Doctor Who Cuttings Archive

Captured in time

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Let the Tardis take you on a journey into the past o witness some magic moments in the making of a TV phenomenon, including previously unpublished photos from RT's archives ...

The mean machines

The date: 1966

The story: The Tenth Planet

RT readers' poll-winning DW adversaries the Cybermen (see page 5—we didn't allow you the Daleks!) made their debut by attacking a South Pole tracking station. Story director Derek Martinus, seen left with production assistant Edwina Verner hauling a Cyberman to his feet, recalls: "The costumes were very hot to wear, and it was difficult for the actors to see. They were also very bulky."

Even before that, casting had caused a few problems. Martinus adds: "We felt the Cybermen should look impressive and as menacing as possible. I got the agents to trawl through their books to see who was over 6ft 4in! We ended up with the reception full of very tall men. "

Weeks later, the tall terrors were back (main picture), their cloth faces replaced with metal ones. Two years before Neil Armstrong set foot on the lunar surface, the Cybermen did the same in the 1967 story The Moonbase! Their place in the Who hall of horrors was assured.

It shouldn't happen to a Yeti

The date: 1967

The story: The Abominable Snowmen

In this fondly remembered story, Jamie (Frazer Hines) and Victoria (Deborah Watling) accompany the Doctor (Patrick Troughton) to Tibet, where they meet an explorer who's trying to track down the legendary Yeti. The furry beast, and plenty more like him, turn out to be the robotic servants of an alien intelligence.

Frazer Hines, seen (top) showing how to defeat the monster in question - by sitting on it recalls: "We filmed up in Snowdonia Park in Wales and it was very windy and rainy. There was a scene where I was being chased up the hill by a Yeti ... but of course, they couldn't run."

The beasties were built on bamboo frames, padded with foam rubber and covered with fur, which needed brushing between scenes (above). Their hands and feet were made of moulded rubber, which didn't give them much of a grip on the wet hillsides. Once they had fallen on their backs the operators just had to wait till help arrived.

Unfortunately the Yeti didn't turn out quite as frightening as planned. Children who watched the filming loved them and kept stroking them. Deborah Watling says, "They were absolutely huge. They used to come up and cuddle me because it was so cold. One of them took me out for a meal." On that bracing shoot, the actors in the Yeti costumes obviously had the right idea, but they weren't the only ones. Watling adds, "Pat Troughton had a huge fur coat on and looked like a Yeti himself!"


Big monsters meet little monsters

At Christmas 1963, around the time the Daleks were making their first TV appearance, two of them glided down to Shepherd's Bush market in London to meet the public. Do these children really look terrified? Well, do they?

I obeyed!

Picture the recent 118 phone-number ads. The chap who played "Mr 192" is a vital Who man. He's John Scott Martin (left), who worked with all seven Doctors, in around 110 episodes. He's played everything from Daleks (including one in 1966's Power of the Daleks, far left) and Mutants to Gel Guards and Zarbi - and so was usually invisible to viewers, hidden as he was in suits or machines.

So was it a squeeze getting into a Dalek? "They were a bit small and I was the tallest fella you could have in there," he says (he's 5ft 9in). As for why they were such a hit, he adds: "It was the first monster where you couldn't see that it was a bloke inside a costume." Scott Martin was able to show his face in the show occasionally, however once, memorably, in 1973 as a Welsh miner who metamorphosed after being infected by green slime. "They called me Jones the maggot," he laughs.

Once more unto the Brig

If there's been one constant throughout the whole history of Doctor Who, it must be Nicholas Courtney. He's worked with seven TV Doctors, from Hartnell to McCoy. For most of that time it was as Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart, though first he played space agent Bret Vyon (top left), who was shot dead in a 1965 story. But he landed his signature role in 1968 by default. The part of Colonel Lethbridge-Stewart, as it was then, was offered to David Langton, who had to drop out at the last minute. "Had that not happened my past 30 years might have been very different," reflects Courtney. On set, he remembers, "we worked hard and played hard. There was no time for prima donnas!" he says. Langton, of course, went on to find fame in Upstairs Downstairs (right) in 1971.

What will happen next ..?

The date: 1968

The story: The Mind Robber

The Doctor, plus Jamie and Zoe (Frazer Hines and Wendy Padbury, above) find themselves first in an endless, pristine-white void, and later in a land of fiction inhabited by Rapunzel, Gulliver, toy soldiers and the Medusa. The fantastical (some might say bonkers) plot proved a handy device for a notable loss of continuity during recording.

