Doctor Who - Documentary s10e05 Episode Script

On Target -I an Marter

NARRATOR: Ian Marter played Harry Sullivan in Doctor Who from 1974 to 1975.
Also a talented writer, he subsequently novelised nine of the television stories for Target Books.
Marter's adaptation of The Ribos Operation was just one of the books cherished by fans in the days before DVDs and videos.
His legacy includes some of the most acclaimed and inventive books in the Target range.
Are you coming or going? Or going or coming? I feel a bit like a Morse message, - slightly scrambled.
- Yes.
One of the fun things about the novels was trying to work out how far they really reflected what had been in the series and where they'd sort of took liberties and things like that.
And that was one of the great things about Ian Marter, is he was a great liberty-taker.
Because Ian was unknown, the best way to get going Everybody had a go at it.
Barry Letts, Terrance Dicks, they all had a go at it, you know.
Philip Hinchcliffe did some.
Because, I mean, you know, it was a formula.
You got it down to 105 pages.
I think Ian Marter's greatest quality was that he almost was the character that I'd written for him.
He was a plain, straightforward, no-nonsense, bluff, British type of chap.
A big, strong, square-jawed, curly-haired, handsome young man.
SLADEN: One of my very favourite scenes in Doctor Who is the very first scene, Tom's scene, in Robot, where Ian comes on as the Doctor.
And it's so paced, it's so fast, I remember watching that and thinking, "Crikey, Sladen, you're gonna have to up your game.
" There you are.
Now come along, Doctor.
You're supposed to be in the sick bay.
- Am I? - Mmm-hmm.
Don't you mean the infirmary? No, I do not mean the infirmary.
I mean the sick bay.
You're not fit yet.
Not fit? I am the Doctor! No, Doctor, I am the doctor, and I say that you're not fit.
You may be a doctor, but I am the Doctor.
The definite article, you might say.
- Look here, Doctor, you're not fit - Not fit? Not fit? Of course I'm fit! All systems go! I say! SLADEN: They were just running with it.
It was absolutely lovely.
He knew what he was doing with the part.
There was a lot of Harry in Ian, and he used that to his advantage.
He was very direct, Ian.
He said what he thought.
He wouldn't put up with nonsense, I liked that as well.
SLADEN: He was almost too intelligent to be an actor.
He had a very low boredom threshold.
And I remember him I don't know which story it was, but there were quite a few hours sometimes in rehearsals when we wouldn't be used, and we used to go and rehearse or chat.
And it was just one of these days, and I saw Ian pacing around the area of the rehearsal room, one foot slowly in front of another.
And I just watched him for a while.
And I went up to him and I said, "What are you doing, Ian?" And he said, "I'm working how long it would take me, "if I walk like this, to get to Hong Kong.
" I'm stuck, aren't I? I'm going to fetch the Doctor.
All right, well, I'll I'll wait here, then.
He was very precise as an actor.
He would know what he was doing.
And if, in a scene, he thought he wasn't contributing to it, he'd go He'd ask the director, he'd say, "I'm not really being used in this scene.
"I have been established.
Can I just kind of not be used until I'm needed?" He would think it through, almost like he was writing it at the same time, which he eventually went on to do.
As a writer, what Ian brought to the books was a real sense of stretching things, of taking a tiny little germ of an idea, something he might see in one line of a description in the script, and go, "Ooh! I can really run with that.
" I remember in The Sontaran Experiment novelisation, he really absolutely picks up on what the Sontaran looks like and it starts off describing him as egg- or potato-shaped, and then gradually, mainly through the character of Harry Sullivan, obviously, because he felt that he knew that one quite well, he keeps referring to him as Gollum, or "the Gollum creature", and just as a reader, it just brings everything to life.
"All at once, the gaping oval panel "was filled by a squat, lumbering shape like a monstrous puppet.
"Its domed reptilian head grew neckless out of massive, hunched shoulders.
" Linx! SLADEN: "Each trunk-like arm ended in three sheathed talons "and was raised in anticipation towards her.
"The creature began to lurch down the ramp on thick stumpy legs, "the rubbery folds of its body vibrating with each step.
