As Doctor Who returns with its 60th anniversary specials, we've seen more alien creatures crash-land onto our screens, including the epic Wrarth Warriors.


The creatures, originally created by Dave Gibbons and Pat Mills for a Doctor Who Weekly comic strip, were officially brought to life on screen by various dedicated creature actors for The Star Beast, including Robert Strange, who played the lead Wrarth Warrior, Sergeant Zogroth.

Getting into character was no easy feat though – it took hours of rehearsal time to perfect the tiny details of the movement, plus squeezing into a heavy costume – and balancing on stilts the whole time.

Exclusively speaking to, Strange explains: "I think it was such a clever idea to have a storyline that was from one of the original classic comics from 1980 as the storyline, because it has that sense of honouring the old while bringing in this new era. So I think it was a really exciting place to start.

"I didn't know the comic before. But as soon as I found out what I was doing and read the script, I went and tracked it down and ordered it, and it's just so magical."

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Strange particularly loved how the episode plays with perception – while The Meep (voiced by Miriam Margolyes) initially seems innocent, its true menacing nature is later revealed. The Wrarth Warriors, on the other hand, look a little terrifying – but end up being respectful and regimented creatures.

Four Wrarth Warriors standing in the road pointing their guns, with a car on fire in the background
The Wrarth Warriors in Doctor Who. BBC Studios/Bad Wolf/Disney

He adds: "I wanted to bring that up, that these quite fearsome military-based beings, they attack this house and destroy it in quite a regimented manner. I think the voice as well, it's very kind of gruff and aggressive. But then when you hear them speak later, they actually then suddenly have this quite refined classic military lead commander style of speaking that's actually very polite and very respectful.

"And so to have that, alongside the physicality of them, which we worked on a lot with Paul Kasey, who is the resident Doctor Who creature movement director. So we workshopped with Paul a lot – A: how to just walk in stilts without falling over, but what kind of physicality we wanted to bring to them.

"We settled on, I think the phrase we used was 'predatory flamingo with an insectoid twitch.' That was the descriptor we came up with. So we have these stalking legs like flamingos, and these twitches, like a praying mantis style."

Robert Strange
Robert Strange Hector Maclean

As with everything on Doctor Who, showrunner Russell T Davies had crucial input.

"He's such a visionary so he has eyes everywhere and a dealing in every part of his creations. So I know he was very involved in the design, because I think originally there were plans to maybe change the design of the Wrarth and the Meep from what was drawn in the comic, but I think Russell brought it right back to what Pat and Dave wrote and drew in the original comic, which I think is kind of magical.

"And then a lot of the development of the movement was done with Paul... so he's in our ear all the time. On set, in rehearsal, and then live in front of the camera, he is relaying information from Russell, from Rachel [Talalay], the director, from all sorts of people, right to our ear to say, 'Bring back a bit more of that twitch, turn yourself this way, keep the gun up, keep moving the right direction,' and things like that.

"So he's kind of a port of call middle person for relaying all the information from all the powers that be right to us to keep it looking exactly how they wanted it to look."

The Wrarth are important throughout the episode – but perhaps their most memorable scene is the 'court' scene in the carpark with David Tennant's Doctor and Catherine Tate's Donna Noble.

"That scene is one of my favourites, it's so brilliant. It was so much fun to do. It was probably one of the most challenging scenes to film ever, in terms of all the stuff I've done, because creature suits are always quite full-on physically, of course.

"So we're on the stilts, you can't really stand still in these stilts, because they're curved at the bottom but obviously, for close-ups, you need to stay on your marks and it's a lot of work to stay still. We can't see, it's very heavy, you've got no hands, you're physically doing all of that.

"And then at the same time, we have Paul in our ear giving us guidance so that we're hitting the marks and looking in the right direction. And then we're also doing the dialogue with David Tennant and Catherine Tate, which is kind of iconic to be working with them and doing this incredible scene with them, and watching them bring these characters back to life, and they're just so brilliant to watch. And everything that they do with these characters, it was fascinating to watch for myself personally – they're such refined comedy actors and they're such physical actors as well."

It's no secret that Doctor Who has a shiny new budget to go along with its new era due to a new deal with Disney Plus. But, for Strange, it's crucial that the show still embraces practical effects.

"I'm a little bit biased, obviously, because I've spent 10 years making a career out of it. But to me, I think it's vital. And I think, technology in both realms, whether we're talking practical effects or VFX and CGI, there's such exciting things in both corners. So both are incredibly exciting.

"[But] I think particularly for Doctor Who, there's something about the magic of it, that it has to be practical effects. That's what it's always been, you know, from the Daleks and before. Again, in my opinion, this new episode and this new era coming, even though there's a new budget, and it's a new era, and it's 2023, and there's new technology, it's kept a sense of that real Doctor Who charm."

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Doctor Who continues on Saturday (2nd December) at 6:30pm on BBC One. Previous episodes are available on BBC iPlayer and on BritBox – you can sign up for a 7-day free trial here.

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