Here we are, then: the mystery is solved. In this still from Saturday's Doctor Who episode The Sontaran Stratagem, I'm the blue fella on the left. For two seconds. Hooray!
As you can see, I'm playing the role of a somewhat rotund gentleman with a bald patch on the side of his head. It was a hell of a stretch - I had to bulk up beforehand with multiple visits to catering - but it was clearly the role I was born to play.
It happened on the afternoon of 7 November, 2007. Director Douglas Mackinnon wanted to film some extra coverage for Scene 4.14, in which UNIT take control of the ATMOS Factory and round up its (literally) blue-collar workers. Problem being, because this was a change of plan, most of the warehouse worker extras weren’t on set that day.
Bizarrely, The Mill’s FX man Tim Barter and I were asked if we’d mind being roped into playing warehouse workers for a teeny, tiny scene. Of course we didn’t mind! So we abandoned our respective posts on set, and headed over to the clothes trailer, where costume supervisor Lindsay Bonaccorsi was waiting to size us up for boots and blue outfits.
Then we nipped next door into make-up, where Morag Smith and Cathy Davies slicked back our hair a bit and powdered our noses. I was asked if I'd mind having my goatee shaved off – apparently it wasn't very “warehouse worker”. Naturally, if it was all in the name of Doctor Who, then it had to be done. So off it came, and then Tim and I were heading back to set, enduring hoots of laughter from David Tennant and Freema Agyeman as we passed by.
Third AD Sarah Davies positioned us in the ATMOS Factory, careful to ensure we matched up with the workers in previous takes of this scene. I ended up on my knees, with my hands against the wall, with a female UNIT soldier pointing her gun at me. Brilliant!
It was frankly a unique rush as the takes began, and UNIT jeeps drove into the area. I was unsure whether to look afraid, given that we warehouse workers were all clones. Still, I decided against walking up to Douglas and asking for my motivation. Besides, being expressionless is a fairly easy task for an amateur thespian.
“Sometimes I look at extras on TV and think I could do a better job than them,” said Tim as we headed back to collect our regular clothes. “Now I know I can’t.”
I felt exactly the same way. Despite all this, the experience was so damn exciting that I later wandered dazed onto the wrong train out of Cardiff and ended up in Swansea instead of London.