Doctor Who - Documentary s07e13 Episode Script

The UNIT Family (Part One)

1 Doctor Who was always in trouble for finance.
Producer Peter Bryant and script editor Derrick Sherwin came up with this idea of doing longer stories.
Well, they came up with two ideas, both bad in my view, but I had, you know, I'd just joined, I was junior assistant script editor.
I had no clout, you know.
I told them I didn't like it but they didn't listen.
And they came up with two ideas, which was to exile the Doctor to Earth so that all the stories could take place on Earth, which, of course, is cheaper than having to build an alien planet every serial.
And to do seven-part stories because you can spread the cost of some of the things, like props, sets and whatever, costumes, over a longer period and it saves you a little money.
Producing Doctor Who in those days was indeed a treadmill.
And we had to do 42 shows a year, 42 half-hours.
And to do that kind of turnaround, rehearsals, filming, recording, all had to be jammed into those few weeks that we had.
And 42 episodes is quite a lot.
All right, Benton, thank you.
If the Doctor was going to be on Earth, he had to have somewhere to live, some people to look after him, a source of income, a car, you know, all the things he needed.
So that led to the creation of the UNIT family, which, if you're going to put the Doctor on Earth, which you shouldn't do anyway, but if you are, that's a good way to do it.
-It's Colonel Lethbridge Stewart! -Brigadier now.
I've gone up in the world.
Of course, the Yetis! We met you in the That's right, McCrimmon, in the Underground.
Must be four years ago now We were bringing it down to Earth and making it very much a sort of Quatermass type concept, which, in my opinion, was a good idea.
It needed taking out of fantasyland in space with weird psychedelic monsters with one arm.
I felt we'd had enough of that.
And we want to get down to reality and Quatermass-y stories again, and that was the beginning of that period.
Benton, what's happening? What's happening? Douglas Camfield interviewed me for a story with William Hartnell called The Crusade.
And he interviewed me for the part of Richard Coeur de Lion but Julian Glover was much better casting for it and he got it.
But Douglas must have remembered me because when he was casting The Daleks' Master Plan, he cast me for that.
I only lasted four episodes.
It's the Daleks, they're using the flame guns.
I think they're gonna burn down the jungle.
He was a space agent, 007 of outer space possibly.
And I was killed off by Jon Pertwee's first wife, Jean Marsh, alias Sara Kingdom.
And then about a year or so later, I think it was about a year later, Douglas We got on very well.
And he was doing a thriller serial called Watch the Birdies, in which he cast me as a rather sexy-looking photographer.
I suppose I was in those days.
It was a good thriller and I enjoyed that.
And then his next Doctor Who story came, The Web of Fear.
He asked me to play, because he thought I was typical army, although when I was in the army, I was only a private.
He'd been a lieutenant, he was very senior to what I would have been.
And he asked me to play a captain, Captain Knight in The Web of Fear, who also gets killed off.
And then the actor who was going to play Colonel Lethbridge Stewart, David Langton, at the last moment couldn't do it, so he had to bow out.
So Douglas rang my agent and said, ''Would Nick mind playing the Colonel rather than the Captain?'' And I thought, ''No, promotion's fine.
'' Money was the same.
Of course, BBC, naturally.
There's nothing wrong with that.
So I readily agreed.
Had David Langton taken that part, my life in the last 40 years would have been massively different.
When I arrived at the BBC, they Web of Fear was going through its final post-production stages.
I remember they were desperately trying to make the roar of the Yeti sound less like a flushing toilet, without any great success 'cause it still made this sort of whooshing noise at the end.
The Yeti! (SCREAMING) The Yetis were intended to strike fear and terror into the hearts of youngsters watching from behind the couch, as everybody who was a fan now says they did.
And they came to the Havoc agency and they said, ''We don't particularly want stuntmen, but we want big men.
''How many big men have you got? And we'll pay them a bit extra ''if they'll run around in these outfits.
'' You see? And, of course, the outfits made them look like teddy bears.
Worse than that, it made them look like very big teddy bears! And when we were chasing them about and banging guns at them, we could hardly keep a straight face, to be honest with you.
I was a walk-on.
If you were a good walk-on and really did your job I used to study walking on because that's as far as I thought I would get in those days.
The old low self-esteem the average British person has.
