Doctor Who - Documentary s11e01 Episode Script

The Making of the Time Warrior

NARRATOR: In 1973, NASA launched Mariner 10 towards Venus and Mercury.
Meanwhile, on BBC1, something evil was about to crash-land right here on Earth.
This is Peckforton Castle in Cheshire where, in May 1973, production began on the four-part Doctor Who story, The Time Warrior.
However, by the time the story aired in December 1973, the regular production team had decided that it was time to move on.
Jon Pertwee had stated that this season was to be his last.
Katy Manning, who had played Jo Grant, the Doctor's companion, had left in the previous story, The Green Death.
And Roger Delgado, who had been the Doctor's arch enemy, the Master, had tragically been killed in a motor vehicle accident.
And somehow the family wasn't the same.
When Jon made up his mind that he wanted to leave, it really didn't come as all that much of a surprise to us.
He had, after all, been doing it for five years.
The previous two Doctors had had three years each, Bill Hartnell and Patrick Troughton, so we were very pleased when he went on for more than three years, and five years was stretching it.
He was beginning to feel, I think, that things were coming to a natural end.
We knew that the show had become such a success largely because of casting Jon.
He was an excellent Doctor Who and had become, in everybody's mind, Doctor Who incarnate.
I have a memory of a conversation Well, Jon talking mainly to Barry, but I was there on location.
And he was saying that What I remember him saying is that, ''I'm being offered lots of interesting work.
''I've been offered a film.
I've been offered a West End play.
''I can't take them because I'm tied up in Doctor Who.
''And what I'm worried about is if I keep on saying no, ''they'll stop asking me.
'' Jon's leaving, to a large extent, was the catalyst for my feeling that I wanted to leave as well.
Both Terrance and I had tried to leave after we'd been doing the job for about three years.
Barry didn't want to do it, he wanted to direct.
We actually went to our head of department and said we wanted to, and could he find somebody else to do our jobs.
But we wanted to stay on and find other series.
I didn't want to do it, I wanted to stay a writer.
He said, ''No, no, please don't leave.
''It's a success,'' he said.
''I don't want to change authors in midstream.
'' He said, ''It would be ridiculous.
Please, please stay.
'' So we We left his office.
Terrance says he doesn't remember this, but I remember him saying, ''You know, this is the only prison where you get time on for good behaviour.
'' NARRATOR: Preparations got underway for what was to become a full-on season.
And it was down to veteran scriptwriter, Robert Holmes, to bring the season in with some punch.
We would always try for the opening of a new season to have some sort of a gimmick.
I mean, way back we put the Daleks in a show when the Daleks hadn't been there for a while, you know.
For many years, there hadn't been a historical one with the Doctor going back in time, travelling into the past, for the very good reason that the early ones, with Bill Hartnell especially, which went back and there was a historical figure like Nero or Marco Polo or something like that, had always had very low audience figures because obviously the audience thought they were being given a history lesson.
A straight line may be the shortest distance between two points, but it is by no means the most interesting.
Goodbye, old chap.
What about if we do a history story again, but a history story with a strong science-fiction element? Such as, for instance, an alien who arrives in Medieval England and starts arming the natives with futuristic weaponry.
Watch! Oh, claps the ears.
This is something that's always infuriated me.
The Doctor always used to say, ''We've got to be very careful.
''We mustn't interfere with the course of history.
'' And my people are very keen to stamp out unlicensed time travel.
You can look upon them as galactic ticket inspectors if you like.
But, of course, he was doing that all the time.
I mean, history to a Time Lord is not only the past, but it's the present and the future.
And he was always interfering in history.
Oh, I could murder a cup of tea.
-You're serious, aren't you? -About what I do, yes.
Not necessarily the way I do it.
And what we needed in the story situation was that Irongron, who wasn't a proper knight or a lord, but a robber baron, had stolen a castle, as he says Those that were here before me, I slew.
The nearest nobleman who might be expected to put him down, which is the Earl of Wessex, hasn't got the men to do it, he hasn't got the troops.
Apart from which, he's something of a feeble twit and hasn't got the bottle anyway.
