Doctor Who - Documentary s01e05 Episode Script

Over the Edge

IAN: Doctor, where are we? DOCTOR: We have ten minutes to survive.
Can it be possible then that this is the end? IAN: The end? (ECHOING) The end.
(DOCTOR WHO THEME) (EXPLOSION) The ddge of Destruction was a budget-saver.
And it was a time-saver, a time-maker.
We had to keep the thing going.
There was a delay, both in the I believe, in the script department for the Marco Polo sets and also for the costumes and everything else.
So that there were suddenly two weeks in the schedule with a nasty gap.
I think that probably what happened was that in writing it, because David Whitaker was the story editor, he and I probably felt it was time.
That if we were going to concentrate being within the Tardis, obviously we had to concentrate on the characters and those characters had to move forward in some way in their relationships.
So a by-product of this rather practical reason would have been that we were able, we were given a chance, to concentrate on our four characters without any extraneous beings of one kind or another being involved.
I think another thread to this story is that before it begins, the Doctor and Susan and Ian and Barbara are a disparate group.
They're not a group of people that actually work together.
And that actually is in the story for The Daleks.
It's the friction within the human group which is part of the dialogue with the other groups around them.
And then with the next story, Marco Polo, the producers obviously thought that they needed to move on, that they couldn't keep this going.
It must have been a specific concept to move from one to the other as a relationship.
And The ddge of Destruction is that story arc, that turning point to actually bring the characters together as a group.
Well, David was asked to do a filler.
Because what happened was that The Daleks went over budget and the Marco Polo was actually quite an expensive story coming up.
You know, dealing with ancient China, then known as Cathay.
Costuming, sets, everything were being planned with a lot of precision from the designer Barry Newbery and myself collaborating.
And we just weren't ready in time.
So David was asked, at the last minute, to come up with a two-episode story that would sort of bridge the gap.
I thought it was an extraordinary story to come up with in that short time.
And he did this, he achieved it.
And it was extremely imaginative.
Because as I said before, it gave you little windows into your character and showed our characters in totally different ways.
I mean, Susan becomes a murderess, the Doctor becomes almost a murderer and Barbara and Ian have to find ways of accommodating this in the character that they're building.
Don't you see? Something terrible is happening to all of us.
Not to me.
Nothing's happened to me.
This is a plot between the two of you to get control of my ship.
Oh, that isn't true.
Can't you see I've found you out? Why won't you admit it, hmm? Yes.
Why don't you? -BARBARA: Susan! -You've been behaving very strangely.
And it fell on poor David Whitaker to invent something which would encompass the two, the four main characters and keep them in this Tardis set because we hadn't any money.
There was absolutely.
I mean, I remember Verity saying, ''Sorry, no money.
Can't go outside.
Can't see anything.
''A few stills, that's all.
''It has got to be an inverted piece of drama.
'' David Whitaker, I presume, came up with the idea of going back to the beginning of time and the machinery, in fact, trying to save people from destruction.
Because it has some sort of safety mechanism bordering on a morality.
Yes, of course! It's our journey.
-And the ship refused to destroy itself.
-Yes.
Yes.
The defence mechanism stopped the ship and it's been trying to tell us so ever since! Of course, of course! Lots of things change in ddge of Destruction.
The relationship of the Doctor to Ian and Barbara.
Suddenly it all starts to work, it all gels.
Instead of being this nasty old man, you see his human side.
You see the moral attitudes of Doctor Who being established for the first time.
So it may have looked like a cost-cutting exercise, but it, I think, laid basic storylines that would continue in the future.
You said terrible things to us.
Yes, I suppose it's the injustice that's upsetting you, and when I made a threat to put you off the ship, it must have affected you very deeply.
What do you care what I think or feel? As we learn about each other, so we learn about ourselves.
It actually gave us, I thought, a wonderful opportunity to explore our characters.
To do a bit of acting.
There were just the four of us and that was it.
-It was marvellous.
-Yeah, it was good.
