Archive for the ‘Companions: 3rd Doctor’ Category

Elisabeth Sladen (1980’s)

November 20, 2009

Here’s Elisabeth Sladen talking about almost  drowning in Wookey Hole, almost being crushed by a collapsing TARDIS, and how she originally planned to play Sarah Jane for just one year.

“Sarah had to be able to stick up for herself. She was pretty forceful, especially at first, then we allowed her to soften and adapt more to the circumstances she was living in. Sarah was not only feminist, she was feminine – a rather happy, forthright girl with a lot of intelligence, and plenty of courage.

“I felt I worked well with Jon – we made a good duo, professionally. He works it all out the whole time but I can’t do that – it’s all instant with me. I try to act for that instinctive quality I like my characters to have. So although we approached it differently, we had a great time and a lot of laughs.

“With the new team we had Philip Hinchcliffe, who was young and enthusiastic, and Tom Baker who was a charming man. Eccentric, yes, but so warm, such a sincere person and a first-rate actor. We worked as a team and it was great. It sounds conceited calling them classic days – but that’s what they were for me. It had the sort of spark you get when everything gels. This applied even to the production team.

“One of the stuntmen – Terry Walsh – was as marvellous guy who stood in for us if the action got too dangerous. With me, as often as not, I had to do my own stunts because of my height – it would have been too obvious otherwise – but he was always there on the sidelines, and it’s to him I practically owe my life. We were shooting down in Wookey Hole for ‘Revenge of the Cybermen’, and they wanted me to do this ridiculous joyride on a sort of speedboat. I was petrified at the thought of being caught in the undercurrent of one of the pools, though everyone assured me that it would be alright. Terry wasn’t satisfied, though, and he stood by the side in a wetsuit in case anything went wrong. Sure enough, I came off and probably wouldn’t be here today if he hadn’t intervened.

“We never got glamorous locations. It was always from one quarry to another. It was just my luck that when I returned for ‘The Five Doctors’, Jon and I ended up once again in a disused quarry, freezing to death. It caused a few laughs for both of us. As we were turning blue, I said ‘Just like old times!’. We just had to grin and bear it.

“I’ll never forget the time the TARDIS collapsed on us! We did have a lot of special effects that had to be done in an amazingly short time, but we did it, and that’s a thing to be proud of. We were under lots of pressure, particularly during Tom’s first year, but we never ran out of time. Minor mistakes were made, and no doubt some of our directors had more grey hair by the end. It used to be worst on the six-parters – in ‘Genesis of the Daleks’, I think it was the last session in the studio and we had about five crucial scenes to do and only fifteen minutes before the plugs were pulled. With an extension and no second takes, we managed it. A remount at that time would have been a nightmare.

“The robot in ‘Robot’ was a beautiful piece of craftsmanship, but it was almost impossible to work with. The actor inside it kept falling over with the most tremendous crashes, and he came near to fainting because of the restrictions the costume imposed on breathing. We had exactly the same problems with the Ice Warriors.

“I was very pleased with ‘Planet of Evil’. It had a lot more to it that some of our more mundane scripts. For once we were in a tropical jungle with all this crazy wildlife around us – totally fantastic, but a marvellous break from what we usually did. Although I loved my time with Jon, the team I remember most fondly had to be Tom, Ian and I. We really did care. There was flexibility – room for improvement – and we all became very close. I loved nearly all my time on ‘Doctor Who’ and I’ve never regretted doing it.

“Originally I’d planned one year. That became two, then three. I got a great deal of satisfaction from making Sarah Jane what she was. Even so, there were boundaries that couldn’t be crossed and I felt I’d really done my best, had my day, and should hand over to somebody else. I felt regret, of course, but I was happy that it was I who took the initative, and not somebody giving me a quiet push – in fact, they asked me how I should go out and I said make it quiet, not over-dramatic. I didn’t want to die or anything like that. So at the end of ‘The Hand of Fear’, I slipped out of the Doctor’s life and back to the theatre.”

Elisabeth Sladen (1990)

October 17, 2009

With the third series of ‘The Sarah Jane Adventures’ having just started on the BBC, here’s Elisabeth Sladen back in 1990 talking about how she upset Jon Pertwee by getting her hair cut, how she helped Tom Baker and Ian Marter with the script for the aborted 70’s movie ‘Doctor Who Meets Scratchman’, and how she felt she couldn’t play Sarah Jane again after ‘The Five Doctors’.

