Robert Glenister: Doctor Who performance still haunts me

The actor explains his frustration at being forever linked to a role he'd rather forget

TV or stage?


None of us like having to hang around for hours on end as you do on a TV set – there is a lot of downtime and then bang you are on and you have to be on top of it and know it and perform it. Theatre gives you the luxury of getting it right the next night whereas once you have seen yourself on TV it is too late. There is much more pressure in TV I think but I do love both.

Favourite TV role?

I have been very lucky – Prime Suspect, Spooks, Hustle…I did love my first telly show though, back when I was 20, called Sink or Swim. It was my first taste of doing something popular and I was probably young and wet behind the ears but it was very exciting to me.

Favourite role on stage?

Noises Off which I am currently in has to be up there. I have never been in a sell out show to this degree and had such a consistently fantastic audience reaction night after night.

Worst moment on stage?

Things going wrong is part of the fun – at the end of the day it’s only a play. You can crack up, forget your lines, trap your fingers in a door – it has all happened to me but the show goes on and the next night is always different. The perils of a TV set are worse – there is always the danger of someone casually asking if you can ride a horse and when you arrive on set you find a Spanish stallion waiting for you to mount. Someone else had to step in for me when that happened because I was terrified – you can’t get a stunt double on stage!

Role you covet on stage?

Not really – I have done my classics – did me Hamlet a good few years ago and not that well – so I’ll have to just wait and see what comes along.

Role you regret?

I probably shouldn’t say this, but about 30 years ago I played an android in a Doctor Who story called The Caves of Androzani.  I still get people outside the stage door with that picture of me looking about 12 and I am appalled at myself every time I see it. I looked like a complete berk and wish I never had to see it again.


Robert Glenister is playing Lloyd Dallas in the Old Vic production of Noises Off, which has now transferred to the Novello theatre booking where it is booking until 30 June.