Doctor Who - Documentary s06e04 Episode Script

The Fact of Fiction - The Making of The Mind Robber

(PIERCING HUM) When I commissioned ''The Mind Robber'' from Peter Ling, it was an attempt to get new writers into Doctor Who.
I think they must have got onto me again and asked me to write for Doctor Who.
I liked the idea very much, so consequently I said I'd give it a try.
Peter was horrified.
He'd never written science fiction and didn't know how to start.
I said, ''Don't think about science fiction.
''Think about the story and children's imaginations.
'' Well, well, well! How do you do? When I first met Peter Ling and, indeed, Terrance Dicks, who subsequently became my story editor, we were all commissioned to write for ''Crossroads'', a series for ITV.
We got on like a house on fire.
We'd travel up every week to Birmingham for story conferences.
We had gin and tonic and kippers for breakfast.
We used to enjoy our trips to and from Birmingham and we talked to each other a lot.
The idea of working together probably came up then.
Peter said, ''Do I have a blank page?'' I said, ''Go for it.
'' So he came up with this story idea which I found fascinating, of bringing stories to life - fiction to life, if you like - and that's how we started.
The idea formed because we three were all writers.
Consequently, you enjoy creating characters that you write yourself, and once you've created them, they have a life of their own.
It stemmed from that, really.
It was a fantasy, but on the level of jokes and challenges .
.
and mythical creatures.
That kind of fantasy.
David Maloney was absolutely gorgeous as a director.
I had no idea that it was one of his first jobs.
In those days, staff directors were assigned to programmes by the head of department - Head of Serials - in this case, Shaun Sutton.
He said to me, ''How do you fancy doing a Who?'' He understood what it was about.
When a director understands it, it comes on the screen, and it did.
Listen to me.
If we move outside the Tardis, we step into a dimension about which we know nothing.
The previous series, which had been, I think, six episodes, was an episode short.
It just wouldn't stretch.
And Peter's wouldn't stretch.
So we had a gap of one episode.
So there was only one answer - I had to write the interjecting episode.
I remember I wasn't sorry not to write the first episode, because the first episode, you take up a lot of time with setting the situation, and I'd rather get on and tell the story.
Having commissioned both stories either side of the gap, we had no money.
That was the BBC in those days.
You got allocated a budget and couldn't step over it.
We couldn't have any visiting artists, any more sets, we couldn't create any monsters.
There was nothing except the Tardis and nothing.
There was no money, no budget, so we just used the Tardis and a big white cyclorama, and these white robots which were later to appear in ''The Mind Robber'' proper.
(SHERWIN) I went down to BBC Stores and found these old robots which were very tatty, and we had to paint them up and try to make them look sinister.
Once you set them in a cloud of smoke, they did look fairly sinister.
Our problem with working on a white cyclorama with a lot of drenching white light was that there could be no marks on the floor for the actors.
It was shot in the largest studio the BBC had.
It had a white floor and a white cove, which is a curved link between the floor and the white cyclorama.
So the whole lot had to be immaculate.
It was my job to make sure it was immaculate.
That was my sole responsibility.
(ZOE SHOUTS) Jamie! Doctor! Where are you? I remember looking through the script and thinking, ''Crikey! There's nobody else in it.
'' Patrick said to Peter Bryant the producer - because we were working very hard anyway - ''There's only three of us.
You have to give us more money because you're saving on actors.
'' They said, ''No, no.
'' And Patrick said, ''Well, we're going to go on strike.
''You can't ask It's not the beginning of the series.
We're very, very tired.
''You have to cut the episode down.
'' ''Oh, we can't do that.
'' As I recall, Patrick said, ''You cannot put this on the actors.
'' And I think ''The Mind Robber'', if you time them, they're about two minutes shorter each episode.
The Doctor's right.
There is something or someone trying to tempt us away.
(SHERWIN) It's all very well writing something on paper - ''A white background.
''In the clouds.
In the far regions of people's minds.
'' It's all very well writing it, but somebody's got to visualise it.
The director has to be able almost to get into your mind to try and see what you were seeing.
I was delighted to see that the white background did work, and the smoke worked.
(BUZZING) I think there were a lot of tight shots - close-ups and medium close-ups - to heighten the tension.
There was a lot of tension with the three actors in the Tardis.
I felt at the time that we needed very close shots as the sequences happened where there were attempts to take over their minds.
I thought that worked very well.
I was most admiring of the performances of the three of them.
- (HAUNTING BAGPIPES) - Jamie.
It's not real.
- I know, but it's there.
- No, Jamie.