As it is, how can I fight Irongron and this doctor? Into that you put Linx, the Sontaran, he arrives and promptly annexes the planet.
Lovely scene, which is Bob's attack on American militarism, I think.
Or perhaps British colonial militarism.
By virtue of my authority as an officer of the Army Space Corps, I hereby claim this planet, its moons and satellites for the greater glory of the Sontaran empire.
NARRATOR: Holmes was commissioned to write the four-part story around early March 1 9 73.
And he had originally written the Doctor's home planet as Galfrey, or Gal-frey, whichever way you'd want to pronounce it.
But it was modified to Gallifrey in later drafts.
Bob objected greatly to going into history at all.
Well done, old girl.
Absolutely on target.
For once.
I dragged him into the Middle Ages, he dragged me onto a lighthouse, both of us kicking and screaming and saying we didn't want to do it.
NARRATOR: Barry Letts, however, had another challenge for this season.
He had to begin the process of finding a new assistant for the Doctor.
The Sarah Jane Smith character we thought of, to start with, not being the Doctor's companion.
As somebody who almost by accident, and indeed in the first story by accident, got involved with him and got involved with his story.
And so they became friends.
Somewhat to my disgust, there was the onset of feminism, you see.
Now, Barry was okay with this, you know.
I feel the right place for the heroine is strapped to the circular saw, screaming her head off till the Doctor comes to rescue her.
Or the railroad tracks as the case may be, you see.
But it was becoming obvious we couldn't get away with that any more.
It was never even considered that it should be a male.
We The relationship between Jon and Katy, the Jo Grant character, worked so well that it would be very sensible to carry on the same sort of relationship.
But we needed somebody who had a bit more initiative, who went off and did things and actually affected the progress of the story in a positive way, not just in a negative way.
What's wrong with you? All it needs is a sort of commando raid.
You knock out the sentries, rush into the castle, grab the Doctor and away! We had to find somebody, in good time, to actually to be in The Time Warrior because it was in the schedules.
And then, though I'd, as I say, chosen somebody, it hadn't gone right through, and it was fixed and all the rest of it.
And then Ron Craddock, who was at that time producer, or had been producer, of the twice-weekly Z Cars Now, he was just across the corridor and I'd talk to him about it, you know, this problem.
And he suddenly said to me one day, ''Have you ever thought of an actress called Elisabeth Sladen?'' And I said, ''No.
'' He said, ''Well, she's terrific.
'' He said, ''We had her twice in Z Cars ''playing two entirely different characters, ''and you wouldn't have known it was the same actress.
'' It's been a messy day, Rose, so don't make me cross.
I wouldn't dream of it, Sergeant.
-Has Dilly been around here? -Dilly Watson? -Who else? -Yeah, she was in and we went shopping.
-Does she often come around? -Not all that much, but enough.
-Do you get on? -Why not? You know all about us.
We've worked together before.
I was not aware when I went to the interview that they were looking for a new assistant.
All I knew was that they were going to cast a part in an episode of Doctor Who.
All the other actresses either showed themselves being scared or being brave.
And Liz was the only one who showed me both at the same time.
The girl is not of your kind, Irongron.
The hair is finer, the thorax of a different construction.
He gave me a script, a character called Sarah Jane Smith.
And he read the part of the The bad guy.
It was someone who once he'd put his tongue out, the reason you could tell he was a bad guy, a monster, not a real guy, was it was a forked tongue.
So it's a very intimate moment, first of all, with the tongue going out, and he said, ''Yes, that's really good.
'' Anyway, I said to her afterwards, ''Well, as far as I'm concerned, ''you've got the part.
Come and meet Jon.
'' And he introduced himself.
''I'm Jon Pertwee.
'' I said, ''Yes, I know.
'' It was quite a stupid thing to say! And behind her back, he turned and he did that to me.
And I went out feeling good.
And it was a lovely thing to be offered.
And then I got on the phone later to the agent, told him, and there was this awful, I remember, this horrendous pause, and he said, ''Tell me you didn't accept.
'' I said, ''Yeah, actually I did, Charlie.
