Poirot star David Suchet has revealed an unexpected history with the creepy house at the centre of his episode of Doctor Who.
The veteran star appears as the landlord in the latest episode Knock Knock, in which he offers the Doctor’s companion Bill and five of her student friends cheap rooms in a huge spooky house when they’re struggling to find somewhere to live.
In the show the house is full of sinister secrets and has a tower that is out of bounds to all tenants, but Suchet has said he was stunned to discover he had a family history with the property.
He told Doctor Who: The Aftershow: “This house in which we film was just outside Cardiff in Wales.
“The Christmas before, we all decided as a family to rent a house for Christmas because there were so many of us, and it was only on the third day of filming I realised we were filming in exactly the same house we had rented for Christmas.
“When I suddenly realised we were in the same house I completely freaked.”
“I had been going in the side door used by the actors so it was only when I was by that front door, that you see in the famous picture, and went in that I realised this was the house we rented and there was the owner saying hello. It was really weird.”
Another recollection came to Suchet when he was performing in front of a green screen as his character was consumed by insects.
He said: “I’ve done green screen before but nothing quite like this, to be consumed by these lice creatures, with the wonderful director saying ‘they are by your knees, by your thighs’, you have to do it all by imagination.
“When I was 23 I rented a room in Liverpool near the docks which cost £3 a week in 1969.
“It had no bedding, just one horsehair mattress and I had an old woolly coat and slept under the bed with one bar fire on and I woke up covered in woodlice, so I used that and that memory when I was in this episode. We call it acting memory recall, in real life it’s madness.”
Knock Knock was written by Mike Bartlett, who also penned Doctor Foster and the upcoming BBC drama King Charles III, and Suchet praised the complexity he gave to the character to avoid him becoming a two-dimensional villain.
He said: “The great thing about Doctor Who, and all fabulous series, is down to the writers.
“If they don’t spark the imagination of the set designers, the directors, the producers and the actors, there is no show.
“What Mike wrote for me as the landlord, no name, is someone with an Oedipus complex, he has never been allowed to grow up, he has this strange relationship with the mother who he keeps alive, it’s a very detailed examination of someone with psychotic condition.”
Doctor Who: The Aftershow is presented on the Doctor Who YouTube Channel, hosted by BBC Worldwide.