The Time of the Doctor, Tasha Lem Interview – Orla Brady

Orla Brady, galactic nun Tasha Lem in the Doctor Who Christmas Special & Mother Superior of the Papal Mainframe, chats about working with Matt Smith and Jenna-Louise Coleman, her favourite scene with the Daleks, being in prosthetics and her scenes with the Silents, the other baddies in the Christmas Special including weeping Angels, the Silents and the Cybermen, the backstory between Tasha Lem and the Doctor, the Blade Runner look suggested by director Jamie Payne, researching previous Doctor Who episodes such as Blink, Hide and The Empty Child & why she’d love a spin-off for Tasha Lem. Orla Brady also chats about friend and fellow Mistresses star Sarah Parish who played the Empress of the Racnoss, why stepping into the Tardis was magical, how the Christmas Special episode has balanced saying goodbye to Matt Smith with welcoming the new Doctor Peter Capaldi, why Peter Capaldi will be a wonderful new Doctor and how Orla worked with him previously on The Vicar of Dibly Christmas Special & what she thinks about the regeneration cycles dilemma that Steven Moffat recently discussed.

We have not met Tasha before, but we’ve met her forces. We’ve met the troops of the Papal Mainframe in a former episode and this is the big boss: the Mother Superious of the Papal Mainframe.

I do play a galactic nun. Tasha Lem is somebody who is from the Doctor’s past. She’s an old friend of his and in this episode he comes to her for help.

She’s extraordinarily powerful. So she’s like the head of the Galactic UN. She’s a peacekeeping force but they’ve got more firepower and more willingness to use it than the Earthly UN. They are a scary outfit if you are on the wrong side of them, but I think the Doctor has to feel that she will help them, and indeed she will, because she’s an old friend of his.

Obviously the Silence are part, or become part, of the Papal Mainframe, so I did have scenes where Silence were present and they have a certain allegiance to me.

Broadly speaking I’m on the side of good. I’m supposed to be not frightening, but authoritative. You’re supposed to believe that she can run these troops and the Silence, and this giant ship and the UN of space.

She will use her firepower if necessary because she does get cross, shall we say, with the Doctor at a certain point because she’s used to troops pretty much being under her control and doing what she asks of them. She does ask the Doctor to do a particular thing and he’s a bit of a loose cannon and goes rogue, so she’s not best pleased to a certain point.

She’s human, but Steven Moffat said she’s a descendant of humans. It’s like there’s some element of her that is not quite human. She doesn’t have specific superpowers, much to my huge disappointment, but there’s a strain of something else, something alien.

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