Doctor Who - Documentary s11e13 Episode Script

Directing Who with Barry Letts

Once I'd got myself established as an actor, I realised that, though I wanted to go on acting, I also wanted to direct.
This was when I was working in the theatre.
I could see that it was very hard work.
The job of being a director was even more fascinating in some ways than being an actor.
It encompasses so much more.
A friend of mine, another actor, Johnny Woodnutt John Woodnutt.
He used to direct this amateur company which was at the North London Polytechnic.
There were people who had been acting for 20 years and it was as good as a professional company.
He came to me one day and said, "I'm committed to doing this show but," he said, "on the dress rehearsal day "I've been offered a really good radio and I must take it.
" So, he said, "Would you go on to the dress rehearsal "and see it as an outside eye "and give them notes if you think it's necessary?" He said, "I'll explain the whole thing to them.
" And they were very happy and I did it.
And they liked me.
And so when John wasn't available, I started directing their shows as well.
On the strength of this, I applied for the Producers course as they called it in those days, a producers/directors course at the BBC.
And the Head of Drama, Michael Barry, wrote back and said, "Every actor thinks he could be a television director.
"It's much more difficult than you think.
"You haven't had enough experience of television, "you haven't had enough experience of directing.
"Sorry," you know.
So I wrote back and said, "Well, I intend to" This was in 1960.
I said, "I intend to get there eventually, "even if it takes me 10 years.
" By 1966, I made it and was accepted and did the course and after the course was over was offered a two-year contract starting off directing The Newcomers which was the soap of the day.
After The Newcomers I directed Z Cars.
Not the original Z Cars, which is 50 minutes and shot live, but when it had become twice weekly.
Rather like The Bill.
(EXCLAIMS) It went very well.
And Innes Lloyd, who was the producer of Doctor Who, asked me to direct Enemy of the World.
And there I was directing Patrick Troughton who was an old colleague and an old friend, which was very nice.
(DOCTOR WHO THEME) David Whitaker had been a really early writer and script editor of Doctor Who at the very, very beginning with Verity Lambert.
But I think by the time he got to Enemy of the World, he's written himself out as far as Doctor Who was concerned.
And, normally, if the director joins, he's given, say, six scripts, which he then analyses for casting and for design and so on and so on, before he even has a planning meeting with everybody else.
But on this occasion, I arrived and I was given the first draft script of Episode 1 and a rough synopsis of what was going to happen after which made life very, very difficult for me.
Especially as Episode 1 couldn't be done because it started with the Tardis arriving on a crowded beach in Australia, in the bright sunlight and all the rest of it, the sunshine.
We couldn't afford a large number of extras.
We couldn't go and do it, say, at Southend or Margate or somewhere, for the simple reason it was the wrong time of the year.
It was too late in the year.
The crowds had disappeared.
So I suggested why not use this hovercraft that we saw an item in the paper about.
Because in those days, hovercrafts were very new and it was a very science-fictional idea and I Yes, that's great.
And I also thought, "Well, let's use a helicopter as well.
" And so we cobbled together I cobbled together an opening sequence, film sequence.
So at least I could get that set up.
-What is it, Doctor? -I'm frightened.
Over here.
Run! I can't! I can't! You must! It's our only chance.
-Hurry! -Come on! Made it! In the meantime, Peter Bryant who was the script editor, was working with David to get the rest of the scripts done.
I've warned you about the earthquakes.
He could have cautioned the people.
Some of them might have been saved.
-No maybe about it.
Who is going to control this zone now? Fedorin? Fedorin! Oh, what a good idea.
Patrick Troughton takes a part, feeds it through his own personality, and what comes out is an utterly different character even though it's recognisably the same person.
And he was very well exemplified in Enemy of the World because he played the Doctor and he played Salamander the villain.
Two utterly different people who looked exactly the same.
I mean, that was what the story was about.
Fedorin, come with me.
We must make a report to the World Authority.
They won't believe a word you tell them.
We shall see.
The only episode that survives as a whole is I think Episode 3, and unfortunately it was the dullest of the episodes.
It had great chunks of it which were pure padding that had nothing to do with the story at all, with Debbie Watling and Frazer Hines playing the assistants, who were in the kitchen doing some cooking.
It had nothing to do with the story, just went on and on and on, and I felt very let down.
But equally well, I felt that I didn't really do myself justice as a director on Enemy of the World because I tried to be too clever, and I tried to do too many technical clevernesses and didn't concentrate enough on the drama that was there and indeed making more of a fuss to make sure that more drama was there and get the rewrites done and so on.