“I really wanted to act. It was just what I wanted to do when I left school. I didn’t go to stage school – I went to an ordinary grammar school, then drama school for two years, then to the local repertory theatre. We based ourselves in Manchester, although Brian (Miller, her husband) went into the West End with a production. We always knew we’d have to move to London, but it was so different. I didn’t have the contacts. I didn’t have an agent. In the end, I got one who had seen me in Manchester, and to my surprise, I got quite a bit of work.

“Someone else was offered Sarah Jane before me, but they decided to reconsider. I don’t know if she recorded any – it was all a bit of a rush, which was to my advantage. I only found out afterwards. They tagged ‘The Time Warrior’ onto the end of the season when Jo Grant was leaving. I did that, then we finished and started again after Christmas. I remember going out and doing a lot of publicity shots. I got my hair cut very short and came back for the first production of the new season, the dinosaur one. Jon Pertwee hated my hair, just hated it, which was a wonderful welcome!

“I felt very strange that they weren’t giving me more notes, that I wasn’t being pressed into a mould more. I saw ‘The Time Warrior’ a long time after making it, and I was quite amazed at what a strong role they let me take. She was never so strong again. I remember Tom Baker later brought up a point: ‘If the people the Doctor chooses to be with him are stupid, then it makes him out to be stupid’.

“The chemistry with Tom was the chemistry each actor bought to it. I saw Tom once in Regent Street and I couldn’t cope with reality. ‘Come and have a drink’, he said. ‘No, Doctor, I can’t!’. It worked very well and it was always a pleasure to work with Tom – it was just like shorthand. In the end, you just knew what we needed at a certain point. I helped with some of ‘Doctor Who Meets Scratchman’ (the proposed 70’s film). The British Film Finance Corporation were very interested about that. I put in some ideas, but I didn’t do any writing. They told me I’d been written in – but they might have written me out, too!

“I really didn’t like the script for ‘K9 and Company’, but I loved the idea and I thought John Nathan-Turner was very brave to actually go for it. He wasn’t given enough time to set it up, and I was concerned that there were things in it that weren’t really Sarah. I would have loved to have made it really work, but I just think there were so many disadvantages when we started off.

“The Five Doctors was like a command performance. Everyone came back to it. The story had moments in it that really worked well, but I feel in the end it didn’t kind of reach anything. I doubt very much that I could do another one – I don’t really think I’m that person now, and I don’t think you can play Sarah Jane so many years on. I’m different, and unless the script accommodated that, I don’t think I could make it work.”

Richard Franklin (1985)

October 12, 2009

Here’s Richard Franklin talking about his time as Mike Yates. He discusses the planned romance between Mike and Jo Grant, his experiences filming ‘The Claws of Axos’ in freezing conditions, and his mid-1980’s stage play ‘Recall UNIT’.

“I was working as a clerk in an advertising agency, responsible for all the filing. I was supposed to be a ‘trainee executive’, but I hadn’t got very far! One day I decided that I’d like to be an a ctor, but unfortunately I knew that wouldn’t be a popular decision with either my boss or my parents. To get some support, I went to two actors that I knew – Susan Hampshire and John Standing. They both said quite independently and without any prompting at all ‘Of course you must do it’. I learned a piece of Shakespeare for the RADA audition, from Henry V. But some kind of absolute fluke, I got in first time, and having done so I resigned my job.

“One evening, my agent at the time happened to be sitting next to Barry letts at a first night show in the West End. The topic of casting came up and Barry said ‘We’re looking for a young man to play a love interest – something to slightly up-age the boy-girl relationships in the series. I can’t find anyone, though. We’d like someone like Richard Franklin, but I don’t suppose he’d do it’. Straightaway I got a phone call from the theatre and at 9.30 next morning I went up to the BBC. I had three interviews and then I was in.

“The idea was to attract the teenage market (with a relationship between Mike Yates and Jo Grant), but it didn’t really end up as it was supposed to. There was a sort of high-level policy decision that it would conflict too much with the relationship between the Doctor and Jo. While I think there’s something in that, I was rather disappointed. It did linger on in a sort of implied way. When Katy was leaving and we were recording ‘The Green Death’, there was a party sequence where Jo was to announce her engagement to Professor Mushroom or whatever his name was. I noticed in my script for that scene that I didn’t have any lines – all I had was a close-up with a stage direction that simply said ‘Mike Yates looks crestfallen’. That was the sorry end of my three-year love interest – a nice touch, all the same.

“At the end of ‘The Daemons’, neither Nicholas Courtney nor I originally had any lines, so I wrote in a little scene with the Brigadier and Yates going off for a drink, leaving the others dancing round the maypole. I had a jolly good part in ‘The Daemons’. I was able to do very much more than usual – I was instigating action.

