It’s with great sadness that we announce the passing of Neil Fingleton, who played the Fisher King in 2015’s Before the Flood, at the age of just 36.
The intimidating alien is arguably the most memorable monster from Doctor Who Series 9, and was played by Fingleton, while the voice was provided by Peter Serafinowicz and roar by Corey Taylor from Slipknot. Standing at 7ft 7inch, Neil was declared the tallest man in the UK by the Guinness World Records in 2007, and aside from his appearance in Doctor Who, he’s starred as Mag the Mighty in a 2014 episode of Game of Thrones, as the Russian General’s Bodyguard in X-Men: First Class (2011), and as a samurai in 47 Ronin (2013).
Neil was born in Durham, England, on 18th December 1980, and at the age of 16, he attended a basketball camp in Connecticut, America, and so decided to go to the Holy Name Central Catholic High School in Massachusetts. Following a basketball scholarship, he debuted professionally in the 2004–2005 season; however, he was forced to retire from sporting pursuits after an injury in 2007. He then returned to Durham to follow a career as an actor, with dreams of moving to Los Angeles. He told the Guinness World Records:
“I have never been self conscious about my height. I am more conscious of going bald so that should tell you. I never let my height play a negative part in my life. I always do what I want, some tall people may be restricted as they are constantly stared at or people ask the same questions over and over. This is the only bad thing about being tall – the stupid remarks and questions. Other than that, being tall is great.”
Aside from work as a stunt performer on Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015) – for which he also acted as a motion capture artist for Ultron – Fingleton appeared as himself in Britain’s Tallest Men and Superhuman: Giants, as well as an episode of the BBC quiz show, Pointless Celebrities in 2013.
— Doctor Who Official (@bbcdoctorwho) February 27, 2017
Under the Lake/ Before the Flood, written by Toby Whithouse, was filmed in January 2015, the first episodes of Series 9 to be made, and screened in October of that year; the two-parter remains my personal favourite Twelfth Doctor story, and scores a whopping 95% on Rotten Tomatoes.
Neil passed away on 25th February 2017 from heart failure. Our thoughts go out to his family and friends.