So I don't think my first Doctor Who was really all that much of a success but other people seem to have liked it.
I had been very happy as a director.
And then Shaun Sutton, who by this time was the Head of Serials, came to me and said, "How would you like to produce Doctor Who?" He said, "You wouldn't have to give up directing.
" He said, "You could direct a show every so often, we'd give you a contract as producer/director.
" If I'd done too many, the other directors would quite rightly say that I was doing them out of a job.
So I felt that I could only do one a season.
I always felt that opening the stories out by going on location, getting outside, getting out of the studio, was a great help.
Because colour had just started and people were starting to get colour licences, there was a surplus of money at the BBC.
There was more money coming in at that period than the BBC was spending.
And so I was able to have really quite a lot of filming.
You know, we had about five minutes filming in every episode.
On the location ofTerror of the Autons, it looked as if the whole thing was going to collapse on us because Katy, who was so very, very short-sighted She had to run across a bit of rough ground in a quarry and she twisted her ankle very badly and was limping very badly.
We actually put some lines in to cover it.
But I think by the time we edited it together the limp didn't show so we didn't use the line.
What I tried to do was either do the first one of the season or the last one of the season, not necessarily in the order they went out, but in the order that they were recorded, because it meant that I was doing one job at a time instead of trying to be a producer and be a director as well at the same time.
I was very careful about which shows I directed, you know.
I knew that Bob Holmes would turn up something really good, so "Carnival of Monsters" was lovely.
(CREATURES GRUNTING) MAN: Barry? Slight problem here.
When I did the producer/director's course, we were told very firmly, "Try and stay in the gallery as much as you can, "because going down onto the floor "and then coming back to the gallery takes time.
"And that's a waste of money.
"It's a waste of your time and a waste of studio time.
"So it makes much more sense to try and do it all from the gallery "through the production manager, who is acting as floor manager.
" And to a large extent, I agreed with that.
Yes, can we please keep it quiet, studio? We're trying to camera rehearse.
But sometimes it was much more sensible to go down onto the floor if my planning hadn't gone quite right, and trying to work it from, say, "No, move him a bit further to the right.
"No, I'm sorry, that doesn't quite work.
" Now, if you went down on the floor, you could see why it wasn't working.
Sometimes I wouldn't even go back to the gallery for the take.
I would stand and look at a monitor in the corner.
It was more like filming.
And if I was happy, that'd be great, and then I'd go back upstairs and carry on from the gallery.
Stand by.
I would have liked to have directed The Dæmons, because I co-wrote it, and I was determined that sooner or later, I was going to direct something that I'd written myself with Bob Sloman.
(ALL CHANTING) In my time at the BBC, I only managed it twice.
One of them was Planet of the Spiders.
Later on, I was doing Gulliver in Lilliput for the Classic Serial, and I dramatised it, and I produced it to the point where we started shooting, and then another producer took over while I was actually shooting it as director.
So those are the only two times in my life that I actually achieved my ambition.
When I left Doctor Who, there I was with no job, so I went back to being a director.
I was offered a job by Philip Hinchcliffe, once it was known I was going to be directing, doing The Android Invasion.
When we were shooting the last episode, the androids were switched off.
(ELECTRIC HUMMING) And yet, later on, the Doctor is apparently killed.
WOMAN: Doctor! And it turns out it's an android.
Don't waste any tears on him, Sarah.
He's only an android.
Now, there was a scene which explained this.
But when we shot the last episode, there wasn't time to shoot it.
And Philip came to me as ex-producer, rather than as director, and said, "What do we do about this? It doesn't make sense.
"You know, if all the androids have been switched off, "The Doctor Who android would have been switched off, too.
" And I said, "Oh, we haven't got time to shoot it.
"It'll be all right.
People won't notice.
They'll accept.
" They didn't.
They did notice.
There were complaints from all the fans, saying, "This doesn't make sense.
" And I felt very badly that I'd misadvised Philip about it.
We should have asked for more time to shoot the missing scene.
Come on.
And then I went from that to directing The Prince and the Pauper, which was great fun.
In the middle of The Prince and the Pauper, which was for the BBC1 Classic Serial slot.
The producer suddenly was offered He was a New Zealander, and he was offered a job as Head of Drama for the equivalent of BBC2, which was starting up in New Zealand.
And off he went, and there I was without a producer, and I was asked if I'd take over as the producer of the Classic Serial slot, as well as carry on directing every so often.
And I said, "Yes, I'd love to," and I did it for the next 10 years.