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The making of... More than 30 Years in the TARDIS

By Paul Scoones

Kevin Davies first approached the BBC about making a celebratory programme for Doctor Who when he was completing work on his production The Making of the Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy for BBC Video in late 1992. BBC Video producer David Jackson was already working on The Dark Dimension project, but introduced Davies to John Whiston, producer of the BBC's The Late Show.

Davies submitted a large number of proposals to both Whiston and other producers over the next six months, but it wasn't until the same day that The Dark Dimension was cancelled, 9 July 1993, that Davies was given the go-ahead to develop a Thirtieth Anniversary programme. By this time, Davies himself had been recruited on to The Dark Dimension team to work as post-production effects supervisor.

Tomb of the Time Lords was the title of Davies' first proposal, featuring Ace and a mysterious Time Lord searching the Doctor's memory in the Matrix. It was rejected for being too involved and expensive. It would have involved merging Sophie Aldred with clips using CSO.

Through the TARDIS with Lloyd Grossman was a five minute proposal for a clips show hosted by Grossman in which he would have burst in through the TARDIS doors, drawling "So WHO lives here?"

The Legend Begins was to have been a drama-documentary about the creation of the series with actors cast to play William Hartnell, Verity Lambert, Sydney Newman and others from 1963. Pete Postlewaite was Davies' choice for the part of William Hartnell. Interestingly, Davies also sent this proposal to Verity Lambert's own production company. He also submitted an idea for a programme about Terry Nation to The South Bank Show to tie in with the thirtieth anniversary of the Daleks.

The Unsung Heroes of Doctor Who was a series of five-minute shows including items on the stuntmen, visual effects and costume designers. This proposal was later developed for the series of mini-documentaries made to precede the repeat screening of Planet of the Daleks in late 1993 in the UK.

State Secret: Who Were the Doctor? was a humorous pseudo-documentary exposing the undercover activities of UNIT and their mysterious scientific advisers all code-named 'Doctor'. Clips from the series were going to be captioned 'reconstructions'. This proposal was written with the help of Marc Platt.

Eulogy for the Doctor featured a dinner party of past companions swapping stories, using clips as flashbacks. This was conceived of as a possible replacement for The Dark Dimension.

30 Years in the TARDIS was first used as the title of Davies' penultimate proposal. It involved the Brigadier and Sarah arriving at a UNIT hangar to find an unseen Doctor lying on a hospital bed clutching a cable connecting him to the TARDIS. The Doctor's friends reminiscences would be represented by flashbacks, and the drama was to be inter-cut with cast and crew interviews. At the end the Doctor seems to die, only to slip away quietly in the TARDIS when everyone's back is turned. Producer John Whiston liked this idea, though advised Davies to come up with something less ambitious as there were only nine weeks in which to make the programme. Davies's final concept - linking the programme through the eyes of a young boy, staging recreations of classic scenes and setting interviews on famous locations - was only developed in the first week of production.

Davies received final approval at the end of September 1993 to make a 40 minute documentary, which was soon expanded to 50 minutes. Most of the location recordings took place on Sundays to ensure the availability of interview subjects. This also reduced problems with crowd control, as there were only foreign tourists and Doctor Who fans to cope with.

Sunday 17 October 1993 was the first day on location and saw filming on and around Butler's Wharf (next to Tower Bridge) which, ten years previously, had been the location for Resurrection of the Daleks. This saw the recording of the exterior part of the scene in which of the boy (played by actor and Doctor Who fan Josh Maguire) enters the TARDIS. Also recorded at this time was the Web of Fear reconstruction with the dead newspaper seller (played by Adrian Rigelsford), footage of K-9 in action, and an interview with his caretaker and operator Mat Irvine. A second interview, with Irvine's fellow special effects designer Mike Tucker was also recorded but ultimately not used in either version of the documentary.

Sunday 24 October saw recording take place in the morning near St Paul's Cathedral to recreate the famous shot of Cybermen marching down the steps from The Invasion. Nine post-Earthshock style Cybermen costumes were provided by fans. The Cybermen were joined by Colin Baker and Nicola Bryant, who recorded their interviews at this time. Also featured was a new-look Cybermat, designed by Mike Tucker, which had originally been designed, but unused, for Silver Nemesis.

