“But when Doctor Who calls and they say ‘it’s about spiders,’ you say ‘yeah!’ And then you think ‘yeah…?’”
And Gulati, who plays the mother of the Doctor’s companion Yaz (Mandip Gill) in the sci-fi series said she had one particular eight-legged horror story that had haunted her over the decades.
“You know in the olden days we had Amstrad computers that knocked out like a typewriter when you printed. So it made a noise like tak-tak-tak-tak-tak-tak-tak,” Gulati recalled.
“This was like 20, 25 years ago? I was in my house and actually rolling out my CV, because I thought ‘I’m not going to be an actor any more, I’m going to be a teacher.’
“So I was noisily printing my CV out, and suddenly a whole lot of spiders decided to see what I was doing. Eight spiders. Really big house spiders – not ones with skinny legs. Ones with big fat legs and big bodies. And they all came out to have a look.
“And I had coir matting on the floor so I couldn’t see them at first, until they started to move. So I rang my mum – it was 3 o clock in the morning – I rang my mum and said ‘I can’t, I can’t do it’. She said ‘Just go downstairs and gets mugs or jars or whatever you can find, and put them over it, over the spiders.’
“I said ‘Do I have to?’ she said ‘Yes, and I’ll come and see to them.’ And she did.”
But now, decades on, Gulati has gone from a woman forcing her mother to dispose of spiders (at 3am!) to someone starring in an episode where she has to confront particularly creepy sci-fi versions – and she says that’s all down to her longstanding love for Doctor Who.
“I actually said yes before I’d read the script, to be honest,” she admitted.
“Because it’s a childhood dream, so what can I say? I jumped at the chance. How often does that happen in my life? I just thought that’s beautiful. I get beautiful opportunities and you just have to celebrate them when they come.
“These parts do come, and this was another one of them, like dinnerladies or Corrie. These are iconic shows, and Doctor Who for me personally was something that I’d always wanted to do as a child.
“I watched it, and the dream is that you will be the Doctor. Well, at the time when I was a child I wanted to be the Doctor’s assistant because they were always different and interesting.
“Now, Jodie’s paved the way. You never know what might happen in the future.”
“Having been a Whovian all my life, it’s like a dream come true,” she added. “I’m sort of a little bit in a daze with it all really.
“Jodie’s a fantastic Doctor, I have to say. She is my favourite, and I’m not just saying that. Because I am a Whovian, and before Jodie it was David Tennant. Now it’s Jodie. There’s nothing now that can beat Jodie, I think.”
And getting the chance to star alongside her was worth braving the most horrible spiders that the Doctor Who team could conjure up. We’d call that a ringing endorsement.
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