Doctor Who - Documentary s08e11 Episode Script

Axon Stations

(MAN SCREAMING) UFO, sir, coming in fast.
Having seen Doctor Who on television, we thought this is a sci-fi show, expensive, you know, and we just didn't think about things like budget.
More of a cry for help than a threat, wouldn't you say? I kind of thought, "How on earth are they going to do all this?" Doctor, I can't move! There's something about Bob and Dave's prose.
Barry used to say it was like taking LSD.
Slowly we will consume every particle of energy.
It very much arose out of a psychedelic influence on the '60s and '70s.
'Cause everything looked, actually, a little bit like a very good trip.
Well, this is a fine welcome.
(DOCTOR WHO THEME) I met Dave Martin in Bristol when I ran a late-night shop and the last customer in was always this tall chap.
He was always after Gauloises, which I kept in especially for, and we just got to chatting at the end of the evening.
He was in advertising and, you know, quite well-known in advertising and then we started talking what we'd like to do and I said, "I'd love to do "a film script.
" And he said, "Well, let's do one, then.
" We decided to do a story about Keith Floyd, who was a friend of ours, who became, of course, the famous chef.
But in his early days he was in the army and he told us the most incredible story of his officer training, which we thought would make a fantastic script.
So we wrote it.
That was the first one we'd done, actually and we sent it off to BBC London.
The script arrived on my desk, you know, and they go in a pile, and I eventually got round to reading it.
And it was a comedy about National Servicemen.
I mean The story I always tell is I kept waiting for the Doctor to turn up and he wasn't in it.
But, in fact, I could see, straight away, it was not a Doctor Who script.
But it was very funny, you know, it made me laugh out loud several times.
BAKER: We had a phone call from Terrance Dicks, who said that he was interested because they'd all read it at their office and they thought it was hilarious and that they were interested in doing it, and would we like to come and see them? So we came to London to see them and we discovered that really they were actually the editors and producers of Doctor Who.
And through a boozy lunch, they finally asked us to write one to which we said, "Okay, fine".
(DOCTOR WHO THEME) The first outline we sent to Terrance was called "The Gift", which entailed having a giant skull land in Hyde Park, which, of course, was rejected immediately because it was one of those ridiculous things that we didn't know that they couldn't do this sort of thing.
Brigadier, what's going on here? An unidentified flying object appears to be heading for Earth, Mr Chinn.
I think the end of it was a spaceship crashing on Earth with the pilot mutating into a giant carrot.
And that was one of the more sensible ideas, as it were.
And it makes your head spin, it really, really does.
And, um But, you know, it had good things in it.
We would like to stay.
Well Until our nutrition and energy cycles have been fully replenished.
In return, according to your custom, we offer a gift.
The gift, of course, was the idea of Axos, anyway.
That they were nice, kind, wonderful people who come to land on Earth by mistake, or they were in need of help, and that that was a bit of a change from the sort of horrible monsters that come out of the sea or come out of the sky.
DICKS: I discussed it with Barry and I said, "I still think these lads have got potential "but they're going to need a lot of work.
" And why I did it, I don't know, I must have been mad.
So we got them in again and talked it through with them and we got a slightly less crazy storyline, but still absolutely impossible.
The claws of Axos are already deeply embedded in the Earth's carcass.
Soon it'll activate its nutrition cycle and the feast will begin.
And it evolved into "Claws of Axos", via many other very expensive mistakes.
But it was a wonderful challenge, and it was an exciting time at the BBC because all sorts of new technology was becoming available and like all directors, it's a way of being very, very creative, which you don't usually get when you're directing.
When you're directing something like Z Cars, yes, it's about police procedure, it's heavy going, but it's great stuff and it's great drama.
But there's nothing very much that the director can do to put some kind of mark onto it, it's already established.
Whereas the nice thing about Doctor Who is every time you visit it, it's yours for the duration.
It's what you want to make of that particular story.
UFO bearing two-zero-niner.
Five hundred miles and closing.
