Michelle Gomez: "The Mistress"

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Today, April 21st, is Michelle Gomez's Birthday. Tom Pheby pays tribute to the Mistress...


Since the dust settled on series 8 of Doctor Who we've had discussion and debate about Peter Capaldi's debut season. Some of you may agree with the BBC, that it was a resounding success. Some may think it was more mediocre. But perhaps there is one thing that we can all agree on (caveat: I said perhaps), Michelle Gomez was a delight as Missy.

But who is Michelle Gomez? She's actually a well rounded performer who has racked up a number of appearances on both small screen and cinema over the last 15 years, but I suspect her role in Doctor Who may well provide a springboard to even bigger things.

Gomez was born April 21st, 1966 in Glasgow Scotland, her father was originally from Montserrat and her mother was a model. She is the descendent of Portuguese settlers. At the tender age of 12 she attended the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Dance. Later amusingly noting that performing was in her blood, and that she realised even at an early age she had lofty aspirations...
"I've always been a show-off. I've always felt that it's been a destiny, a quiet destiny. I lived and breathed it. I was a high-kicking, fame-loving twat when I was growing up."
She was rejected from drama school twice and spent many years making do as a waitress until she got a break in acting in Irvine Welsh's 1998 movie The Acid House. Since then Rebus, Taggart, Green Wing, Bad Education and even Highlander: The Raven have all seen Gomez showcase her talent.


Gomez is slightly dismissive of 'The Luvvies' tag which surrounds a sought after actress of her calibre, and is even self depreciating of her own on-stage talent...
"Nobody's ever going to say "Oh yes, Michelle Gomez - it's all in the eyes" are they? I basically shout for an hour-and-a-half."
Who were her early influences. Well, tongue firmly in cheek, she says she owes it all to watching Marti Caine on opportunity Knocks.
"I owe my career in show business to seeing Marti Caine fall off a stool while singing Que Sera Sera. I thought, I can do slapstick like that. I’ve been trying to make money out of it ever since."
As Missy (the 'Masteress') she has confirmed her delightful way of underplaying a dark character, breathing life into the absurdity of such a role, by simply enjoying herself. And on playing similar roles that would be seen as unhinged or deranged she says:
"Look at me. I was never going to play an ingénue; not with this nose! Hardly button. I’m a disappointment in real life, I’m afraid: I’m actually very dull."

In that real life, she's married to Jack Davenport of Pirates of The Caribbean fame. Gomez claims that he almost stalked her at a production.
"He came to see Trainspotting repeatedly and then they bumped into each other in a bar, although at first she thought he was 'too young and too posh'. She went on to say that he became her 'stage door Johnny'."
Gomez was once asked if it was off putting or intimidating to be involved with a family of such Calibre. Clearly undaunted by Davenport's pedigree, which includes mother Maria Aitken and father Nigel Davenport, Gomez flippantly stated
"Well I wasn't sh***ing them. I was sh***ing Jack."
If you look at pictures of Michelle Gomez without the 'Mary Poppins' costume of Missy, she is actually quite stunning, and the make up department did well to make her look as dowdy and plain as she appears in Doctor Who.



We know that Gomez will return as Missy in the two-part series 9 story, The Magician's Apprentice/The Witch's Familiar, but having delivered such a strong and memorable interpretation of the Master it's likely that she may well be more in demand than ever. Hopefully though, these opening episodes won't mark her last appearance in Doctor Who. She has been an absolute revelation, especially in Dark Water/Death in Heaven where she delivered such a measured, effortless performance, packed with sharp comical touches and beautifully controlled evil embellishments. Such was her cleverly crafted depiction of the Master that John Simm's maniacal cartoon portrayal was blown out of the water (the Dark Water?).

After giving Roger Delgado a run for his money, any negative comment on a Time Lord's change of gender must now be redundant, and I for one do not envy the man (or woman) who follows her masterful performance.

Script Writer, Poet, Blogger and junk television specialist. Half English, half Irish and half Alsatian, Tom is well known for insisting on being called Demetri for reasons best known to himself. A former film abuser and telly addict who shamefully skulks around his home town of Canterbury after dark dressed as Julie Andrews. Follow Tom on Twitter
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