It's not.
I remember Padders had to hit me, and in rehearsals it was just a little tap, obviously, and then David said, ''Let's see what it looks like,'' and she hit me - whack! She went, ''I'm sorry.
I didn't mean it.
'' Her little feet were going.
I said, ''Can we wait till we get to the studio now?'' No, Jamie, no! Yeah, I probably whacked him one.
(LAUGHS) I don't think I held back much.
- Doctor? - What's happened? (PADBURY) I thought it was a great costume - mainly because it was practical.
It was so comfortable and easy to wear.
I know it Everybody talks about the sparkly catsuit.
I wish I'd kept it, but there we are.
(HINES) That scene is famous.
We're hanging on to the console in space and it's turning around.
We could be acting our socks off, but everybody is looking at Wendy's little bottom in that tight spangly jumpsuit.
We could be spouting Shakespeare.
That's all that scene's known for.
We were shooting the where I was clinging on to the Tardis.
I remember being up there and somebody saying, ''We'll have to stop.
'' The zip had gone, so the whole of the front I was lying up there and It looked more like a porn movie than anything! I thought that Wendy was one of the very best Doctor Who girls.
She was gorgeous-looking.
Very young-looking and pert.
And she had the best scream in the business.
(PIERCING SCREAM) It is a comedy fall.
I mean, it's just awful! There was no step.
It was justurrh.
But still, what can you do? Doctor? Zoe! (HINES) I went to rehearsals on the Monday.
My two nephews, Sean and Clive, were staying with us.
They were only tiny.
On the Tuesday, I remember going to rehearsals and scratching and itching.
The studio doctor looked at me - and chickenpox.
I was whisked off home.
Anything can happen like that.
You could have a car accident or whatever, but he went down with chickenpox.
He was a young lad.
It was his time.
So it caused a bit of a panic.
We had to do something about that immediately because, as usual in those days, we were tied to transmission.
We were running in those days a fortnight ahead, or three weeks.
Our transmission date was linked to making the programme.
I got a phone call saying, ''Don't come into work.
We'll have to work round it.
'' What we did was to shoot him.
A McCrimmon never died without a fight yet! (FIRES) Derrick Sherwin came up with a clever idea, which was to introduce a puzzle which the Doctor had to solve, which was to make a face - a challenge the Master made.
Luckily, ''The Mind Robber'' being that surrealistic story, we were fortunate that they could have that scene where Jamie got photographed, then the Doctor puts his face together, gets a different face, and it's Hamish Wilson.
Doctor! (LAUGHS) I'm glad to see you again! That's why they had to wheel me in at very short notice.
I think, obviously, there were a lot of concerned writers and directors without Frazer, but a clever, clever way of getting us out of a sticky situation.
It didn't need much reworking of the scripts.
He was playing a character not unlike the one that had been shown on the screen, so the audience took it really quite well.
Well, your face - it's different.
- What do you mean, different? - Look in the mirror.
That's not my face! I don't think Hamish wore the kilt as well as I did.
Hamish was a lot more of a Glasgow Scots.
(GRUFFLY) Hey, that Doctor.
Doh! Glasgow kiss.
His Scottish accent was tougher than mine.
(WILSON) I remember seeing Jamie's first appearance in an episode that was about I think it was about the Battle of Culloden.
I can't remember very clearly, but it was to do with Culloden.
I was sitting there thinking, ''They can't be going to reverse the result, surely?'' But yes, I remember Jamie first appearing, and thinking, ''Hmm.
I could play that.
'' What a difficult thing to do - to come in at short notice like that and just carry on.
I wasn't panicking, but I knew that we were under a very great deal of pressure.
(MALONEY) He, like all the other actors of that day, would have had a lot of experience of learning quickly - repertory or weekly repertory.
We were recording on the morrow.
(FRIGHTENED GASP) So I had to go away and sit down and drive it into the head, so that my colleagues on the following day would know that I was across it.
I thought Hamish was brilliant because he actually took on the physicality of Frazer.
I just thought he was amazing.
Up you come.
One, two, three.
I thought I was never going to get out of Who are you? Eh? Och, don't you start, Zoe.
I've had enough from the Doctor.
David and Patrick and Wendy were all enormously supportive and patient when I got in a tizz and had to stop and write something down in pencil.
Your adrenalin kicks in when something like that happens.
You just simply get on with it and help - in this case, Hamish - as much as you can to get on with it.
(HINES) It was very strange seeing somebody in my kilt, my jacket, my socks, my boots.
It wasn't a nice feeling at all.
''That's my costume!'' I felt very protective towards it.
