Frazer Hines (2005)

Here’s a transcript of part of a short interview with Frazer Hines, talking about his first meeting with Patrick Troughton, about getting exhausted during ‘The Mind Robber’ and about rope ladders in the Doctor’s pockets.

“The first time I met Patrick was ‘Smuggler’s Bay’. It was originally called ‘Moonfleet’, a famous book, but the BBC had a thing called ‘Moonstrike’ at the time so they changed it to ‘Smuggler’s Bay’, and Patrick played an old smuggler. And the day before filming began, I’d actually put my hand through a plate glass window, and I turned up with these great bandages on, and they tried various things to hide it, and they were covered up with an old workers’ glove. Years later, when I saw Patrick for ‘Doctor Who’, the first day of filming he said ‘How’s the hand?’. He remembered. And that was the sort of man he was.

“There was one story, I think it was ‘The Mind Robber’, there were only three people in it, and a couple of monsters, and we still had the same twenty-four minute script to learn and we went to Peter Bryant and said ‘We can’t cope, the workload is too heavy for three people’, so they cut those episodes down, they cut about four minutes thirty off those episodes. They either cut our stuff down and made more robots, but I remember there was a mini-strike, we physically couldn’t do any more. It’s difficult to do a three-hander, you can do it if it’s a ten-week shoot, but if you can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel, it’s too much work.

“Whatever (Patrick) did, if he put his hand in his pocket and said ‘Jamie, I have a rope ladder here’, you could believe, ‘Yes, that Doctor would have a rope ladder’. His character was whacko, but believable, you never went ‘Oh no, he wouldn’t have that in his pocket’, you actually believed, and I think it was Colin Baker who said ‘If it wasn’t for Patrick, the rest of us wouldn’t have got the part’, because if Patrick, when he got the part, when he took over, if he’d made a dog’s breakfast of it, it would have gone another series and then folded.

“He blew his top once, with Padders and I, because he had this long speech and he kept fluffing it on the third line. Once an actor starts to corpse, it’s very difficult. I said ‘Patrick, you’re paid a fortune to learn these lines, I’m paid to get the girls watching and Padders is paid to stop the Dads doing the gardening, Patrick you’re paid to say these lines’, so then he did the speech again, he got over the line, he looked at us, then he dried on the next line.

“‘The War Games’ was our last story, ten episodes, and as I recall we knew we were leaving, the three of us, but it wasn’t maudlin, it was still the same happy, jokey atmosphere, and I can’t recall, even when we finished the last scene in the studio, I think it was Lime Grove, I don’t remember us all bursting into tears, which is strange when you’ve had three happy years. The strange thing is, we didn’t see each other (after that), I saw Pat a couple of times, then I did ‘Emmerdale’ and there I was, up in Yorkshire. So I don’t recall us walking out of that studio with a heavy heart going ‘That’s it, it’s the end of an era’.

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