Doctor Who - Documentary s09e13 Episode Script

Mutt Mad

Bob Baker and Dave Martin, known as the Bristol Boys, 'cause they lived in Bristol, were the bane of my life for several years, and I was the bane of theirs, I think.
Dave Martin and I wrote Claws of Axos, which was our first Doctor Who.
It was kind of baptism of fire.
DICKS: They were hell's delight to work with.
They were madly inventive, full of ideas, and completely undisciplined.
I always used to say, you know, you sat down reading one of their storylines, even long before scripts, and you say, "Yes, yes.
" Then, "Hang on a bit.
No.
What? "What's happening here? No.
Hang on," you know.
And you would end up with a splitting headache rushing out for a drink.
They were brilliant, but uncontrolled.
We had to be beaten and battered into shape, as it were.
And after finishing that one, that four-parter, we were hoping and wondering if we would be asked to do another one.
And, lo and behold, Terrance Dicks rang us up, and asked us if we'd like to think of a story for a six-parter.
And we suggested The Mutants.
Barry had the idea for a mutant species, a species that evolved, and I think he may have, kind of, thrown that into the pot.
The idea that you could have a creature that was almost human and certainly as intelligent as a human, maybe even more advanced than a human, which had a different childhood, so to speak, in the same way that a butterfly has its life as a caterpillar.
BAKER: We found that it sort of embodied all the things we wanted to talk about.
You know, we could add things in that we felt strongly about.
So we did it with gusto.
I was quite happy to return to Doctor Who and do this script, because a couple of years before I had done The Dæmons, and that had turned out to be very successful and most enjoyable for all of us, actors and crew alike, I think.
I got on very well with Katy and Jon and I think they welcomed me as much as I welcomed joining them.
Dave and I were quite strongly criticised in the early '70s, as we were in the kind of '60s generation still.
I mean, it wasn't that I decided that we'd have a political show.
It was something that Bob Baker and Dave Martin, the Bristol Boys, wanted to do.
I think they had a lot of personal messages, the writers on this show.
Good heavens, man, we're not at war with the Solonians.
We're giving them independence.
-Eventually.
-Not eventually, Marshal, now.
Total and absolute independence.
We're pulling out.
The allegories there are definitely from historical situations.
Such as, Britain's withdrawal from India in 1947.
And Nehru and Gandhi, the whole thing.
And I felt it sort of fitted the feel of the story that we could build.
We can't afford an empire any more.
Earth is exhausted, Marshal.
Finished.
Politically, economically and biologically finished.
They wanted to do something about the evils of empire, which, I think, I didn't necessarily agree with, 'cause I was rather pro the British Empire.
My view was, and I suppose is in some extent, that it would be a lot better if it was still there, you know.
If you have a look at Africa or Asia and the rest of the world, if the Brits were in charge, you know, it'll all be running smoothly.
Terrance, personally, I know, approves of the Indian Empire.
And certainly having had relations who were out there and My mother was out there for a while and married somebody who'd been there for 25 years.
I know that an awful lot of good was done by the British in India.
But, nevertheless, in general, I'm anti-imperialist.
I was aware that there were several imperialist themes in the script, but I thought it was rather muddled and didn't quite know where it was coming from, except, on the whole, it was left-wing orientated.
-Segregation.
-Mmm.
We picked up the theme of racism by having the segregation in the Skybase between the Earth people and the aboriginals of the planet.
Mutants must be rooted out.
They are evil and diseased.
-Who tells us that? -My eyes tell me.
No, Varan, the Overlords tell you.
BAKER: 'Cause at that time there was this kind of segregation in South Africa, for instance.
But I think Dave particularly had an interest in the South African apartheid.
There was a person he knew quite well who was going out to South Africa to be a kind of master, if you'd like.
He was going to run a farm and everything was sorted out for him.
And I believe we had quite a few heated conversations with this gentlemen about this.
And then the Overlords came, bringing Earth's poisons with them, calling it progress.
We toiled in their mines, we became slaves! -Worse than slaves! -Liar! In a script, you often get, sort of, you know, last-minute things being thrown up.
Bob and Dave had the mutants disparagingly referred to as "Munts", which apparently, though I was unaware of this, is a term that white South Africans used for the coloured population.
So we couldn't use that.
It was changed to Mutts.
Mutts! Mutts! Hurry, you men! Hurry! Which, you know, isn't a lot different, but I suppose it just covers us.
It was very characteristic of the Bristol Boys that they would come up with some amazing spectacle, you see.
