INTERVIEW: ‘Doctor Who’ star Dan Starkey at L.I. Who

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The man in the rubber mask: Mr. Dan Starkey

It takes a special kind of sci-fi actor to work under the prosthetics necessary to look like an alien – and even more special if he’s willing to do it more than once.

That’s why I have respect for guys like Dan Starkey, who has appeared in multiple episodes of Doctor Who as various Sontarans, the war-like race lovingly referred to as “potato heads” Here’s a video that shows the two-hour process in the makeup chair just to get the mask together. That doesn’t count the costume, which is tricky in itself.

Meeting Dan at L.I. Who last November was a real treat, because he can turn on the Strax voice whenever he wants – who needs a mask when you can hear a Sontaran call you “alien scum” right to your face?

For the 2014 Christmas special “Last Christmas,” he played Ian the Elf with a minimum of prosthetics, so people finally got a good look at him under the mask.

Dan has worked on audio adventures with Big Finish Productions in the past, but now that the company has a license to create Doctor Who content involving new series characters, it’s opened  up a whole new world – he can be Strax, not just another Sontaran clone. In the interview, he and I discussed the recent Big Finish release Jago & Litefoot & Strax, which sees his Sontaran butler teaming up with Henry Gordon Jago and Professor George Litefoot, two Victorian era characters first introduced in the classic series story “The Talons of Weng-Chiang” who have gone on to have a successful second life on audio.

He also talked about co-writing the Big Finish story “Terror of the Sontarans” with John Dorney, starring seventh Doctor Sylvester McCoy.

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Face to face with a Sontaran at L.I. Who. [Photo by Adrienne Wise]

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