Doctor Who - Documentary s07e02 Episode Script

Regenerations - From Black and White to Colour

FEMALE ANNOUNCER: This is BBC Television.
NARRATOR: In 1970, Doctor Who's new look was revealed to TVaudiences.
For the first time, it was in colour.
DERRICK SHERWIN: Doctor Who always came up for review at the end of each season.
And if we'd been a good boy and kept to our budgets and the shows had got reasonable numbers of viewers, then, of course, it would go straight on with the same damn budget, I would hasten to add.
The burden was really crippling, you know.
It was on, now what was it, 40 weeks out of 52, or something like that.
Something absolutely ridiculous.
It was like weekly rep.
That's how we treated it.
The actors came in, learned their lines, stood up, said them, didn't fall over the furniture and got off, and that was it.
It was very fast turnaround TV.
Considering how much they did, you know, and how many episodes they turned out in one year, I think it's astonishing that the quality was as good as it was.
It is a fact, Jamie, that I do tend to get involved with things.
Aye, you can say that again.
After Patrick announced that he was leaving, there was a general feeling that that would most likely be the end of the show.
I think the attitude was, "All right, we'll do a year and then we'll see.
" NARRATOR: Although Jon Pertwee's first season was Doctor Who's colour debut, colour television itself had been around for a while.
Perhaps, surprisingly, initial tests were made by John Logie Baird back in the 1930s.
But the BBC first experimented with colour TVin 1954.
MALE ANNOUNCER: This is the BBC Television service.
We now present from Studio A, Alexandra Palace, another programme in our series of experimental transmissions in colour.
NARRATOR: These tests were not wholly satisfactory and it wasn't until 10 years later and the introduction of the 625-line system, with the advent of BBC Two, that testing began in earnest.
There was quite an element of panic going on because people thought this was going to be so incredibly difficult.
Um, they were all talking about getting the right Kelvin temperature.
When it first started, colour, there was a great deal of excitement.
I don't know all the technical terms involved, but there were lots and lots of meetings between heads of departments of costume and make-up and design and lighting and all that.
There was a sort of resistance amongst many people.
There was a love of black and white.
And a kind of, "Well, if it goes into colour, "it'll somehow lose some of its mystery or something to do with its quality, "its rawness, its documentary feel," or whatever.
Which sounds very silly to say it now but this was very common.
And I think I was partly affected by that.
Cameramen were sent on extra courses to learn about the colour side.
And, so, we used to do these little studio tryouts in colour before it even appeared publicly.
One thing I remember was we all had to have colour eye tests.
And I remember going along to the doctor's bit of BBC at Wood Lane and shown a row of tiles which were all disordered and I had to arrange them in colour.
Starting at bright red from one end and down to the green at the other, or something.
And I did it, all this.
And he looked at me and said, "Michael, you're one of only two people in the BBC that we've done this with "who've you've got it absolutely right.
" So I thought, "Oh, good, I can handle colour television.
" I wish I still had the same ability.
I don't think I could do that now.
-(WOMAN SINGING) -Tone it down.
Tight in a bit, John.
I had been a colour photographer and was very aware of what effects you could get in composition with colour.
And I think that helped me.
On my very first production in colour, which was Thirty-Minute Theatre for Innes Lloyd, it was a story in which there was a very sexy woman.
And I put her in a bright red dress to give her a sort of sexy appearance and to make her very striking.
I don't know if it worked, it's probably a bit corny now, but I thought it was worth doing at the time.
I can remember doing one with a lovely director, one of my favourite directors, Jimmy Cellan Jones.
And we were in Studio One, I think it was.
Or quarter of a Studio One, it was a huge studio.
And trying out all the different colours and costumes and cameras were finding it difficult.
One of the problems of moving to colour was that, before we would go either on air or into recording, we had to have an hour and a half break for line-up.
So we could get all the faces looking the same tone.
There is a gentleman behind the scenes who's making sure that all the colours coordinate properly between shots.
And it was a very important role.
And they all had to be lined up, so that all the five cameras or six cameras, in some of the studios, would represent, as near as possible, the same flesh tones when you cut from one to another.
And that was a long break.
Before that, it'd only been an hour.
Just a quick supper break and back and into the thing.
And it made quite a difference.
I mean, it gave people another half hour to have a drink, which could be fatal.
