Later, Alex would find himself working with the spaceships and the characters of an even greater threat to the universe, whose name rhymes with Daleks, for Big Finish’s Dalek Empire 4.Â The trailer for this was “a huge endeavour, seven weeks in all. I designed the Spacer suit for Nick and gave the fleet a retro feel: space rockets versus flying saucers. It’s a little at odds with the cold futurism of DE4 but still works.
“At the last minute, my PC blew up and frazzled the hard drive so it was all lost. I had three quarters of the project finished on another computer so I hacked a new trailer together to make sense of it. There was a crystal clear moment while the smoke drifted from my ruined PC when I could either laugh or cry, and I managed to laugh then fixed myself a stiff drink. I lost some good shots too.
“There was an extermination in the style of the New Series, which I eventually re-mounted as an advert for Enemy of the Daleks and a shot of the underside of a Dalek mothership as a flotilla of Daleks poured out like spores on their trans-solar discs.”
Animation isn’t the only way Alex has occupied his time while working with Big Finish.Â Every so often he’s tried his hand at acting, playing minor characters for the company’s productions.Â “It’s a wonderful change of gear. Not that I’m suggesting it’s easier. I have a new appreciation for the job of acting on audio. I find it desperately hard to tell if I’m under or over playing a part so you rely wholly on the director. I’d done am-dram at uni but nothing like this. I do have to act out Benny’s movements in the animation of course so I’ve been grimacing in the mirror, clambering up ladders and tumbling to the floor for reference.”
Other than telling us this fact that Benny grimaces at least once and climbs a ladder, Alex kept his lips tightly padlocked when we asked him what we can expect to happen in Dead and Buried.Â “I always feel that movie trailers tend to show the whole story these days and John was keen to keep as much of it under wraps as possible. You’ll have to watch it to see. I will say this, it’s at least part homage to my favourite action films so there are cheeky elements of Terminator and Aliens in there.”
But what if you’ve never listened to, or even heard of, Bernice Summerfield?Â Alex has this to say:Â “Dead and Buried is designed to be both a prologue to [the upcoming Episode 11.1] Resurrecting the Past and a general introduction to the world of Benny so casual viewers won’t be alienated. Eddie [Robson] and John have ensured it all works on several levels.”
We couldn’t help but notice that, at about ten minutes in length, Dead and Buried is even longer than almost any individual episode of the recent Tenth Doctor animated story, Dreamland.Â This led us to wonder if Alex has any ambitions to do work on that one particularly famous programme that has us all gathered here today.Â “I love telly Doctor Who but my understanding of the world of TV special effects is that it’s more and more like the factory-line of video games. I enjoy the whole process of storyboarding, modelling, animating and compositing too much to want to narrow my field down to a small part. The downside is that one never gets to work on high-profile titles or specialise one’s skills to a really high standard, but the upside is a real satisfaction in following an idea through to completion and retaining some creative control.
“Maybe that’s a long-winded, disingenuous way of saying I don’t think I’m good enough!”
Whatever Alex may have thought, we weren’t (and still aren’t) giving up our personal belief, after watching some of his trailers, that he does, indeed, have what it takes to contribute to our beloved Saturday night television experience.Â But we decided not to push the matter, and instead, we wrapped things up by asking him what Doctor Who monster he would be if given the choice.
“Tricky! I loved the Cheetah People: cuddly, savage and portable but as I love giant sea creatures it has to be… no, not the Myrka! Kroll of course.”
If you’d like to see Alex’s Cyberman and Dalek Empire trailers, tap their respective links.Â But, more importantly, you can watch Bernice Summerfield: Dead and Buried from bernicesummerfield.co.uk!