Peter Capaldi is pretty much the nicest man to have ever lived, according to Robot of Sherwood guest star Tom Riley.
Riley, who plays the charismatic Robin Hood in tonight’s third episode, tells RadioTimes.com that Capaldi is “having the time of his life” as the twelfth Doctor, and is definitely not as much of a curmudgeon as his version of the Time Lord.
“Well, he’s not a grumpy man at all,” he says. “He’s got none of the traits that necessarily come across in his Doctor, or the other roles Peter’s known for. He’s incredibly welcoming and lovely. And he’s having the time of his life. A lot of kids would come and watch, and Peter was adamant that he’d have a minute built into his lunch break so he could come and say ‘hi’. That’s the thing: he’s waited his entire life to play the Doctor and he was having a ball doing it.”
Capaldi wasn’t the only one having a ball on the set of Robot of Sherwood, though. Riley, who stars in David Goyer’s Da Vinci’s Demons, was also in his element, having been a fan of the show since he was a child. So much so, in fact, that he almost risked getting in trouble…
“There’s all the iconography of Doctor Who that gets you so excited – such as nipping into the Tardis. We weren’t allowed phones on set but I couldn’t resist sneaking a little selfie with the Tardis…”
The episode, written by Mark Gatiss, sees the Doctor and Jenna Coleman’s Clara team up with Robin Hood (who the Doctor refuses to believe is real) to stop an “evil plan beyond the stars.” It is, according to Riley, very much a “romp,” and Gatiss had intended for his Hood to channel Errol Flynn, who played a swashbuckling prince of thieves in 1938’s The Adventures of Robin Hood.
“I’d worked with Mark before,” Riley explains, “and it was just one of those nice things that just came through. In a weird turn of events, I was watching Mark play in Coriolanus when I got the offer on my phone in the interval. And I thought, ‘What a strange thing’, and I was watching Mark in the second half thinking, ‘Of course I want to work with him again.’
“I’m not sure what he was thinking when he cast me for it, but he certainly made a very clear Robin Hood on the page. It’s very much a throwback to Errol Flynn. He suggested that I watch the original movie and get a feel for his stance and the way he was: this impossible hero, which of course is the whole idea of the story.”
Robot of Sherwood airs at 7.30pm tonight (6th September) on BBC1.