And I played the Yeti, and we were on location in Covent Garden.
Frazer Hines and I got on awfully well, we had the same sense of humour, and I made Pat Troughton laugh.
Well, once you make the leading man laugh, you're kind of in, although I wouldn't have known that at the time.
I was so busy just surviving in my own head.
But what happened is, Frazer went out Remember when Come Dancing was incredibly popular? Frazer put a number on my back one day, like number 58, and Pat Troughton did the commentary and it said something like, ''Frazer Hines is from Scotland, dancing with his partner, the Yeti from Gallifrey, ''and they're doing the waltz and the quick step.
'' Frazer and I did a dance round Covent Garden.
It drew a huge crowd.
And I believe that was when, whatever it was John Woods had, or John Levene had, I became John Levene later Whatever the magic I had, I think they saw it.
WARE: Douglas Camfield was an ace.
He really was, he Tremendous enthusiasm.
I remember on one day's filming we did, he got 54 set-ups in the can.
54 set-ups.
So it was a joy to work with him because there was just so much momentum.
He was a very physical man himself, he skied, he did martial arts, he rode horseback, he did archery.
And he just had this tremendous enthusiasm which would carry you along.
He was trained as a cameraman originally and his camera work was second to none.
I mean, for example, in The Web of Fear, we had to do a lot of scenes in the Underground.
Well, we asked London Transport if we could film in the Underground and they said, ''No, you can't.
It's far too dangerous.
''And they were quite right.
So when the thing came on air and was seen, by the people of the London Underground, they rang up in fury at the BBC and said, ''How dare you? You've disobeyed us.
'' But we hadn't at all.
It was Douglas, who's so clever with the camera, and he'd done parts and sections of the Underground, shot them one way, shot them the other way.
So it looked as though it really was in the Underground.
It was tremendously lifelike.
MAN: It's travelling fast but we stand a good chance of picking it off.
Over.
How about the Cyber spaceship? Is that still there? Because I looked, they thought I looked rather too young to be a brigadier, which actually doesn't necessarily apply, but maybe I did, because I usually look younger than I am.
And they thought since I looked a bit young, I ought to have moustache.
It was Douglas who said, ''Look, you've got to have a moustache.
'' And then I thought, ''Right'' Now, when I grow a moustache, I've grown them for stage work, I always thought the moustache, it didn't grow military-looking enough.
I thought it was rather too classical.
So because of that, I decided to have a false moustache, which produced a lot of problems in the rest of my time in Doctor Who.
I had so many moustaches in Doctor Who, the false ones.
You still making a nonsense of it, Doctor, in your What was it called? -Tardis? -Yes, we're still travelling.
DICKS: Having decided that the Doctor would be exiled to Earth, there was a question of what to do with him.
It wasn't like a visit to a planet and off again, he had to have some kind of setting.
And it was Derrick, Derrick Sherwin, who came up with the idea of UNIT, and of using Nick Courtney.
I was very flattered that Dougie and Peter Bryant, who was a producer, were so very, very, very complimentary to me about a performance which I thought was pretty ordinary in The Web.
I mean, it was an army officer.
But they must have thought I had got this tremendous verisimilitude.
I know my father was in the He was in the army and he was an army officer, but nevertheless.
And so what persuaded them, this idea, when they were going to do the invasion of the Cybermen, to try, as a dummy run, to see if the idea of the Doctor, who was going to be exiled to Earth and then had to work with an organisation who were gonna be his allies, so the whole idea of UNIT was born.
I think they decided to make it the United Nations task force simply in the spirit of internationalism.
And, you know, it was a bit more politically correct than the British Secret Service, you know, to say it was a world organisation.
Nick was always on the telephone to Geneva, though we never actually went there or anything.
You can override my authority but not that of UNIT Central Command.
I am sending a full report to them in Geneva.
I remember, because I had a romantic inclination, I remember thinking, ''Gosh, will we actually go to Geneva?'' Silly me.
Will we go to Geneva to shoot some shots? Captain Turner to UNIT Control.
Come in Control, do you read me? Loud and clear.
Hang on, sir.
We were doing The Invasion and another actor, whose name I cannot draw out of the hat, was late for two rehearsal days and two studio days.
And Douglas, I remember phoning Equity, I remember the phone call, they sacked him.