'' He said, ''Oh, my God, Elisabeth! ''Couldn't you have let me talk money first?'' I gave him no bargaining point, but I didn't think.
-Miss Smith.
-Yes, Professor? Come and meet your namesake.
Miss Lavinia Smith, Doctor Doctor John Smith.
-How do you do, Miss Smith? -Hello.
Sarah Jane Smith is suspicious of the Doctor.
She turns up as a Under an alias, under her aunt's alias as an investigative journalist and she thinks the Doctor's behind it all.
She thinks the Doctor is an odd and sinister character.
And she doesn't like him or trust him for a long while.
I felt that was That's how a real person would be in this absolutely heightened reality situation.
Everything that I saw as Sarah I felt I could say if it actually happened.
And then let the charismatic Doctor kind of take her on to find out more.
But they were totally, totally different.
And it's really interesting to look at how actually you progress and how much you take for granted as a character in the Tardis that actually, after a few episodes, you don't question any more, this is what we do.
Liz Sladen was always a strong character and she was able to keep up that role, you know.
And she said to us recently that she was grateful that she'd been given that as a sort of character's format and she'd always tried to hold onto that afterwards.
I've got something on me today, which I shall produce from my pocket.
It is a torn-off page from Doctor Who.
Time Warrior, part two.
And I got By the time we got in the studio, I had to say to myself all the things I initially thought with this character when I read it, and I needed to keep reading this because no one else was telling me.
So I made these things up for Sarah that I thought they were right.
I've written, ''Righteous indignation, ''clean-cut, everything very obvious to her, impulsive.
'' And, of course, the proof of the pudding is in the eating, and one knows actors who are very good at auditions but terrible when they've actually got to keep going for an extended performance.
So there was always the thing at the back of my mind, ''Would she or would she not make it?'' In fact, she was terrific.
I mean, the first time she comes on, I was personally gobsmacked by her.
Not, at that point, because of her performance, but she obviously was somebody who was different.
She was full of confidence and she played Sarah Jane Smith beautifully.
And she was terrific in the whole of Time Warrior.
I thought all this might give me a good story.
I'm a journalist.
Sarah Jane Smith.
You realise this is a very dangerous place to be in? Well, I can't help that.
I'm stuck here now.
NARRATOR: Casting on The Time Warrior was complete by mid-1973.
Barry Letts and new Doctor Who director Alan Bromly had cast Australian-born actor Kevin Lindsay as the evil Sontaran, Commander Linx.
It's an extraordinary character.
It's not only a very, very good concept from Bob Holmes in the first place, but beautifully realised by the make-up people and so on.
And it needed somebody who could carry this.
And if you met Kevin, you would never have dreamt that he would be able to do it, but he was a very fine character actor.
He was a great raconteur.
A great raconteur.
And I travelled up on the train with Kevin.
And Kevin said, ''Listen, girl,'' he said, ''don't worry about it.
'' He said, ''Life's too short.
You have fun.
'' And we did, we had fun on it.
But Kevin saw to that a great deal.
He got on incredibly well with Jon and I think that helped me enormously.
I can always remember Kevin was the most electric of the lot.
He was a very, well, very electrical sort of personality himself, I thought.
He was very vigorous.
One of our difficulties with actors playing monsters or aliens and so on, was that very often the costume was very uncomfortable, you know.
Primitives.
Childish-squabbling primitives.
He found it very difficult, he didn't say so, but, and he didn't tell us this, but he had some sort of heart trouble.
I don't know what it was.
And on the second day in the studios, he actually collapsed.
And Alan Bromly, the director, had to Not had to, but did rearrange the schedule of the shooting to give Kevin as much rest as possible so he could get through the day.
And we were very concerned for him, but he insisted on going on and he said the doctor said it would be all right for him to.
But we treated him as gently as possible from then on.
NARRATOR: Braving it as Irongron was David Daker, whose previous TVappearances included Gerry Anderson's UFO and Dixon of Dock Green.
However, Daker wasn't Barry Letts' first choice for the role.
Now, the first person whose availability we checked wasn't David Daker.
In fact, he wasn't on the list because I'd never worked with him, and I don't think Alan had either.
