How Doctor Who fan and performer Rob Lloyd turned his obsession into a career

Days before Doctor Who star Christopher Eccleston visits for his first ever convention in New Zealand, a life-long Australian fan and performer is steeling himself to share the stage with one of his heroes - and struggling with the fact he may fail to control his inner "nerdiness".

Comedian Rob Lloyd is coming back across the Tasman for the Lord of Time convention event in Auckland and Wellington, taking place February 24-25.

He will perform his new stage show Me & Who, which looks at how his life has changed since the award-winning Who, Me gained global popularity over a decade ago.

Who, Me started off as a solo performance at an Adelaide festival, travelled to Melbourne's annual comedy festival and then garnered praise at the 2013 New Zealand International Comedy Festival. From there, it exploded globally with sell-out runs at the Edinburgh Festival.

While some of that success was down to the show itself, which saw Lloyd put himself on trial for his Doctor Who obsession, some of it came because of constant press coverage of the fact Lloyd shared an uncanny physical resemblance to 10th Doctor actor David Tennant.

Lloyd told Newshub with Tennant having returned to the role as part of the show's 60th anniversary celebrations, it was only natural that he would be back as well with his new show.

"It's a big plan. It's all about me. David Tennant coming back as Doctor Who for the 60th is all about me. And the more people pick that up, I think the better and healthier mentally this fandom will be," he laughed.

It's fair to say Lloyd capitalised on the wave of publicity the resemblance got him, but he also took advantage of his lifelong love of the sci-fi series, using it to present shows for the BBC across Australia about The Science of Doctor Who, fronted live concert spectaculars which toured nationally. While in Edinburgh, he also found himself on UK national television commenting on the appointment of Peter Capaldi as the 12th Doctor in August 2013.

"I didn't expect any of this to happen, but I took every opportunity. I am very grateful I got the chance," he said.

"I never even wanted to do a show about Doctor Who to begin with. I identified myself as a nerdy, geeky, awkward child growing up in New South Wales, which is a very harsh environment. I never thought anyone would be interested to hear me talk about being a Doctor Who fan in Australia when I was younger. It just snowballed slowly and then gradually picked up."

Rob Lloyd in a publicity shot for Who, Me.
Rob Lloyd in a publicity shot for Who, Me. Photo credit: Supplied - Rob Lloyd

But Lloyd revealed to Newshub he still struggled when presented with the opportunities to meet his heroes while "working" various events.

"You just have to admit the fact you're not going to be cool about it. No matter how much you try to be, you're just not," he laughed.

"I remember when I met (12th Doctor Who actor) Peter Capaldi backstage at an event, he'd done his part and I'd done one of my stage panels, which I was co-hosting with (Doctor Who and League of Gentlemen writer) Mark Gatiss, and I met him and just kept on saying 'thank you'. I just couldn't stop saying thank you to Peter Capaldi. He was very generous and he did a selfie with me, but I just kept on shaking his hand, going, 'thank you, just thank you, thank you'.

"You just embrace the fact you are a nerd as well. We're all nerds, and, yeah, we all can embrace the love of that."

And for years with fans commenting on his resemblance to Tennant, it was inevitable the pair would cross paths at a convention.

"I was in Ottawa for the Ottawa Fringe Festival and while I was there, I had a day off and noticed David Tennant was in Montreal too. So I was able to fly to Montreal, meet David Tennant, and then fly back," he said.

"But the great thing about it is a lot of the Canadian Doctor Who fans, who have been so supportive of me, were there at the convention the day before. At the end of my show I talk about how for years I've had people come up to me going, 'you look like David Tennant'. At the end I say, 'if you ever meet David Tennant, go up to him and say, you look like Rob Lloyd'. So the day before, all the Canadian Doctor Who fans from Ottawa who were at that convention every time they had their photo or their autograph with David Tennant, they'd left by going, 'you look just like Rob Lloyd'.

"So when I came, I went up and said, 'Hi, I'm Rob Lloyd', and he went, 'Oh, now I get it, now I get it'."

Rob Lloyd when he finally met David Tennant.
Rob Lloyd when he finally met David Tennant. Photo credit: Supplied - Rob Lloyd

Lloyd will be sharing the stage in Auckland and Wellington with 1960s Doctor Who actor Wendy Padbury who played second Doctor companion Zoe, 2000s actor Caitlin Blackwood who appeared in 11th Doctor Matt Smith's first adventure, and Eccleston, who, as the Northern-accented leather-jacket wearing ninth Doctor, helped relaunch the show as a global hit back in 2005.

The acclaimed actor, who can currently be seen in True Detective: Night Country, has in the past shied away from doing conventions as he believes fans get ripped off at the pricey events. He has now - to the delight of many fans - changed his opinion on that stance.

After years of silence, he has admitted he struggled with his mental health while on Doctor Who, battling an eating disorder during filming. He also had an incongruous departure which he claimed led to him being blacklisted for years by the show's broadcaster, the BBC.

Recent convention appearances have seen Eccleston repeatedly asked if he'd return to the show. He turned down the chance to reappear for the show's 50th anniversary celebrations and last year openly said the only way he would come back to the series was if all the current production team, including acclaimed writer Russell T Davies, were sacked from it.

Christopher Eccleston at the relaunch of Doctor Who in 2005.
Christopher Eccleston at the relaunch of Doctor Who in 2005. Photo credit: BBC

It's potentially disheartening for fans to hear how unhappy Eccleston was on a show that brought such joy to many and successfully relaunched the property - but Lloyd said he deeply admired him for his stance.

"What I've really appreciated is he's been very open and honest and blunt with the things that were negative about it. But he is also incredibly positive about the impact he had. One of my favourite moments is before he started doing conventions years ago, when he was doing TV series The A Word where he played the grandfather of a child with autism," Lloyd said.

"He was interviewed by a young reporter, who was on the spectrum, about the TV show and about halfway through that, the kid mentioned, he got into Doctor Who because of Christopher Eccleston. And you just saw him light up. He held the boy's hand and went: 'Oh, you're one of mine'.

"I love that passion he has. Yes, when he talks about his time on the show, he doesn't shy away from the impact the negativity had, but he also doesn't shy away from embracing and celebrating the impact he made and the legacy he had.

"I got to meet him a couple of years ago at a convention in Melbourne. Just had a quick photo and a chat. He said I had a very smart vest, so hopefully he remembers me because I'm sure he will, outside of all those thousands of people he met that day, I'm sure I stood out!"

The Lord of Time convention event in Auckland and Wellington takes place February 24-25.