And it turned out that we had a scene, I believe I was with three other soldiers, a very tall chap who was playing, I think, the lieutenant, but if you see the scene, you'll see me at the very back.
And I remember, as an extra, thinking it's pointless.
I used to watch other extras kind of not do much.
They thought they just had to stand there.
And Patrick Troughton had always said to me, ''You have an interesting face, John, use it.
'' Well, I wouldn't have known that.
Often in life you don't know things unless you're informed.
They said to me, ''Right,John, we want you to be in the background of this scene.
'' And then within 24 hours I remember Douglas called me into his office and he said, ''Right, John, if you can speak'' In other words, if you can act Well, I'd not been to drama school, I'm not ashamed to admit that now, I had no voice lessons, and I was a bit like Wiltshire then 'cause I come from Salisbury like, and I thought, well, you can hardly go on television saying, ''Oh, excuse me, Doctor, what you doing with that bit of straw?'' So I remember changing my accent a little.
-Look, at least let's call the Doctor up first.
-Scared, Jamie? No! I don't even know what we're gonna do.
And I remember my first line was something like Frazer Hines had said something to me, ''Women.
'' UNIT transport car 23 report in.
Over.
Car 23 to UNIT command.
Receiving you, over.
When I looked at it just the other day, I realised how unprepared I was to be a verbal actor.
Meaning, extra work I'd become quite good at, because of the face acting.
Anyway, that's how it started.
I never dreamed I thought it would be just for one story.
David Whitaker was supposed to write it, but he couldn't, he was totally unavailable, and we wanted to do this story, which Kit Pedler had outlined on the back of a matchbox, the basic story.
But, again, I had to write it because I was the only one who knew about Cybermen.
And by this time we'd got past the hassle of commissioning yourself, it was a necessity.
And any case, it was the beginning of the Doctor coming down to Earth and the start of UNIT.
Bazooka.
I think Douglas, having been in the army himself as I say, he did organise his rehearsals like a military operation, there's no doubt about it.
He'd have his table there.
He'd have all his actors in that particular shot.
He wanted them there, there and everywhere.
LEVENE: Douglas gave me the outline and he let me know that my rank meant that I would be doing the shooting and the fighting.
-Benton, grenade! -Coming, sir.
I got out of the Jeep when we pulled up to the manhole where I eventually threw a hand grenade down, and my father being a war hero, he thought I was a bit of a pansy because I had to throw it in like this.
Because, you know, when you throw a grenade over a long distance, you can throw it.
But when you're dropping it down a manhole, you have to just toss it in.
Somehow or other Douglas Camfield, the director, managed to persuade some Somebody from the Ministry of Defence to lend us some soldiers.
So we were lent a couple of squads of soldiers who arrived in lorries and jumped out and rushed round with their rifles, you know.
I don't think they did much more than that, but we probably got them free, or cheap, so it solved the extras problem.
Follow me! LEVENE: I mean, how lucky can an actor get? You do a year or two or three stories with Patrick Troughton, and then we have a new Doctor.
And I remember waiting with bated breath.
Was he going to be a horrible man that would take away this little security blanket that I'd built up with Pat and Frazer and Wendy Padbury? And I remember the morning, Jon Pertwee is the new Doctor.
And I remember thinking, ''Wow, my mum and dad loved him.
'' Smith.
Doctor John Smith.
They'd planned to make the Brigadier and UNI a regular feature when Jon Pertwee took over.
So it was a wonderful surprise for me because it was a two-year contract, which was perfect timing since my daughter had just been born and it's very good to have solid work for a time if you've got another mouth to feed.
Working with Jon Pertwee was such a boon for me.
I first met him in the make-up room before we started.
Very easy, and he must have been a little bit nervous, too, because it was his first story.
And he'd been in mostly light comedy.
Which I think was a tremendous advantage for Doctor Who because here was a light-comedy actor who actually was very serious in the role, but with a twinkle in his eye.
Jon insisted that to have a happy crew and a happy cast, you must have a little laugh on the way.
There were several times that he was told off for that, but he did insist.
And, of course, I think it shows.
You can see we were a band of jolly men.
JOHN: Jon was one of those actors who lifts everybody else up.
And he was very good in rehearsal with new cast coming in, of making them feel welcome.
He was very proprietorial about his time when he was the Doctor.