"Mean eyes burned like two red-hot coals "amid the gnarled, tortoise-like features, "and puffs of oily vapour issued from the flared nostrils.
"As it approached her, the creature uttered a raucous gasp of satisfaction.
" One of the things that he uses, more than anything else, I think, is senses.
He's always going on about what people touch, what people smell, what people hear.
And so he would create these whole scenarios that on TV probably was, I don't know, three or four seconds onscreen, but when you're reading a book where you need that much more depth, what Ian was an absolutely master at was really putting you inside the person's head that's seeing the monster, or feeling the draught on the back of their neck or going down this dark tunnel.
And every sense would be touched upon and explored actually in that just one paragraph.
COURTNEY: I remember when he was going to write The Invasion and he came around to see a bit of dubbed copy I had of it.
It was very hard for him to elicit any information from this rather ropey old copy.
There was a Russian air base, and he gave this Russian air base the name of Nikortny.
That's a little mention to me that I thought it was rather sweet, that.
RUSSELL: As time went on, the writing probably took over.
And I think ultimately that gave him the greatest pleasure.
I think the whole creation thing, of being a writer, really fired him up and really excited him.
"The Doctor drew Jamie further back behind the stacks of crates "as the glow became a strobing glare which was almost intolerable to look at.
"A vaguely humanoid outline stirred inside the cocoon "and a silver form began to flash with stronger and stronger pulses.
"Jamie and the Doctor covered their ears "as the pulsating hum became an unbearable staccato shriek.
"In a sudden burst of thousands of silver fibres, "the cocoon exploded "and a huge, gleaming figure jerked spasmodically out of the crate.
" - It's ironic, isn't it? - What's ironic? You've just made a competent arrest.
I do admire professionalism, especially in the opposition.
(LAUGHS) Now nobody will ever hear of it.
We'll all die together.
Is that supposed to be comforting? There's no comfort in dying.
I've always said it was the last thing I want to do.
The lovely thing about The Ribos Operation as a novel is, what it gave Ian the chance to do was to look at the whole structure and setup of the planet Ribos.
"A colossal shape lay slumped against the far wall of the antechamber.
"A huge reptilian body covered in thick, overlapping scales "like armour plate which slid back and forth over each other "as the creature's vast flanks rose and fell.
"The long alligator head lay on one side, "its half-open jaws bristling with razor-sharp, bloodstained teeth.
"Suddenly, a warm sour breath on the side of his face "stopped him in his tracks.
"With racing heart, he slowly turned his head and peered into the gloom.
" It's almost medieval in some respects, and yet isn't.
It's clear that they're reasonably familiar with space travel, they're aware that these people are coming and visiting their planet and selling things back and forth.
So he creates an absolute world for Ribos, and all the characters that populate it all have really, really good depth and meaning.
Binro the Heretic I remember particularly as a character, he really brings to life and really makes you go, "Oh, my God! I feel for this person.
" And so when Binro actually does the self-sacrifice and dies, and he has this lovely speech to Unstoffe at the end about how it was worthwhile, which is great on TV, there's no getting away from that, it was beautifully done on television, but Ian's prose, and Ian's writing, and the emotion, and again it comes back to this thing that Ian was really good at, of the senses.
When Unstoffe is dealing with Binro's death, you're aware all around him of the smells and the touch and the darkness and the dampness and what a place this is for this man to die in.
It's a terrible shame and, you know, if you could, you'd take him and show him the stars outside when he's saying, "You're absolutely right.
They are other planets, "they do circle suns," and all this.
And you just get this real feeling that Ian got inside the head of these characters and made it work.
In rehearsal, Tom and Ian, they used to go off and do the crossword together.
Which I didn't used to do.
I used to go and get me a currant bun, or talk to someone, or, I don't know, talk to the girls.
And they really I don't know how many stories Ian was on, but the ones he was on with Tom, they'd go away in the corner, and they got fed up, they got fed up with their crossword, and I think it was Tom's idea that they should write a script themselves.
BAKER: He and I became friendlier and friendlier.
At that time I lived in Notting Hill Gate, and he used to come to where I lived, and we used to talk about writing something.