“In ‘Terror of the Autons’, at the very end, UNIT turn up, guns blazing, and I had been given this magnificent line on seeing the enemy Autons approaching. They were those nasty faceless things, and I had to say ‘We’ve got ’em now, sir!’ in close-up. Now I’ve always worked very hard as an actor – sometimes a little too hard. I put everything I’ve got into this one shot, and I thought I’d done it rather well. A fortnight later, we came to the studio and they had to put in the telecine stuff. We all stopped for a moment to see this brilliant climax and then suddenly there was this great big face all over the screen yelling out ‘We’ve got ’em now, sir!’. It was so over the top, it wasn’t true. The whole studio absolutely fell about. Barry Letts was awfully nice about it. He came quietly up to me and said ‘It was a little bit OTT, wasn’t it? Would you like to re-record it?’. That was very nice of him, because it was all time and money – we couldn’t re-shoot, so we did the next best thing and I re-dubbed it.

“I didn’t enjoy filming ‘The Claws of Axos’ one little bit (at Dungeness power station). Poor Katy nearly died of cold in her mini-skit. We were all wearing pink long-johns under our uniforms, but we still turned a very funny colour. They had to put on specially dark make-up to cover up! Also, because our muscles got frozen up, we over-ran and several scenes had to be rewritten from being on location to going into the studio.

“Mike wasn’t a traitor in ‘Invasion of the Dinosaurs’. He was just misguided. He’d looked into that silly old Metebelis sapphire, which had made him cross-eyed as well as cross-brained. He really didn’t know what he was up to. The way I rationalised it was that I was helping to establish a new Golden Age on Earth – a sort of dream that everyone looks for but which is usually suppressed. But Yates didn’t realise the people he was working with were such naughty men – he was totally taken in. It was a question of his paramount idealism.

“I was so struck by the enthusiasm of fans at the conventions, I suddenly said during an interview that I’d write a UNIT play so that everyone could see us together again on stage. Of course, a lot of people really like the suggestion, but I don’t think anybody really, seriously, thought we’d do it. That became ‘Recall UNIT’. The writing happened by degrees. I had a lot of help from George Cairns, who acted as a sounding board for my inspirations and, because he knew the show’s continuity, advised on technical details. He brought up things like the Tissue Compression Eliminator and the phrase ‘Reverse the polarity of the neutron flow’. I came up with the idea of starting the play with us as ourselves and gradually merging us into our fictional personae. That holds an essential truth about the crossover that existed in real life between us and our characters. I included the topical elements of the plot, like the Falklands and the satire on Margaret Thatcher, as a backdrop to the Master’s off-stage plans to take over the world. The Brigadier takes part using pre-recorded voice-over (after Nicholas Courtney had to drop out due to a TV role), and luckily I found an actor called Richard Kettles to play the Brigadier’s stand-in, who really adopted most of the lines.”

John Levene (1985)

October 8, 2009

Here’s John Levene, aka Sgt. Benton, talking to DWM about his time on ‘Doctor Who’, from his first appearance as a Yeti in ‘The Web of Fear’ to his decision not to come back for ‘The Five Doctors’.

On The Web of Fear

My agent said ‘It’s £20 a day. Yeti. Four days, two days studio’. Boy, was I thrilled. There I was with Patrick Troughton and Frazer Hines. My heroes. I watched them at home. One day, we were down in the Underground at Covent Garden. Frazer and I got on like a house on fire, and one of the first things that happened was that Frazer pinned a number on my back and then we did a ballroom dance around Covent Garden, with me dressed up as a Yeti.

On Inferno

When I first met Jon Pertwee, he came straight over and was so nice. Jon was the most giving Doctor of them all, always ready to give advice that I was ready to take. We were in a rehearsal hall in Old Oak Road, Acton, and I remember meeting famous Jon Pertwee, this amazing man from ITMA who had all the voices and played the postman. I was like a little puppy dog then. If there were lines to cut, they would be mine, and if there was time to be made up, then they would add it on to my script.

On The Mind of Evil

I remember I really hurt myself falling out of that lorry, because if the kids were gonig to see Benton shot there was no point in me just going ‘Ah, ooh, it hurts’, I had to do the whole number. I fell out of that truck and my leg caught on the handrail, and I grazed and cut myself. That look of agony is pretty genuine. One of the more memorable shots was a chase scene that took place in and around a garden in Kensington. As we were about to shoot the last scene, someone became ill, which was kept in as part of the plot.

