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Doctor Who: The Lonely Assassins interview with Ingrid Oliver


Don’t blink (Pic: Maze Theory)

GameCentral speaks to Ingrid Oliver, aka Osgood from Doctor Who, about her involvement with the upcoming found phone game, The Lonely Assassins.

When it comes to video games it feels like the Doctor Who franchise has finally found a mould that it can fill: story-driven puzzle games that, rather than put you in control of the Doctor themselves, try to make you feel like you’re an assistant – an easier to fill role, that doesn’t necessarily involve complete knowledge of time and space.

That was very much the aim of 2019’s VR game Edge Of Time and developer Maze Theory is looking to repeat the formula this year with the sequel, Edge Of Reality. But it’s already released The Lonely Assassins, a found phone game that sees you partner up with series regular Osgood, played once again by Ingrid Oliver, as you investigate a mystery involving the Weeping Angels that’s set in the same location from their debut episode, Blink.

We got the opportunity to speak with Oliver about her involvement with the game, the franchise as a whole, and what it means to be a part of one of the most recognised and beloved sci-fi series in the world.

GC: I suppose the first thing I’d like to ask you about is… I’m assuming you were approached to reprise the role of Osgood for the game? Did you need any convincing at all to come back or did you immediately agree to it?

IO: I got a text from my agent saying, ‘So, there’s this game that’s happening.’ And it’s not always immediately, ‘Yes’, I have to say, because you want to know what it is. It was comforting that BBC Studios were involved as well. So, I knew it was officially Doctor Who approved. And then just reading the idea for the game, it’s such a lovely idea, I was very happy to do it. But I didn’t quite realise that it was going to be fully in costume and on set in location with a film crew. So that was like an added bonus. That was a surprise.

GC: The Lonely Assassins is a mobile game but it incorporates live actions scenes. So, it’s almost a bit like the actual show. Was filming those scenes any different to when you had to do it for the television show or were they actually quite similar?

IO: It was really similar, and it was really funny, even from getting on a train to go to Wales, which is what you do when you’re filming the television series. And I got a real sense of frisson ‘cause Blink is one of my favourite episodes. So, I was really excited for that. It was a smaller crew because of COVID reasons, but it was a very similar experience, which was great.

GC: I was about to ask if you were at all familiar with the original Blink story. Blink is considered by the fans to be one of the best episodes of Doctor Who, so what was it like to become involved in what is essentially a sequel to that story?

IO: I always wanted to work with the Angels, and it’s happened. So, I feel like if I just keep saying things, they’ll keep happening. I’ll ask to get in the TARDIS. That’s my next one. That’s the big one.

GC: Osgood hasn’t been in the show since Peter Capaldi’s tenure and in the current series, UNIT, which was the organisation Osgood was a part of, has basically kind of disbanded and it’s not around anymore. Considering that this game takes place in the Doctor Who universe and Osgood is still running around, investigating strange phenomenon, I guess it’s really cool to know that she’s still out there helping people. Do you have any takes on what Osgood is doing at this point in the show?

IO: That’s pretty sweet. I like the idea that she’s still running around and helping people. If she wasn’t working for UNIT maybe she’d be a spook, you know, a really, really good spy. She’s really good at tech stuff.

GC: I think it’s incredible how she first appeared in the 50th anniversary and she’s kind of gone from being this one-off character to a mainstay of Doctor Who. I know you did a bunch of audio books as well, so it must be really cool to now be such an integral part of Doctor Who.

IO: Yeah, yeah. Do you know what’s really funny? Well, that anniversary episode, I knew at the time how lucky I was to get the part in that, because it was such a special event, and it was a 90-minute episode and they were showing it in cinemas around the world. And I understood even at the time how big a deal that was.

I didn’t expect to go back, and I thought that that was the end of it. And so, when they brought her back for the episode where Missy vaporises her, I think I remember my agent had texted me that night, when they showed that episode with Missy, and said ‘Osgood’s trending’. It was the absolute weirdest thing because at that point, she’d barely been in it. She hadn’t been in it for very long, but it was really lovely. I think ‘What if I hadn’t gotten that part? What if I hadn’t auditioned for it?’ So, I thank my lucky stars.

GC: I remember when I watched the episode and when Osgood got vaporised, I was like, ‘Aw, that’s mean,’ and then she came back. That was nice. You said earlier that you’d love to actually come back for the show and actually be in the TARDIS. Is it safe to assume that you’d kill for the chance to work with Jodie Whittaker in the current series?

IO: Of course, she’s absolutely amazing. I’ve long been a fan of hers. That feels greedy. It feels greedy.

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GC: Just to go back to The Lonely Assassins real quick, was there anything particular about it you really enjoyed working on, like a particular scene or an aspect of it?

IO: I genuinely am a big fan of games on your phone. I’ve been playing quite a few myself to pass the time. And this one, if you’re a fan of Doctor Who, there’s filmed footage and it’s done really well. It’s really atmospheric. It’s a found phone game and that’s like another added layer of reality. And you get to interact with real Doctor Who characters. I haven’t played it yet and I want to play it. I think it’s going to be brilliant.

GC: It’d be weird if you didn’t get to play the game.

IO: Would you play it? Is it something you would play?

GC: You’re doing a really good job selling it to me. I’m a big fan of show and I’m a big fan of the original Blink episode. I was a child when I watched it, so the Weeping Angels were like the scariest thing in the world to me.

IO: I really wanted to work with them because I find them terrifying. The fact that you have to use your imagination with those particular aliens, it’s what they do when you can’t see them. That’s so terrifying because you don’t know what they’re doing. On set, just seeing them up close, they are genuinely scary.