He wanted everything to be exactly right, from the scenery, from the props, from everything.
When you got into studio in those days, the technical side had priority because we didn't have long and you had to get it right.
So the acting would sometimes be secondary.
And Jon was wonderful.
He was not popular, but he would stop and say, ''No, we need to go again for the actors.
'' And that was wonderful for me.
He wasn't selfish at all.
In fact, he wanted everyone else to look right.
So much so that one day I'd just bought a new pair of shoes, which I thought were rather smart.
And I thought that would be the Brigadier's shoes, you know, very nice brown shoes.
And I said, ''Jon, what do you think of these shoes?'' And he looked down at them and he sort of went, ''No, no, no, no, no.
No, the Brigadier doesn't wear shoes like that.
'' And I thought, ''Well, why doesn't he mind his own business? It's my wardrobe anyway.
'' But, of course, he was absolutely right.
The Brigadier wouldn't have worn those shoes.
They were quite incorrect.
-How do I know that you're not an impostor? -Ah, but you don't.
You don't.
Only I know that.
COURTNEY: I think he was quite happy with the idea of UNIT.
Since he was exiled to Earth And although they had this frisson between the Brigadier and the Doctor often, you know, exhausting each other's patience for one reason or another, they remained firm allies and firm friends that trust each other.
Wake up! I inherited UNIT from Derrick Sherwin and Peter Bryant.
I mean, they worked together closely on working it out.
It was Derrick's idea and he was producer of the Spearhead from Space.
I liked the UNIT setup and I was pleased to develop it and go along with it, even after the first season.
The only snag was that it was apt to make the shows all a bit the same.
I do remember being told, not only about Liz's character, but that Jon was coming on board and they wanted to upgrade it, not for children only, but for adults as well.
And we were going to be colour for the first time.
Alien invaders? Little blue men with three heads? I had been at the National Theatre under the direction of Laurence Olivier for four years and wrote to all these television people, and I think they were so scared of having a person in classical, sort of arty things, that nobody would give me even an interview.
So I went and had a photograph taken of myself in a bikini, and sent that round.
And I didn't send it to Derrick Sherwin and Peter Bryant, who were the then producers, but Jimmy Cellan Jones got one and he gave it to them 'cause he knew they were looking for the girl.
I had no idea.
So I went in to see them and I didn't even have to audition.
So it was brilliant.
It was already decided before I joined that the Doctor's assistant, if you can call it that, hardly a companion, Dr Liz Shaw, would be a member of UNIT.
Liz was described to me as a scientist from Cambridge who had every PhD in the book.
I don't know how she managed it at that age.
And they needed an all-rounder, UNIT.
She was very knowledgeable and on a par with the Doctor, where often the Doctor's companions were not on his wavelength particularly.
There's a scene at the beginning where the Brigadier recruits her, very much against her will, you know, she doesn't want to do it and she's always a bit sort of stroppy about it.
-I was even searched.
-Security.
Rather amusing, don't you think? No, you don't.
And my first scene was with Brigadier Lethbridge Stewart.
I looked at it the other day and saw myself arriving for the interview with Nick, and it was done, I think, under St Pancras or King's Cross station.
And my daughter said, ''You look so calm and cool,'' and I said, ''I was feeling so nervous!'' -We're not exactly spies here at UNIT.
-Then what do you do, exactly? We deal with the odd.
The unexplained.
They're living on Earth, or even beyond.
With Liz Shaw, she was a very clever scientist so she could have a scientific discussion with the Doctor about it, but it didn't explain to the audience what was going on.
So very, very, soon I decided that the character should be changed.
A very old friend of mine was Malcolm Hulke and when I told Mac this new setup, he thought for a bit and said, ''Well, you've got two stories, Terrance, ''alien invasion or mad scientist.
'' And if you think about it, it's true.
The other one is a soldier.
He is dangerous.
Kill him.
The Silurians was a way of frustrating that, you know, because I wanted to show Mac there was some other way.
And that was that the aliens had been there all along.
They were here before us, you see.
So I said, ''There, there's the story.
Go away and write that.
'' So Mac did the Silurians.
All mimsy were the borogoves And the mome Doctor.
LETTS: I decided that Liz Shaw would be changed.
And my first thoughts were, well, let's try and change Liz Shaw a bit and sort of ease it in that direction.
