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The Kiwi Quark Connection

Prime TV uncovered a fascinating New Zealand Doctor Who connection, announced in this mid-August press release:

Four Auckland boys found themselves planted in front of the television and compelled by their father to watch his performance in Doctor Who on Prime Television.

Their father, John Hicks, once played a Quark, a small and deadly robot on the Doctor Who story The Dominators, a five-part tale which played on Prime Television from Friday 18 to Wednesday 23 August.

The Quarks are the servant of two evil Dominators, who try to take over and destroy a peaceful planet.

Hicks, who now lives in the Auckland suburb of Henderson, was 14 when he landed the part. When he was nearly 13, Hicks won the eponymous role in Oliver at London's Piccadilly Theatre, and started attending a local stage school (coincidentally run by singer Phil Collins' mum). Soon he was doing bit parts in a number of stage, film and television productions, including Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, Mr Chips, and Dixon of Dock Green.

‘Although your parents may have high ideas for you, at that age you are just interested in having a good time and a laugh,’ says Mr Hicks (45), who now works as a store manager for a commercial cleaning company.

‘In England at the time, Doctor Who was the in thing, the ultimate in science fiction. My two school friends, Gary Smith and Freddie Wilson, also played Quarks. During the lunch-breaks we used to play with the television cameras until one day a voice came from nowhere — the control room, I guess — telling us not to move them.’

Hicks' costume consisted of a square, black fibreglass box, with a frosted fibreglass globe on his head, which he could hardly see through. He remembers in one scene having to lie down on the ground, with a smoke bomb inside his costume, and mime the death throes of a Quark.

Another time he was walking along, barely able to see through the misted helmet of his costume, when he realised he was going to crash into one of the props, a polystyrene rock. The cameras were rolling, so he surreptitiously pushed the rock aside with his foot. After the scene was shot, the director asked which boy had moved the rock. Thinking he was going to get into trouble, Hicks sheepishly owned up to it.

‘That was fantastic!’ said the director. ‘It will make the viewers think the Quarks have super strength.’

This item appeared in TSV 61 (December 2000).

Index nodes: The Dominators