Doctor Who Cuttings Archive

My time's up Doc

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1989-08-13 Birmingham Weekly Mercury.jpg



HAVING lunch with aliens is nothing new for John Nathan-Turner.

This time it was Cheetah People... half-man, half-cat.

But then, as producer of "Dr Who", Mr Nathan Turner (right) has sat down with the blood-sucking Haemovores, eaten with the evil Candy Man, and dined with the huge humanoid robot L3.

He has taken breaks in all manner of time zones and strange places.

But what is remarkable about this meal. In a heat-blasted quarry In the heart of Dorset. Is that It will be one of his last at which the guest list reads like a nightmare.

Because, after ten years as the man in charge of the time-traveller, time is up for Mr Nathan Turner himself.

John, born in Birmingham. is quitting later this year to produce a new BBC drama.

'I felt it was time for a change, a new challenge." he said. 'I've out-lived several Doctors so I thought I'd move on."

The Doctors in John's personal Who's Who are Tom Baker, Peter Davison. Colin Baker and the present star Sylvester McCoy.

But when starting out in the business he also worked on the show when Jon Pertwee played the Time Lord battling against the all-exterminating Daleks.

He's also travelled In time with nine assistants. including Lalla Ward, Bonnie Langford and the unforgettable K9.

The latest series returns in the autumn, as does one of the Doctor's old adversaries — The Cybermen.

Still travelling in the faithful Tardis, now with 26 earth years on the clock, the Doctor explores a haunted Victorian house and teams up with King Arthur's Knights of the Round Table.

The ageless Doctor also travels forward in time to 1993 with his latest female assistant Ace, played by Sophie Aldred.

The star guests Include Sylvia Sims, Alfred Lynch, Jean Marsh and comedians Hale and Pace.

It's the same mixture as before but John Nathan Turner is making his last changes.

'The Doctor is going to be more sombre this time. He does have a darker side and we felt the episodes have been a little lightweight recently.' said John.

"The programme is a large part of my life and one which I've enjoyed very much' said the old boy of King Edward's Aston, who still regularly returns to Birmingham to see his parents. 'We keep a copy of out-takes, where things have gone wrong, and I expect I'll be watching them occasionally to remind me of the show.

"The show has a deep-down magic, which means it can carry on, whoever plays the Doctor. An earlier Doctor, Tom Baker. used to say the role was actor-proof and he's right.'

The latest Doctor has agreed to stay on, at least for a time.

"They've asked me to stay on for another year, and I think I will. With a new producer, it will be important for continuity," said Sylvester McCoy.

How Sophie settled an Ace score

FOR Sophie Aldred, becoming a "Dr Who" star meant settling a childhood score.

"I wasn't a fan of the show as a child. Rut I remember Jon Pertwee and being frightened of The Cybermen. 'I got my revenge last year when I actually killed one of them." she said.

Sophie (above) first created Ace, an intergalactic milk bar waitress, two years ago.

She is proud to have made her character, the 19th female assistant. a modern heroine. complete with black baseball jacket and Doc Martens.

"Are is an 18-year-old tomboy, who's always getting into trouble. The kids seem to like that, which is great.

"I wanted to bring her Into line with modern children. make her someone they could understand: said Sophie. who is eight years older than her character.

The Planet of the Cheetahs is a far cry from her acting training at Manchester University then jobs singing in Northern clubs.

She got to know Birmingham at that time while visiting a boyfriend at his Edgbaston home.

Now she has a Dal In London, bought with money earned on the children's TV series "Corners".

Being a Time Lord's assistant also has its moments. She was nearly electrocuted when a tank of water shattered and flooded a London studio. Past-thinking staff cut the power before the water reached high-voltage cables.

Sophie's other exploits include riding a motorbike, and treading water in the middle of a lake while holding up King Arthur's sword Excalibur.

But she's not planning to give up her key to the Tardis yet.

"Sylvester and I just enjoy ourselves, stunts included. We get on very well and it's a real pleasure to work with him.

"The other enjoyable part is meeting the Dr Who buffs alt round the country. They often know more about your character than you do.

"There'd a big fan who works in my local bank. who always says hello." she said.

And now, here come the Cheetah People!

PENETRATING eyes, pin-sharp teeth, rugged claws. and a hideous growl ... this is a eat person. latest in the long line of horrors to await the good Dr Who.

And if facing up to the Cheetah People is an ordeal, then creating them in the first place is not without its torments.

Make-up designer Joan Stribling explained that working on "Dr Who" often meant going to extraordinary lengths.

"For the Cheetah heads we had to make a skull mask of each actor, then model it round a Cheetah face. The mouth and whiskers were used on separately.

"They also need special "cat" contact lenses and feline teeth," she said.

The final result leaps into the picture when teenage friends of Ace tall under a mysterious power and are transported to the Planet of the Cheetahs, where the Dot for must save them from his archenemy The Master.

Actor Leslie Meadows was finding his Cheetah costume hot and heavy. But then he usually sings in Nest End musicals like 'Kiss Me Kate" and "Guys and Dolls".

"But if you're an actor, a week's work is better than nothing.

"But they are a very friendly crowd on 'Dr Who' and It's worth the costume problems," he said.

But it was nothing compared to his last 'Dr Who' role. Then he played a dragon.

Malcolm tastes was organising special effects.

"'Dr Who' is a challenge, both with time and money," he told me. "It took five of us five weeks to make one mechanical rat. And we've a stone spaceship to build next!"

Malcolm also handled a spectacular motorbike crash when Sylvester McCoy meets young Oxford actor Will Barton head on. Will plays Ace's 18-year-old friend Midge, who is lured away by the Cheetah people. If was his first TV role and took him off the dole to earn £900 for three weeks' work.

"There's one scene where Midge has to chew bracken because of his Cheetah links.

"The crew gave me something else to chew but viewers would have been able to tell, so I went ahead and munched the real thing. They thought I was mad."

But the 25-year-old son of an Oxford University English tutor, has his own time-travels in mind.

"It would be great to be the Doctor myself one day," he said.


ABOVE: Sombre ... the new face of Doctor Who.

LEFT: The team in action... filming one of the "Dr Who" action scenes

ABOVE The new terror awaiting Dr Who... The Cheetah people.

LEFT: Cooing off on location ...even a monster needs a refreshing drink

Spelling correction: Kandyman

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  • APA 6th ed.: Higgin, Judith (1989-08-13). My time's up Doc. Birmingham Weekly Mercury p. 33.
  • MLA 7th ed.: Higgin, Judith. "My time's up Doc." Birmingham Weekly Mercury [add city] 1989-08-13, 33. Print.
  • Chicago 15th ed.: Higgin, Judith. "My time's up Doc." Birmingham Weekly Mercury, edition, sec., 1989-08-13
  • Turabian: Higgin, Judith. "My time's up Doc." Birmingham Weekly Mercury, 1989-08-13, section, 33 edition.
  • Wikipedia (this article): <ref>{{cite news| title=My time's up Doc | url= | work=Birmingham Weekly Mercury | pages=33 | date=1989-08-13 | via=Doctor Who Cuttings Archive | accessdate=23 February 2024 }}</ref>
  • Wikipedia (this page): <ref>{{cite web | title=My time's up Doc | url= | work=Doctor Who Cuttings Archive | accessdate=23 February 2024}}</ref>