A dozen years after he stopped playing the lead role as Britain's quirkiest time traveler in Doctor Who, Sylvester McCoy is playing an alien time-traveler again. But it's not quite a Doctor Who episode — instead, it's an episode of daytime medical soap opera The Doctors. McCoy appears playing an actor who used to star in a children's show about an eccentric time traveler from another planet, and is now stuck just doing conventions and DVD commentaries. Sylvester McCoy must have a rock-solid ego, or else really need the work. McCoy plays Graham Capelli, who used to star in The Lollipop Man, a show about a time-traveling eccentric who's on the run from his own people. Explains writer David Semple:
The fictional show I invented within my episode – The Lollipop Man – is about a time traveller who, whilst hiding out on earth, gets a part time job as a school crossing patrolman, but his lollipop stick can take him anywhere in time and space: so he takes children on amazing journeys…he mostly takes them on journeys of self-discovery, so, for example, with a child who's upset because his granddad has died, the Lollipop Man takes him back to the Second World War, where he gets to meet his granddad as a small, scared evacuee…and they get to play together one last time, even though it's a kid his own age he's playing with. That's what the Lollipop Man does – he helps people over the road, both literally and metaphorically.
And yes, Semple admits his fictional show is more of a straightforward kids' show than Doctor Who. McCoy's character is going a bit senile and can't quite get the words "DVD commentary" right, let alone know what to say on one. He's having a hard time getting into his old costume for conventions, and is desperately eager to be involved in the revival of his old show. (I'm sure that part is based on reality.) And it sounds as though McCoy draws on something deep inside him for a lot of his performance:
He's got such warmth and vulnerability. And it is a part where he has to expose a lot of himself: he's playing a clapped out old actor who used to be a sci-fi hero on children's television. I worried that instead of accepting the part, he might have tracked me down and strangled me with his bare hands. But he must have found something in the character he could connect with. At one point in the episode he gets into an argument with a TV producer and tells her: "I'm fed up being told what to do by twelve-year-olds" and you can see such seething rage behind his eyes.
I'm definitely going to try and get hold of a copy of this episode after it airs. Color me intrigued. Semple talks more about how he came to write a pastiche of Who, and what McCoy meant to him as the Doctor, at the link. [Den Of Geek]