Which is why her rather severe clothes in the first one, were changed to rather '60-ish, well, early '70s gear for the Silurians.
It would make a nice trip for us.
Oh, we could visit the caves.
I wanted to wear trousers to go down into the caves.
''Oh, no, no.
You got to wear the short mini and these high boots.
'' And I said, ''But you never would if you were potholing.
'' And when I came on set with the high boots and the little mini, Jon said, ''What are you doing in those?'' I said, ''They won't let me wear trousers, Jon.
'' ''Oh, well, we'll see about that,'' says Jon.
And he got me into a boiler suit.
Then it becomes more real and people can believe it.
Now, I don't think you would ever have that trouble today.
-Corporal Nutting? -Sir.
-Everything set up? -Yes, sir.
Give them time to get clear and then set off those explosive charges.
I want that Silurian base sealed permanently.
The Doctor and the Brigadier always tended to clash on how they should deal with the particular alien menace.
And the Brigadier, naturally enough, always went for the military solution, you see, which was to shoot it or blow it up.
The first executive decision I made as a producer was at the very end of the filming.
The, um The Brigadier solves the problem by blowing up the Silurians, or trapping them in the ground by blowing up their headquarters or whatever.
And the Doctor sees this, sees that this has happened, and is devastated, and very angry that the Brig should have done it.
The Brigadier.
He's blown up the Silurian base.
In the original script, there was some line like, ''But that's a terrible thing to do.
'' ''Doesn't the Brigadier realise how advanced they were scientifically? ''How much they could have taught human kind?'' And, ''What a thing to do.
'' And I said, ''Well, no, that's wrong.
'' What it should be is, ''But that's murder.
'' Just because people have green skin and look like reptiles, or are reptiles, that's no reason to kill them.
The government were frightened.
They just couldn't take the risk.
That's murder.
They were intelligent alien beings.
A whole race of them.
He's just wiped them out.
COURTNEY: I think that the Brigadier was quite right to do what he did.
He'd lost a lot of lives by these Silurians, and that was his job, to save lives.
And there was only one way to get rid of them and it was by the military might, which did get rid of them.
It didn't get rid of many other aliens the Brigadier was to meet.
The Doctor always looks for a non-violent, peaceful solution.
He never finds it, you know, but he always tries.
He always tries to avoid violence if he can.
I feel very strongly that About right and wrong.
And it's got nothing to do with religion.
It's got nothing to do with I'm Buddhist inclined or whatever.
It's a deep-down feeling.
And so I had this very, very firmly in my conscious, consciousness, as a producer right from the start.
That was the first aspect of it.
And I was pleased to be able to continue this through the later seasons.
And this thing of the Brigadier wanting to blow things up and the Doctor saying, ''No, no, no, we mustn't.
We've got to find a better answer, '' was something that cropped up over and over again.
It went along with the general attitude that I hoped that we had right the way through that it wasn't just that the Doctor was a knight errant fighting evil but that we the Doctor Who team, the Doctor Who enterprise, were on the side of the right guys, the moral guys, rather than the ones who had the biggest fists or the biggest weapons.
LETTS: I remember in Ambassadors of Death, Mike Ferguson, who was the director, was very keen to use Derek Ware's team of stuntmen.
They were all very experienced stuntmen, but they'd got together to form a team at Derek's instigation.
And so Derek had this organisation which he called Havoc.
I brought in a lot of new faces and young faces.
And as a direct result of this, I got a lot of work because they got lots and lots, lots and lots of enthusiasm.
It was great because not only did you have a team of extremely experienced stuntmen but because we could use them again and again, we all got to know them, we got to like them.
People like Billy Horrigan, and Alan Chuntz and Stuart Fell.
And they became friends and became part of the Doctor Who team.
And it was lovely to use them.
The fight in the warehouse on The Ambassadors of Death was unique in that To the best of my recollection, they actually gave me two days to put it all together.
There were at least 1 7 people involved, maybe 20, plus assorted artists.
And they really wanted one of those monster punch-ups like you used to see in the old 1 932 gangster movies.
We had people pitching off crates of booze.
We had people falling down stairs.
We had people pitching over the rails of gantries.
And all sorts of wonderful props, break-away bits of balsa wood, broken bottles to throw around and so on and so forth.
