Morris Barry (1992)

Here’s Morris Barry talking about his experiences directing ‘The Moonbase’ and ‘Tomb of the Cybermen’.

“Well the chief problem was that I’d never done a ‘Doctor Who’ before. Of course I’d seen them, I’d watched them with my young children and they kept on saying ‘Well you’re in the BBC, you ought to be able to tell us, how do they do this, dad?’, and I didn’t know, because all the things I’d been directing for eight or nine years, they were all cosy little plays or serials, a bit of soap, that sort of thing. So it was a challenge for me, anyway. Amazingly, when I found all the back-up that I had, with design and special effects, all that, if you didn’t know how to do something, they came along and said ‘How about trying this?’, so that was very nice. But it did tax one, I found. I had to pull out all the stops.

“The Cyber costumes were redesigned, but I can’t honestly remember why, exactly. I of course think that my Cyber costumes were better than anyone else’s Cyber costumes, they had bits and pieces on, piping down the sides of their arms etc., but I don’t know why they kept on changing them. There was one thing that was a purely personal thing, I’m not very good with heights but I did want to get a long shot of the TARDIS, and we had three sizes of TARDIS, the full size one, a middle one and one about 2ft high, and so of course if you use the 2ft high one on a set, a sort of blank set, and you got up to the lighting gantry at Ealing and you shot down from there, that was fine, that was excellent. But of course you can’t really ask a cameraman to go up there and shoot without you going up as well, and I was petrified, absolutely petrified going up that ladder and finding all the stage crew, the lighting hands and so on, sitting there smoking themselves silly, eating their sandwiches etc., and I was terrified.

“When I did ‘Tomb of the Cybermen’, I felt that it was a bit better than the last one I did, and that I was a bit better, mind you I’d have the experience of doing the previous one, and ‘Tomb of the Cybermen’ was remarkable, I think. One of the scenes was when all the Cybermen came to life, or rather came out of their sleep and came out of their, well they looked like egg boxes, which was their, well their tombs of course. When I walked into the studio and saw what the designers had done for me, I was amazed, because this great big egg box thing went up. Part of it, the bottom part I think, was used at Ealing film studios first of all, and here again Visual Effects managed to film backwards, in other words reverse the camera. I think I’m right in saying they put fake snow on this cellophane thing that covered the Cybermen, and then gradually took it away. I may have got it the wrong way round, but you know what I mean, and it looks marvellous when it was shown, and this was cut into the studio stuff that I was shooting later on where you saw all these rows and rows of Cybermen coming to life very slowly, and eventually the Cybermen down below putting their hands through the cellophane and climbing out very slowly. It was I think, from my memory, quite remarkable. I remember that in the middle of it, we had a tea break, the PA said ‘Right, tea break everyone’ and we all walked off the set, and the extra Cybermen up on the top shelf of the egg box couldn’t get down, because they had to have a ladder to get down, and unfortunately they had to go without their tea. But all along, I felt that there was something about it that would be appreciated”.

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