(LAUGHING) NARRATOR: The implementation of colour impacted upon every department within the BBC.
ROGER CHEVELEY: Colour itself was not a problem, it was more the technicalities of lighting.
It needed more light.
Also, purely on the engineering side, of the electronic engineering and getting the colour registration.
Certain colours didn't behave quite as you thought they would to the naked eye.
Certain tones of blue used to come up maroon or something like that.
And it was a little bit learn as you go along.
With black and white, set's were more definite.
There were definite lines and definite colours, stronger colours.
But with colour, when we got moved into colour, then there was a more subtle changeover to the set looking not quite so conspicuous, if you like.
If you shot a black and white set for Z Cars, it would look very cheap in colour.
In black and white, it looked dead right.
CHEVELEY: We played fairly cautious, I think, when it started.
I did some of the first shows on colour, light entertainment.
Kept it fairly simple.
Again, I went for the limbo on that, and we used a lot of coloured lighting.
Scenery elements were dropped in in more abstract ways and just encouraged to try things out with new materials and pouring light through bits of shredded fibre glass or whatever it was, you know.
Some of them were not very clever ideas at the end of the day, but I did do a very, very early drama in colour called The Gambler with Edith Evans and some other nice people in it.
It was slower working, I think.
There was much more time spent discussing costumes and what people should look like and make-up and so forth and so on.
You have to wear this dark, dark make-up three inches thick because they said, at the time, make-up had to be different and all that.
Yeah, they did.
Aren't the lights much stronger? Therefore the make-up had to be heavier.
And it was a different feel.
I tended to use one or two of the same crews, if I could.
And talking to one of the crew, he said, "I think we ought to get more money "because we're now moving into proper television, now, with colour.
"And I know, the way I line up my shots, "what's a good shot and what's a bad shot, "and the lighting man will know likewise and the costume person and the make-up, "they'll all know that.
We should all get more money!" (LAUGHING) 'Cause it's going colour! They didn't.
In fact, when it came down to it.
Again, if you're using a few subtle shades of tone, it was difficult to guarantee you'd get those transferred but, again, if you're using a full colour photography, then it was fairly reliable.
So, I think people were rather more nervous than they needed to be.
NARRATOR: With the commitment made to produce Doctor Who in colour, everything had to change, including the title sequence.
LODGE: I was asked to work on the first colour Doctor Who.
I thought that because we'd got these amazing effects with black and white, this howl-round technique, I had a meeting with Ben Palmer and we were going to set something up with the new colour cameras.
And, in fact, they really didn't perform.
The kind of degenerating quality that was in the old camera, the image orthicon.
As the signal was being sent around, the image degenerated and this produced some of the effects.
So we thought, "Well, let's go back to black and white.
" They still had the cameras around, and we'll shoot it in black and white and then colorize it afterwards.
(DOCTOR WHO THEME) We set up the session and, again, from my past experience of knowing that graphic elements would somehow marshal the rather amorphous howl-round shapes.
I introduced, at the beginning, some concentric diamonds.
And it's probably obvious in the beginning, they're shaping up in a sort of, collecting in that kind of way.
We would have the Doctor's face.
So I had a high-contrast photograph made.
And I had it lit from the sides, primarily.
Very, very harshly.
So, there was a black space here and these pieces of light at the side were the things that then generated the blobby effect.
I also took a full colour photograph that would fit into that position.
To add colour to the black and white imagery, we used this bipack camera.
So, in the camera, we had raw colour negative laced up.
And that In contact with that was a black and white positive which was the positive of the recording of the black and white howl-round pattern.
And then the camera was pointing at a screen of tracing paper behind which were some coloured gels.
And we had tracing paper so that where the colours actually butted, they would, sort of, softly merge into each other.
So, we were putting this soft, merged colour through the black and white positive onto the negative and then we would wind the camera back and take away all that and we would put the colour photograph and line it up to the howl-round pattern in the camera and the viewfinder and insert that.
So, that's how we put the colour into the sequence.
NARRATOR: So, what other advantages did colour bring? FERGUSON: It was nicer to look at, richer to look at.
It certainly brought to Doctor Who, opportunities which had been very much denied it in the past, because with colour, came Colour Separation Overlay, CSO, which meant that the cameras and the post-production machinery could distinguish between parts of the picture, which in black and white you can't, there are shades of grey whereas the whole range of colour.
