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Location Who

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Starburst visited the location recording of Doctor Who and it is none other than a quarry in Somerset! Starburst editor, Stephen Payne, reports.

WELL quarries may not be new to Doctor Who but there was a new actor on hand for the lead role. Sylvester McCoy makes his first appearance as the Doctor in 'Strange Matter' which is the opening story in the new season which begins on BBC1 in September.

The story was again written by Pip and Jane Baker. It concerns the TARDIS being torn off course by the Rani, an old adversary of the Doctor, and crash-landing on the planet Lakertya (our quarry). This is apparently enough to trigger off the Doctor's sixth regeneration into a new physical form.

The husband and wife writing team had appeared on BBC1's opinion programme "Open Air" at the end of last season and were promptly verbally attacked by fans for not writing stories with a proper beginning, middle, and end! On location I asked Jane if it had caused them to rethink their writing style. She explained that apart from being surprised, they had found the criticism unhelpful as a lot of what was said was contradictory. I also asked them if this new story had been rewritten a great deal to accommodate the new Doctor. They told me that John Nathan-Turner had informed them of the sort of person he was looking for so they were able to write the script without having to re-write when the actual choice of Sylvester McCoy was made. The script of course did have rewrites but this was for other reasons. For example, to save on budget, the Rani's Tardis interior will not be seen although it was originally in the script.

The Doctor's new character will immediately be established so it will be straight on with the story. Sylvester McCoy was wearing for the first time the new costume for the role which should give some idea of the character he will adopt. As you will see it is a light but scruffy affair. Those question marks that producer John Nathan-Turner is so keen on are, this time, all over his pull-over. Not very subtle, Doctor Who??? Well, you can't win them all, let's hope Mel (Bonnie Langford), shrinks it in the wash! Some fans say the costume's too similar to Peter Davison's Doctor. Over all it does seem to be a better choice than the designer clown outfit that Colin Baker had to wear. Producer, Nathan-Turner, says it will improve as it gets worn in a bit.

The Rani will again be played by the magnificent Kate O'Mara. She's been making a name for herself in the States in Dynasty, but her character was presently not in the scripts. At the time of the location she seemed eager to find out more about the rumour that Elizabeth Taylor was again being approached to play Joan Collin's mother in the series.

Other notable leading roles will be played by Wanda Ventham, Donald Pickering and Mark Greenstreet. Both Wanda Ventham and Mark Greenstreet were around on location highly made-up as what looked like human lions! A host of extras in ape/bat-like costumes wandered around with most extraordinary head-masks containing four bright-blue eyes, one front, one back, and one each side!

The series was again being recorded on video tape rather than using film for the exteriors. This according to John Nathan-Turner enabled quicker shooting, apparently fourteen separate special effects shots were all set up and recorded in the morning of our visit.

Last word must go to the new Doctor, the amusing Sylvester McCoy who, during a recording break, was being tempted to a Danish pastry, and said to me, "No I'd better not, we had a fat Doctor and we know what happened to him!"


Spelling correction: Joan Collins'

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.: Payne, Stephen (February 1987). Location Who. Starburst p. 32.
  • MLA 7th ed.: Payne, Stephen. "Location Who." Starburst [add city] February 1987, 32. Print.
  • Chicago 15th ed.: Payne, Stephen. "Location Who." Starburst, edition, sec., February 1987
  • Turabian: Payne, Stephen. "Location Who." Starburst, February 1987, section, 32 edition.
  • Wikipedia (this article): <ref>{{cite news| title=Location Who | url=http://cuttingsarchive.org/index.php/Location_Who | work=Starburst | pages=32 | date=February 1987 | via=Doctor Who Cuttings Archive | accessdate=2 March 2021 }}</ref>
  • Wikipedia (this page): <ref>{{cite web | title=Location Who | url=http://cuttingsarchive.org/index.php/Location_Who | work=Doctor Who Cuttings Archive | accessdate=2 March 2021}}</ref>