GC: You mentioned that you’ve been playing phone games. Any games particularly that you’ve been enjoying?

IO: It’s mainly escape room games. I like puzzle games. Finding clues, solving puzzles, and immersive stuff where you feel like you’re in the world.

GC: That’s actually quite fitting because I think Doctor Who really lends itself to those kinds of experiences.

IO: That is what the appeal was for me. Because you have to sort of do certain things to be able to move the story forward.

GC: You said you got to dress up in the costume. Was it easy to get back into Osgood’s mindset?

IO: Oh, yeah, I remember that costume. I remember going with the costume designer and we picked out every item on a big shopping trip. I had very clear ideas, as did he, about what we wanted Osgood to look like. And there are things that I remember suggesting that she had, like an ink stain on her pocket and that’s still there, that ink stain is on that lab coat forever. It all feels very familiar. Maybe because there’s a continuity with the Big Finish audio books, I feel like I’ve not stopped playing her really. So, it was nice to have the costume again. It’s been a while. The last time was a few years ago. Wasn’t it?

GC: I want to say the last time we saw Osgood was a good few years ago during Capaldi’s second-to-last series.

IO: So, four or five years ago, maybe. So, it’s been a while. I did take a couple of cheeky selfies in the mirror. I’m not gonna lie.

Aside from the TV series, Oliver has reprised her role as Osgood in numerous audio dramas too (Pic: Maze Theory)

GC: You said it was a really exciting opportunity to work with the Weeping Angels. Are there any other particular Doctor Who monsters you’d love the opportunity to work alongside?

IO: The Daleks. I remember, even though I don’t find them particularly scary as an adult, but as a child, they are. If you were to say ‘What symbolises Doctor Who,’ it’s the TARDIS and it’s the Daleks. I think, for most people, that’s what the iconography of Doctor Who is, isn’t it? Yeah, the Daleks would be great.

GC: Who wouldn’t want to be in an episode with Daleks?

IO: As a kid, I only remember the Daleks. I feel like they were in every episode, which is obviously not true, but in my head, that was my lasting impression of Doctor Who. When you go to Cardiff to film, they’ll be lying around the set somewhere.

GC: With you filming these new scenes for The Lonely Assassins, obviously we’re having to cope with the coronavirus pandemic, were there any sort of challenges that made filming a bit more difficult or were precautions taken to make sure it went as smoothly as it possibly could?

IO: Yeah, definitely. We had a COVID producer on set whose job was fully to ensure that protocols were being adhered to. It felt very safe and frankly it was just lovely because it was after the height of the first lockdown, things were easing up a little bit. So, we could work on a set. I hadn’t seen people for months. It was very exciting to be working on it on a set with lots of people like before. And everyone was really mindful and careful.

GC: Osgood’s role in The Lonely Assassins is that she kind of fills the role that the Doctor normally would because she’s helping the player. Did you get any opportunities to work with any of the other actors during filming for this? Or were you strictly by yourself for most of it?

IO: I was by myself for my filming. I think there was crossover with other actors after I finished and they were waiting around on set, but, yeah, it was just Osgood. I think it was a good fit for Osgood because she’s a tech person. So, hacking into the phone and circumventing tech issues, I think that makes sense that it’s Osgood in this scenario.

GC: Osgood seems to be very Doctor-like in this game. It must be good to see Osgood go on this journey from being a fan of the Doctor to being somebody who could do the things the Doctor would do.

IO: I think that was also there in the TV series to a certain extent. Like in The Zygon Invasion, she’d gone off on a mission to Mexico by herself and she’s already fairly intrepid. She’ll get an idea in her head and sort of do it. It didn’t feel like a massive change. In my head, she does that a lot as well anyway, so it’s not that new for Osgood.

GC: It was always there, but now it’s like she’s getting more opportunities to step into a very active role.

IO: Well, you’re right if you imagine it’s what she was doing anyway.

GC: That’s what we need. Osgood spin-off.

IO: Listen, you talk to whoever you need to talk to.

GC: I will set up a petition, right this instant. I’ve noticed that Osgood dresses up like the Doctor. I remember, in the 50th anniversary, she had the scarf from the Fourth Doctor and I think she’s had other aspects of their costumes in other appearances. Is there a clothing item of the Doctor that you have a particular attachment to?

IO: I mean, the scarf was a momentous moment. I knew what it was, but I didn’t quite know how important it was to a lot of fans. I think one of the first days on set filming in Trafalgar Square and I was wearing the scarf and, obviously as the day goes on, people turn up, people hear about the fact that we’re filming, there were hundreds of people behind the barrier’s watching and, in the front row, there were just several people with Tom Baker scarves on. And I felt suddenly quite sick. I felt like I had responsibility. It was really fun.

I got a picture actually, somewhere, of me with some random men wearing scarves. That felt quite iconic and with that I felt a bit of pressure. But they’re all fun. All the costumes are fun.

GC: Who was your first Doctor?

IO: Peter Davison.

GC: He was directly after Baker, wasn’t he?

IO: Yeah, I had a massive crush on Peter Davison. He knows this because I’ve done a convention and I said that in a Q and A and he was listening in the green room and I was mortified.

GC: If you could work with one Doctor, would it be Peter Davidson?

IO: Oh God, that’s a really good question. I mean, Jodie obviously. But of the previous ones, I don’t know who I’d like to work with.

GC: You know, that’s fine. There are too many of them. I’ll put down all of them.

IO: Of course, I’m greedy.

GC: Thank you very much for the opportunity to speak with you.

IO: It was really nice talking to you.

Doctor Who: The Lonely Assassins is available now on iOS, Google Play, and Steam.

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