I had quite a lot of Well, I suppose you could call them stunts.
And I was three months pregnant, which only I knew about.
And today I would say, ''What are you doing?'' I do remember running across a football field and I never thought I was very good at running at school.
And all the camera crew said, ''Oh, that was good,'' and that really sort of made me feel really good.
'Cause I thought, ''Well, they don't know I'm three months gone and I'm running across this football field, ''and I was hopeless at school, but these guys think I've got style ''and that's all that matters.
'' JOHN: We went to Marlow, to the weir.
Where you had to run along the weir, it was wood.
And it was wet wood.
And if anyone's ever run on wet wood, it is very slippery.
It was quite tricky, you know.
A weir is always very dangerous, because it's the changing tides and there's always an undertow there.
So that was the reason we had a stunt-double for her.
Dear Roy Scammell, who was one of the Havoc action men, donned the wig and a big white hat, I think, I don't know if he had it with that, and did this flip over the side.
But then I myself was let down with my feet in the water, and brought up by these two guys.
She did a lot of the running about under very slippery conditions.
And as always, it was either shot in the winter or something, or there had been heavy rain the night before, and it was very hard going.
And, sadly, absolutely none of Doctor Who's assistants were dressed for doing much in the way of action.
Lethbridge Stewart.
Sergeant Benton here, sir.
I had a fan letter from 640 women from a textile factory in Leeds.
Had kind of They liked Benton.
And they wrote and said, ''We want more of Benton.
'' LEVENE: When I was doing it, I didn't feel very capable.
When you don't go to drama school, or do theatre or stage or voice lessons, you feel incompetent in the face of Jon Pertwee, Nicholas Courtney and all the visiting actors.
Morning, sir.
It's the best they could do us on such short notice.
-Have you contacted the Doctor? -He's on his way over, sir.
-Anything on Slocum? -No, sir, the lads are still looking.
DICKS: He was terrifically keen.
He's still terrifically keen today.
You know, he was young and enthusiastic, and it's not an enormously demanding part, you know.
And you could get some humour out of the character and about the way the others treat him, you know.
Good heavens.
Which one's you? Fifth from the left, third row.
Yes, well, if it's true, I can see why you grew that moustache.
Once I had gotten over my nerves and my fear, which I honestly admit I had, I used to sometimes go in my dressing room and cry with the frustration of the thought that I was letting them down.
But it was Barry Letts that came up to me one day and he said, quote, ''John, you're a wonderful young man, you work so hard, ''you've got to get rid of this fear that people don't like you.
'' Well, once I got that into my soul and my heart, suddenly I became confident.
Suddenly Jon Pertwee said, ''John, we've got a great scene together.
'' And we used to rehearse it on the way in the car or I'd go to his home at the weekend.
Tell me have you ever seen anything like this before? So I was called back, I think, because someone had said, ''Get John Woods back.
He makes a great soldier.
'' I think that's what happened.
You need help.
LETTS: It was nothing to do with the actress, Carrie John.
She's a very good actress.
But, nevertheless, I had to say to her, ''I'm sorry, but we're not going to ask you to come back.
'' Caroline John is a very fine actress, but basically she's a serious actress, you know, she needs a proper part.
And being the Doctor's companion is not a very good part for the girl, you know.
Because she has to hang around and be rescued by the Doctor, you know.
Attention! Attention! Countdown and drilling stopped at minus 35 seconds.
I think there was a sort of party or do afterwards and there was a knock on the door and Barry came in and said they were looking for a new girl.
Now, Barry didn't know, and I should have admitted it then and said, ''Well, Barry that suits me fine ''because I'm going to be four months pregnant by the end of this story ''and it's been quite difficult hiding it from everybody.
'' Instead, I was sort of taken back a bit, I suppose.
I didn't understand why he dropped me, apart from the fact that I read later in a mag In Doctor Who Magazine, I think, that he thought Liz Shaw was clever by half.
This show is the Doctor's, you see.
The show is the Doctor.
He's the centre of everything and everybody else is a kind of satellite.
She'd have gone back to her work.
Maybe she would have married and had kids like I did.
But, no, she was very wrapped up in her world of finding out how things stick.
I think if you're in that way inclined, you're not going to stop because you're no longer doing working for UNIT.
I should think she was relieved.
She didn't have to put up with these crass soldiers.