I wish I wish I believed in wishing wells (!) (FAINT, ECHOING VOICES) (MASTER LAUGHS SMUGLY) We had many doubts about visualising half of what Peter Ling came up with.
It was crazy.
It really was wild, but nothing ventured, nothing gained.
The toy soldiers, I think, were written by Peter Ling to be as literal and physical as they were.
I used a lot of tramping feet and saw the soldiers from the front and behind, but delayed showing the clockwork key in the back for quite a long time.
These soldiers Am I mad, or do they look like toy soldiers? Yes, particularly dangerous toys, too.
Come along.
Let's go.
My brother Ian - Ian Hines - I roped him in as one of the robot soldiers.
He hated it because he had to be lowered into stiff trousers so he could walk stiff-legged.
They weren't bendy at all, and once you were in them, you couldn't sit down, and you got trapped in I'm at the top.
- Doctor - (ZOE) Can you see something? I can see all right.
- Do you know what this tree is? - (DOCTOR) No.
What? It's the letter S.
(HERCULES) The biggest thing was in the second or third episode - the forest of letters.
It had to be like a forest - a conventional forest.
It was a forest of trees, but when you saw them from above, they had to be recognisable letters.
That always posed a problem for me.
I'd imagined myself in an aeroplane flying over the trees and seeing them formed into words.
That was the image in my mind, although it didn't come out on the screen like that.
Those letters have to be legible, but they should have been deeper.
And also In fact, they didn't scale with the size of the units we had on the stage floor.
(POUNDING HOOVES) - Sounds like a horse galloping.
- It's getting nearer.
It's coming this way! It's not a horse.
Look! (WHINNIES) Probably the most difficult was the unicorn.
Nobody's ever really done that successfully, except with computer graphics nowadays.
In those days, we had to stick a horn on the head of a horse.
Yes, that was a trouble, too.
That was a donkey, really.
That was a fun thing to do on location in the bitter cold (!) The horn kept coming off because this thing wouldn't keep still, and as it is, it throws its head around.
So the problem I had was fixing and hiding the harness, the rigging that kept this unicorn's horn in place.
Fortunately, it moved backwards and forwards so quickly, you don't see any little error, or any little looseness and flexibility of the horn, so that was quite fun.
The unicorn had a rather odd story attached to it.
We only had a small amount of exterior filming, and so, at about one o'clock in the morning, we ended up on an old aerodrome south of Croydon.
We were there to shoot this beast against blackness.
An assistant of mine had gone along and found a circus pony, which she assured me was right for the job.
When they unloaded it from the horse box, we saw that it was not white but brown.
So the make-up department immediately produced all their white make-up and began covering this horse, but they ran out.
So we went to the local RAF barracks, knocked people up and got a lot of RAF white blanco which we put on the horse too.
We just about covered it and made it look like a white unicorn, but it was a close shave.
Say it doesn't exist.
Say it! (ALL) It doesn't exist! But it worked.
We got it in.
Kids understood it was a unicorn.
What the hell? It worked.
(MAN SPEAKS LILLIPUTIAN) (SPEAKS BROBDINGNAGIAN) (BROBDINGNAGIAN) I wanted other characters who were famous enough for the viewer to recognise them.
I think I understand.
May I ask, sir, where you come from? Would it not be Nottingham? My father had a small estate in Nottingham.
I was the third of five sons.
He sent me to Emmanuel College in Cambridge at 14 He is a favourite of mine in a sense.
I enjoyed him as a child and as a grown-up.
He's a wonderful character.
He's like Mr Pickwick.
He will never be forgotten.
Lemuel Gulliver will live for ever.
(BOTH) Useful for those who intend to travel, as I always believed it would be my fortune to do.
Now I know who you are, sir.
Your name is Lemuel Gulliver! Having Gulliver speak words from Swift's writing, was, in a way, a clue for the audience as to what this was about.
It wasn't real.
These were bits of fiction brought to life.
I think it was my idea to try and make him as much like the Gulliver people had perhaps read for themselves in ''Gulliver's Travels''.
It was fun to try and use the original language in a modern script.
Haven't you ever tried to escape? No.
I looked upon myself to be fully settled for life.
(MALONEY) The casting of Bernard Horsfall as Gulliver was my choice.
He was quite an heroic character in looks and stature, Bernard.
He would have appealed to me as a candidate for Gulliver immediately.
He is very tall, but it was also that thing of He played Gulliver very erect.
Rightly.
Of the period.
Um And the very formal way in which he delivered Dean Swift's lines.
