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Exclusive Interview: Tim Treloar and Sadie Miller Talk Big Finish’s Kaleidoscope

Kaleidoscope is the latest Third Doctor Adventures release from Big Finish. Featuring the Season 11 line-up, the story sees the Doctor, Sarah Jane and the Brigadier faced with a mysterious visitor from another world:

“His name is Kaleidoscope. He claims to have travelled halfway across the universe to warn all humankind that it stands on the brink of extinction. And a certain tenacious young journalist has got an exclusive interview with this alien messiah…

But it’s not Sarah Jane Smith who’s got the out-of-this-world scoop – it’s her rival, the unscrupulous Jenny Nettles. Sarah’s busy helping the Doctor and UNIT work out if Kaleidoscope is for real or a fake when RAF Phantoms scramble to intercept an unidentified something homing in on a top-secret missile base.

It seems like Kaleidoscope’s apocalyptic predictions might all be about to come true.”

We had an opportunity to speak to Big Finish’s Third Doctor, Tim Treloar, and Sadie Miller, who once again plays Sarah Jane Smith.

The DWC: Thanks very much for your time. The new release is Kaleidoscope and it’s got a rather wonderful cover, Tim, of the Doctor riding a jet ski, by the looks of it. I’m assuming you didn’t get to do that?

Tim: Yeah, I did. Big Finish paid £30,000 and let me have three hours on a jet ski.

The DWC: (Laughs) Right. Well, I’m pleased you specified that one.

Tim: I know! I didn’t, obviously. I’d have loved to have done. I should have put that in my rider, shouldn’t I?

The DWC: Yeah, definitely. And is it fair to say that it’s quite an action-oriented story, this one?

Tim: Oh, it certainly is, yeah, certainly.

The DWC: And thinking back to Jon Pertwee’s time, he did love his cars and his motorbikes and so on.

Tim: Yeah, he loved gadgets, didn’t he? Certainly did: Bessie and the TARDIS obviously. Every Doctor has the TARDIS.

The DWC: Sadie, I know you used to go to the conventions with your mum. Did you come across Jon Pertwee?

Sadie: Yeah, I did. I met him a few times and he was always lovely, always very ‘on’, very ‘the Doctor’. I think he did sort of rub some people up the wrong way, but I found it quite charming, really. I really liked him. I thought he was a lovely person, very warm and affable and very much there for the fans. He knew what the fans wanted from him and he wanted to give them the Jon Pertwee experience. But I thought he was a lovely chap.

The DWC: That’s really nice to hear. And one of the most interesting things about having Sarah in the Big Finish stories now is that, because she was in the series for quite a long time, you get to play with different Doctors and at different points in Sarah’s time with the Doctor. Does that make a difference to how you might approach it? I know that this one, for example, is a bit earlier in her time. Maybe she’s a bit less experienced, a bit more unsure of things?

Sadie: Yes, definitely. And I think she had a very distinct relationship with the Third Doctor, as opposed to the Fourth. So you always want to bring in the different shades. I think with Jon’s Doctor, it’s still very much what I would call a more traditional companion role, where he is the Doctor and she is following him, and then with Tom it’s more of a friendship, and a bit more of that banter coming in. But with this one, I think she’s still finding her feet, certainly as a journalist and also in the world of travelling with the Doctor as well.

The DWC: Tim, a similar question to you: you’ve obviously done these releases for a while with different people alongside you. Does it make a difference? Does it make it more varied to have different companions alongside you?

Tim: Yeah, absolutely. Oh, totally, yeah, with the three companions that I’ve got: Katy [Manning as Jo Grant], Sadie, and Daisy [Ashford, who plays Liz Shaw]. Completely different and all equally brilliant. But, yeah, there’s a different energy with each of them. I suppose the Jo Grant period is more a sort of traditional Doctor in charge, and then he’s challenged more with the likes of Sarah. You’ve got all highly intelligent women, but different energies with them. So I think stories reflect that as well.