And I think The Mutants is a good example of that.
I think it was a very ambitious script.
And we were sort of biting our nails wondering whether they'd be able to do it.
Well, reading the script for the first time I was struck by all the different locations and sets that were needed.
It was quite a big project, but it didn't faze me because I was used to these sort of things, particularly, as I say, in Doctor Who, which was some of the hardest programmes one has had to realise.
Marshal, Solos is getting hotter and hotter.
The mutants are not monsters.
They are the native life form of this planet.
When we all assembled, it was obvious that we were quite an international cast, or quite an international-sounding cast.
-Greetings, Ky.
-I knew you would be here, Varan.
And it was an interesting mix.
It was particularly nice to meet Jon and Katy Manning in such a nice, warm, welcoming situation.
And then, of course, with Jon Pertwee himself, he was a marvellous leader of this company, you know.
Very gentle, but very firm and he had tact.
Katy Manning and I got a little giggly at times, 'cause we were doing a lot of things that could lead to giggles.
(LAUGHING) I was carrying her and she was slipping and sliding.
Oh, we were young.
Garrick Hagon brought a tremendous strength into the character.
He was a sympathetic character, and I think one could empathise with a man who was one of the wild bunch of revolutionaries who were prepared to put their life on the line to stand up for what they believed in and they were sick of being oppressed.
And I thought he got that over very well.
The only black mark on the history of amicable relations -unparalleled throughout the Empire! -Freedom! Freedom! We want freedom and we want it now! HAGON: Obviously, Ky's a leader.
That always attracts, you know.
It was very early on in my television experience here.
So, to have a part that had some guts to it attracted me.
Sir! Marshal, your mask! -Mutt mad he is.
Sport to him.
-Come on, before he passes out.
Solos, stinking rotten hole.
Can't even breathe.
What a planet.
In terms of the casting of the characters that we'd written, Stubbs and Cotton was the most surprising.
In that, we'd written for a Cockney and a north countryman.
Cotton was a black guy, and, you know, if we'd known that before we would have been able to write for that.
I've been chatting with Stubbs.
He's a kind of mate of mine.
-Oh, yes? -About Varan and about Miss Grant.
I'm surprised to hear that Bob Baker thought that Cotton should be a Cockney.
Because I didn't detect that in the dialogue at all.
Goodbye? Great, innit? He just dashes off and leaves us here.
I think he struggled a bit with some of his dialogue, which we'd written in an accent.
(CHUCKLING) Which was extremely difficult for him.
Come on, Stubbsy.
Stubbsy, mate.
Jeremy Bear was the designer appointed to the programme, and I was very happy to have him onboard.
BEAR: I was extremely excited once I knew I was doing a future Doctor Who rather than one based on Earth or a historical subject, because I thought it would give me complete latitude to create something very different from other people's designs for science fiction programs.
I wanted it to be bright and as modern-looking as possible.
I mean, I did a lot of research on what NASA was doing with mock-ups of proposed space stations.
And I found a lot of images from that which were really helpful.
And that's what made me think of creating the space station as a light-looking structure rather than a heavy Nazi-style environment.
Of course, many sets have completely flat walls and, perhaps, a texture.
But I wanted to create a much more interesting, three-dimensional texture on my walls.
I designed a thing which is based on triangles, which formed hexagons, and then drew up a design for a PVC mould.
So that could be reproduced lots of times and fixed to the sets.
And, of course, that mould remained in the stock of the people who produced it.
And many designers used it endlessly afterwards when they were doing science fiction programmes.
-Looks like a kid's room.
-It was Adric's.
Brotodac, you're a discerning sort of fellow.
Choose a planet, any planet.
What's that noise? And I think it probably still exists somewhere.
Regarding the surface of Solos, it was a wonderful change to get out of having to do surfaces of planets or wherever in the studio, and to go out on location and do it with plenty of space at our disposal.
The quarry in Kent turned out to be what we wanted.
BEAR: It happened to be completely full of buddleia plants.
And as it was February, I think, when we were shooting, they were all brown and dead.
So, I thought, well, the only thing to do is to spray as many of them that will be in shot with silver, so they looked slightly peculiar.
And with the bare branches of the bushes, and the silver and the smoke from the smoke guns wafting about, it all looked very mysterious.
BARRY: We knew we needed a lot of cave space.
But to be able to get into these massive Chislehurst caves, which had been dug, I think, originally as chalk extraction caves, and it was terrific.
Often on location, I tend to wander off just to get away or just to explore what's around.
