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Feature: Torchwood

Alan Dale

Its been a while since he was Jim Robinson in Neighbours. From 24 to Ugly Betty, now Alan Dale is in Torchwood

Slowly but surely, Alan Dale has been taking over US TV. Watch any big series of the last 10 years and sooner or later youll see him appear, because the New Zealand-born, Los Angeles-based actor has been working his way up the ranks, moving from one-episode guest shots in series such as Time Trax, Space: Above and Beyond and The Lone Gunmen to recurring roles in 24, Ugly Betty and The X-Files. Hell be instantly familiar to many as the original Neighbours patriarch, Jim Robinson, father to Scott (Jason Donovan) and Paul (Stefan Dennis) and now, intriguingly, hes in the Torchwood episode Reset. How did a Kiwi actor wind up in Cardiff?

Well, thats a long and tortuous path! laughs the actor. 20-odd years in Australia and eight years here [in LA] and then I was invited, and up until then I hadnt been. As soon as I was invited I grabbed it because I was partial to Britain. [Im] a fan right from the very beginning of Doctor Who, and our family, [wife] Tracy and I, really love coming to Britain. Also, of course, my son [Simon Dale] has a radio show there on Kiss 100 so its nice to catch up with him.

So thats why Dales so ubiquitous: hes got connections everywhere. I think we do that, dont we? You guys started it all over the world, like a disease. What we are is your progeny coming back to haunt you.

Offered Torchwood by his agent, Dale says initially, I wasnt familiar with it at all, but I knew of Doctor Who and they said it was a spin-off so that was fine. Were hooked on it now! We watch it all the time, its one of our favourite shows. Im surprised a lot more British drama doesnt get across here to be honest, because I love it.

His Torchwood role is that of Dr Aaron Copley, a scientist whos developed a way of curing some of the worlds most notorious ills, with the unfortunate side-effect that the cure is an alien parasite that eventually kills its host. I spent eight-and-a-half years playing the nicest man in Australia and I actually had a bit of a hankering after playing evil, mysterious people, explains Dale, and thats what Ive been doing.

Dale hasnt actually seen the finished product yet and wants to know, Was the episode all right? Assured its come out fine, he continues, You dont know; you do these things, you turn up there, four days in Cardiff, rushing off out to the Border Country in a big old house and working. They have this strange thing that because its a dark sort of show they shoot it all at night. It must be exhausting for everybody, having to work from three in the afternoon to three in the morning every day. I had no idea really how it was going to look, but Im pleased to hear its all right.

Hes certainly going to be remembered because in an altercation at the end of the episode he does some major damage to the team. I feel very bad, he admits, although its pointed out that he does pay for his transgressions. Yes, of course. I always pay. One of these days Ill get a role where I dont pay."

by Paul Spragg

Read the full interview in
Starburst #360

Photo BBC
Feature © Visual Imagination 2008. Not for reproduction

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Starburst #360
March 2008
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