There were a lot of locations needed for the story.
Somewhere on the southeast coast, I should imagine.
But we were very fortunate that we hit on all the The location manager found exactly the right place.
The essence of the story is that the aliens have come down and want to tap into a huge power source.
Dungeness was, at the time, the biggest nuclear reactor system that there was in the country.
It seemed a very good option.
And around it were all sorts of other places that we could use in other parts of the story, so we based ourselves in or near Dungeness for the whole five days that we were down there.
On the recce day, it was clear blue sky, the sun was shining, there was this huge building, very, very impressive.
And coming out from the Dungeness reactor were these huge swags of cable about that thick.
Huge, swagging from pole to pole and then going off to feed the whole of the country with nuclear-generated electricity.
And it looked absolutely splendid.
I thought, "This is terrific, this is really going to "We could grab on, do all this, show all these" Anyway, um, we got down there to start our filming, and we got out of the coach and thick fog, absolutely thick fog.
And snow on the ground, snow that had lain there for a while, which was beginning to deteriorate.
And, uh, I didn't really know what to do.
(CHUCKLING) So we were committed to filming quite difficult stuff.
On that first memorable day, the star was not Doctor Who or any assistants or anybody else.
It was a wonderful actor, stuntman called Derek Ware, who I'd worked with quite a bit before.
And Derek was also an actor.
And he really relished this role of Pigbin Josh, this terrible, strange character, this tramp figure.
It's a bit like Buster Keaton, I always think, looking at it.
The first I heard of Pigbin Josh was that I was going to have to ride a bike and crash it into a river.
And they were going to be filming it on the fourth of January.
(SCREAMING) I had prepared for the stunt by putting on a wetsuit.
And I was clad in that wetsuit, uh, alternately sweating and shivering until 4:00 in the afternoon.
The river was warmer than the rest of the atmosphere had been all day.
Pigbin Josh came from a character that Dave and I used to meet in the pub, our local, down at Hotwells in Bristol, and he was a most incredible man who used to walk around with one those big upright prams.
And in it, looking out, was a dog.
And he was a strange sort of character and he just spoke in this kind of gruff voice.
(MUMBLING INDISTINCTLY) You could never understand what he was saying.
So, I put on a sort of what was called in those days, Mummerfordshire voice, which was, "Ooh-arr.
" Ooh-arr.
"Ooh-arr.
" Ooh-arr.
Which, of course, was just absolute nonsense.
But somehow, when it appeared on the screen, the kids loved it.
FERGUSON: I always thought he should've had his own series.
I don't know quite what his stories would've been, but it would have been very interesting to try and create something for him.
(GROANING) (SOLDIER SHOUTING) On the second day, it wasn't just Pigbin Josh any more, it was Doctor Who and the whole entourage of Brigadiers and all sorts of people.
Right, gentlemen, shall we go in? Mostly, they were going to spend their day going in and out of the, uh, the big mouth of the whatever it is.
I took one look at the spaceship that opened, looking like a part of female anatomy.
I don't know how else to describe it.
And I looked at Jon and I said, "Have I got to go in there?" He said, "Yes.
" It was a fun day, except that it was extremely cold and anybody who's been anywhere near a film crew will know that you spend far more time standing around doing nothing than doing than you spend doing anything at all.
MANNING: I don't think I will ever forget how cold I was.
I was absolutely blue with the cold.
Oh, I think the make-up people spent a lot of time going around trying to put the pink back on some very blue faces.
MANNING: What little dialogue I had in all those episodes, most of my dialogue had to be cut because my teeth were chattering.
There were people literally starting up the engines of the car and leaning against cars, you know, like pussycats do when you turn the engine off, they go and lie down, just to get some warmth.
Um, you know, anything.
But for me, there was just not one part of me that could get warm.
If it hadn't been for Jon's cloak and the fact that Jon was so much taller and bigger than me, he literally could envelop me to keep me warm.
It was cold.
But directors never notice that.
We just have nips of, uh, Scotch.