There were some scary moments when you wandered off.
You know, you just do get a little panicky if you're out of home base.
BARRY: The fact that we found in that cave places where you could go up and along and around corners, and into bigger areas was superb.
And I enjoyed thoroughly working there, and I think Jeremy did wonderful jobs with colouring it, and lot of lighting of colouring as well, of course.
And the inscriptions of the little logos, the sort of scarab beetle, or whatever it was.
DOCTOR: This chamber must be important to them.
I feel it myself.
I was very surprised to hear, that since 1972, those designs are still on the walls in the caves.
Chislehurst Caves were wonderful because we could do so much in them.
But one thing we couldn't do in them was the giant cave that was radioactive.
The idea of using a small model and injecting the actors into it with CSO seemed to be the practical way of doing it.
And I think, on the whole, it was very successful.
(SCREAMING) There, look! The wonderful Mutt's costume were designed for me by Jim Acheson, who also designed for me later the robot suit.
And, of course, he's gone on to do wonderful things and received Oscars for his work subsequently in movies.
Well, the Mutts, in particular, we were very pleased with, because they were not only frightening, but they also had a certain kind of pathos about them, which made you feel sort of sorry for them as well.
Now, listen.
How many are there left after the rockets? (GROWLING) Sick! Sick! No, no, not sick.
But when we need it to be sort of a scary shadow, they were there.
DICKS: I watched it with one of my grown-up sons, who'd never seen it before, and he said, "This is terrifying," he said.
"It's more frightening, you know, than the current ones," you know, which is quite gratifying in a way.
The design themselves was made, I believe, with a sort of metal hoop holding that great sort of tail onto the corpus of the person.
They were very uncomfortable and hot for the poor actors inside, but I think they worked well and looked very good onscreen.
The scene where Varan gets sucked out into space was always going to be difficult.
BEAR: I designed the floor level to be raised, so that Varan could fall out and disappear.
We did it by suspending him on a harness from the ceiling, and he sort of twisting and turning and flinging his arms out from side to side.
He was quite a smoker, Jimmy.
I think that wire around his chest didn't He wasn't too comfortable.
And just the whole thing, it was all very new, this swinging away on a wire.
Because I had the hexagonal panel design, I got them to cut it out in little bits, so as if it would create an explosion of all the bits.
I think that looked quite convincing.
But I think the lying about and holding onto things by the other actors who weren't sucked out went on a bit too long to convince you that they wouldn't have been sucked out as well.
I was not 100% satisfied with it, but I thought it was the best we could do under the circumstances.
Look! He's changing.
BARRY: One of the most difficult, well, probably the most difficult scene in the whole story, was the scene which involves the transformation of Ky into Super Ky.
HAGON: I was lifted on this rather primitive wire, like Varan was, as well.
This kind of weird ethereal voice comes out (LAUGHING) And I floated through.
Goodbye.
What we specified originally in the script was that he was more like a kind of a hummingbird with iridescent feathers, you know, kind of, like the flying insect.
It was done as well as they could do it, that's all I can say.
It required all the facilities available, which was six camera channels, including the gallery channel to achieve it.
Looking at it 40 years later, I'm not quite as happy with it as I was then, certainly.
(DOCTOR WHO THEME) One of the very opening, if not the very opening shot of The Mutants, shows an old man struggling, he's being chased.
And it's very reminiscent, as Barry Letts pointed out in post production, of the opening shot of the Monty Python's show.
(MONTY PYTHON'S FLYING CIRCUS THEME MUSIC) I hadn't really been aware of it, although I suppose some people in the galleries probably giggled when they saw it.
But I don't mind that.
Looking at the show again, I think it stands up more as a metaphor, you know.
And certainly in the ecological sense.
I think it stands up that way.
I think it was a very brave thing to do.
Especially for a young audience.
Because a lot of the characters are pretty angry.
There are moments of lightness, but generally between Jon and Katy.
Well, personally, I feel it's the best one we did.
And, you know, I'm quite proud of it.
I think it's particularly important that a family show should take on these big themes.
There was a kind of nice feeling of accomplishment afterwards, you know.
And that's why I think it's the best one.
As to my satisfaction with The Mutants, I couldn't be as satisfied with it as I had been with The Dæmons.
Because, frankly, I didn't think it was good as The Dæmons.
It strikes me as not my best Doctor Who, not my worst.
But I enjoyed working on it very much.
I say that.
And working with the people I was working with then.
Particular tribute to Barry Letts.