Besides learning to operate the Matrix and throw quill pens, Michael Jayston has said that the most difficult part of his role in Trial of a Time Lord was getting the hang of vanishing and reappearing at will. As one of the few actors to master this art with some proficiency, he was in more recent years hired to train Toby Jones in the skill for the new series. Toby Jones, however, still splinches himself every third take.
I remember the first time I met Michael Jayston, we were chatting about this and that, and for some reason I mentioned that sometimes I fear having trouble being taken seriously as a professional, as I do tend to look a bit young for my age.
“Really?” he said. “Because you honestly don’t look a day over 64.”
Oh Michael, you ol’ smoothie. I do enjoy a bit of ridiculous banter.
Who fans - and if you’re reading this, you probably are one - will remember Jayston’s understated, menacing performance as the ScrapyardBarnyardJunkyard Valeyard in the show’s Trial Of A Time Lord season, a role he has since reprises in the Big Finish audios He Jests At Scars and the recent Trial Of The Valeyard. He’s been in far too many other things to list them all; that said, I would be remiss if I failed to mention his performance opposite Alec Guinness in the fabulous BBC adaptation of Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy.
Then there was the time I mentioned being a lapsed academic, and he looked at me incredulously, and said “did you say you’re a lapdancer?” and I laughed so hard I could barely breathe. So thank you for that, sir.
Hywel Bennett as Robinson Duckworth, Michael Jayston as Charles Dodgson (Lewis Carroll), Pippa Vickers as Edith Liddell (in the back), Fiona Fullerton as Alice, and Victoria Shallard as Lorina Liddell in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (1972).
George Smiley: I saw you parking this toy in Pearson Street this afternoon. I ran away immediately. Good guess on your part. Peter Guillam: What made you think I was looking for you? George Smiley: I hoped you were.