The first person on our list was Bob Hoskins.
And he wasn't as famous in those days as he later became.
He said, ''The dates are no good.
'' He said, ''I'm doing a film.
''But, ''he said, ''I suggest that you get David Daker.
'' I'd seen David Daker on the screen, but I didn't know him and I wouldn't have thought of him for this particular part.
But I took Bob Hoskins' word for it and we asked him to come in and we both met him and so on.
And, in fact, he gave a lovely performance.
And I think Daker's performance is consistent and it's so It never says, ''Oh, I feel a bit silly in this,'' which is always, you know, a mistake in anything, but everything was larger.
He was perfect for that part.
(IMITATING DAKER) Get out of it! He's quite frightening.
And I can remember the scenes inside the castle when he grabbed hold of me, Hal the Archer, you know, and he was about to raise He looked He was perfect for kids to see this is a villain.
You treacherous dog! DICKS: Irongron is very good.
You know, he's a You know, he's your classic warlord.
I mean, he likes killing people, you know, and conquest and power.
But I was particularly fond of Bloodaxe.
What's rather endearing about Bloodaxe, who is a simple soul, is that he thinks Irongron is wonderful.
Well, he was chosen because he had a perfect face.
That slight sort of beaten-up face, I suppose.
And he was great fun.
And he was the ideal foil for David Daker.
Oh, 'tis a cunning plan, Captain.
Aye, 'tis as well for you dolts that you have me to guide you.
(LAUGHS) There's more to war than hard strokes, my good Bloodaxe.
Aye, master.
Yours is indeed a towering intelligence.
NARRATOR: Across the forest in Wessex Castle, we were introduced to Lady Eleanor and Edward, Earl of Wessex.
Cast in that role was Alan Rowe, who had appeared in Doctor Who once before in the Patrick Troughton story, The Moonbase, and would go on to appear in Horror of Fang Rock and Full Circle with Tom Baker's Doctor, whilst Lady Eleanor was played by June Brown.
I knew June very well indeed and I was so pleased that she was able to play Lady Eleanor.
What was so nice about their characters was that she was stronger than him.
It was a pity in a way that this wasn't a six-parter because Lady Eleanor's a lovely character.
She's a sort of goody Lady Macbeth.
These wizards and warlocks were ever a treacherous breed.
We had best be weary of them.
It'd have been lovely for that character to have been developed a bit more.
I can imagine, in her regal clothes, just having a Having a puff! NARRATOR: Playing Hal the Archer was Jeremy Bulloch, a highly experienced actor who much later went on to play Boba Fett in Star Wars.
His first television appearance had been at the tender age of eight in 1953 and, like Alan Rowe, had appeared in Doctor Who before, playing Tor in the 1965 story, The Space Museum.
William Hartnell was obviously a very experienced actor.
Fairly elderly.
But he always said to me, William Hartnell, I remember he said, ''Watch and listen.
'' To give him credit, at the end of doing The Space Museum, he said, ''You watched and you listened, didn't you, son? ''You might have a career.
'' Whereas, jumping ahead to 1973 with Jon Pertwee, it was very difficult to keep a straight face with Jon Pertwee.
We giggled an awful lot.
You have to say about Jeremy, though, if you actually got a line out without him making you laugh, you were extremely lucky.
And I have to say, I saw him the other day and he hasn't changed at all.
JEREMY BULLOCH: You had to be quite agile.
Very fast.
And I remember running with a bow and arrow, and, you know, darting here and there.
So hopefully the audience would believe that he was strong enough to fire the bow and arrows and keep going.
He could fight, you know, combat, arm to arm.
And the main thing was for him to be very fit.
At one stage, they actually thought, because it was dangerous for me, I might even get on the Tardis and be the new male companion.
I think it's highly likely that we would have talked to Jeremy, and we wouldn't have said, ''We're offering you a job,'' because that's not the way it goes.
I would have said to him, you know, ''Would you be interested in being considered?'' NARRATOR: Completing the main cast of The Time Warrior was Sheila Fay as Meg, a brief appearance by Nicholas Courtney as the ever-faithful Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart.
