As we prepare for one of this series’ most mysterious and terrifying adventures, Blogtor Who profiles the career of Kevin Eldon, who plays Ribbons in It Takes You Away

There are fewer guest stars this season of Doctor Who with a longer resume than Kevin Eldon. He’s been a constant presence on British television and radio for thirty years, after all. Specializing in darkly comic characters, along with a sideline in absurd ones, his talents have seen him in demand across multiple genres. Blogtor Who will only be able to scratch the surface of the It Takes You Away star’s career here. However, we can give you a sense of his works’ impressive scope.

Born in Kent, Eldon is notoriously reluctant to give interviews. He’s expressed the view that the very act of being interviewed forces one to define and nail down memories in a way that deforms the subject’s own perception of them. Which is really pretty deep. Even his book – My Perfect Cousin: A Short Biography of Paul Hamilton – is based on the idea that, rather than write a book about himself, he’s write a fake biography of a fake person. Who happened to look exactly like him. It’s fair to say that Eldon prefers his work to speak for itself. With 139 credits so far, it certainly has a lot to say.

Eldon has been a constant presence in British comedy across three decades

Eldon’s evolution began with his role in a local punk band before he moved into stand up comedy instead. Catching the eye of fellow comic Stewart Lee, Eldon became a regular supporting player on The Lee & Herring Radio Show. Eldon then became part of the 1990s alternative comedy scene, and was a member of Cluub Zarathustra troupe alongside the likes of Johnny Vegas. He also became a regular presence on comedy sketch shows such as Fist of Fun and Attention Scum! He was also known for his characters on This Morning with Richard Not Judy and Big Train. In 2013 he created his own sketch show, It’s Kevin.

Kevin Eldon as Joplin, alongside Jamie Winstone (Kelly), Beth Cordingly (Veronica), Warren Brown (Marky) and Adam Deacon (Space) in Charlie Brooker's Big Brother zombie drama (c) Channel 4
Kevin Eldon as Joplin, alongside Jamie Winstone (Kelly), Beth Cordingly (Veronica), Warren Brown (Marky) and Adam Deacon (Space) in Charlie Brooker’s Big Brother zombie drama Dead Set (c) Channel 4

Eldon has spent decades as a regular face in the worlds of science fiction, fantasy and horror

He also appeared throughout the run of controversial comedy Brass Eye and was a guest star on shows such as I’m Alan Partridge and Black Books. In critically acclaimed, and black-as-pitch comedy drama Nighty Night, Eldon played Terry. Terry was the unwitting husband of Julia Davis’ narcissistic serial killer who disappoints his wife by recovering from cancer. Eldon’s hang dog expression and affable gullibility was a central part of the show’s success. In 2013, Pride and Prejudice sequel Death Comes to Pemberley cast him as Dr. McFee and in Damned he was, alongside Jo Brand and Alan Davies, one of the main characters in the comedy about a dysfunctional and under-resourced social services department as it muddles through one crisis after another.

Eldon appeared as an extra in Francois Truffaut’s iconic film Farenheit 451 as a small boy. Ever since, he’s had a strong connection to the science fiction and fantasy genres. In Spaced, the geek comedy created by The Long Game’s Simon Pegg and Human Nature’s Jessica Hynes, Eldon played a parody of The Matrix’s Agent Smith (alongside Mark Gatiss as his fellow agent). He reunited with Pegg and Nick Frost again in the movie Hot Fuzz as Sergeant Fisher. And again with Frost as the authoritarian and violence prone first officer York in the two seasons of Hyperdrive. He was Joplin, a Big Brother housemate faced with a zombie apocalypse in Charlie Brooker’s Dead Set. He’s also clocked up appearances in shows as diverse as Stan Lee’s Lucky Man, Inside No. 9, The IT Crowd, Red Dwarf and Game of Thrones.

 

Antimony (Kevin Elrond) was the new 'perfect companion' for the Doctor (Sylvester McCoy) in 201's Death Comes to Time. Art by Lee Sullivan (c) BBC Studios.
Antimony (Kevin Eldon) was the new ‘perfect companion’ for the Doctor (Sylvester McCoy) in 2001’s Death Comes to Time. Art by Lee Sullivan (c) BBC Studios.

It Takes You Away marks a return to Doctor Who for a former companion

The wonder then is that Eldon hasn’t been in Doctor Who before now. Although, in a way, he has been. In 2001, the BBCi webcast drama Death Comes to Time sought to establish a bold new continuity and direction for Doctor Who, or else a final capstone to end it forever. Eldon appeared alongside Sylvester McCoy and Sophie Aldred as Antimony, the Doctor’s latest companion. A companion who, tragically, was the ultimate culmination of the Seventh Doctor’s manipulative streak.

Such voice work has also been a significant part of Eldon’s career. He succeeded the legendary Terry Scott as the voice of Penfold when Dangermouse was rebooted for the 21st century and provides the voice of Lord Tenoroc, the main villain in children’s adventure cartoon The Matt Hatter Chronicles.

In the trailers for It Takes You Away, Eldon’s Ribbons remains unseen. But his sinister tones can be heard declaring that “such tragedy make me… hungry.” In what’s shaping up to be this season’s most unsettling and horror tinged episode, Eldon’s gift for providing disturbing villains and voices dripping with menace is set to be an essential part of the formula.

Because Kevin Eldon… he’ll take you away.

 

Doctor Who: It Takes You Away - The Doctor (Jodie Whittaker), Ryan (Tosin Cole), Yaz (Mandip Gill) and Graham (Bradley Walsh) (c) BBC/BBC Studios
Doctor Who: It Takes You Away – The Doctor (Jodie Whittaker), Ryan (Tosin Cole), Yaz (Mandip Gill) and Graham (Bradley Walsh) (c) BBC/BBC Studios

The adventure continues…

Doctor Who continues this Sunday at 6.30pm GMT on BBC One and at 8pm EST on BBC America with It Takes You Away by Ed Hime. For further broadcast times in your region, check local listings. Series 11 stars Jodie Whittaker (The Doctor), Mandip Gill (Yasmin Khan), Bradley Walsh (Graham O’Brien) and Tosin Cole (Ryan Sinclair).

It Takes You Away guest stars Kevin Eldon (Ribbons) and Eleanor Wallwork (Hanne) and is directed by Jamie Childs.

On the edge of a Norwegian fjord, in the present day, The Doctor, Ryan, Graham and Yaz discover a boarded-up cottage and a girl named Hanne in need of their help. What has happened here? What monster lurks in the woods around the cottage – and beyond?

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