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Saturday, 5 July 2008

Julian Bleach on Davros

Radio Times

As Davros, creator of the Daleks, returns to Doctor Who for its fourth season finale, Nick Griffiths goes behind the scenes for Radio Times.

"Davros is a fantastic character," says Julian Bleach, the actor beneath the silicone mask. "A cross between Hitler and Stephen Hawking. A powerful intellect. It's what he wants that makes him extraordinary - the fact that he has such nihilistic desires. Such a need for power."

Though Julian Bleach has joined the Doctor Who world before, playing the looming, sinister Ghostmaker in an episode of this year's Torchwood, you definitely won't recognise him playing the demented megalomaniac geneticist - first seen creating the Daleks in 1975's classic Who tale, Genesis of the Daleks, starring Tom Baker.

The 45-year-old remembers watching Genesis of the Daleks as a child - the same story that prosthetics designer Neill Gorton returned to for inspiration. Gorton recalls, "In the initial meetings we all agreed everyone's favourite was the original Davros, [played by] Michael Wisher, and the look of that version. There was something just creepier and more sinister about him."

The Dalek base remains as life-support system and transport for the decrepit scientist; the third eye still glows; his single usable hand, destroyed in Revelation of the Daleks (1985), is now robotic and shoots energy bolts. Still it's the same desiccated head of 1975.

"The first day [playing Davros] was extraordinary," says Bleach. "It felt so familiar, because I knew this character, this Dalek world, and everything from my childhood - that's so deep in my memory." "But so strange as well, to be suddenly plunged into the middle of it."