And yet another actor who had appeared in Gerry Anderson's UFO, Donald Pelmear.
Professor Rubeish, ''rubbish'' with an ''E'' as we used to explain, he seemed rather an unlikely choice because he apparently had terrible eyesight.
He couldn't see without his specs and they became a big part of the storyline.
He was virtually blind and useless if he hadn't got the spectacles.
Hypnotised.
Can't get a word out of him.
-Rotten company.
-You seem to be all right.
Oh, it didn't work with me.
Strong-minded, you see.
-Yes, and very nearly blind.
-Oh, nonsense.
He's never shown to be hiding.
And this is Bob's fault, Bob Holmes' fault, really.
The others eventually collapse through lack of food and so on.
We never see Rubeish pinching food or anything so why isn't he collapsing as well? Well, I know his spectacles get broken so he's rendered a useless member of the team and I know he spends a lot of the time trying to grind lenses, but in the 1 2th century.
(LAUGHING) I'm not sure what the equipment was like! DICKS: He doesn't seem much involved in things.
He's never very frightened.
He doesn't get hypnotised because he's short He's practically blind.
Well, okay, you can accept that.
But the rest of the time, he seems to wander in and out, unchallenged.
He has free run of the laboratory.
Linx doesn't seem to bother about him and neither does Bloodaxe.
You know, and the Doctor just ropes him in as his assistant every now and again.
And he I mean, it's a nice character and a nice performance, but it's slightly detached from the rest of the show.
NARRATOR: With the cast in place, The Time Warrior began production, like Carnival of Monsters a year previous, at the end of season 10.
It was intended that Barry Letts would direct the story.
However, Letts and Dicks were working on Moonbase 3, and this meant that Alan Bromly was asked to direct instead.
My contact with him would be when he got the scripts, you see.
And I remember he was appalled at the complexity of the scripts and the number of things that he would have to do on the limited time and budget.
And I promised him that I would simplify it into what was practical.
And I talked it through with Barry about what you could and couldn't do.
And I cut it down, in some cases, kind of quite ruthlessly.
It's almost like he never took his coat off.
I'm sure he must have done in rehearsal, but I just remember him, I have this impression of him on filming, with his hat, his pipe, I think he wore glasses, and the raincoat.
It was rather like an inscrutable le Carré figure.
He was very quiet, very pensive and didn't say very much.
Just seemed to be either holding his pipe or the script and looking between the two.
He would always position himself.
You knew where the camera was going to be and you also knew whether you were in a long shot, a mid-shot, close one, so that you could adapt slightly to the needs of the shot.
Eventually, I did the I re-edited all four drafts into something that was practical.
And gave him the scripts and he took them away, and he came back and he came into my office with the scripts looking very solemn and he said, ''I read your re-writes,'' he said, ''over the weekend.
'' And then he said, ''When I'd finished, I came out of my study ''and I said to my wife, 'I think it's going to be all right.
''' NARRATOR: Creating the look of a medieval castle in a BBC TVstudio was no small job.
And unlike Bromly, who had returned to Doctor Who, this was designer Keith Cheetham's first and only Doctor Who adventure.
I used to design the Dave Allen At Large show.
That was one of my main areas every year.
I did it every year.
And the brilliant thing about the Dave Allen At Large show was that there was all sorts of things to design.
It wasn't like the normal comedy show.
So on Dave Allen At Large, I had cowboy saloons, churches, obviously, castles.
So when the Doctor Who script dropped on my board, I thought, ''Fantastic, fantastic.
'' Prestige drama, which Doctor Who was in those days.
Absolutely.
It was a children's programme, but it was a high-profile children's programme, so to get one you were lucky.
And I opened the first page and my heart sank 'cause the first page said, ''Two knights ride down through the woods.
'' I thought, ''Oh, no, it's period.
Another castle.
'' I have a feeling time's beginning to run out.
KEITH CHEETHAM: First of all, it wasn't gonna be a big spaceship 'cause we hadn't got a budget for a big spaceship.
And also, it's only one man coming, so I'd been looking for some sort of organic forms that were just abstract forms for influences on that.