-I'm going to try the controls! -Be careful, Susan.
(SCREAMS) No! Very hard to tell whether people would have understood it as well as The Daleks.
It was more complicated.
It was the whole premise of time being taken away and given back, was quite a difficult one.
And I'm not sure how comprehensible we made it within the serial.
But I think that what would've held people was the kind of inner conflict between the characters.
It was very ambiguous and it was also very open to all kinds of suggestions.
And it had to be that way, I think.
Do you think something could have got into the ship -No, no, no.
-when the doors were open? No, it's ridiculous.
What do you mean? An animal or a man or something? -Yes.
-It's not very logical, is it? Because it was a tight four-hander, four actors in a combined, enclosed space, obviously the interaction between the characters was in the writer's mind most particularly.
David Whitaker did go for some rather strange and eerie effects.
Especially with Susan and the scissors, which had an almost Psycho feel to them.
And so that all these people who have been bonded together by their space-time travel and were harmonious, suddenly became fractious and even dangerous.
The little girl who was sweet and ingenuous and full of love was suddenly armed with a dangerous pair of scissors and was looking very strange.
No! And I thought Carole made an extraordinary transformation.
You know, that suddenly this little child, which she had been was completely transformed.
And that sort of dead look, like a mask.
She looked like an avenging Greek tragedian, you know.
She really was horrific.
And then she picks up these enormous scissors and makes to stab you.
I think that was a wonderful bit of acting.
You had terrible things really from your heroes, as a watcher.
These four people were your heroes, you were following their adventures, and suddenly you've got this diversion, you've got two factions.
And you've got things like Susan with a pair of scissors attacking Ian and Barbara, or trying to.
But brilliantly done and, of course, I think probably at the time could've made a lot of children very scared.
And probably one of those things that got phone calls coming into the BBC.
I do think there is a responsibility.
Remember there were kids, young kids, watching that.
And to use household instruments in a threatening way, where they can be imitated, I think is a bad thing.
I mean, I.
Of course, the wrath of the children's department came down on us for that and we had to apologise and they wanted the whole series taken away from us because we were irresponsible.
I see it was a mistake and I apologise for it.
And looking at it today, I thought, ''Yes, that was a mistake.
'' The ddge of Destruction had two directors.
Myself and Frank Cox.
I did the first one and I cannot remember now, Frank may well be able to remember, I cannot remember why it is he took over and did the second one.
He certainly did it very well.
But because the producer was new to the job and Richard Martin had only done a couple of episodes previously and I hadn't done any at all, I think we were being tried out, basically, on those episodes.
If it was Frank's first go, maybe we were trying him out and felt that Richard, who'd already done, made, directed four episodes of The Daleks, that he could start it off and we would try Frank out on one episode to see if he was gonna make it.
I believe that when I went into the studio with the first part of ddge of Destruction, Frank was still looking at the script for the second part.
And it may well have been that just one director couldn't have prepped something that wasn't yet ready to be prepped by the time he was in rehearsal.
You can't live more than 24 hours a day.
What amazes me is how different their styles are.
Very much Richard Martin is the dark and shadowy interior of the ship.
He's very got that film noir lighting that really was quite terrifying to me at the time.
Because Frank Cox is more involved with patching up episode two, there's not quite that same sense of darkness in it.
When you watch the episodes you can see the difference in directing styles.
I mean, Frank Cox uses the camera far more than Richard Martin.
That's not to be disparaging about Richard Martin, but I think Frank saw depth of camera work far more.
And we was using the characters, the actors to move in and out of shot more.
Then what would have happened if the column had come out completely? (QUAVERING) Well, the power would be free to escape.
Can it be possible then that this is the end? COX: My feeling was that you had to be close on people.
Of course, one doesn't want to just cut between the dialogue.
You have to listen to people listening to dialogue as well.
One man's law is another man's crime.
Sleep on it, Chesterton.
Sleep on it.
Throughout my career, I've used stock music, from library, because it's cheap, to be quite honest, and you'll always find mood music, which is clear of copyright, which I think we used on ddge of Destruction.
But it was the director's choice.
So I would say to the sound supervisor.
I want this type of sound.
And I found myself singing down.
Have you got anything for that? And they could have put the phone down at that point.
But they usually say, ''Yeah, yes, I think we have a bit of.
''And one or two of.
''I'll send it you.
'' And they'll send it down the line and usually it was marvellous.
Because it was their job and they were brilliant at it.
And you were able to take the clicks and the picks and the flicks and time it and maybe even stretch it a bit so that you could fit your picture to it.
It was quite a job in those days because we had very little at our disposal.
We didn't think so at the time.
It's only in retrospect you look back and you see all these wonderful computers and synthesizers.
We wouldn't have known what a synthesizer was if it had fallen on us from outer space.
There is a great moment in part two where the Doctor finally regains control of the ship.
He switches the power back on.
He doesn't just suddenly switch on as you do today.
You get this feeling as though it's coming from below, of engines starting up, power returning to the system, lights coming on.
Brian Hodgson's sound effects for the interior of the ship really gets used so much massively more in this story because you get this idea that isn't just a constant buzz that runs through the ship.
It's something that builds up, can lower down, and that's a great tribute to what the Radiophonic Workshop and people like Brian Hodgson contributed to the programme.
We're safe now.
The only bit that I always felt was just a little bit of a letdown, myself, perhaps I can tell you now, was the fact that it all sort of concentrated itself on this damn switch.
And he said, (IMITATING DOCTOR) ''Oh, well, it was just a spring had gone, you know.
'' -Yeah, a real cop-out.
It did seem a bit silly.
-And he put it back.
I thought that was a little bit lame somehow, as an ending.
That was my criticism of it.
-I wanted it to be something more extraordinary.
-Absolutely, yeah.
What happened? What happened? It was the switch, it was still in place.
You see, there's a little spring inside it and it was stuck.
It hadn't released itself.
Also in Brink of Disaster, it was quite amusing, well, I think it is, that when they used the ''Fast Return'' switch, when you actually look at it closely, ''Fast Return'' switch is actually written, it looks like felt-tip pen, as opposed to being printed.
I can't help asking myself was it written there by somebody at the last minute, for William Hartnell to remember what it's called, or to actually show him where it is so he doesn't get the wrong button? Or was it there because it should be marked? Did the production staff think that it actually needed to be? I can't believe that Ray Cusick would allow a handwritten marker pen to be used to label a button.
My guess is this might have been written during rehearsals, as a guide, not really intended to be seen.
I think probably the fact that ''Fast Return'' was written on the switch was probably so that Bill could find it out of all the other switches.
But I don't think it probably was meant to be seen.
And nowadays of course, we take it out with CGI.
-You mean it's been on all this time? -Yes.
Bill and I worked out a very careful strategy about which switch worked which part of the Tardis.
And they all looked more or less the same.
And if you had to turn round and do things very quickly, it was difficult to put your finger on exactly the right one.
So we decided we would write a little note to say which was which.
Presuming, I suppose, that it was going to be blotted out before the shot.
-That could be England.
-SUSAN: Yes, I remember that.
That's very curious.
That can't be what's outside the ship.
This is a photograph.
One of the complexities of this story is that because of the ''Fast Return'' switch not working, we were seeing on the monitor pictures of previous planets that they'd visited.
And Susan says, ''That's the planet Quinnis,'' which we've never actually seen in Doctor Who.
There's another picture.
SUSAN: Oh, I recognise that.
That's where we nearly lost the Tardis, four or five journeys back.
DOCTOR: Yes, the planet Quinnis, of the fourth universe.
SUSAN: That's not outside either.
And it's the first time, at that point, that we've ever known that the Doctor and Susan have visited anywhere else other than Earth because you could quite rightly assume that they came straight from their home planet, which we didn't know at the time, to Totter's Lane.
And I was really interested in that Susan said that it was somewhere they'd lost the Tardis about four or five stories ago.
Which means, what they're actually saying is, this took place just before the very first episode we watched, An Unearthly Child.
It started pointing the idea to the Doctor having this huge long history, part of the rationale of why, to a young mind, you wonder why the heck he was known as Doctor Who in the first place.
Well, what's all that about? I think it was a complete mystery about when we joined the Doctor and what they had done beforehand.
I mean, in those days, it's less of a mystery now because he has a place that he came from.
In those days nobody knew where he'd come from.
Nobody knew whether he should have been on the Tardis.
Nobody knew whether he'd stolen it.
Whether he'd simply started off many, many years ago and had forgotten how to work half of it.
How long had they been travelling? Who knows? Was she really his granddaughter? Had he kidnapped her? The question mark of whether Susan was the Doctor's granddaughter or not is one that, whenever anybody is talking about their relationship, is being asked, or has been asked over the years.
Even when I was involved in the early days, it was one of those questions.
In many ways, I don't think it really matters because it's the relationship that matters not whether it's a blood relationship or not.
Grandfather, they couldn't have done all the things that happened.
Oh, yes, I admit they were very smart.
No, it's not a question of being smart.
Don't you see I wouldn't allow them to hurt you, child? There is an extra-special pairing, whether it's just because of William Hartnell's strong actor relationship with Carole Ann Ford or not that is different between say, what he later went through with the character of Vicki.
It was a much stronger bond and, really, it's the sort of thing that gives you a sense that there is a family.
And people, of course, now even imply that perhaps I wasn't the granddaughter.
Wasn't a granddaughter.
And he just called me his granddaughter.
I have no idea.
All I know is at the time we played the parts as they were and enjoyed them very much.
And Bill and I had a wonderfully grand, paternalistic granddaughter relationship.
As simple as that.
(SIGHING) You know, my dear child, I think your old grandfather is going a tiny little bit around the bend.
The Doctor has that long, extraordinary speech at the end explaining about the background to what was wrong with the Tardis and what was happening outside and why there was all that danger.
It's a pity, given that Hartnell does that so well, that actually the logic of what's being said in the speech doesn't make a great deal of sense about dust coalescing and all that kind of stuff.
But it is still a very compelling scene because of Hartnell's performance.
I know.
I know.
COX: William Hartnell was, I think we all know this, was a bit shaky on his lines.
William Hartnell would look at the script and say, ''My God, it's Macbeth.
'' And William Russell would say, ''Don't worry, Bill.
''I can take that plot line.
''Jackie can take another plot line.
''And you can say, 'That's right'.
'' So they tried to take the weight off him because he was very worried about learning stuff.
Well, Bill Hartnell, if you remember, really surpassed himself when he had the bandage.
You remember that strange bandage around his head? And he had the bandage around his head, and he's standing near the console of the Tardis, and he talks about space and the formation of the solar system and all these things in a wonderful, wonderful speech, I thought.
But that shot was a slow, slow track-in because as I explained, they didn't have zooms.
So once you were on a lens, you were stuck with that lens.
It was a slow track up to William Hartnell.
Hartnell turns round, faces the camera perched back on the console, lit very differently to most of the other parts of the episode, and the camera is slowly tracking forward on him as he's describing this.
And it's an amazing soliloquy.
For William Hartnell to remember a piece, and I'm not being rude about William, but to remember a long piece like that and put the emotion into it and put it across, say those words and mean them, I thought was a very, very, very, tight moment in the story.
A new birth of a sun and its planets! Yes, I think people have been a bit unfair to Bill.
I mean, he did have his moments of forgetfulness, but actually, he did deliver the goods more times than he didn't.
And I think, and a lot of people agree with me, that that was one of his finest moments actually.
He got through the words perfectly.
And he invested it with quite a lot of dramatic force.
I don't know even where to begin, Chesterton.
If only I had a clue.
I think.
I think, perhaps, we've been given nothing else but clues.
