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Dodo's travels with The Doctor

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MANCHESTER recently played host to the Doctor Who convention, ManoptiCon, and the special guest was Jackie Lane, who played companion Dodo to the first Doctor. This was her first convention appearance and, thanks to the ManoptiCon committee and Jackie Lane, we're able to reproduce some of her comments here.

The Beginning

"The beginning of The Ark, for me, was awful. The first shot was a long, long tracking shot through the jungle and then they'd stop outside the TARDIS. All I had to do was run out and hit a sandbag which marked my stop point. I'd stop and sneeze. It didn't work. Either I missed the sandbag or sneezed in the wrong direction. So they started again, which was very expensive!"

The part was a rather short-lived one. Was this Jackie's intention, not to stay too tong with one programme?

"It could have been as long as a year, but as it was, the producer who employed me - John Wiles; left after my first full story, The Ark and then Innes Lloyd took over.

Had he been happy with the Dodo character then I would have probably been in it as long as I was told originally, but I don't think he liked the Dodo or Steven characters. Years later, when I started up my

Voice-Over Agency, he asked me if I'd put him on my books. I reminded him that he'd once sacked me and said a firm no!"

Dodo wasn't actually Jackie's first involvement with Doctor Who. That occurred during the summer of 1963, when she auditioned for the part of Susan Foreman, the Doctor's grand-daughter.

"I wasn't offered it. l went to meet Verity Lambert and Waris Hussein [the producer and director respectively], but during the interview I just said that I was sorry but I didn't want to be tied down for a year at that point. Whether they would have offered it to me, I'll never know. Having said no to being even considered for the role of Susan in the first place, I spent a year out of work, but a got a few jobs until Doctor Who came up again."

How difficult was it coming into a long-running series, especially as rumour has it William Hartnell, who played the Doctor, was a bit particular about other actors and actresses?

"They were very friendly — it was very easy for me going into it. Bill had put up with a lot of changes of companions in a short space of time and it was really getting to him. He'd get used to working with one crowd of people then suddenly one or two of them would vanish and it'd start all over again— new relationships. He found that a problem, although he certainly made me feel welcome.

"I had been warned that he could be a little bit like the Doctor — a bit tetchy and irritable but basically a kind man. We got on, although I can't say I knew him very well. I wasn't in the programme long enough, but I don't think that people ever got the chance to know him that well."

Recording

In those early days of Doctor Who, episodes were recorded in scene order, with as few breaks as possible — video tape editing technology was still in its infancy then — with the result that it was almost like being on a 'live' show.

"It took a whole week to do one episode. You spent Monday to Friday rehearsing and then the whole of Saturday in the studio. It was a very, very long day — from ten in the morning until ten at night — sometimes much longer if things didn't work properly. Things like Monoids or gadgets going wrong — there were quite a few problems with The Ark, but I don't really know why.

"I used to learn scripts very quickly so that we could get on with the technical things. This was one of Bill's problems. You were always waiting for Bill to give you the right cue at the right time!

"We always knew there would have to be a break in recording at some point. It was usually either something technical going wrong or Bill Hartnell forgetting his lines! That would break the tension but in a programme like that, with so many things that could go wrong, there was always a break, we never did a single episode in one go, pretending it was live."

The Costumes

Dodo had a very kitsch Sixties look, a variety of dazzling costumes and Beatle-like hair cut. Whose idea was this?

"It was part of Dodo's character. The TARDIS is supposed to have this vast wardrobe which she would always raid and end up wearing totally the wrong clothes. I don't know why she wore that Crusader outfit at first, but it was great fun, I could really wear whatever I wanted.

"My claim to fame is that I was one of the very first people to wear a mini-skirt on television. It seemed to be bright and appropriate. However, I'm very difficult to dress — I'm very small and we went around store after store around Knightsbridge trying to find this one outfit that would fit. I liked the cheeky cap she wore in the Toymaker story — it helped define the character.

"That kind of short groomed hair style was just coming in — but I think John Wiles was upset because he had seen me with long hair at the audition and thought I could have all sorts of different styles and things, but I liked it short. I still have it short, it's the only style that suits me. Mind you, for The Gunfighters they had to find me a hairpiece because the cropped hair just wouldn't have worked for that story."

The Stories

Mention of The Gunfighters brings up these individual stories.

"I enjoyed the comedic aspects of The Gunfighters. I don't think you could have done a Western seriously. Everyone says The Gunfighters didn't work, but I've seen it on a video since and I thought it wasn't as bad as those people say. It's a good, fun, story.

"It was written in the script that it was Dodo who should play the piano. I've always wanted to do a musical but I can't sing a note and so I chickened out and sort of told Peter he'd have to do it. He was such a gentleman and agreed, hating it, I'm sure. I thought it would be much funnier that way — there's this great man surrounded by these great big gunslingers and he's playing the piano. I thought it added fun. Peter wasn't so sure, but I won! I just mimed badly to the singing bits!"

Next up was the rather surrealistic The Celestial Toymaker, the existing episode of which has just been issued on BBC Home Video.