And I'd remembered in the books I'd been using that I'd seen a magnified, a huge magnified shot of an insect's eye.
And I thought, ''Yeah, this could be a starting point for the spaceship.
'' 'Cause it was such a complex shape, I didn't actually know how to draw it to build it.
At all.
We couldn't work it out.
Particularly as I wanted to have these diamond shapes going all over it because they were, if you like, taken from this insect's eye, they're almost irises if you like, the pupils in the eye.
So in the end, what we did was we designed a circle which we made like segments from an orange, if you like, so it could be fitted together and it could be taken apart.
And then we covered it, it was covered and painted, and then the assistant and I sat down with sheets of polystyrene and cut out the diamonds and put them over it.
And to make it work visually, we actually visually adjusted.
'Cause that's what we couldn't work out, was how, in perspective, as they went round, they changed.
And so we just did it by eye, we sat and stuck them on.
And then we had to look at how many shots were going to be needed inside.
And I'm glad to say there weren't that many shots required inside.
The interior is simply a block or desk shape, and then my assistant and I raided what we used to call the samples cupboard.
It's where designers kept samples of paint swatches and material.
And I found this swatch of Perspex samples, got some felt, sticky felt pads, and then my assistant and I just sat very quietly one afternoon in the workshop and stuck them all on.
In the studio, there were probably only about four or five sets.
Because they were quite big The great hall was, you know, very big.
And we had real flaming torches and stuff like that.
(WHOOSHING) We had a shot of the Tardis in the forest.
And I went to the props van and the Tardis wasn't there.
So I looked at the prop man, I said, ''Where's the Tardis?'' And he said, ''What Tardis?'' I said, ''The Tardis! Where's the Tardis?'' And he went, ''Oh, we've left it behind!'' I said, ''No, no, you can't have.
'' ''It's Doctor Who! Please don't tell me we've left the Tardis behind.
''This is Doctor Who, wouldn't you load it automatically ''even if we didn't want it?'' So I had to go and see the director and say, ''Look, Alan, you know, um ''We've left the Tardis at Shepherd's Bush.
'' NARRATOR: Now, it's worth noting that by complete coincidence, within the tower of the real Peckforton Castle, is the Racquet Room, which is not too dissimilar from the main hall Cheetham designed for the studio.
For the climax ofThe Time Warrior, Irongron's castle was all set for destruction.
However, Alan Bromly had other ideas.
He felt that if an effect could be got simply, then that was the way to do it.
Rather than in the best and most effective way.
In The Daemons, we blew up a church.
And we blew it up so successfully that we had letters saying that they thought it was disgusting that the BBC should destroy a lovely old church just for a show.
But, of course, we didn't.
I showed him the explosion of the church and said we could blow up the castle like that.
''No, no, don't worry.
It'll look fine.
'' And all he did was to go to the film library and find a rather naff shot of collapsing masonry and everything.
And it was dull, dull, dull.
It told the story, and Alan felt that if it told the story, that was enough.
And similarly, with the actual arrival through the window, seeing it through the window, I said I came up with a suggestion, and he said, ''No, no, I know a way to do it.
'' And, in fact, he had a tennis ball on a bit of string, with a spotlight on it to bring it up to be white, lowering it down, and it was a very dull shot.
I was absolutely gobsmacked when I heard that Time Warrior was going to have the special effects remade digitally and done the way they should have been done in the first place.
Only, of course, in those days we didn't have CGI, computer-generated imagery, but we could have done it better and now it's going to be done better and I'm looking forward immensely to seeing it.
NARRATOR: The Time Warrior saw the introduction of several Doctor Who icons.
For example, the Sontarans, and, of course, Sarah Jane Smith.
But it also marked the beginning of the end for its regulars, who had helped the show endure and triumph throughout the early 1970s.
My lasting memories of The Time Warrior are really focused on Liz, Liz Sladen, and her debut as Sarah Jane Smith.
I think my lasting memory of The Time Warrior would be Linx.
And would be the moment when he takes off his helmet at the end of episode one and you see that face, you know.
I think that's a classic moment, one of the best things we did.
It kind of sums up the show.