Below is Part 1 of a two part interview with the creator and director of the Dapol Doctor Who series on YouTube. If you’ve never seen these features on YouTube, I implore you to check then out. Whether you’re a fan of Doctor Who, action figures or both, this is definitely something you’ll enjoy. The Dapol Doctor Who series uses basic action figure manipulation, animation and effects to bring to life stories that are every bit as diverse and well acted as many of the real Doctor Who stories. They really are incredible and after just a couple moments you’ll be sucked in watching with intrigue to figure out the mysteries of the stories and completely forget that you’re watching action figures. It’s incredible. Check out the links at the end of the interview for some of the webisodes.

Today I’m sitting down with Brendan Sheppard, who you may have seen on YouTube as “DapolDoctorWho”. Brendan, I would like to thank you for taking the time out of your busy schedule to grant with this interview. Before we get into the meat of things, can you tell us a little bit about your background, both with Doctor Who and video production?

Hi, yes, well I’ve been a professional TV director for the last 12 years since I left the world of acting! I actually joined the BBC in 2004 just before the relaunch of Doctor Who, it was a very exciting time to be at the BBC even though I only worked in Children’s. I actually had, in the programme I was working on at the time (Nelly Nut Live) introduced the TARDIS into one of the episodes – probably the one broadcast on the 23rd November 2004.

Anyway, it was around 2005 when I approached Steve Roberts and then Daniel Hall to work on the Doctor Who DVDs but it wasn’t until the end of 2006 that I got my first assignment with them, it was just after I got home from an 8 week long shoot in Canada filming the popular children’s series DinoSapien.

I think my first feature “The Tunnel Effect” impressed Daniel enough for him to give me more work, what I loved about the DVDs was the extra’s but what I hated about them was the dull black backgrounds they used for interviews and so I introduced the concept of making the backgrounds more relevant to the story I was working on as seen in the extra’s for The Time Warrior and all the others up until my last DVD which was Planet of Fire.

I was lucky enough to get full titles to work on and after doing a CGI Option for The Time Warrior I decided to go to town with Rob Semenoff on doing more CGI options where possible. It was here that I developed my 2D and some 3D skills although I left the majority of the 3D work to Rob. I think to date The Guardian Box Set and the Planet of Fire Special Edition are my two greatest achievements on the range. I left the Doctor Who DVD world in 2008. I then had an interview to direct The Sarah Jane Adventures and work on the BBC Doctor Who Site as well as an interview to work on Totally Doctor Who but nothing came of these so I pursued another avenue in my spare time.

Where did the idea to do Doctor Who adventures on YouTube come up at?

Right, well, I started Dapol Doctor Who in 1993, I loved the idea of making a short animation series with my Dapol figures. In the very very early days I made maybe, 5 stories. I built some very elaborate sets and used my Hi8 camera. In those days of course, I needed to use tape to record the voices with my friend Glen Kilpatrick and I made a lot of stories so a lot of the audio is clunky but the stories are pretty solid. I stopped making them in 1995 as I went to pursue my career.

It was in 2005 that I decided to make “Prisoners of Arriton” the first Dalek story, this took a long time make as I wanted to use a bit of stop frame animation and I had to build a TARDIS set from scratch and I made the other sets out of bits of things in my office. I then spent a long time making the opening CGI shot and mixing the sound but when I originally uploaded it to You Tube in 2006 I didn’t expect anyone to like it but within a few months it has over 12,000 hits so I took it down, formed a channel called dapoldoctorwho and re-uploaded it with the promise of a second story “The Tombs of Ice” which came in 2008 and I pretty much made the first season over the course of a year.

One of the things we see on many of the videos is that you employ some great CGI effects to enable you to do things that perhaps weren’t even available when the 7th Doctor was on the airwaves. What programs do you use and are you doing the animations yourself or do you have them commissioned? They’re pretty impressive.

Well, initially yes, I did all the CGI for all of the stories. I did ask Rob if he would send me some models for example the Dalek Ship in Domination of the Daleks, the TARDIS and Rassilon’s Tomb in The Time Assassin where his. He is so very talented and such a nice, kind man. But his time is precious and so I generally do all the animations myself using LightWave 3D, Particle Illusion, Adobe Photoshop and After Effects.

There is some very impressive stuff coming in the new season!

Let’s talk voices. I know you may not want to tip your hat too much, but can you shed some light on who provides some of the voice work or at least how you go about it? I must confess, both Sylvester McCoy and Sophie Aldred sound incredible. My ear’s good enough to know it’s not them, but certainly you could fool some people. Both have great quality.

Ok, well, I am the voice of the Doctor and Leanne James was the voice of Ace. Leanne has a slight lisp like Sophie and does sound quite like her despite having never watched Sophie Aldred’s performance! The rest of the voices are largely done by Rex Duis and Simon Ockenden. The Doctor is actually quite easy to do, Sylvester is a man I’ve met several times and worked with and he’s easy to imitate although I wouldn’t do it in front of him! Ha!!