"I actually got chicken pox," says Hines. "Hamish Wilson had to play me [Jamie] for two episodes. Luckily it was a surrealistic story." Indeed, in a greater than usual sense of "anything can happen", Jamie is frozen into a cardboard cutout, the face of which disappears. The scatty Doctor is set a puzzle to replace the face and sticks on the wrong eyes, nose and mouth. Enter the "understudy" to play a different-looking Jamie until Hines's recovery! Rapid rewriting has rarely been so ingenious. "It was the best story that we could have worked on," agrees Padbury, who played Zoe Heriot for eight stories and still receives fan mail from Whovians. "That story was my favourite. It was very different from any other. It was so innovative, and I just loved that."

Here's a planet we made earlier

The year: 1965

The story: The Web Planet

Try to imagine a time before hi-tech special effects, before such exotic things as CGI and animatronics. If a science-fiction production called for a bizarre alien world and weird creatures to inhabit it, they couldn't be conjured up by computer. They had to be built from scratch. Such was the challenge presented by this early story in which the Doctor and Ian (William Hartnell and William Russell, above), intervene in a power struggle between assorted giant insects.

"It was a marvellous idea, but it did rather drain the budget!" says Russell. "It came after a story called The Romans and it was a very ambitious project. After the success of the Daleks, the public seemed to want science fiction and not perhaps the historical ones that we enjoyed."

The forbidding planet had pockets of life in the form of huge ants (Zarbi), butterflies (Menoptra) and even woodlice. "It was a very desolate place--Vortis it was called and there were 'pools of acid'. I can remember losing my tie in a pool of acid. And we had terrific problems with the butterflies."

Actor Martin Jarvis can vouch for that. Making one of his first TV appearances, he played one such alien called Hilio. "It was hilarious," he says, "me with big wings, a fluffy, black-and-white-striped body am antennae! The costume woman said, 'Be careful what you use the lift that your wings don't get shut in the doors.' I was told it was a great leading part, that of the prince trying to save a planet from the Zarbi. I'm thinking I'd be dashing, like Hamlet, and she shows me this picture of a butterfly with black goggles!"

Who was the best?

The year: 1983

The story: The Five Doctors

there have been other multiple-Doctor epics, but this 20th-anniversary special had -count 'em -five Doctors! Well, sort of. Because William Hartnell died in 1975, the First Doctor was played by Richard Hurndall, and Fourth Doctor Tom Baker declined to take part. Previously unused footage of Baker was worked into the story, however, and his part for the appetite-whetting photo session (left) was played by a waxwork. Cue endless good-natured japery from the other Time Lords, including Doctor-in-residence Peter Davison. The story, written by Who veteran Terrance Dicks, also brought back many companions. Among them vas the redoubtable Brigadier (Nicholas Courtney), who says, "I did most of my work with Patrick Troughton. We were filming on the cold Welsh hills and he would produce a hip flask at just the right moment."

So come on, Nicholas, you've worked with all the series' Doctors, who was your favourite? "Well, my father by profession was a diplomat, and I always have the perfect diplomatic answer," he chuckles. "The one I was working with at the time."

Tricks of the trade

The date: 1996

The story: The TV Movie

Doctor Who was about to return to BBC 1 after a seven-year break. At the photo call, Sylvester McCoy symbolically bequeathed the Tardis key to the incoming Paul McGann. In the movie, McCoy would briefly reprise his role before regenerating into McGann.

What does McCoy recall of the crucial handover? Was he sad? "Well, it was quite interesting, because Paul McGann is not taller than I am. They stuck him on a box, so that's why he looks taller in the picture. That's what was going through my head. And then when they published the picture they put it at an angle to make him look even taller! "It was strange, because at the time — ever the optimist— I was very hopeful that the novie would carry on the Doctor Who tale."

A lofty ambition

The date: 1978

The story: The Stones of Blood

Behind this unusual overhead photograph of Tom Baker at the Tardis controls in the series' 100th story lies an appealing success story. Long-time fan Kevin Davies, who took the picture, explains: "I'll never forget it. I was an arts student in the summer of 78: I blagged my way into various BBC things, but this was my first visit to a Doctor Who. After three days on the set they got used to me buzzing around. To take it, I snuck up the stairway to the lighting gantry. Health and safety didn't enter into it!"

The experience proved a useful foundation. Davies went onto direct the 1993 documentary 30 Years in the Tardis and is a consultant on next month's Story of Doctor Who, also for BBC1. "My ambition is to direct the programme," he says. Maybe his namesake Russell T Davies is reading this ...

The Guv'nor

The date: 1968

The story: The Mind Robber

Doctor Two, Patrick Troughton, awaits his cue for a scene in the Tardis. Troughton is the third most popular Doctor, as voted by RT readers, and actors who worked with him on the show loved and respected him, too. "He was great fun and very impish," says Nicholas (the Brig) Courtney. "He was a great giggler," agrees Frazer (Jamie) Hines.

"For me, he was the Guv'nor," adds Colin (Sixth Doctor) Baker. "He was the one who made regeneration not only acceptable but exciting. He was lovely to work with —fun, encouraging, professional and beguiling."

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