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Fibremen of Spong

By Paul Scoones

After the send-up of Doctor Who on TV3's Issues (a production of the Auckland-based Isambard Productions Ltd), Jon Preddle contacted the show on behalf of TSV. The producer of Issues, Anne Williams, wrote back generously supplying production details, design sketches and a video recording of the broadcast segments.

[Set design sketch]

Fibremen of Spong was one of a trio of send-ups of television series commissioned from Auckland writer James Griffin. Griffin's Doctor Who sketch was divided into three parts, and the middle one was later dropped, 'for balance in the overall programme.'

Due to budget and cast restrictions, the sketches had to be written very tightly and had to be based around only one set. Williams obtained some books from a Doctor Who fan (Jonathan Park) in Homebush, Canterbury, and these were used as references by designer Toby Parkinson when designing the TARDIS Console Room set.

'The set was made out of net curtains, circles of net,' explains Williams. 'The central panel was helped by meters donated by the Waitemata Electric Power Board and the 'blob' consisted of black balloons filled with water and black currant jelly prodded by two broomsticks.'

Suzanne Sturrock, the costume designer on Issues, decided that the Fibremen themselves should look like Weetbix with legs. 'She made an outfit using a foam base with a textured surface of autumn leaves and foam chips. To keep the texture in place she used spray glue - it took three different brands to find the one that works. She then spray-painted the outfit and fitted eyes - plastic bowls. The performers in the costumes were Willy de Wit and Jon Gadsby.'

In discussions, Williams and Sturrock decided on a 1960s look for the Liverpool-accented companions played by Liz Mullane and Alison Wall, 'so Suzanne looked for mini skirts, hot pants, high boots, tight little striped jerseys and jerkins.'

Rawiri Paratene, as the Doctor, played the part as 'your standard NZ construction worker and was dressed accordingly.'

Williams concluded her letter by saying 'Thank you for taking an interest in Issues - I hope your members continue to enjoy the show.'

This item appeared in TSV 31 (November 1992).

Related articles: Fibremen of Spong Transcript