Barry and I did go down to Dungeness where they were filming in absolutely awful weather conditions.
There was cold and wind and gales and God knows what.
And I said to Barry afterwards, "It reminds me of the First World War stories.
" Where the generals come down from their chateau and they visit the troops on the frontline in the mud and the blood and the hail of bullets and say, "Well done, chaps, you're doing a terribly good job.
" Then they get back in their staff car and go back to the hotel and have a drink and a lunch.
It was a bit like that.
But the weather you can't control.
If you're unlucky with the weather, you're unlucky with the weather.
And that they certainly were.
We couldn't have had it worse.
Every day was totally different.
We had fog the first day, we had this freezing, freezing lying snow the following day.
I think it rained on one of the days, and I'm not sure it wasn't the next day, which took all the snow away, so there was another continuity problem.
And then on the last day, if I remember right, the sun came out and it shone brilliantly.
And if only it'd been like that every day, it would've all been a lot better.
He was handling the thing very well, really, because things were going wrong.
I mean, it wasn't working smoothly and his schedule was out of the window.
And he handled it very well, I think.
But there was a lot of pressure on him.
FERGUSON: I think what happened as far as the Axon monsters themselves, as opposed to the good-looking ones, was that a guy called Jules Baker, and I think his partner, ran a company where they did sort of designer costumes for special occasions once in a while.
I think it was called Event Suits.
And I remember going down and meeting them.
And they had heard about the Axons and the sort of thing that was obviously necessary.
There would be a sort of stringy, spaghetti-like strange look to it.
They had devised a way of combining foam rubber with a well-known brand of rubber glue.
And kind of rolling it, so that when the glue hardened, it would still be flexible but it formed the foam rubber into a particular shape.
And then they painted it and whatever.
So they got the job and they came up with these amazing, amazing suits.
I suppose for the fellows who were inside those suits, it must've been something of a blessing.
While the rest of us were all freezing to death, they were enclosed in a huge great suit of rubber.
When you heard the word "wrap", you've never seen so many happy people in your life.
Normally, you know, you have a nice little Everybody wanted out of there.
Jon and I got straight in that car.
(LAUGHING) "Costumes?" "No, you can't have the costumes back.
" I couldn't even think of taking anything off.
Jon travelled home in his Doctor Who frilly shirt and thingy.
You know, I went home wrapped in a blanket.
And we sort of amused ourselves by singing and telling each other ridiculous stories all the way home.
Because by this time we'd gone a bit bonkers.
With filming, you don't actually see the results till some time later, you see what's called the rushes.
And when we saw the rushes, it was obvious that they didn't match up.
Because things that were supposed to happen on the same day, but were shot in different days, didn't make sense.
You made sudden changes.
And Barry was worried about this and I said, "Don't worry, Barry, "I'll cover it with a line.
" And I gave a line to Corporal Bell, I think.
There's a report in from the Met Office, sir.
There are freak weather conditions over the whole area.
Explain.
Sudden snowstorms, sir.
Dense fogs covering the area.
You know, we more or less got away with it.
When we'd finished filming, we went back to London and rehearsed for I think a fortnight to do two episodes.
And this is when Bernard Holley, who plays the beautiful gilt Axon came down.
Well, gentlemen, there's your enemy.
I walked into that rehearsal room for the very first time to meet the cast and to start my rehearsals.
But I knew they'd been away on location in Dungeness.
And I knew that they had really, really, really bad weather conditions.
I thought, "Lucky old me.
" MANNING: Bernard Holley, I was a bit of a fan, actually.
And he was a terribly handsome man, still is.
And, well, of course, one didn't realise quite what he was going to look like.
It's all right, my dear, don't be frightened.
So I'm working with this really handsome, butch-looking dude.
(LAUGHING) Until the day we got into the studio and he came out in this this sort of camouflage catsuit.
That dreadful kind of glammy, rocky kind of It was so bizarre.
And he looked a bit like a pale giraffe.
