Drama graduate Stephen turns up in green monster suit and stilts for appointment with the Doctor

15 Dec 2023
Four bug-eyed green monsters with ray guns

A University of Winchester drama graduate landed on our TV screens recently as a nine-foot-tall green alien in pursuit of Dr Who.

Actor and puppeteer Stephen Love was hidden within a green rubber suit and stood on stilts in his role as a Wrarth Warrior, a member of a terrifying inter-galactic police force, who descended upon London in the first of three 60th anniversary specials starring David Tennant and Catherine Tate.

Playing a Wrarth was a big break into creature acting for Stephen as well as being a chance to act with one of his childhood idols, Tennant.

Stephen’s stature – he’s six foot six – helped land him the role as he was a perfect physical match for fellow actor Robert Strange.

The pair spent 25 days filming the Dr Who episode The Star Beast - the first to be produced by Russell T. Davies on his return to the series – culminating in a battle scene shot at night in a Cardiff street.

“For my first feature credit it was pretty full on but very exciting and so much fun,” said Stephen, who studied Contemporary Performance at Winchester and graduated in 2013.

Before going in front of the cameras Stephen would spend 90 minutes in make-up having a special headpiece glued into place. He then had to keep it on for the rest of the day, up to 12 hours.

He and Robert, wearing their alien heads, were then driven to the studio where they donned the rest of the Wrath costume.

Once inside the rubber Wrath outfit Stephen said farewell to solid food and instead sipped shakes and smoothies though a straw.

His field of vision (looking out through the creature’s nostrils) was severely restricted as was his hearing. Stephen and Robert retained contact with the outside world through earpieces.

“You are surrounded by hundreds of people on set but you are very much in your own world – it can be quite isolating,” said Stephen.

Fortunately, Stephen had two helpers from Millenium FX, who made the costumes, whose caring duties included keeping him cool with the aid of a leaf blower.

He said he also received great support from the show’s stars.

“It was great to work with David and Catherine who were very considerate. They kept coming up to ask: ‘Are you OK in there?’”

Stephen said that many of his skills as a puppeteer were transferable to creature acting whose other screen credits include Netflix hit The Crown and Hulu series, The Great.

Ginger bearded man with life-size horse puppetStephen Love with life-size Warhorse puppet

He had his first taste of puppetry when he took part in a workshop run by Handspring at the University of Winchester.

This ignited a love of the art which led to Stephen winning a role in the stage show Warhorse.

“If I hadn’t done the workshop with Handspring at Winchester my entire career could have been different,” he said.

Group of young people with a puppet made from twisted paper

Stephen at a paper Puppets workshop for the University of Winchester

In 2020 Stephen formed The Paper Puppets Workshop, based in Winchester, which visits schools, colleges, universities and community groups to provide an introduction to the ancient art.

Dr Richard Cuming, Senior Lecture in the Department of Performing Arts at the University of Winchester, said: “It’s excellent that Stephen is in Dr Who.  While on the course he took modules in puppetry and physical theatre and was an excellent student who really developed his skills.  I’m very much looking forward to seeing him in Dr Who.”

The Star Beast can be seen on BBC iPlayer.



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