Terry Molloy: “Radio’s always been my heart”
Many may know Terry Molloy only as Davros in three Doctor Who stories, ‘Resurrection of the Daleks’, ‘Revelation of the Daleks’ and ‘Remembrance of the Daleks’, and possibly even from the Big Finish audio episodes, of which he’s done about 17. However, he’s also very well known for his radio, particularly the long-running show The Archers and his own show, The Scarifiers. We chatted to the very charming Terry at Supanova Sydney.
On Davros and Doctor Who
“He’s a job that started back in ’83 for two weeks, and it lasted quite a long time, and is still with me,” Terry sums up. Davros is one of the most enduring villains in Doctor Who, along with his creations, the Daleks. As a part of the extremely large Doctor Who family, Terry often finds himself at conventions with fellow Doctor Who alumni. “We don’t live in each others’ pockets when we’re outside of the convention circuit. The conventions are very good at putting together packages that involve Doctors and companions who were in the same sets of series, there is kind of that extended family feel to it, of whom the fans are part as well! They make up the mix. And it’s great to hear peoples’ stories about how they got into the series, what they like and what they hate and what they want to bitch about, that happens in every family and it happens in the Who family.”
As for keeping up to date with Doctor Who, which is now into its eighth “new” series, Terry confesses that he’s a bit of a “television technophobe.” While he does watch the odd episode when it’s on, he’s not much of a recorder. “I’m not avoiding it, if I see an episode I enjoy it. I’ve seen some bad ones from the new series as well as the old series, but it’s nice to see that it’s going there, it’s got a great new audience in the States, there seem to be conventions springing up like mushrooms! And I’m going over there later this year about four times. And also here, and in the UK. It’s the gift that keeps on giving.”
And just because there’s a new Davros in town, doesn’t mean he wouldn’t want to come back to Doctor Who: “I’d love to! There’s no reason why not. If you’re listening in Cardiff, I’m available for anything that doesn’t have to be Davros!”
It’s the same with audio, he opines. “People can sometimes get locked into: ‘oh, he does that and that’s it.’ But myself, alone with a lot of actors, are quite versatile, we can do other things besides what we may be known for in one particular genre.”
While Terry is perhaps most well known outside of the UK for his role in Doctor Who, he is also a cast member of The Archers, which began in 1951, and which he’s been in for 40 years. “Radio’s always been my heart, and been my main area of work, and as an actor I find it’s great because you can play 9 to 90, super fit hero, the whole lot.” Without the restrictions of appearance, which do come into television and film, radio “just frees you – it’s you and the voice and the microphone.” Another bonus is it’s hard to mess up: “They cant light it in an odd way, edit cuts can be odd,” so as media goes, radio is where it’s at for Terry.
If you’re not up for such a long running show, he also does a smaller show called The Scarifiers. It’s an audio set in 1930s, and while it does have one of the Doctor Who actors, Nicholas Courtney (who played Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart), it doesn’t have anything to do with Doctor Who. Rather, it’s an adventure radio show set in the 1930s: Nicholas Courtney is “a copper and I’m a ghost story writer, and it’s all very tongue in cheek and great fun…it’s becoming sort of a cult thing.”
On his career
Speaking of “cult” shows, you’d be hard pressed to find more of a cult following than that of Doctor Who’s, although it has become more mainstream in recent years. “Somebody said to me: ‘you realise you’ve been in two of the most iconic series of the last century?’” To him, and to many others, it’s clear both Doctor Who and the Archers are iconic. “They stand the test of time.”
While he doesn’t think The Scarifiers is particularly iconic or cultish, “it’s a nice thing to have done.” And just because these three shows are such successes, it doesn’t mean that he’s got the magic touch: “I’ve been in some real duffers as well, things that have disappeared into the mists of time never to be seen again, but that’s the nature of the business. You can’t choose what’s going to be good, what’s going to make it.”