Look, Jo, don't worry, the same thing happened to me when I first came in here.
The costume of Axos basically was just one large leotard.
I'd pulled it on, pulled it up and it was fixed at the back somehow.
The make-up then took over, they had to do my hands, obviously, and my face.
Now, the eyes were simply two ping pong balls that they cut in half, cut a hole in, and put some gauze over so I could see.
When I looked in the mirror at Bernard Holley dressed as Mr Axos, I think I laughed.
I thought, "Am I really going to get away with this?"I said to the girls.
And they said, "No it looks great.
" They had to work out what they were going to do with his bits and pieces.
And you know, the little dangly things that chaps have to tuck away when wearing leotards.
Now, I don't think he was a man who tried on many pairs of leotards in his life.
I have a feeling that he did what drag queens did.
I think he tucked it all between his legs and hoped for the best, which is why he had that slightly wacky walk.
I must make my report to the Minister.
He was wearing this costume, which we all thought was rather brave, and also it was an extraordinary thing.
I was so glad I was wearing a suit, that's all I will say.
I kept noticing the zip up the back, which was a little bit of a strange thing, but I don't think children noticed it at all.
I can't tell you, I was crying with laughter, which was very unfair, but we all know now what a beautiful bottom Bernard Holley had.
I certainly do.
GRIST: The set was extraordinary, really.
It was a very sort of flexible, fluid kind of set with a lot of colour, and there was a lot of movement involved.
I must say, this place is full of surprises.
Let's see what else we can find.
To give the feel that it was a living organism, I think there were parts of the set which kind of moved in and out, in and out a little bit to give the feeling of breathing.
Trying to keep it alive all the time, having things moving, having things bubbling up in a corner and all sorts of things like that going on, just to keep its energy there.
-Jo! -Doctor! Let's get out of here while our creature's disorientated.
Come on.
The floor was all undulated like that, so it was a bit like bouncy castle.
Nobody can walk through a bouncy castle in high heels.
Yeah, I did.
GRIST: Being trapped by the creature, as it was, and being held I mean, there were obviously humanoid arms working inside these things.
And it was kind of amusing, I mean one had to be to treat it very seriously, but, of course, it was a strange thing to be trapped by somebody holding you down on the floor.
Help! Help! They managed to grab my boobs so many times.
The ones I nearly lost and had got frozen off when we were on location.
But it was very exciting in a strange way to act on 'cause, you know, as a young actor, there was no way I could've ever done anything like that.
You know, the way you had to think, you had to really believe that that's where you were and that was what was happening to you.
It's a little bit like that Noises Off play, the Michael Frayn play.
I'd love to turn it round and show what's going on behind as well as what's going on in the front.
Then, of course, when we did that whole equation area in it, where Jon is saying, "Three sevens, 21.
" Answer me! What are three sevens? -Twenty-one.
-Twenty-one.
What happened was they'd written all the equations, I'd learnt all the answers, right? They'd written them all on the floor.
There's no good doing that for me 'cause I couldn't even see the floor.
-Times four? -Eighty-four.
And, of course, when we went for the take, they came in with oodles of dry ice smoke.
Minus 35? MANNING: There wasn't a number.
Jon couldn't see anything on the floor.
He was furious, he was absolutely furious.
So he just went back to the easiest one, which was three sevens.
-Three sevens! -Twenty-one! And you notice that.
He starts out with that and then he gives her one more number, and then he suddenly goes (GIBBERING) 'Cause it was gone.
(BUZZING) I think Michael, he was trying some new things in this Doctor Who.
And certainly the visual effects were quite impressive, I think.
Axos merely hastens the process.
Remember, this was made in the early '70s, when a lot of people had found alternative ways of encouraging their minds to escape reality.
And the feeling of psychedelia and the Beatles was very, very current at the time, so that, I think, was a strong influence.
Think, for example, of the head going backwards and forwards and interrogating the Doctor.
He just seemed to have a flair for being imaginative and cutting these things together.
