Doctor Who Cuttings Archive

It's light-years from the Tardis

From The Doctor Who Cuttings Archive
Jump to navigationJump to search

1984-05-19 Express and Star.jpg


Stars of a new BBC TV series talking to Gerry Anderson—when the Potteries came to the Black Country

IT TOOK years of painstaking work, brick by numbered brick, to create the Black Country Museum.

But in three days an army of BBC technicians and craftsmen moved in to transform it into an Edwardian Potteries town. The scene was reminiscent of the day the circus hit town. A convoy of vehicles of all shapes, sizes and purposes spewed out their paraphernalia and personnel.

Miles of cable trailed along the streets and a rail-line was laid for the rubber-wheeled cameras to run along.


Fake Potteries-style brickwork was painted onto the sides of genuine Black Country buildings, and the carpenters set to work putting new frontages on the houses and shops.

While arc lights were set up and the iron bridge received a lick of green paint, the actors stood around shivering and talking in gasps of steam, huddled in their long Edwardian over-coats and topped with black or brown bowlers.

In a black frockcoat, sporting a moustache and a sombre, respectable air, Peter Davidson was light-years removed from his Tardis, preparing himself to be Henry Mynors in Arnold Bennett's classic story Anna of the Five Towns.

Clutching a small child by the hand, Linsey Beauchamp rehearses her title role of Anna Tellwright. Hitching up her long skirt as she moves to a meeting with Henry outside the chapel she reveals scarlet Moon Boots.

It's a wonderful part," said Linsey. "It's the title role and I'm in practically every scene.

"Anna is a very challenging character. She marries Henry because he is the right sort of person for her, even though she loves someone else. The question o' choice was not what it is today.

"Anna becomes a very rich young woman. She inherits what would be today's equivalent of £1,500,000, yet her father keeps a tight rein on the money. Only later does Anna manage to get control.


"The whole story spans about a year-and-a-half, and though we have been true to the book, we take the story slightly beyond the novel s end.

"Anna gets slightly more distinguished as the story progresses. At the outset she is rather jealous of Beatrice Sutton, who is a very fine character.

"Yet though Beatrice is at ease in society, Anna is really the stronger character, and she knows it.

"It's a fantastic role, and I've had great support from everyone. The whole cast couldn't have been more helpful."

Getting their priorities right, the BBC crew's first aim was to get the coal fire in the Bottle and Glass pub roaring. To get a good filthy smoke coming out of the chimney, special brickettes are thrown on.

Thawing out before the March rehearsals, Peter Davidson reflected on his role as Henry Mynors. "He is very much a man of his time.

"He is a successful pottery-owner, who I suppose in today's terms would be classed as chauvinistic, but in fact he is simply a forceful personality with a straight set of rules.

"It's a nice change to be playing this after Dr. Who. I did three years as the Doctor, and that's enough. There's a danger in staying in a role like that for too long, though I wouldn't have missed it for the world.

"I suppose having played Dr. Who makes me a member of that exclusive club. Certainly it's a very coveted role.

"I'm not one of those people who thinks that the theatre is what acting is all about. I enjoy television, and my work is predominently in television.

"But after this I hope to tour the country in rep with my wife (Sandra Dickinson) in Barefoot in the Park. I

started in rep, but this will be my first country-wide tour. 'Tve been to Birmingham before but this is the first I time 've been to the Black Country."

Aside from the Black Country, filming for Anna was being done in Dudley, Birmingham, Worcester, the Isle of Man, and of course the Potteries. The programme will be ready for transmission in autumn.

Briefly, it is the story of Anna who at the age of 21 is told by her miserly father, Ephraim, that she now inherits a fortune left to her in trust by her mother.


Ephraim keeps a tight hold on the money, but slowly Anna gains a degree of free= dom, but not before Ephraim has forced her to bankrupt one of her tenants, Titus Price.

Titus's son Willie, attracts Anna but the wealthy and eligible Henry Mynors has his sights set on marrying Anna.

Willie, shamed by his father's bankruptcy, leaves to start a new life in Australia, and Anna marries Henry.

Later she learns that poor Willie has committed suicide in Australia, and it is only then she realises that he w the one she truly loved.

That's as far as Arnol Bennett goes, and it would a shame to spoil the series by: revealing the extra that has been added to Colin Rogers production, which is in for 50-minute episodes.

Spelling correction: Peter Davison


A tense scene from the classic story to be screened by BBC in the autumn ... with (left) Peter Davidson and Linsey Beauchamp in the star roles. Fake Potteries style brickwork was painted on the side of genuine Black Country buildings by the scene makers.

Above: Actors, BBC film crews, scenery men and technicians take over the Black Country Museum for the making of Anna of the Five Towns. Top left: Former Dr. Who Peter Davidson warms to his Edwardian role by an old fashioned fire.

Stars Peter and Linsey take cover from the weather between shots.

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

  • APA 6th ed.: (1984-05-19). It's light-years from the Tardis. Express & Star .
  • MLA 7th ed.: "It's light-years from the Tardis." Express & Star [add city] 1984-05-19. Print.
  • Chicago 15th ed.: "It's light-years from the Tardis." Express & Star, edition, sec., 1984-05-19
  • Turabian: "It's light-years from the Tardis." Express & Star, 1984-05-19, section, edition.
  • Wikipedia (this article): <ref>{{cite news| title=It's light-years from the Tardis | url= | work=Express & Star | pages= | date=1984-05-19 | via=Doctor Who Cuttings Archive | accessdate=14 July 2024 }}</ref>
  • Wikipedia (this page): <ref>{{cite web | title=It's light-years from the Tardis | url= | work=Doctor Who Cuttings Archive | accessdate=14 July 2024}}</ref>