That afternoon, the Auton break-out, recreating the classic scene from Spearhead from Space, was recorded at Old Change Court. Disused empty shop-windows were set up to resemble a 1969 clothing store, and the two Autons were played by Gary Russell and Heather Barker. Unlike Spearhead from Space, these Autons were actually seen to smash the shop window, and they were also fitted with fully-functional wrist guns which detonated on cue.

Sunday 31 October began with the recording of eight Daleks crossing Westminster Bridge; a reconstruction of the famous shot from The Dalek Invasion of Earth. As with the Cybermen, the Daleks were provided by fans. Carole Ann Ford, Verity Lambert, Roberta Tovey (Susan in the Dalek movies) and Jessica Carney (William Hartnell's granddaughter) were present for a press launch. Ford and Lambert recorded interviews for the documentary, and a sequence in which Ford escapes from a couple of pursuing Daleks was also recorded.

In the afternoon the production team were in Bermondsey, recording a homage to the second Dalek film in Bermondsey Wall Street. The sequence involved Robomen (one of which was played by Gary Russell), Daleks, the TARDIS and Roberta Tovey, who recorded her memories of working on the films. She was to have been joined by Jennie Linden (Barbara in the first film) in this sequence, but Linden proved unavailable at this stage due to illness.

Tuesday 2 November saw recording located at the Quasar Centre (a laser tag game venue) at the Observatory Shopping Centre in Slough. Sylvester McCoy and Sophie Aldred gave individual interviews before recording largely improvised material set within the Quasar labyrinth. These sequences featured brief cameos by Fifi, a Ghost Light Husk, the Destroyer and a Haemovore, the latter two both played by Gary Russell (the Husk does not appear in either version of the documentary).

The next location used was the control gallery of Studio 1 and the BBC's Television Centre, where unedited studio recordings from Death to the Daleks were played on the monitor screens to recreate the atmosphere of 1973, leading into an interview with Barry Letts and Terrance Dicks. Following this the animatronic dinosaurs at the Natural History Museum were recorded for later use in a recreation of a scene from Invasion of the Dinosaurs.

Sunday 7 November saw recording at three different locations, starting with the National Army Museum, where Nicholas Courtney recorded some anecdotes about his time on the series, then encountered the Autons.

Next on the schedule was Pitshanger Manor at Ealing Green, where Elisabeth Sladen and her daughter Sadie were pursued by a Sontaran, played by Stephen Mansfield, wearing the mask he'd created. In the evening, the production team moved to the BBC Radiophonic Workshop studios at Maida Vale, where Brian Hodgson, Dick Mills and Delia Derbyshire were all interviewed about their contributions to Doctor Who music and sound effects. Derbyshire, who had collaborated with Ron Grainer on the original theme tune for the show, travelled to London specially for the interview, but none of the Radiophonic Workshop material made it into either version of the documentary.

Tuesday 9 November saw the commencement of recording in Studio 8 at BBC Television Centre. Four sets were constructed in this studio: a Sixties-style sitting room, complete with sofa to hide behind and a television in the corner; a section of Dalek city corridor in the style of the first Dalek story; the TARDIS console room, which used the doors and two walls constructed for the Panopticon'93 convention; and an impressively accurate control room for the Emperor Dalek. This had been made possible because, quite by coincidence, the original set designer for The Evil of the Daleks, Chris Thompson, happened to be working on the production, and was able to re-build part of the set using his own original plans. The Emperor Dalek itself was provided by amateur model-maker Julian Vince whose full-size recreation initially proved too large for the set.

The first recording involved Elisabeth Sladen, interviewed on the sitting room set. During this interview, Sladen was joined by K-9 - in this case a replica built by a fan - but this version of the dog did not appear in the documentary.

Next to be interviewed were Roberta Tovey and Jennie Linden, on the set of the Dalek city. By pure chance, Kevin Davies discovered that Roy Castle (who had played Ian alongside Linden and Tovey in the first Dalek film) happened to be working on an edition of the long-running series Record Breakers, in the neighbouring studio. Unfortunately, Castle could not be spared to partake in the documentary, but he did join his former co-stars for a brief photo session in the evening.