On Day of the Daleks

Jon Pertwee is always the first to say, a Dalek, unless he is on a marble floor with three acres of flat ground, is helpless. The audience knows they run on wheels. And yet, they’re incredibly popular… The monsters I find awesome, if I’m honest, were the Ogrons. They wore half-masks with long hair and the leather chests. They were real gutsy monsters, the like of which we need in today’s ‘Doctor Who’.

On The Three Doctors

The scenes with Pat Troughton were wonderful. Pat gave me all his talent, because I remember saying to him ‘I’m a bit nervous, Pat, because I’ve got such a lot with you’, and he said ‘Look, you’re a fine actor and we have got some good scenes here. You just carry on playing the innocent Benton the way you do it’. And I did, and of course it came out well. Pat was wonderful and like me he tended to ad-lib if it felt right. He has a great sense of humour, and that scene where we came face to face with the anti-matter blob, my line was ‘What’s happening?’, and Pat’s line was ‘Trying to confuse it’. Then he turned to me and added, ‘I wonder if there’s a television set anywhere?’. Great stuff!

On The Daemons

I had a fight with Peter Diamond. The props guy had forgotten to remove the glass ashtray from the table I was to fall back on. So the cry of pain you saw in the show was genuine, and because of that, the bit where I threw Peter over me didn’t quite come off as planned, but there was no way I was going to do it again and it remained in.

I was in plain clothes and I loved that, because it gave me credibility and I was actually given a handgun. I remember watching Clint Eastwood and practising my stand and action. I couldn’t have just pointed the gun and, bang, you’re dead. I remember having a fight with John Joyce, who played the shot-fun toting Verger, and I had to kick the gun out of his hands. Anyway, there’s no point in being a sissy about these shots and I did something I shouldn’t have by allowing John Joyce to kick Benton over on his back. You know, feet in the chest and up and over. Well, it looked terrific but it broke this £80 shot-gun. There was no way we could repeat the throw, and as we struggled I whispered to John, ‘Hold the two pieces together’. He did, and the marvellous scene was kept and if you watch it again, you’ll see that after the fight when John Joyce picks up the shot-gun and says ‘Okay, Benton, I’ve got you covered’, he’s holding the barrel somewhat strangely. And now you know why.

On Invasion of the Dinosaurs

The best gag that I have ever come out with, and one that I did with real panache, was when UNIT had captured a dinosaur in an aircraft hangar and, of course, the creature had subsequently escaped. The Doctor and the Brigadier were discussing the escape, while I waited for my cue from behind the door. I had to come in and say something like ‘Excuse me, Sir, but…’. My cue was when the Brig said ‘Well, goodness knows how it broke a chain like this’. And then as I walk up, the Doctor’s line is ‘Well, Brigadier, the one thing we know for sure is that it’s large, dumb and stupid’, and of course Jon is looking at me as he says it. On the actual take, with a full gallery, I said ‘Excuse me a minute, could someone please ask Mr. Pertwee not to look at me when delivering the line about it being very large, dumb and stupid?’. Jon creased up, and Nick Courtney was in tears.

I had a scene where Jon Pertwee had knocked me out. And Nick had to come in and say ‘Benton, you traitor, you’ve let the Doctor go’. The Brigadier and I exchanged the most marvellous look, because he looked at me as much to say ‘The next time you break the rules, Benton, you’re for a court marshall’. And I gave him a look, as if to say, ‘Well, it was the Doctor, sir!’. It was a real magic moment that was cut and ended up on the floor.

On Robot

There was a bit where the special effects were quite good and the bangs were going off nicely, where we had to rush up this grass bank. Well, we all had these boots on and we were slipping on the grass verge. So for every three steps we took up, we were slipping back four. I remember Tom Baker laughing it up, because when we were in close-up, we were on this grassy bank and what we had to do was dig our heels in to stop us sliding out of shot.

On The Android Invasion

I didn’t enjoy that one, because Nick Courtney wasn’t there and although I had a double part, I knew it was my last. You got a feeling and when we heard UNIT was going, we felt left out. It’s got nothing to do with them sacking us, it was just, oh, is it over? I’m not very good on my own, but as a team we were inseparable.

On The Five Doctors

I was asked to go back for ‘The Five Doctors’ but it would have meant a quite large upheavel in my life and sadly I didn’t think the tiny part I was asked to do would have made it worthwhile. Jon, Lis, Richard and Nick were all there and although I don’t regret not doing it, I do feel that I missed out on something special and unique.

Katy Manning (1990)

September 29, 2009

Here’s Katy Manning (Jo Grant) telling DWM about getting the job, running into rocks, almost drowning in a bog and working with Patrick Troughton on ‘The Three Doctors’.