We used to talk about writing something for the show.
That had never been done, I don't think, an actor writing for the show.
And we came up with this idea, Scratchman, some kind of I discovered Scratchman, I think it was an old word for the devil.
And one thing led to another, and we began to write the story.
Now, we needed a director.
We got organised and we made contact with James Hill, who had directed Born Free and won an Oscar for a short film and later on directed, very successfully, Jon Pertwee in Worzel Gummidge.
And so we used to write the script and the dialogue, and James used to come in every few weeks to this house in Notting Hill Gate and he would assemble it into a kind of shooting script.
And that's how it happened.
And so I thought he was very competent.
He was much better read than I was.
And he was competent as a writer, but you see, in a way he'd been kind of tainted by education.
Whereas, of course, I've no education at all, so I was much more raucous and spontaneous.
And Ian liked that.
It was terribly flattering.
SLADEN: And I'd look over their shoulder, and I think at one point there was a scarecrow coming down on a bike and I was meant to be in the basket.
Then it was decided, I don't know, I wouldn't fit in, so it was a sidecar.
And it got to the point where the boys were shouldering it and I was being shouldered out, and I was thinking, "Oh, boys and toys, go away.
I'll go and do something else.
" BAKER: Somewhere along the line, I probably Somebody owns my copy, which might be signed, of Doctor Who Meets Scratchman by Tom Baker and Ian Marter, screenplay by James Hill.
But I don't know where it is.
And I don't really mind about it.
I mean, it's just lots of those small regrets I have that But now that you're talking to me about it, I remember Ian.
COURTNEY: I'd seen him the day before, I think, in fact.
I'd been there to see him at Wembley.
And the next day, I was actually I think it was quite early in the morning.
I was in bed.
And I got a call from Ian's wife, Mobs.
And she said, "Are you prepared for a shock? Do you want to sit down?" And I said, "Well, what's happened?" And she said, "Well, I've just been over," presumably come over to see Ian, "and found him dead," which was awful for her and a great shock for the rest of us, 'cause he had so much more to offer.
I do remember, you know, 'cause I know nothing about diabetes.
I know nothing about anything that's why I talk so emphatically about everything.
He'd suddenly start stammering and become rather irrational at rehearsal.
And then, suddenly, you know, you shove a bloody Kit Kat down his throat and he was miraculously better.
You would never have thought it because he was such a big, strapping, physical chap.
You know, very strong character.
And he always looked the picture of health and strength, so it's And he did very well not to let it hold him back or slow him down.
SLADEN: It was very sudden, and he died on his birthday.
And he was very young.
If he'd still been around five or six years later, when things like the New Adventures started and they did all these books that weren't based on TV at all, they were all original Doctor Who novels, Ian would have been one of the absolute frontrunners of that run of books, because he was the kind of person who you would have no hesitation in saying, "We wanna do a whole range of new Doctor Who books "not based on TV episodes but entirely out of your head, "and they're slightly more adult, "and they're slightly more pushing the boundaries.
" And Ian would have jumped up and grasped that.
And I think it's a big shame that, of all the people who've written Doctor Who and are no longer with us, Ian writing Doctor Who books in the early '90s, or indeed still writing them today, the fact that he never got a chance to do that is a really big shame.
My girl was I don't know how many months old she was.
I mean, we were still not getting very much sleep and I was exhausted, and there was a knock on the door and I thought, "Oh, my God! Who is that at this time of night?" And it was Ian standing there, and he was with one of his sons, I don't remember which son it was, and he said, "Just thought we'd see how you are, Sladen.
"Can we pop upstairs and see her?" He hadn't seen her.
I said, "Oh, well, actually, Ian, I've just got" "We won't make a sound, it's all right.
" I said, "Okay, go up.
" And I remember him leaning over the cot, and he (GASPS) Didn't expect this.
And it was just so lovely that he saw her.
And he said, "Oh, isn't she beautiful? Isn't she lovely?" And he was so lovely about everything in life, you know.
And we had such fun at conventions.
He never, ever thought of himself, really, and anything he did, above the title.
He was a good friend.
And I do think of him a great deal.
It would be lovely to have that friendship today.