You again! I'll sort you this time.
- Creag an tuire! - (FIRES) I remember an armourer, with enormous care, explaining the weapon that he was holding.
It was meant to be like an old Brown Bess British Army musket of the 18th century.
When I came back after getting rid of the chickenpox, we prerecorded the scene where I ran down the corridor, got photographed, fell apart, because, obviously, I couldn't do it.
Then Hamish got photographed again, fell apart, and I went, ''Thank you, Doctor.
You got my right face this time.
'' So when they fired the gun and my face vanished, Patrick had to reassemble the face of Frazer to bring Jamie back properly.
- Thank goodness you're back.
- I haven't been anywhere.
It was nice to meet him for the first time, and it was nice that we were able to do a bit together in the piece.
That was good.
That was fun.
What would have been better, I guess, on the whole, is if, when Hamish had come in to take over from Frazer, that they'd really liked Hamish so much that Frazer didn't come back.
That would have been great! Zoe, duck! (MAN) My television debut was, for God's sake, the Karkus.
I think they were probably looking for somebody who was quite big, initially.
I'm six foot three and was quite burly and sturdy in those days.
I knew what sort of character I needed to fill that gap, as it were.
He had to be frightening, and yet the children watching wouldn't be frightened by him.
So he was a bit lumbering and a bit cumbersome.
Larger than life.
I would have cast Christopher Robbie from a number of suggestions from agents, photographs, actors writing in But of course, he was of a spectacular size and looks.
I wasn't in the stratosphere of being given the script to ascertain whether I would like to do it.
I think I grabbed the opportunity to do a telly, which is what one did as a young actor.
- It's the Karkus.
- What? Put ze hands above ze head.
Where did that crazy voice come from? I think it came from him.
I don't remember writing it.
It was quite a surprise when he turned out to have a German accent.
I must have been watching a German war movie just before doing it, or something.
(GERMAN ACCENT) What? Oh, dear.
An extraordinary voice.
It seemed to work in a funny sort of way.
I am at your command.
I think the Karkus would probably have sounded silly talking the way I talk.
I think that's probably what occurred to me.
I'm sure there was no instruction to use a rather bad German accent.
It was probably something that I chose to do because I knew that my own accent would sound a bit stupid.
A rope.
- Oh, thank you.
- Ouch! Careful.
(ROBBIE) I remember the process of being fitted for this rubber costume, and all the talcum powder that had to be put on my body to stop the rubber sticking to me.
My anatomy had been painted onto it.
I'm afraid I can't boast an anatomy quite like that.
- (ZOE) An anti-molecular ray disintegrator! - Such a weapon is scientifically impossible.
Hargh! You see in the episode of the Karkus a fight in which, miraculously, she defeats this immensely strong man.
It's what all children want.
They'd like to be able to knock down or whatever They'd like to be able to attack a grown-up, so I thought, ''Let them put themselves in the mind of Zoe.
'' I remember thinking, ''My God, isn't he tall? How am I going to throw him?'' The Karkus has superhuman strength.
- You will be mincemeat.
- Say it! You know he's a fictional character.
But I've never heard of him! - Hargh! - What are you doing? Please, I'm sure we can talk this over.
(MALONEY) Normally, a fight scene would have been staged on film, where you could take out any embarrassing pauses.
In this case, we didn't have the money, so we had to do it in the studio.
That was another of my complaints at that time.
The fact that Zoe was going to be able to throw this guy, which is fine, but I need to be shown how to do it - I'm not a stunt person.
We did have a stunt guy, but it's the old story of Because it wasn't rehearse-record, you couldn't do one throw and stop, and if it wasn't good enough, do another throw.
It was quite a long sequence - too long, actually.
And to do that all in one, when I'd only had the stunt guy one afternoon, I didn't think was enough.
I don't think it looks too bad when it's done.
I swing at her and miss her when I could have hit her, but I think the device worked.
(DOCTOR) Don't do anything rash! When we were rehearsing it, we were rehearsing it in day clothes, and though the end result showed Wendy Padbury in this sparkly catsuit, when she was rehearsing it, she had a tiny skirt on.
And I do remember being hurled to the floor, and I couldn't help it - my eyes were open - and there was her lovely little bum.
It was a dressed bum, but it was extremely nice.
I'll always remember that.
- Mercy! - You'd better submit.
Your neck can't take much pressure.
(ROBBIE) My mask did come off and go over my eyes.
It did blindfold me at one point.
At the end of it, I was really unhappy about how it had turned out.
And I fluff terribly at the end of that scene.
We all followed hishis adventures in the ''Hourly Telepress''.
