Thursday, 8 August 2013

An Interview with India Fisher

Maltby Street Market Cakes Ahoy!!

I thought I'd kick off The Audio Centurion with something a little different. So after I visited discovering India Fisher's rather good cake stand at Maltby Street Market (actually Ropewalk) I sent a few questions to her via e-mail (with the assistance of The Terrible Zodin Fanzine), which India Fisher kindly took the time to answer.
So thanks to India Fisher for her time and patience.
This is my first attempt at an interview so all dumb questions are entirely my fault.

1. How did you get into acting?
I’ve always wanted to be an actress, I can’t remember wanting to be anything else. I think Carrie Fisher had a profound effect on me. If we had the same surname then maybe one day I could be Princess Leia too! I started by going to acting classes outside school (as my school didn’t do things like Drama only proper subjects!) and I entered lots of festivals as a kid and got the bug from there. I did English and Drama at Uni and then decided not to go to Drama school but just tried to get work and eventually got myself an agent.

2. How did you end up getting the part of Charley?
Jason Haigh-Ellery came to a show I was doing up in Edinburgh called NewsRevue. He asked me to audition for Big Finish. So I did. They gave me the part of Peril Bellamy in a Peter Davidson and then months later I got a call asking if I’d like to be Paul McGann’s companion.

3. Is there much of you in Charley or is she completely different to you?
I’d like to think we’re both tenacious and ballsy. But then again I’ve never actually been faced with a scary monster so I might turn out to be an utter wimp. It’s hard to separate the two for me now really, as I feel over the years the writers have been great at melding things they see in me into the character of Charley. Although of course they don’t see me first thing in the morning before I’ve had a cup of coffee, they only see the nice India.

4. Did you know much about Doctor Who before you came on board? Had you seen Paul McGann's TV Movie?
Anyone of a certain age in the UK knows Doctor Who from their childhood. Tom Baker is the mental image I have when I say Dr Who, big hair, big hat, big scarf, big voice. I was never an ardent viewer, I was too busy playing with my Sindy dolls, and by the time I got old enough to get sci-fi Star Wars had hooked me. But Dr Who is part of the British TV pantheon, I knew what I was getting into when I started working for Big Finish, and it was great to be bringing new stories to the fans at a time when the BBC didn’t seem to be interested in Dr Who anymore. And yes I had seen Paul’s movie before I started working with him. But I was a massive fan of Withnail and I so that was more important really for me.

5. Were you told much about Charley's story Arc (as opposed to her Aunt. Sorry)?
Nope. I was kept as much in the dark as you were. In the first few seasons I used to get a new script and skip to the end to see if she died! And it was an utter surprise to me when they said I was coming back with Colin’s Doctor.

6. How did it feel switching Doctor's? How did it change Charley's role?
I was thrilled as I thought Charley was gone forever. Working with Colin was wonderful, he really is a lovely man and such fun to be in the studio with. It altered Charley dramatically too, she became older and wiser (which was no bad thing as I had been playing her for 7 odd years so she aged with me in some respects). But her time with the 8th Doctor after C’rizz’s death and towards the end altered her view of The Doctor, she realized that no matter how much he meant to her, she would always just be one in a long line of companions to him, and he’d become numb to the deaths and departures of his companions over the decades. She stopped idolizing him and saw him as more of an equal. And then when she saw what she thought was him die she felt she couldn’t tell the 6th Doctor that she knew his fate, so that in turn gave her an inner power. She was more in control, she thought she knew what to do for the best for him. And that ultimately meant erasing her from his memory. She was protecting him rather than the other way round. At that point I felt Charley became a woman.

7. Did you have fun?
Yes of course it was great fun. I always have fun when acting, it beats getting a proper job!

8. What is your favourite Big Finish play (that you've acted in or otherwise)? Why?
I loved Neverland as Charley’s story was coming to a climax. But I don’t really have a favourite.

9. Do you listen to your own stories?
Not really, I just can’t get past the thing that everyone has when they hear their own voices.

10. I found 'Scherzo' - the first of the Divergent Universe Arc with just you and Paul McGann - quite a tough listen as there's a lot of emotional stuff going on there. Was it hard to play?
No it was brilliant. I loved Scherzo and was so touched that Rob Shearman had written it as a thank you for Chimes of Midnight. We recorded it as a proper play, in as much as we rehearsed it once and did it in its entirety in one take. I love playing the emotional stuff and thought it was brilliantly written, my only worry was that I wouldn’t do it justice.

 11. After 'Scherzo' C'rizz came on board. Did that change Charley & the way you played her?
No. I loved working with Conrad and we became very close friends. But it didn’t alter Charley’s character. It obviously altered the dynamic of the Doctor and Charley as it became a threesome. But things had to move on.

12. I tried your excellent scones & home made raspberry jam on Saturday so is the stall going to be a regular thing?

Glad you liked them. We’re in talks to try and make it a regular thing so fingers crossed…

13. Have you read any of the 'Short Trips' which feature Charley? Did you find it weird reading in prose abut a performance you gave on audio?

Nope sorry I haven’t.

14. Would you like to try writing for Charley/Big Finish yourself?
God no. I leave that up to the professionals.

15. What's the most important thing you learned on your journey as the Eighth Doctor's companion between 2001 & 2007?

That you don’t have to hold your breath when it’s not your line! When I first started out I used to step away from the mike to breathe in between my lines as I didn’t want to ruin other people’s lines, then it was pointed out to me that we were all on separate tracks and no-one would hear me breathing anyway!!

16. What projects are you working on currently?
I’m still voicing Masterchef and Celeb Masterchef. I record various talking books and do odds and sods of voiceover work. But my main project at the moment is I’m pregnant, so I’m currently working on growing a baby – weird!

17. I see Nick Briggs is talking about stand alone Charley stories. Do you know much about this? Are you allowed to talk about it?

All I know is that it’s happening – am very excited to know more.

18. Have you ever looked at your Wikipedia entry? How inaccurate is it?
No but someone once came up to me and said “ooh we grew up in the same town” – so I replied “oh you’re from Stoke are you?” and they say “no Lytham St Anne’s” with a confused expression. I hadn’t a clue where Lytham St Anne’s was let alone it being the place I grew up. But she said she’d seen that was where I was born on my Wikipedia! So god alone knows where they get their information from. For the record I was born in London and moved to Staffordshire when I was 3 months old, and grew up in Stoke.

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