"The Celestial Toymaker was such a good script and it was also a story in which Bill Hartnell was on holiday, all his bits were pre-filmed. Peter and I were able to run that show, as much as we could against the technical bits. The Savages was another good one, an interesting idea with good dialogue, we rarely changed anything. I don't think though that I wanted to, I'm not that kind of actress, I just take the script and get on with it.

The Savages saw Jackie's first piece of location filming for the show since her entrance to the programme.

"Yes, a whole day! It was one Sunday in an Esher sandpit. We went to TV Centre first for make-up and Ewen Solon was there, playing the leader of the Savages. He had all this make-up on, long hair and everything to create a really ancient face. He then drove us in his Jaguar car to the location, but we got lost. It was very early on a spring morning and finally he found a cyclist to stop and ask directions of. He stuck his head out of the window, covered in this old man make up and the cyclist didn't bat and eyelid, told us the direction and went off. Typically British.

"Peter was very helpful. I remember running from the TARDIS, being shot at by the Savages. It was a tremendously long and fast run: Peter being the big man he is just grabbed my hand and ran — I was virtually gliding along, hardly touching the ground. Also, in The Celestial Toymaker it was quite handy having this big bulk of a man who could drag me off the dance floor and into the TARDIS much faster than I could have done on my own."

The Ending

In her final story, The War Machines Jackie left the series, somewhat quietly, halfway through episode two, and her final goodbye to the Doctor was passed on by a third party in the last episode. Was this a disappointing exit?

"I think everyone would like a really dramatic exit, to be shot or something, and The War Machines was a bit of an anticlimax character-wise, but I had no say in it. I suppose I was disappointed that it had all come to an end so quickly, but I liked my last scene, being hypnotised, but I think I would have liked a dramatic end."

Finally, one thing that symbolised her era of the show was, after The Ark, a lack of monsters. Was this disappointing?

"Well, I would have hated to do any of the adventures with the Daleks in them because they tend to take over. The actors don't have as much to do when monsters or technical gadgets are around. I was quite happy with things as they were!"


Captions:

Above and right: Dodo (Jackie Lane) and Steven (Peter Purvis) in The Celestial Toymaker, one episode of which forms part of the BBC Video Hartnell era tape (see page 11)

Jackie Lane today

Dodo in the clutches of a Monoid from The Ark story

Dodo in trouble in The Gunfighters


Checklist

Jackie Lane played Dorothea (Dodo) Chaplet in the following Doctor Who stories, given here with the dates first shown.

The Massacre of Saint Bartholomew's Eve (Episode 4 only) 26/2/66

The Ark (4 Eps) 5/3/66

The Celestial Toymaker (4 Eps) 2/4/66

The Gunfighters (4 Eps) 30/4/66

The Savages (4 Eps) 28/5/66

The War Machines (Eps 1 & 2) 25/6/66

Total of 19 Episodes


MEGA Competition

As a tribute to the past of Doctor Who, and a testimony to the programme's patchy presence in the BBC Archives, ex-producer John Nathan-Turner has selected some single, surviving episodes and packaged them with on-camera presentation by Sylvester McCoy and Jon Pertwee. The result is two tapes-worth of TARDIS trips down Memory Lane.

BBC Video have supplied us ten of each title, so all you have to do is tune-in to the following two titbits of Time Lord trivia.

1) Actor Julian Glover appears in The Crusade episode on The Hartnell Years tape. Name another Doctor Who story (recently out on video!) he appeared in.

2) In which story did Pertwee's portrayal of the Doctor first encounter Troughton's?

Answers on a TARDIS-shaped postcard (well, roughly) to:

TV Zone (Era)

PO Box 371

LONDON, SW14 8JL

England

Closing date: 30th June 1991

Disclaimer: These citations are created on-the-fly using primitive parsing techniques. You should double-check all citations. Send feedback to whovian@cuttingsarchive.org

  • APA 6th ed.: Russell, Gary (issue 19 (June 1991)). Dodo's travels with The Doctor. TV Zone p. 8.
  • MLA 7th ed.: Russell, Gary. "Dodo's travels with The Doctor." TV Zone [add city] issue 19 (June 1991), 8. Print.
  • Chicago 15th ed.: Russell, Gary. "Dodo's travels with The Doctor." TV Zone, edition, sec., issue 19 (June 1991)
  • Turabian: Russell, Gary. "Dodo's travels with The Doctor." TV Zone, issue 19 (June 1991), section, 8 edition.
  • Wikipedia (this article): <ref>{{cite news| title=Dodo's travels with The Doctor | url=http://cuttingsarchive.org/index.php/Dodo%27s_travels_with_The_Doctor | work=TV Zone | pages=8 | date=issue 19 (June 1991) | via=Doctor Who Cuttings Archive | accessdate=16 December 2019 }}</ref>
  • Wikipedia (this page): <ref>{{cite web | title=Dodo's travels with The Doctor | url=http://cuttingsarchive.org/index.php/Dodo%27s_travels_with_The_Doctor | work=Doctor Who Cuttings Archive | accessdate=16 December 2019}}</ref>