I said, ''Can we do it again?'' and they just went, ''No.
It's five to nine and we can't.
'' I was really disappointed with that, because that could have looked a lot better.
It needed to be done better, and it was the old time scenario again.
You'd got a certain amount of time, and those things were always second to getting it done.
Did you ever hear of the adventures of Captain Jack Harkaway? No, I can't say that I Wait a minute.
A serial in a boys' magazine? The ''Ensign''.
And for 25 years, I've delivered 5,000 words every week.
You're a writer.
Yes.
The Master was a writer.
I wanted them to imagine somebody who'd spent his life churning out fiction, and I thought of Frank Richards.
He was writing for three magazines at least, at the same time.
He must have never stopped writing.
(MALONEY) Emrys Jones' casting as the Master was my choice.
I hadn't met him before, but I'd admired him because he'd been a big British film star during the '30s, '40s and '50s, and he was now available and he wanted to do something different.
Oh, Doctor.
This is a great pleasure.
And your two young companions.
Let me see Oh, yes.
Zoe and Jamie.
I have your dossiers here.
He said, ''Doctor and your young companion.
'' And Patrick said, ''You know all about me.
'' ''Yes.
I have your dossiers here.
'' As he said, ''I have your dossiers,'' Patrick and I grabbed our crotches and went, ''Ooh! That was painful!'' That's how Patrick and I used to think.
''I have your dossiers here.
'' Every time he said that in rehearsals, he knew that Patrick and I were going to go, ''Ooh!'' And then I think Patrick would say, ''Can I put my dossier on the table?'' This word ''dossier'' became this great sexual connotation.
That's how I remember Emrys, with his glasses.
''I have your dossiers!'' I have your dossiers here in front of me.
The Master's control room was one of the more complicated sets I had to design.
There wasn't black, so it was a black painted cloth.
That cloth was meant to look like the galaxy, so it was splattered with paint so that it looked like a galactic complex all the way around, painted in black and white, and probably bits of silver.
On top of that was a mesh ceiling so that you could see it above.
I had to have the complex arrangement of a painted cloth juggled in between the hanging lights, so that if the camera did look up into the ceiling, you wouldn't see studio lights, you'd still see part of the galaxy.
So that was quite complicated.
- It's closing on us! - Push! I liked the fact that you get squashed into a book.
They were made of something so that they were flexible, so they moved.
I think it was some form of early plastic, and it had to close in on them.
- It's a book! Back out again.
- Oh! Oh, push! Open up! (SHERWIN) It's very frightening for kids.
I hesitated about passing it, but Peter liked the idea - I liked the idea certainly - but it was treading very much on the parameters of what was allowed and what wasn't.
I enjoyed that.
I loved In fact, I got a prize at the Corona School for doing mime where you had to push things, walk against the wind, so I really enjoyed pressing hard.
All my old mime skills came into it.
(HERCULES) It was like a theatre set in a way, with rostra and battlements.
The curious Rapunzel tower.
We didn't use matting at all.
We didn't use any matting.
That had to be a painted caption.
It was painted in perspective so we could be looking at her.
Then we matched that as well as we could to an exterior of the window.
Ouch! That was quite a challenge because that was using an artificial device to get something that looked as if it belonged.
(MALONEY) I thought we ran out of steam a little bit in the last two episodes.
I thought particularly during the fifth episode, there was a lot of talk - repetitious talk, perhaps.
I was wanting action, and of course it came in the guise of D'Artagnan and those characters - Bluebeard (DOCTOR) .
.
with the fearless musketeer and fearless swordsman D'Artagnan! There was something to appeal to everybody, I thought, in the names I'd chosen.
(MALONEY) The fight I thought worked very well - the sword fight.
Again here we hired an expert swordsman, John Greenwood.
John had actually staged the fights for Olivier's film of ''Richard III'', so he was a real expert.
But what about us? We'll have to hope the destruction of the computer returns us all to reality.
- Oh.
Do you mean I'm going home? - I hope so.
(PADBURY) It is my favourite story.
I think it was just the most different and innovative of the stories I did, really.
I was very sad when it finally came to an end because I'd enjoyed working on it and watching it as well.
(SHERWIN) I think ''The Mind Robber'' was an exercise in flexibility as far as everybody was concerned, and it was a stimulating exercise.
An unusual story for Doctor Who, but a challenging one.
A one-off Doctor Who that maybe there should have been more of.
It was such an exciting and stimulating thing to work on.
I think everybody enjoyed it.
I certainly did, as I did most of my Doctor Who years.