The remainder of the evening was devoted to interviewing William Hartnell's granddaughter, Jessica (Judith) Carney, who had brought along her extremely rare 1964 Scorpion Automotives Dalek Dressing Up Costume and also a souvenir album which had belonged to William Hartnell, containing photographs and newspaper clippings. Apart from one brief shot on the Dalek city set, Carney recorded her interview on the sitting room set.

Wednesday 10 November began with further recording of Jessica Carney, followed by a number of interviews all on the sitting room set, with celebrity Doctor Who fans Toyah Wilcox (actress/singer), Ken Livingstone (politician) and Mike Gatting (cricketer). Gerry Anderson and his son Jamie were interviewed about the fact that Jamie is an avid fan of Doctor Who but not of his father's own productions.

The production team then moved on to the Emperor's control room set where the Daleks that had appeared on location were used once more to recreate a brief scene from The Evil of the Daleks, (which was used in the video version in black and white to give the impression of actually being from the story). Frazer Hines and Deborah Watling were interviewed on the set. Hines' continual humorous banter kept reducing Watling to fits of giggles, which meant that much of what was recorded with the duo proved unusable. Hines and Watling also took part in an impressive piece of special effects work recorded on the Emperor's control room set. Prominent Doctor Who fan Ian Levine was also interviewed on this set.

Recording continued in the evening on the TARDIS console room set, beginning with the interior component of the continuous shot of Josh Maguire entering the police box and finding himself in the console room. Maguire was joined on set by Carole Ann Ford and a Dalek. Ford then recorded further interview material, followed by an interview with former producer John Nathan-Turner.

Thursday 11 November saw the team back out on location at the Hayward Gallery in the South Bank complex near Waterloo. It was here that interviews with Jon Pertwee, sitting in the Whomobile, were recorded, as well as a 're-creation' from Invasion of the Dinosaurs. Also recorded was footage of a Draconian and an Ogron, and Gary Russell was on hand (this time as himself) to record his thoughts on the show.

This day's recording was to have been the last conducted for the production. With just over two weeks left before the scheduled transmission date, Kevin Davies and his team embarked on the mammoth job of editing together the newly-recorded material and a massive collection of carefully selected archive footage into a documentary not more than 50 minutes in length.

In their quest to locate rare and interesting archive material to include in the documentary, Davies and his team of researchers had searched both outside and inside the BBC. By placing adverts in Doncaster newspapers, Davies was able to obtain footage from the Finningly Airshow of September 1965. at which William Hartnell put in a personal appearance as the Doctor. The film trailers for the two Dalek movies were provided by a private collector.

Within the BBC's own Film and Videotape library, archivist Andrew Pixley and BBC technicians Steve Roberts and Paul Vanezis had unearthed many rare recordings. Vintage editions of the children's show Blue Peter were the source of much of the newly-discovered material, including an item on the War Machines from 1966, the 'Design-a-Monster' competition results from 1967, and Jon Pertwee's Whomobile from 1973.

Brian Hodgson provided a videotape containing a documentary about the BBC Radiophonic Workshop, which featured a six second clip of Daleks exploding from The Power of the Daleks episode Six. Davies was able to source the original documentary in the BBC's Film and Videotape library to obtain a good copy of the clip. Further Dalek footage was also recovered in the form of a short clip of the Daleks burning the forest on Kembel from The Daleks' Master Plan episode two, provided by a private collector. Also unearthed was unused film footage of various Doctor Who title sequences, some dating as far back as the very beginning of the series.

Although Davies had been given a free hand during the planning and recording of the documentary, all this changed in mid-November, just over a week before transmission. Viewing a rough-cut of the first twenty minutes of the documentary, The Late Show producers John Whiston and John Hush ordered major changes to the production. Davies' plan for the documentary was to show why Doctor Who was popular by providing a nostalgic look at its history. The Late Show producers decided that this wasn't quite what they wanted, and doubted the interest value of Davies' approach. Whiston and Bush felt that the documentary should instead demonstrate what Doctor Who was about, and to illustrate this point, additional interview material was hastily recorded with Philip Hinchcliffe, Ben Aaronovitch, Mary Whitehouse, and 'experts' speaking on aspects of design and the scientific validity of Doctor Who. Also added at this stage were the 'Essential Information' sections.

