales of the TARDIS' this week? 

It’s excellent; they will have the complete backstory of Sutekh so they will know how it all began. Tom [Baker] and I play off each other and it was dramatic, it was a bit like a play. I hope it gives a tremendous added dimension to the excitement for the finale - the fact it’s spread out over cinemas and across the world is wonderful.

What was your reaction when you were asked to come back to the Whoniverse?

I was over the moon, delighted and thrilled. It was wonderful. The fans have always said ‘Oh you must come back!’, and I always said back ‘It’s not up to me!’ – and now it’s happened. Extraordinary.  

Did you ever think you would return to the Whoniverse?

No. it’s been 48 years since we did it so I thought it was pretty unlikely. It was a big surprise but a good one!

Do you think anything is different about this version of Sutekh to the one we met in 1975?

Well, visually certainly, and I thought there has been some development of the character – but we do have the same classic lines here and there so he is recognisable, and he is destroying the same universe. 

Sutekh in 'The Legend of Ruby Sunday'.

You've played another role in Doctor Who, can you explain this more?

Yes, the Beast. That was in The Impossible Planet and The Satan Pit with David Tennant – I never met him or many of the people, I do things in a little box on my own!

What is the process when recording voiceovers? Do you imagine the finished result when recording?

You are always working in a vacuum with the character in your head and using your voice. It was only when I had a special viewing a couple of weeks ago that I could see what my voice was matching to – it was a big relief for me to see how well it worked together.

How do you hope fans will react when they see the big reveal of Sutekh's return?

I would hope they’d be very excited and pleased, and that they’ll give themselves a pat on the back as it’s all down to them that this has happened.

Do you have a favourite Doctor Who villain, other than the ones you've played?

I enjoy the Daleks more than anything else, but then the Master is good… they’re all classic ones!

If you could travel anywhere in time and space, where or when would you go to?

I don’t think I’d want to go to the origins of the universe and see how it began or anything like that, I’m not a scientist (laughs). I love the Victorian age for literature, most of my life has been spent in Victorian literature and poetry – but I’m mostly remembered for Doctor Who which is funny, it was two weekends in 1975!

Watch Empire of Death on BBC iPlayer from Saturday 22nd June and on Disney+ from Friday 21st June where available.

More on TV Series

more from the whoniverse

More From Read and Watch

from the store

More from the store