You have a pretty large cast at times it would seem. What’s the largest cast of voice actors you’ve had?

Ahh, yes, the largest was for “The Time Assassin” I knew it was going to be a big cast, I think I had Leanne, Rex, Simon, Kevin and myself all working on that one but usually we don’t need that many however I do like to keep it fairly fresh. There’s some new voices coming too!

Why the 7th Doctor? Is he a personal favorite or was it just a matter of voices and logistics?

Yes it was purely logistics, I had a companion from Dapol and a Doctor from the same era, ones I could do voices for as well as a console room and other bits and pieces from the late 80s so that’s why I chose to do the seventh Doctor.

Let’s get the 800 pound gorilla out of the room… Why Dapol figures? Character Options has done some great work in the past couple of years, far surpassing what Dapol did. Was it just a nostalgic attachment, a matter of them having the only 7th Doctor & Ace or just a stylistic choice?

Right well, the answer is that I had the right sized sets for Dapol Figures and an awful lot of them. I love the Character Options figures and I have them all actually, in fact I did start to introduce one or two in the Dapol Series like the Pyrovile as seen in Rise of the Sea Devils and Davros and the Supreme Dalek as seen in Domination of the Daleks. I think you can expect to see more Character Options in the coming series, then again it is called Dapol Doctor Who so I think you can expect to see some of the unused figures that where released in future stories. It is, however, very difficult to film the mixture of figures because obviously Davros for example is far bigger than the McCoy Dapol figure so I avoid doing two shots where possible so the audience do not get a sense of scale and therefore not being distracted whilst watching the stories.

What’s your favorite part about Sylvester McCoy’s 7th Doctor and by proxy, what do you try to bring to the character in your portrayal?

Well I loved the 7th Doctor’s dark side, which you don’t often see in my series but you will in the upcoming series. I try and use the voice to the fullest effect I can really, I use the same style of emphasis and urgency he has. I have very much veered away from the comedy element of the seventh Doctor as I don’t believe that’s what Doctor Who does very well and indeed this is confirmed by the 24th season of the classic era. But other than that I just try to keep him real and not go too over the top with it because making this series “serious” can be quite a challenge. What I have done, not just with the Doctor but with the stories is try to make them as exciting and as entertaining as possible.

Ace is an interesting character, she divides a lot of fans. Some love her, while others seem to loathe her. Personally I’m a bit indifferent on Ace, but I think you’ve managed to tone down her annoying parts and make her a bit more competent in your adventures. What’s your feelings on that character?

I love Ace. She was definitely, for me, one of the strongest companions the Doctor ever had and much more akin to Rose in many ways. With Ace I tried to write her as a bit sarcastic, very determined and a little less obsessed with blowing things up. I felt that, during the course of the first season she was becoming a tad predictable however and so much so I made the decision, and it wasn’t an easy decision, to write her out at the end of The Time Assassin, to make my Christmas Special a Doctor only story. However, it didn’t give me much room for getting away from the main action so a new companion will take her place in series 2. A very interesting an unusual new companion!

You’ve done 7 Serials if my math is correct. Which one is your favorite thus far?

Gosh! I’m actually a little torn. Hmm. I think The Time Assassin is my favourite story, there was so much going on in Part One it was very exciting to write, produce and direct. I think it will always be special as I was thinking about the finale even when making Prisoners of Arriton. I also knew that The Time Assassin was going to lead to a big Dalek story so to link the two together was so much fun. I would generally tell people to watch the first episode the The Time Assassin if they wanted an introduction to the series. Its a BIG BIG finale!

I see that you’ve taken some scripts or at least, ideas from fans. What’s that like?

Yes, ahh! I’m glad you asked that. In the first series I approached Aaron J Climas, a chap I had worked with before on the Doctor Who DVDs to write me an Ice Warrior story and I can’t remember if Justin Parsons approached me or I approached him to write the Cyberman story but they were so good once they got into their heads the concept of writing a Dapol Doctor Who story as there are rules for example: 3x 7min episodes, no more than 3 to 4 characters and no more than 2-3 sets. In the upcoming series I have asked the viewers of the first series to come up with idea’s and send them to me, suffice to say I think all the stories apart from the finale have been written by new writers and Aaron and Justin have written a couple of stories too!

How long do you see yourself doing this?

Right, I do have an answer to that. I will continue to make them as long as there is interest, everyday I’m getting more and more subscribers to the page and a lot of great positive feedback from people, I also have a lot of stories to tell and from time to time people approach me with their idea’s and if they are workable I’ll make them!

Be sure to tune into Part 2 of this interview coming next week. We’ll discuss Brendan’s time working with the BBC, what he has in store for the upcoming “second series” of Dapol Doctor Who and how to get into making your own Action Figure YouTube stories. Big thanks to Brendan Sheppard for taking the time to speak with us here at, be sure to check out his YouTube page for literally a plethora of excellent Doctor Who stories.

For more Dapol Doctor Who Adventures check out: Dapol Doctor Who on YouTube

If you want a sampling, watch Part 1 of The Time Assassin and see for yourself!

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