Although Davies had recorded far more material than he could hope to squeeze into a 50-minute production, the inclusion of this last-minute material insisted upon by Whiston and Bush meant that far more of Davies' work had to be left out than he had expected. Almost every interview was severely trimmed, and some were dropped altogether. Interviewees who were not seen in the final television edit included Sylvester McCoy, Sophie Aldred, Mat Irvine, Mike Tucker, Dick Mills, Delia Derbyshire, Brian Hodgson and Gerry Anderson. Ironically, the last-minute interview recorded with Philip Hinchcliffe was also left out. Also curtailed were several location and studio action sequences; the Emperor Dalek, the Sontaran, the Haemovore and the Destroyer were cut altogether, and the new footage evoking the Dalek films and The Invasion appeared only fleetingly.

This severe curtailment of his vision was understandably, a source of considerable anguish for Davies. During the editing of the documentary, the situation was so fraught that he is said to have walked out in protest at one point over the editing of his material.

The finished programme had a running time of 47 minutes and 51 seconds. It was broadcast on BBC1 on Monday November 29 1993 at 8pm, and gained an audience rating of 4.3 million.

Almost immediately after its transmission, rumours began to circulate about the possibility of a 'director's cut' being released on video, reinstating all of the cut footage. By early 1994 this rumour became fact, with BBC Video commissioning Kevin Davies to re-edit his material for an extended video release. The production was appropriately titled More Than 30 Years in the TARDIS.

This version of the documentary, whilst more under Davies' own control, was still not without restraints. Acting on poor sales figures for The Colin Baker Years tape, released early in 1994, BBC Video decided to play it safe with their next 'special' release, and consequently cut the projected budget and running time for Davies' production. The video could run for a maximum of 90 minutes, but there was no money for recording new material. This wasn't really a problem as Davies had all the material left out of the original version to work with. In addition, he extensively reorganised the material that had appeared in the television version, and cut out some footage to make way for what he wanted to include most.

Whilst preparing the video release, Davies came across an October 1971 edition of Blue Peter featuring a clip from the now missing third episode of The Daleks' Master Plan. The clip included a scene of the Doctor, Steven, Katarina, and Bret Vyon aboard Mavic Chen's spaceship, the Spar, as well as sequences of the Daleks. Davies had accumulated a plethora of behind-the-scenes clips of the making of Doctor Who, and the video production provided an ideal opportunity to utilise this previously unseen footage.

The material collected covered a number of stories dating as far back as the early Seventies, including The Claws of Axos, Colony in Space, Death to the Daleks, Planet of Evil, Shada, Time-Flight, Arc of Infinity, Mawdryn Undead, Planet of Fire, The Caves of Androzani, Remembrance of the Daleks, Battlefield and Ghost Light. Particularly notable was the discovery of footage showing a studio session for Carnival of Monsters, which had been included in a November 1972 documentary called Looking In, celebrating the work of the BBC.

Shortly before its release, a segment had to be edited out of the production, believed to be due to a failure to gain the proper clearances. This was a mid-Seventies Weetabix Doctor Who cards and games television advert, which would have immediately preceded the second Prime Computer advert on the video. This last-minute cut had the effect of reducing the running time from the full 90 minutes to 88 minutes.

Numbered BBCV 5403, More Than 30 Years in the TARDIS was packaged with an artwork cover depicting the TARDIS by Andrew Skilleter. The release date was Monday 7 November 1994, just three weeks short of the first anniversary of the documentary's television debut.

The video was given a special pre-release promotional launch at the BAFTA Centre, Piccadilly, London, on Saturday 5 November 1994, with many of the on-screen and behind-the-scenes people in attendance. The event saw the bonus screening of material not included in the finished version, including a Nationwide interview with Tom Baker, Mary Tamm and Carole Ann Ford, from 22 November 1978, which was the source of the Tom Baker quote used in the pre-credits sequence.

At Davies' urging, BBC video took the unusual step of copy-protecting the video recordings using a process called Macro-vision (also used on the UK release of The Tomb of the Cybermen), which whilst unaffecting the commercial tape, prevents successful dubbing taking place. Davies' rationale was that this would boost sales of the tape, and certainly he seems to have been proved right, with sales figures reportedly exceeding 25,000 tapes which is much higher than the sales for a standard story release. Consequently, BBC Video have now asked Davies to put forward proposals for another special release; he is considering a tape devoted solely to Doctor Who bloopers and out-takes. Anyone for Even More Than 30 Years in the TARDIS. . . ?

