Orla Brady, who guest stars in this Christmas’ The Time of the Doctor, has spoken about her role as the mysterious Tasha Lem – and has busted a few rumours about her being a young Madame Kovarian.
The Irish actress, who’s appeared in Sinbad, Mistresses and a recent Poirot tale, The Labours of Hercules, reveals that Lem is an old friend of the Doctor’s… but not one we’ve met before:
“We have not met Tasha before, but we’ve met her forces. We’ve met the troops of the Papal Mainframe in a former episode and this is the big boss. She’s the Mother Superior of the Papal Mainframe.”
Fans might remember the Papal Mainframe getting a name-check once before in 2011’s A Good Man Goes To War, in which only the Mainframe herself could grant permission for a Headless Monk’s hood to be lowered.
And although she’s friends with our favourite Time Lord, that doesn’t mean their relationship will go swimmingly:
“She will use her firepower if necessary because she does get cross, shall we say, with the Doctor at a certain point because she’s used to troops pretty much being under her control and doing what she asks of them. She does ask the Doctor to do a particular thing and he’s a bit of a loose cannon and goes rogue, so she’s not best pleased to a certain point.”
Oh, and she’s also friends with the Silence…
“Obviously the Silence are part, or become part, of the Papal Mainframe, so I did have scenes where Silence were present and they have a certain allegiance to me… Broadly speaking I’m on the side of good. I’m supposed to be not frightening, but authoritative. You’re supposed to believe that she can run these troops and the Silence, and this giant ship and the UN of space.”
Presumably, she’ll wear an eye patch too…?
Of course, Time is the Eleventh Doctor’s swansong, and Brady says she was excited to hear Peter Capaldi would be the next Doctor when she was in Belgium:
“I’d been listening to French and I needed a break, so I spanned the channels and there it was, on BBC World. And I thought: ‘That’s right, that’s really clever. There’s something particular you need to be Doctor Who and Peter has it’… I’m very much bound up in Matt’s farewell, so I can’t really make any comparison between him and Peter. But I know he’s going to be great.”
She was especially impressed with the energy and range of those on set:
“You feel it when you walk on set; it’s a different kind of energy because you’re balancing elements of different genres at the same time. You can be doing a scene that’s pure slapstick, Matt boinging about the place, then a moment later there’s a scene that is really intense and intimate. You really have to keep your wits about you.”
The Time of the Doctor airs on BBC1 on Christmas Day, in case you’d forgotten!