Doctor Who

Doctor Who

Nick Briggs Exclusive Interview: “I wanted to make this Dalek super-arrogant”

By Christel Dee on Sunday 6 January 2019

We asked Nick Briggs a few questions about playing the voice of the Reconnaissance Dalek in New Year’s Day special, Resolution. Here’s what he had to say!

DOCTORWHO.TV: What was it like being a part of the New Year’s Day special?
NICK: It was really special to be involved. Before the series went into production, Chris had said to me in an informal chat that my services would be required. Then, months later, he announced there would be no old monsters ‘this year’. So, I just thought, ‘Ah well, maybe in the next series’. But I suppose, if I’m honest, I did feel a bit left out. So, when he invited me round for a cuppa and a bakewell tart — I supplied the bakewells, by the way! — I just thought we were going to have a chat and a catch-up as we’d done on previous occasions when we’d been out to lunch or bumped into each other. You could have knocked me down with a feather when he presented me with a Non-Disclosure-Agreement, asked me to sign it and, with a big grin on his face, asked me to come back and do the Dalek voice. It was magical, especially when he related the story to me. It was like a supercharged version of Jackanory, if anyone understands that reference. Just me and the showrunner leaning across the kitchen table conspiratorially and a really exciting bit of storytelling.

DOCTORWHO.TV: How did you approach voicing the Dalek mutant/the Pilot?
NICK: Right from the kitchen table recounting of the story, I knew the ‘internal’ voice of the Dalek should be very intense and close. In the ADR session, we tried different approaches. But I thought it was integral not to make it sound too much like a Dalek. In the first squid-on-back scene, the audience don’t know it’s a Dalek. So I wanted it to be ambiguous. But I also thought it would sound different, because it wasn’t coming out of a speaker in the metal Dalek. This was the voice of its mind. So I got so close to the microphone that my lips were brushing the pop shield and spoke really quietly, but with a huge, insane intensity. It’s a real psycho. So much rage stored up since the 9th Century. Then, they pulled back the ring modulation in the mix, so you heard more of my raw voice.

The mutant takes control of Lin.
The mutant takes control of Lin.

DOCTORWHO.TV: Did you make any changes to the main Dalek voice when it's in its new shell?
NICK: It was mostly the classic voice I’ve established since 2005. Drawing on all the greats of the past, like Peter Hawkins, David Graham, Roy Skelton and Michael Wisher, but also with a crueller, more expressive element every now and then. I also wanted to make this one super-arrogant. It’s been bottling all this rage up for hundreds of years, then it finally gets a chance to reclaim its horrible ‘glory’.

DOCTORWHO.TV: What did you think of the Dalek's DIY shell?
NICK: Lots of fun. Scrapheap Challenge, in a good way. Great fun.

DOCTORWHO.TV: What are your top tips for a good, menacing Dalek voice?
NICK: Get really, really angry. Bottle it up for a week, then step up to the microphone and LET IT GOOOO!!!

The Reconnaissance Dalek leaves destruction in it's wake.
The Reconnaissance Dalek leaves destruction in it's wake.

DOCTORWHO.TV: You've faced so many Doctors as the voice of the Daleks (all of them since the series came back), what was it like facing the Thirteenth Doctor?
NICK: For security reasons, I didn’t go to the set. That’s what I normally do. I’m there with the rest of the cast, rehearsing, shooting. I’m behind whichever bit of scenery you see behind the Dalek. But I’m a victim of my own minor notoriety, it seems. If I’d been spotted in Cardiff back in July when they shot it, the cat would have been out of the bag, and it was really important to keep the Dalek secret until the very last moment, for the maximum impact. So I didn’t film with Jodie and the gang. But I did meet them all at the screening and they were lovely. Full of energy and enthusiasm. And Jodie gave me a big hug and told me I was brilliant. That’s a moment I will treasure!

Nick Briggs poses with a ring modulator. Photo: Alex Mallinson.
Nick Briggs poses with a ring modulator. Photo: Alex Mallinson.

DOCTORWHO.TV: Can we expect to see UNIT's suspension covered in Big Finish anytime soon?
NICK: That’s a matter for the BBC, who approve our storylines. It’d be a great story, though, wouldn’t it? UNIT: The Wilderness Years. I think I’ll pitch that.

If you missed Resolution or would like to watch it again, you can catch up with the current series On Demand at BBC iPlayer (UK) or BBC America (US). For other regions, visit the Watch section to find out where to catch up in your territory.