“I heard about it terribly late, but I thought ‘I can’t let this one go’ so off I went. I had to use all my feminine wiles on poor ol Barry to get him to hear me, and I think he only gave in to humour me at first. Anyway, I did the thing and went off back home thinking ‘That’s it, Manning, you’ve blown it’, when the very next day the phone rang and it was Barry offering me the part. I think I fainte – or, at the very least, dropped the phone. It was so exciting, it took me hours to get off this tremendous high.

“We did some filming for ‘Terror of the Autons’ at Robert Brother’s circus, which was great fun and really interesting, becuase we met all these completely bizarre gypsy types who’d obviously lived very full lives. At one point during filming, I ran straight into a rock, knocking myself silly, because they wouldn’t let me wear my glasses, thought that’s not surprising, they were so thick! Jon hadn’t yet got the knack of leading me around like a mother hen, which he very quickly adopted to avoid me injuring myself any more than I already had done.

“I remember Roger Delgado once had to hypnotise me in this factory, and they were doing a close-up. He knew this, so when they were focusing on little muggins here, he was off-camera, pulling silly faces Let me tell you, Roger Delgado could pull the most ridiculous faces, and you just couldn’t help laughing at him.

“When we went to do the filming for ‘The Three Doctors’, it was mid-November and I was wearing a nice, warm mini-skirt! Lunatic, really, but there you are. There was no way I could wear the usual thermals, because I don’t think Jo would have looked very glamorous with thick, pink furry material bandaging her legs, do you? So, in effect I had very little on. One of the first shots was of me and Jon waking up in this place and it took ages, because the light was never strong enough. So there I was, lying on this quarry floor thinking ‘What am I doing?’, when I was told my legs were completely blue. Then they put special dark make-up on them, while Jon suggested he could slap them back into colour. I loved Patrick Troughton, he was smashing to be with, and the whole thing was a real kick. Mind you, concerning the mini-skit I wore in that story, there’s a scene where you can see my knickers! Most improper for children’s viewing time, don’t you think?

“For ‘The Daemons’, we had lots and lots of filming, which was all done in this pretty little village near Marlborough, which is where we all stayed. I was quite into the occult at the time, and I found it very interesting and very spooky. The whole area where we filmed is surrounded by those weird stones, which nobody quite knows the purpose of, except that unpleasant things like human sacrifices were supposed to have gone on there. During one of the days when I wasn’t needed for filming, a few of us went to take a look at them, and I found it really creepy – it certainly helped me to get in the right mood for the story. The locals all got involved and it was strange, because we really took over the whole village for about a week, and nobody minded. We were treated like one of the family.

“I loved the Ogrons – the men inside those were taller than Jon, and very menacing. They were always very charming to me, but some of them had, well, shall we say, diverse backgrounds. By which I mean that some knew what the inside of a prison looked like! Those jelly creatures in ‘The Three Doctors’ were hysterical. The actors inside them use to have real problems in seeing where they were going, and when they fell over there was silence, save for the frantic designer who was worried that those funny bubbles on the outside of the costume would have got all squashed up.

“One of my funniest memories of doing a monster scene was the finale to ‘The Curse of Peladon’, which had that furry thing, Aggedor, come crashing into the Throne Room. The extras were all supposed to look very butch and they all had extremely brief costumes on. When this fight scene happens, all these fire irons are being waved about, and suddenly it all went quiet. One of the extras in question piped up, ‘Oh do mind our, dears, or you’ll get yourself burnt in a very nasty place’. The whole studio collapsed in giggles.

“I remember one thing going very wrong on ‘The Sea Devils’. Jon was always very keen on all the action stuff, and he didn’t want them to use doubles wherever possible. So they were going to film this scene where the Doctor and Jo abseil down the side of a cliff, and Jon, having got wind of this, came to me and said ‘Let’s persuade Barry and the director, Mike Briant, to let us do this one ourselves’. Now, stupid old Manning agrees, feeling terribly sporty and brave, but hoping deep down that Barry and Mike will say no. But they didn’t – they agreed. So I did it with very little know-how and my heart in my mouth – and promptly took all the skin off my hands coming down. It was worth it, though – I enjoyed it in the end!

“The other thing that went wrong on ‘The Sea Devils’ was that just about everybody, including the cameraman, got seasick. Mike Briant was okay, and of course Jon was sickeningly cheerful, because years ago he’d been a sailor himself.

“When we were filming ‘Carnival of Monsters’, I had to do this shot where I got stuck in a kind of bog, and the thing was that once in, you got stuck for real! