Doctor Who - Documentary s03e03 Episode Script

Riverside Story

ANNOUNCER: This is BBC Television, broadcasting from the Television Centre.
MATTHEW SWEET: In 1960, the BBC built its own Hollywood.
Television Centre, the largest TVstudios in Europe.
A building with 43 lifts and the biggest air-conditioning system in any non-industrial building, and space for thousands of people to work.
And all constructed in the shape of a question mark, which made it the perfect place for the launch of a new science fiction series called Doctor Who.
Except it didn't happen.
TVCentre was for important programmes like That Was The Week That Was andThe Lance Percival Show.
Doctor Who came here, Lime Grove.
Pokey, cramped.
Ever notice that the Tardis in the new series is bigger than the Tardis in the original series? That's because a full-size police box replica wouldn't fit in the lift of this building.
The founding producer of Doctor Who, Verity Lambert, begged her bosses to allow her programme to escape this building.
It took a year of nagging and the power of the Daleks to bring the Tardis here in time for the first production block of Doctor Who's second season.
Riverside Studios.
Doesn't look that much, does it? I mean, it has that nice cafe at the front where you can get a very good mochaccino.
But essentially, this building is just a collection of sheds that was originally designed to house a factory that made water pumps.
But under that roof, William Hartnell changed into Patrick Troughton.
The Fishmen of Atlantis spread their cellophane fins and swam.
Under that roof, Doctor Who dodged the bullets at the OKCorral, played deadly board games with the Celestial Toymaker and was caught by the bubbling fungus men of Mechanus.
Which, I understand, is as eye-watering as it sounds.
And now, I'm going to meet a man who saw some of that happen.
So here we are, this is it! The Celestial Toyroom, the plains of Troy.
This is This is the planet Refusis, this.
It's small, isn't it, really? Did it feel small at the time? Because it's much more spacious than the Lime Grove studio -they were using immediately before.
-Well, don't forget you never saw it like this.
When you came into the studio, you probably got the back of a set in front of you.
You know, flats, and stuff.
You come around those, and then there's another set there, and there's another one there.
And the whole place is taken up with sets and cameras.
And the cameras have to be able to move, so there's got to be floor space as well.
So you never got the impression of it being a finite wall affair.
Every set was different.
Consequently, it probably felt a bit bigger than smaller, if you see what I mean.
Was there a sort of a set pattern to how sets were laid out -in a space like this? -No.
It could be completely different at any time? It would be completely random, except Now, looking at the moment, we have these big boxes on the walls there.
Well, this is where your cameras get plugged in to operate there.
Now, obviously, we would have to Because they're on long cables, there was no restriction, it didn't mean that the set couldn't be built in front of that, it could because the cables would come round.
The restrictions, you know, were really on the directors.
Because the directors had to know which lens they were using.
Are we having that shot? Are we having that shot? Are we having that shot? You know, and that depended on the lens because you didn't zoom in and out on account of So you had to know which lens for which camera.
He's also got to know that those cameras are finishing a scene here, two of the cameras are needed in that set over there.
So his last shot's going to be on this camera, so that those two cameras can go before this scene finishes.
Tough! And Was there a lot of running involved in this? A lot of running.
And they hadn't got to get the loops of cables mixed up because they couldn't go over a cable.
It was a wonderful, wonderful time to work in the business because it was so difficult.
"The Ark" asked a lot of its production team.
Ajungle inside a spaceship.
A race of monocular creatures in yak-hair wigs.
Invisible aliens, a gigantic statue, the Earth exploding.
It seemed like they were being asked for the moon on a stick.
But they made it all happen under one box girder roof.
DOCTOR: No sun, no clouds, merely a metal roof radiating some kind of light.
It's extraordinary! No, I did see producing it as a technical challenge and I did want it to be a bit of a tour de force because I was clear in my own mind that my career was somewhat on the line.
And I thought Doctor Who was an opportunity to show off what the BBC could do in the way of special effects.
So, I was the one who decided that we would film jungle scenes at Ealing Studios and that we would have live animals, including an elephant.
The elephant, amusingly, came the previous day.
And the BBC didn't want it on the premises.
So it ended up in a van outside my flat.
(LAUGHING) So that Where the poor old driver had to spend the night, because there was nowhere else for it to go.
PURVES: I thought it was a great story.
You've got the first part, where the Guardians are travelling to this planet, Refusis, and the Monoids are their servants.
700 years later, they come back to exactly the same spot and the statue that was being built to commemorate man's arrival on Refusis is not a big statue of a man, it's a statue of a Monoid.
And it was a great moment.
That was the end of Episode Two.
In Episode Three, the Monoids are in charge and they're nasty.
They're getting their own back on the Guardians, who had treated them badly as well.
I mean, it was great story, very clever and what a clever idea to do that time jump.
Isn't it extraordinary? We had a new girl.
This was a new female assistant for him, and I was involved in the process of helping to pick her.
(SNEEZES) This is Jackie Lane's first full story, in the role of Dodo.
Yeah, funnily enough, I'd forgotten that.
What do you remember about her how she settled in? "The Ark" was possibly a struggle for her.
But I mean Why do you say that? Because she was coming into an established serial, like I found the Meddling Monk a bit difficult when I joined "The Time Meddler".
Um, she came into an established serial where everyone knew what it was, and I think it might have been her first big television job.
My dear child, if you're going to be with us for any length of time, you'll have to do something about that English of yours.
-What's wrong with it? -Well, it's terrible, child.
Oh, it's most irritating.
There seems to have been some indecision among the production team about who she is and where she comes from.
That you can almost sense ideas being revised about this during the programme because her accent seems to change.
Yes, she starts quite north country, doesn't she? It's very strongly north country and then that more or less vanishes.
I'll bet if you go down that path there, you'll come to the American bison and the tea bar.
Well, do you think there could have been some anxiety about having a lead character in a serial like this who didn't speak correctly enough, who didn't speak in an RP accent? And they decided, you know, that's a little too northern for us, let's pull back a bit.
I'm going to teach you to speak English.
PURVES: It may well have been that she'd done stuff on film which Michael liked and it was nice she got a little character that she could play.
By the time they looked at the rushes and all the rest, they asked her to tone it down.
I wasn't party to that and I don't know if that did happen.
Maybe it did.
On a Monday, we'd go in and maybe then we read the whole thing through with the entire assembled cast and then we started blocking it.
So, it's broken up into nice, small scenes, the floor manager and assistant floor managers have worked out where everything will be in the studio, marked it out on the rehearsal room floor in different coloured tapes, and we worked to that.
IMISON: When you get to the studio, you do a full camera rehearsal before you shoot.
And that means going through shot by shot, making sure that you can get the shots you want and that everything's just lit and there are no shadows where they shouldn't be, et cetera, et cetera.
Dress run at about 5:00, something like that, where you're in full make-up, full costume.
You then do the show almost exactly as it's going to be.
The director then goes and panics for an hour and decides how it's finally going to be and where How he can put right the things that didn't work and so on and so on and so on and at 7:30, we come in IMISON: And then you would try and do a run without stopping, which was not always achieved.
PURVES: The recording time allowed was three times the length of the programme.
Normally, things tended to go wrong because it was so demanding and people were tired, so you usually ended up using most of the recording time.
PURVES: The show could only afford something like four edits per programme.
My drama organiser came in to see me, which again, I should have realised was a bad sign.
(LAUGHING) I said to him, "We're on page 12," and he said dryly, "I'm beginning to wonder is there another page?" I thought, "Oh, God.
That's not very good.
" In the dress run, all that happened.
Everything came together in the dress run and then there was a break whilst everyone collected their thoughts and controlled their nerves.
Don't forget it's live, as live for everyone.
The crew, camera crew, the sound crew, the actors, everybody.
There is no one who relaxes when the show is being done.
The main congress hall where the Guardians talked and met and gathered and where the trial takes place, it's one set, not terribly complicated.
You get five cameras in on that.
There's the kitchen, which was a very cursory affair.
The bizarre idea of the security kitchen Take them away to the security kitchen.
The script might have originally contained the prison and the kitchen and these two were perhaps combined for reasons of economy.
This is more than possible.
Doctor Who was made on a fairly tight low budget.
I mean, my salary was only 30 quid a show.
Basically, there was no money around.
It presented many more technical challenges than I'd ever had.
On the other hand, I quite enjoyed trying to work out ingenious ways of doing things.
There was a scene where a man is shrunk from full size into miniature so he can be stored away, which again, we actually filmed rather than doing it in the studio.
I said to the cameraman, "Shoot on 24 degrees "and elevate the camera so the bottom of the frame is his feet.
"And just pull back.
He will shrink.
" And the cameraman said, "Oh really?" And we tried it and it worked.
So I was rather pleased about that.
I came up with this idea of the Monoids, 'cause the Daleks had obviously been a big success and had led to various toys and things being manufactured, merchandising.
I thought, "What could we do that kids might take up?" So I came up with this idea of a creature with one eye and a ping pong ball in their mouths to be the eye and just hide their real eyes.
I hoped that the BBC would sell these half ping pong balls and woolly masks to kids but it never happened and they didn't catch on.
PURVES: I can remember the first sight of them, thinking, "Ooh!" Mind, that might have been a good reaction, I suppose.
You know, you want the audience to go "ooh" at the strange creatures.
But in fact they just They looked silly.
I always thought they looked silly and revisiting the tapes now and looking at them again now, I still think they look silly.
IMISON: I gave them the idea but I don't remember seeing the costumes till they actually had to work in them, which was very restrictive.
Of course, they were very rubbery and heavy for the actors, so it took a long time for them to move around the place.
And of course, we had to have a way of them talking, since their mouths were occupied with being their eyes, we had this idea of a sort of necklace round their neck with a loudspeaker in it.
And they had to touch that to indicate who was talking 'cause it wasn't always clear.
These sort of, again, Dalek-ish voices going on.
I just don't think they ever worked.
Terrible wigs.
Sometimes I mean, the quality of the pictures, I mean What you'll see on this DVD is enhanced pictures, far better than they ever were when they went out.
The transmission on 405 lines meant that the contrasts weren't there, so if something was darkly lit, might have looked quite good in reality, by the time it got transmitted it looked very poor.
And I just felt that no, they didn't work.
Though I liked the serial.
I thought it was a great story.
Contact the Doctor as soon as you can.
I'll stay here.
All right.
-What about you, Venussa? -I'll stay, too.
SWEET: There's a faint suggestion of a love triangle for Steven in this story.
Yes, I think that was intentional.
I think Steven had usurped him in her affections, slightly.
It was a totally unstated piece of overacting.
SWEET: Was Doctor Who a programme that directors were happy to come to? A lot of the directors on Doctor Who had done very fine work.
They weren't just, you know, guys picked up from nowhere who could "Oh, do a Doctor Who episode.
" Oh, no, these were good directors.
IMISON: My contract was due for renewal while I was doing the Doctor Who.
I'd hoped that by doing a very good Doctor Who, I would redeem myself and my contract would be renewed.
But in fact, it was just as I was about to go into the gallery for the final episode that a memorandum arrived to tell me that my contract would not be renewed.
And therefore that was my last show as a BBC director.
I did put it out of my mind while I got on with the job, and I owed it to the cast and the crew and everyone that we had to do as good a job as we could.
So I didn't let it affect me too much.
I got on quite well with Michael and he cared about the performances.
I mean, there was some awkward stuff in there.
The fact that the Monoids didn't talk, so to talk to them you did sort of strange gestures, I'm not sure he got all that right.
But I mean, all of those things he had to He had to invent a language for them which made some sort of sense.
It did look a bit like squirrels putting away their nuts at times and doing all this sort of stuff, which was odd.
But no, he was a very nice man to work with.
I have happy memories of working on the programme, and it is a source of constant amazement to me that we are still talking about this programme, whereas all the other things I did nobody's interested in.
Michael Imison wasn't the only person to leave the world of Doctor Who through the doors of Riverside Studios.
This was a time of great change and upheaval on the programme, with producers and script editors coming and going in a matter of weeks.
And all with different ideas about what Doctor Who should be.
Jackie Lane and Peter Purves were dropped and soon there would be even bigger changes.
Because of the state Bill was getting into, he wasn't terribly well and he would make awful mistakes and, of course, because they couldn't edit, you didn't do them again.
So those, the fluffs, the mistakes, they went out.
Yes, we've already estabdi established this place as illogical.
They did give him a role that was not quite as dominant as it had been.
He still had to be the boss.
He still had to be there.
It's called Doctor Who, after all, so he had to be there.
But they did try on a couple of occasions to see how it worked without him there.
It was quite interesting that every change in the Doctor over the ensuing years has been quite a marked change.
But Bill to Patrick Troughton was only a slight change.
-Happened in this very room.
-Happened in this very room.
Were you aware at the time that there was a kind of move to -To remove him from the programme? -No, no, no.
To ask him to go? And Bill's attitude was always that he was very much in control of what was going on.
He knew he was top man there.
I think he felt indispensible to the show.
And I supposed rightly so.
He created the character, and it was a wonderful, quirky character.
Yes, you must travel with understanding as well as hope.
You know, I once said that to one of your ancestors, a long time ago.
(CHUCKLES) That was the Doctor and for me it still is.
I mean, much as I like the modern versions, Billy is still the Doctor.
SWEET: But do you think that he was anxious about his ability to learn lines? PURVES: Oh, I think that was the reason he got quite bad-tempered with people, because he was aware that he was losing it.
It's not your fault at all.
If it's anybody's, it's mine.
And that was very sad for him.
Yeah, he used to get terribly angry because he'd make mistakes, and he'd take it out on other people rather than himself.
Put that thing down! That is no way to establish friendship! How do you think he responded to knowing that he, in fact, wasn't indispensible to this programme? Knowing him as I did, I would think he was terribly hurt.
Terribly hurt.
And deep down, I think he would have known it was bound to happen.
He knew that he wasn't getting it right.
The character was always there.
He never faltered with the character.
The character was rock solid.
The words weren't, and he knew that.
But I'm sure he was absolutely distraught.
It was in this studio that Doctor Who discovered that it could change its lead actor and survive.
William Hartnell fell to the floor here and got to his feet as Patrick Troughton in a pair of pixie boots.
But then the producer, Innes Lloyd, had change imposed upon him.
Doctor Who was to return to the confines of Studio D at Lime Grove, and there was nothing that he could do about it.
And you know what, I don't think it's a coincidence that at the moment Doctor Who returns to that smaller studio, then it suddenly becomes dominated by stories about monsters attacking isolated bases.
And some of those stories are among the very best.
But maybe the stories shot here had a special kind of audacity about them.
Because some of the weirdest things that ever happened to Doctor Who happened to him in this room in the Isop Galaxy, at the OK Corral, in the domain of the Celestial Toymaker, on the planes of Troy, on the Planet Refusis, Studio 1.