Dr Who in Rotorua? Why not?

20:42, Dec 16 2012


An army of mud monsters will emerge from Rotorua's primeval mud under Sir Peter Jackson's direction to be defeated by Doctor Who backed and an army, if one of the Doctors longest serving companions gets his way.

John Levene, who played United Nations Intelligence Taskforce (UNIT) Sergeant Benton alongside the Doctor between 1968 and 1975, is backing Doctor Who current lead Matt Smith's campaign to film episodes in New Zealand following the show's 50th anniversary next year.

Levene wants to get involved after Sir Peter, one of the show's Wellington based writers Neil Cross and Cardiff based producer Caro Skinner added Smith their support.

''My choice would be something that dissolves into the earth to make it really fearful,'' Levene said. '' That's why the Weeping Angels iwere so magnificent in the construct and the writing. Boy did Doctor Who executive producer and head writer Steven Moffat nail that? It was just overwhelming.''

Moffat created the Weeping Angels, an alien race which resemble the statues in cemteries which move when no one is looking.

Levene, who worked with the legendary Jon Pertwee and Tom Baker whol played the third and fourth incarnation of the Doctor, is proposing his character could have been promoted to brigadier to replace the late Nicholas Courtney's character from the show's early days.

''I still look reasonably dashing in a uniform. The desire to see Benton as the brigadier is so powerful.''

He would love to add Matt Smith, who he met in 2010,  to his CV.

''Matt is one of those wonderfully creative actors,'' he said. ''The moment I walked onto the set Matt came up and said, 'Oh hello, nice to see you' and he said 'any advice' and I said 'Just enjoy, and do the best you can, and treat the fans with respect and dignity' and then that was it.''

Levene has a photograph of Smith in his living room in his Salisbury, England, home.

A string of Doctor Who actors, Garrick Hagon, Mark Strickson and Terry Malloy, who proposed a Dalek invasion of New Zealand, have put their names forward for the project as has Star Trek Deep Space Nine lead Aron Eisenberg who wants to jump series.

''Every man and his dog is going to want to be in it,'' Levene said. ''There are so many storylines that Steven Moffat can follow. We all have our different views about how the Doctor is produced and directed and written for but Matt does have this wonderful elasticity of energy.

''The reason we'd like to be in a Peter Jackson production is because of the depth, the meter, of his thought process which creates the magic at the end of his eyeballs.

''When I watched King Kong the other night, it's been done before but it's never been done with superb magic. That's what he creates. But the magic is so imbued, like Spielberg, with heart, soul, sunlight, and a brilliant handling of all the aspects of the human thought process.

''He handles horror with incredible horrifyingness, monsters with a monster desire to make them real, he just has it.''

''Imagine the drama that Peter could bring, oh gosh. It smacks of a two parter, doesn't it? Two 50 minute episodes. How could you not have his magic touch? Isn't that where it all lays? it doesn't matter if any of us get the bloody part, the thought of him just waving his magic wand, his hobbit orientated wand, his Lord of the Rings masterpiece, over Doctor Who, it doesn't matter if you were in it, just having been attached to it, there's a little bit of glory in that.''

While Benton hasn't appeared on screen since 1975, he has recently recorded an audio drama as the character and UNIT has returned in several television stories.

''When I first saw UNIT, in one of the David Tennant stories, I can tell you my little heart burst.''

But Benton wasn't Levene's first appearance in Doctor Who. He played a yeti and cyberman in different Patrick Troughton stories.

After Doctor Who Levene worked as a private detective in London before heading to Hollywood where he worked for Robert Wagner. He recently returned to his native Salisbury in the UK.

Levene, who guested at the Armageddon Pop Culture Expo in Hamilton earlier this year, is keen to return to New Zealand to visit his son Jason who lives near Wellington. He is also looking for a producer for his  one man comedy show he hopes to take on tour in New Zealand on his next visit.

Meanwhile Levene, who was recently celebrated in a documentary on the release of the classic story The Claws of Axos, is looking for a writer to work on a World War II screenplay.

''I am trying to get seed money from the company involved, I can't tell you who it is because he's so big,'' he said. 


Waikato Times