Stylishly dishevelled in a sweater that may have first seen the light in the last winter of discontent, Arthur Darvill, who plays Rory, looks a little downcast. “I don’t think they’ve actually brought out a Rory action figure,” he sighs. “I’ve done the face-modelling for it – they do a weird camera scan of your head in different positions – so I presume there will be one, but not yet. We should start a campaign.”
While Darvill appreciates the importance of action figures (his He-Man still hides somewhere in his parents’ attic, though his ThunderCats were sold at a car-boot sale long ago), he clearly isn’t that bothered by his lack of a plastic mini-me. Perhaps this is because Rory himself was made into a plastic centurion in the last series of Doctor Who and perhaps it’s because Darvill, 29, is as unassuming an actor as you’re likely to meet.
Still, the current lack of a Rory doll is telling. When he and Amy first took up residence in the Tardis, Rory played gooseberry as Amy and the Doctor renewed their acquaintance. With Amy infatuated with her “raggedy man”, Rory the coats. But as Darvill promised RT back before Easter, this series held has seen Rory “man up” and become more than merely Mr Amy Pond.
After Amy realized just how important Rory was to her in The Girl Who Waited and the Doctor challenged her to embrace being Amy Williams in The God Complex, Rory’s hero- ism is no longer unsung.
“It’s been epic and it has required a lot of coffee,” Darvill says, scratching his head as if he hasn’t had quite enough caffeine today. “Your life kinda goes out the window a bit, but we all help each other through it. I’ve made some of my best friends working on Doctor Who and I’d worked before with Matt [on stage in London in 2007].”
All told, Darvill is remarkably unfazed by being aboard the Who juggernaut. He didn’t really think about it changing his life – he argues that filming in Cardiff insulates them from media pressure and “being followed around all the time” – and, as he didn’t really watch Doctor Who as a boy, he wasn’t daunted by the heritage. “I was aware of it, but my older friends were more into it than I was. A friend did give me an 18-foot Tom Baker scarf, which I loved, but that was more to do with me having a bit of a wool obsession.”
It transpires that Darvill has another couple of, if not obsessions, then certainly passions. There’s music, of course. As well as being chums with folky-popster Fyfe Dangerfield, he’s a musician and composer himself (look on YouTube for his former band, Edmund), inspired by his dad, Nigel, who played the Hammond organ for the likes of Edwin Starr and Ruby Turner. “I’m not classically trained or anything, but I’ve always been surrounded by musicians. I’m making new music at the moment.”
Then, there’s the slightly less common passion for taxidermy. “I prefer live animals, but you wouldn’t want to keep a red squirrel in captivity, would you? I want an owl at the moment,” he enthuses. “I like the idea of having a gentleman’s study, with a globe, a library and some stuffed animals. I wanted to get the dog stuffed when he died, but my parents said no. I love the Natural History Museum for the stuffed animals.”
As Darvill grins, slipping almost into reverie, you’ll have gathered by now there’s something charmingly odd about him. Well, there’s one more thing. It’s not just stuffed animals that he has an interest in – he can also make balloon animals. “Oh yes!” he grins. “I haven’t done it for years but it’s on my CV. I can make a monkey on a tree, a tortoise, and a guitar that you can play a tune on.
When I left school, I had a job driving all over the country training people to do kids’ parties for McDonald’s.” When you’re living in a house full of stuffed animals and can make guitars from balloons, life in the Tardis might sometimes seem a little, well, ordinary. But surely nothing feels stranger than Rory being father of the bride in The Wedding of River Song, this Saturday’s season finale.