Him and the editor, cutting these things together.
So I still look at that and think, "My God, how did we do that?" We applied all sorts of different techniques to it, a lot of which, actually, had come from back to the black and white days of Doctor Who.
A lot of the effects were just simply wooden boards with designs on them which were pivoted round, somebody turned a handle or something and they'd go around.
So you'd get that kind of swirling look.
And all sorts of layers, because you can always add pictures of one on top of another, on top of another, on top of another.
And you can continue to do that when you go into post-production.
And I think we did a lot of that as well.
Well, he was like a kid in a candy store with all these possibilities.
And so all of these, you know, he took ages, with the frog thing, and the frog getting bigger and then shrinking down and so on and so forth.
There was so much going on in that studio, I cannot tell you.
(SCREAMS) But, of course, that meant the acting, and this affected Jon and certainly me to a certain extent, that you didn't get the opportunity to really hone in on your performance and your relationship, and a lot of that had gone with dialogue changes and so on and so forth, which I do think was one of the things that was missing.
Doctor.
Filer, so you got away? Come with me, Doctor.
Come with you? What are you talking about? -Come to Axos! -I'm not going to Axos or anywhere else with you.
And in any case, you're not Filer.
When the show went out, I happened to watch it with my son, who was about five at the time.
And he He liked watching things that I was in but he was always a little confused.
And this particular time when this Doctor Who went out, I was sitting next to him and the shots came up where I was fighting myself, and he got very worried about that.
He looked at me twice on the screen and then he looked at me sitting next to him and then he got very serious and he was looking at me and he got up and he walked across the room, keeping his eyes on me, until he got to the television set and looked behind the television set quickly and then looked back at me.
And he couldn't understand how I could be there and there and two of me there and one of me here.
He was very, very, very upset about that.
Boy, am I glad that's not me in there.
Are you quite sure it isn't? Yeah, quite sure.
(DOCTOR WHO THEME) It's fascinating, watching something again and watching it now.
And I looked at this and I must be honest, there were times when I was almost crying with laughter.
And I have such love for this show that I did and such respect, absolutely, for everybody involved in it.
However You know, when you say something, "Now, however" However, um, I did feel that looking at it, when those, the Axons turned into the big sort of things that looked like something that the dog had gobbed up and those stringy bits coming out of them and so on and so forth, I mean, I have to tell you, I did find that shriekingly funny.
And yet, at the same time, there's this sort of warm, cuddly feeling about, you know, the days in which this was actually created.
It's a very, very happy memory.
I remember enjoying doing it enormously.
And looking at it now I feel that that enjoyment is somehow there.
Of all the Doctor Whos that I've done and indeed all the ones I've seen, I think it's probably the most "light-hearted" is completely wrong.
People die, people being thrown about all over the place and vaporised and all that sort of thing, that's not fun.
But it's a fun kind of programme.
It's got an energy about it.
It's got a kind of sensible silliness about it.
We must have the secret of time travel.
It's very strange that the part I've sort of become most known for, especially by Doctor Who fans, is a guy that's dressed in a leotard, he's got a gold face, gold eyes, gold hair.
Nobody could recognise me from that.
Although people still recognise me in the street and say, "You were in Doctor Who, 'Claws of Axos', weren't you?" So there's Doctor Who fans everywhere.
DICKS: Bob Baker and Dave Martin gave me an enormous amount of trouble.
And it's something I'd never done before and I think I never did again after them, you know, going to new and inexperienced writers.
But what does please me enormously is that I was right about their potential.
BAKER: We were on our way to a big break with "Claws of Axos".
We had all sorts of ideas for doing movies and various things, obviously.
And this "Claws of Axos" was wonderful, it kept us going, you know.
And all the other ones afterwards really kept us going so that we could do other things.
It was fantastic, it was a marvellous period of our lives.
Sadly we lost Dave but Bob has gone on to have a very good career and has done a lot of work on Wallace & Gromit.
So, I'm very pleased about that, the lads have done well, you know.