The DWC: I was reading an older interview from when you started playing the Doctor, and it was mentioned that Tom Baker was one of the first people to pick up on the fact that you sounded rather like Jon Pertwee.

Tim: Yeah, that was actually my first Big Finish job. It was Destination Nerva, it was called, and I was playing this zombie Victorian, sort of effete lord. He was quite camp. And Tom said to Nick [Briggs], he said, ‘He sounds like someone, who is it? He sounds exactly like Jon!’ It started there, really. So it’s a bit lucky that I got cast in that particular role, which led on to playing the Third Doctor.

The DWC: Well, if it was good enough for him…

Tim: Well, yeah, exactly. I can’t do a Tom Baker voice, though. It’s very hard, that one.

The DWC: Yeah, that’d be a challenging one to do, Tom Baker. Judging from the blurb about the new release, it’s a longer story. The scale of it seems quite big. I know the last Third Doctor one, The Annihilators, was quite an epic story. It seems like they’re upping the scale?

Tim: Yeah, they went for the seven-parter, didn’t they? So that was a departure. That meant, I think, one less day recording for us, which is a bit unfortunate, because normally we do two stories for a box set. But that was great experience as well. Yeah, it’s great.

The DWC: Are you back in the studio now for recording?

Tim: Sometimes, yeah. I’m recording something later from home, but I go to a studio which is not too far from me. It’s about 40 minutes away, outside London, which is great in the countryside. It’s the same studio that Tom records in. That’s quite fortunate that they let me do that because I can keep pretending that I’m very scared of going on the tube!

The DWC: Sadie, does it make a difference in terms of whether you’re recording virtually or in a studio? Is it a different type of energy?

Sadie: Yeah, definitely. I mainly record from home but I’m online, so I can record with everyone else in real time. But for this story, I had to record all of it completely on my own, just with another actor reading in. In some of the scenes, I had one take to do it in to get it all done. So I’ll be very interested to hear how the sound engineers worked their magic to get it all spliced together. But it is nice when you can be in the studio and get to know people a bit more and have that chemistry.

Tim: It’s much more fun. The last one was in the studio in Wadhurst, and everyone was down there and it was just great: actors together, the banter, and inappropriate humour! It’s great, I’ve really missed that.

The DWC: A last question for both of you. What would you say is the biggest thing you’ve learned through doing Doctor Who with Big Finish?

Sadie: Well, I guess for me, it’s almost like being part of a repertory company. So you come in and although you may not be playing different characters – Tim and I broadly play the same role – you get to meet such a wide breadth of actors, but then there’s that core team that you get to work with again and again. I think it gives you that confidence to try different things, even within the same character and the same performance, which I really enjoy. You’ve got almost that safety net underneath you. And as Tim said, everyone gets on so well and has a lot of fun, so it feels very collaborative. No matter which director or engineer you’re working with, it’s always a really enjoyable session.

Tim: Yeah, I’d agree completely with Sadie on that, I’d replicate exactly what she said. That’s what it’s all about. And it’s a lot of fun. It’s always a lot of fun. It’s great when you part the core team, you can welcome people to your culture. You got Nick Briggs there as well, who’s very much in the Whoniverse, so it’s just fantastic. It’s always a very friendly environment we create and foster.

Our thanks to Big Finish, Tim Treloar, and Sadie Miller.

Kaleidoscope is available on CD and download from Big Finish.

Jonathan Appleton

A regular Doctor Who viewer since Pertwee fought maggots and spiders, Jonathan isn't about to stop now. He considers himself lucky to have grown up in an era when Doctor Who, Star Trek and Blakes 7 could all be seen on primetime BBC1. As well as writing regularly for The Doctor Who Companion he's had chapters included in a couple of Blakes 7 books.

Exclusive Interview: Tim Treloar and Sadie Miller Talk Big Finish’s Kaleidoscope

by Jonathan Appleton time to read: 6 min
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