Here’s Carole Ann Ford talking about her time as one of the first companions, Susan. He discusses the team atmosphere that existed on the show back then, as well as her favourite and least favourite stories, and her feelings about returning for ‘The Five Doctors’.
“Bill Hartnell was lovely. There was a great team feeling. We were in contact with David Whitaker and Mervyn Pinfield all the time. It was a great big cumulative business – a much more chummy, family-type business than I think it is today, possibly because it’s such a big production now.
“The part I was originally offered ended up being something completely different, and if I’d known I was going to be asked to do the lady I finished up doing for a year, I wouldn’t have been quite so happy to do it. I was doing another television play, and up in the control box was not only the director of the programme I was doing but also Verity Lambert and Waris Hussein. I’ve never asked her what she was doing up there, I presume she was just a friend of the man directing it. Whether or not she said to him ‘I’m looking for someone for this part’ and he said ‘Well come and have a look at this girl’, I don’t know. Anyway, they saw I was a good screamer and offered me the part.
“It never had to be made up to time, but we certainly used to put some of our own ideas into it simply because of continuation of character. When you are doing it for a long period like that, inevitably new directors come in whoc don’t necessarily know every aspect of your character, and there are writers to come on to the programme likewise, and so you have to change things when you know your character just wouldn’t be doing this.
“The mix of stories was fantastic – the science-fiction ones were great, the historical ones were wonderful. I suppose the historicals came out slightly better. John Lucarotti was a great writer. My favourite story was ‘Planet of Giants’. The sets were superb – you almost didn’t need to act. Mind you, there were ones that I wasn’t so keen on, such as ‘The Edge of Destruction’. We went mad for two episodes, and I think that was simply because none of us knew what it was all about – we just didn’t know what we were doing. And not only because it was so quick – it was frankly so weird and whenever we asked why we were behaving in a particular way we were just told to get on with it and say the words!
“It was a tiring schedule on the show. We often recorded them as if they were live, without any breaks for nearly twenty-five minutes. The air conditioning wasn’t very good in the studios and we really sweated our heads off and the TARDIS console would keep going wrong because of the heat. I would have been happy to have left earlier.
“We all had a great deal of fun doing ‘The Five Doctors’. Richard Hurndall was marvellous, spooky actually. He hasn’t recreated him – he hasn’t tried to do another William Hartnell and yet somehow or other he looks so much like him. I suppose that’s John Nathan-Turner’s doing, actually – casting him, knowing the sort of performance he’d give. John is lovely – everybody gets on well with him”.