The concept that the Tardis is giving them clues, that there is something wrong and that they were responsible for it is quite, I mean, it gives the impression that the Tardis, very early on in Doctor Who, is far more intelligent, whether it's a computer or something more, than we knew before.
-Like the food machine, you mean.
-Yes.
It registered empty, but it wasn't.
But the clock is the most important.
It made us aware of time.
We have it able to apply pain, somehow to people's necks, we have the ability for it to melt clock faces.
Although that didn't visualise particularly well in the actual programme.
(BARBARA SHRIEKING) MARTIN: We did the best we could.
But it could have been better, again, if we'd had money.
It should have been steaming slightly.
And while we looked at it, its hands should've fallen off.
It needed some animation.
It was just a bit of atrophied mechanics.
It looked like somebody had chucked a blancmange at it and that was sad because it's a very strong image.
You had the larger clock all dripping, rather like a Salvador Dali painting.
And, of course, the watches on people's hands were also melted and very peculiar.
LANDEN: I didn't pick that up at all, for years, what that was actually all about.
And didn't even realise the watch shrunk 'cause when you actually look at it, you really can't see what they've done.
Which is a bit of a shame.
I mean, today it would be blatantly obvious.
At the time, using the technology they had, it still gets the point across.
There's still this idea that in some way time has been corrupted.
Time is melting, in some way time itself is being destroyed.
What it's doing is, it's creating the mythology of the Tardis.
It's probably the first episode where you actually start getting something that says the Tardis is slightly mythical itself.
That there's something that we don't understand about it.
There's something beyond our understanding.
And I find that one of the very interesting parts of the story.
In some ways more interesting than many of the others.
I think one of the great things about The ddge of Destruction was that it was the first story that really focused on the Tardis rather than the characters or the situation or the concepts of moving through time and space.
I suppose until that point you treated the machine as, basically, just one room.
This was the whole programme that gave you the sudden big idea that the machine itself had far, far more inside it than you had ever been previously aware of before.
-I thought it only moved when the power was on? -Yes.
The heart of the machine is under the column.
-Well, what made it move? -The source of power.
You see, when the column rises, it proves the extent of the power thrust.
Then, what would have happened if the column had come out completely? (QUAVERING) Well, the power would be free to escape.
We see that finally happen, albeit many, many years later in The Parting Of The Ways, when the energy does indeed escape, it infects Billie Piper's character.
And indeed that's used ultimately as part of the resolution of the entire story.
Rose! And I understand that Russell T.
Davies wrote in to one of the episodes the concept that the power is the heart of the Tardis.
And in a sense that's what, in fact, Bill Hartnell is saying in The ddge Of Destruction.
It's not just any old power source.
It's the Tardis, my Tardis.
The best ship in the universe.
It'll make wonderful scrap.
-What's that light? -The heart of the Tardis.
This ship's alive.
You've opened its soul.
Originally, the machine wasn't at fault, we were.
And it's been trying to tell us so ever since.
-A machine that can think for itself? -Yes.
-Is that feasible, Doctor? -Oh, think not as you or I do but it must be able to think as a machine.
You see, it has a bank of computers.
-You say the power is under this column? -DOCTOR: Yes.
-And the column holds it down? -Yes.
Well, then, what would make it want to escape? The parallels and the development of the idea so that we actually have a correlation, I find absolutely fascinating.
And I think that the way they handled the story, the development of that in Christopher Eccleston's story and the way they used the visuals that can now be created electronically, was absolutely brilliant.
The Doctor always said the Tardis was telepathic.
This thing is alive, it can listen.
-It's not listening now, is it? -We need to get inside it.
Last time I saw you, with Slitheen, this middle bit opened.
And there was this light and the Doctor said it was the heart of the Tardis.
If we can open it, I can make contact.
It's a pity, isn't it, that Sydney Newman, who was so central to the original series starting and wanted very much to have the series come back, never got a chance to see the recent series.
And the fact that it echoes in some ways some of those earlier episodes, makes it particularly ironic.