Sources: Celestial Toyroom 203, 213, Doctor Who Magazine, Doctor Who Yearbook 1995, Starburst Yearbook 1993/94.

Narrator (Nicholas Courtney); Dalek Voices (Michael Wisher); The Boy (Josh Maguire); Monsters, Daleks and other Nasties (Toby Aspin, Heather Barker, Daniel Cohen, Barnaby Edwards, Mark Gatiss, Steve Gostelow, Derek Handley, Alistair Lock, Stephen Mansfield, David Miller, Nick Pegg, Adrian Rigelsford, Gary Russell); Cybermen (Steve Austen, Steve Gostelow, Paul Langley, John Morosini-Whelan, Nick Pegg, Kevin Ryan, Paul Slade, Dean Taylor, Graham Tongue).

Programme Consultant: Andrew Pixley; Archive Extracts Research: Ian Levine, Richard Molesworth, Ralph Montagu, Steve Roberts, Paul Vanezis; The Director Wishes to Thank: The Cast and Crew of Doctor Who, Paul Buckland for the Whomobile, Julian Vince for the Emperor Dalek, Pete Tyler, Jim Francis, Andy Hopkinson, Andrew Beech, Mark Short, The Natural History Museum, Quasar Slough, David Jackson, Delia Derbyshire, Jessica Carney, Gary Russell, Marcus Hearn; Daleks and Monster Costumes supplied by Steve Allen, Andrew Beech, David Brian. Tony Clark, Roger Dilley, Steve Gostelow, Mick Hall, Derek Handley, Andy Hopkinson, David Howe, Ian Levine, Alistair Lock, Susan Moore, Mike Tucker, Julian Vince; Special Costumes made by Robert Allsop, Derek Handley, Stephen Mansfield, David Miller, Susan Moore; Digital Imaging on VENICE System: Tim Burgess; Matte Painting: Tony Pulham, Cybermat and Auton Visual Effects: Mike Tucker; Motion Control Camera: Pete Tyler; Special Archive Sound Effects by Brian Hodgson and Dick Mills of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop; Doctor Who Theme Composed by Ron Grainer; Facilities: Ace Editing, BBC Pebble Mill, Gemini Audio Productions; REW Broadcast, Touch Animation; Dresser: Giles Gale, Runner: Claire Harrison; Electrician: Geoff Brown; Gaffer: Billy Byrne; Grips: Bob Howland; Sound Recordists: Mark Ayres, Dick Boulter, Bruce Galloway, Alex Marsden, Nigel Reed, Simon Wilson, Eric Wisby, Tony Wornum; Dubbing Mixers: Mark Ayres, Craig Irving; TV Version Editors: Francis Buchanan, Lynda Featherstone; Extracts Compiled By Paul Vanezis, Steve Roberts; Essential Info Graphics: Steve Bonnett, Keith Haynes; Opening Titles: Ralph Montagu; Poster Art: Tony Clark, Astons: Simon Ashcroft, Duncan Sutton; Make Up: Paige Bell; Costume: Colin Lavers, Ken Trew; Photography: John Adderley; Additional Photography: Peter Chapman; Designers: Andrew Howe-Davies, Paul Robinson, Chris Thompson; TV Version Unit Manager: Judi Wild; Researcher: Jane Rundle; Production Assistant: Sheila Casstles; Editor: Paul Ratcliffe; Original Music and Sound Design: Mark Ayres; Additional Interviews Directed By Joanna Bailey, John Bush, Alexis Giradet, David Jeffcock; TV Version Executive Producer: John Whiston; TV Version Producers: John Bush, Alexis Giradet, Caroline Wright; Business Affairs: Martin Perrigo; Production Associate: Simon Ashwood; Executive Producer: Sue Kerr; Produced & Directed by Kevin Davies.

This item appeared in TSV 43 (March 1995).

Related Items: More Than 30 Years in the TARDIS: A Clip-Spotter's Guide
Index nodes: 30 Years in the TARDIS