So, electronically, it became possible to do all sorts of new and exciting things with it.
SHERWIN: We thought, this was going to be rather good because we can actually make sets which are there, but not there.
They're just there by tricks, which was quite good.
And we experimented with some of the colours for clothes and what kind of greyscales the various colours produced.
I got involved in one of the very first Doctor Whos using Colour Separation Overlay.
It didn't work, really.
And that was Silurians.
Because we were intending to use lot of stuff in the caves as Colour Separation Overlay, when we couldn't.
I used it when they looked at the image of monsters and these kind of things.
We did intend to actually shoot some stuff with people moving about and the background of blue and overlaying pictures.
We tried it and I ditched the lot because you got this blue halo all the way around.
And it was time We didn't have time to get the lighting right and the gentleman who does all the tweaking downstairs There just wasn't time on it.
There never was enough time.
Never enough money, never enough time, on Doctor Who.
And that's when one needed time and money.
I spent an afternoon in the studio with Barry Letts who was the producer of the second two that I did.
And Barry had hired a studio for the afternoon and we'd ordered up all sorts of strange and wonderful things so that we could play with this new Colour Separation Overlay thing.
One of the things we did, I remember, was built a long, man-sized tray, about that deep, and we laid this poor fellow in it, we'd just hired some models in for the day.
And we slowly dropped blue dyed, polystyrene foam bits all over him with the camera looking at him.
And slowly, this person disappeared in bits.
And it was an effect that we did actually use.
And a number of other daft things like that.
Good gracious! NARRATOR: Of course, early colour TVsets were expensive.
So, what concessions were made to a population that was largely still watching in black and white? Colour was The black and white set was simply a greyscale.
Different colours were different parts of the greyscale.
We didn't really think about it.
If you got the colour right, and it didn't glare at you, we thought we had a great success.
And I remember seeing them in black and white because that's all that I could afford, until BBC gave me a colour set.
(LAUGHING) That was good.
They felt we had to look at them in colour.
Didn't make any difference to me.
It was the show I was looking at.
We were obviously constantly switching over.
In fact, there was always a black and white monitor up showing right beside the transmission the picture you are selecting and all the previews were matched as well.
No, there was a Care was taken in that, because obviously and quite rightly, the remit with the audience was you're not to take licence like that and just say, "Well, it's lovely in colour, dear, "and the sooner you buy a colour television set, "the better you're going to enjoy your TV.
" That was not really the right way to get people to pay their licence fees! Yeah, it certainly did take four or five years for people to get colour.
But that, I think, was more a question of keeping up with the Joneses than it would be better if you watch it in colour.
How do I know that you are not an imposter? Ah, but you don't.
You don't.
Only I know that.
DICKS: The main reaction to colour was that the BBC had this period of prosperity, when everybody was going out buying colour licenses.
Which was a great help to us because one of the things, one of the things Barry Letts says, who was my producer on the show, um, said that he found it a cheap show and left it an expensive one, 'cause he used to overspend every season, you see.
And, um Although he got a kind of formal rap over the knuckles, it wasn't that serious because there was plenty of money coming in.
You know, the BBC was reasonably prosperous.
And, eventually, I think he said to them, "Look! "Instead of, you know, ticking me off for overspending, "why don't you just give me a bigger budget? "And then we can kind of formalise what's actually happening.
" NARRATOR: Doctor Who had made its successful transition to colour.
But what if it had failed? Would the programme be fondly remembered? Certainly the end of Patrick Troughton, the figures started going up.
When we got to War Games and what not.
And then, Jon Pertwee's first one they shot up.
I think if Doctor Who had vanished, if they had actually taken it off, it probably would be remembered as a minor cult.
I think it probably would just have been, "Oh, that was a series they did years ago.
" I think you're right.
I think it probably would have seriously petered out.
I think it would still be remembered because things have a habit of developing a cult.
I mean even Adam Adamant, which looks very creaky, I think, there is a a small fan club for, I believe.
But Doctor Who by then would run long enough to create a fan club.
Several things happened at once.
Barry and I loved the show and worked hard at it, Pertwee was a great success and colour gave us a huge boost.
So, everything came together, you know, and we took off from there.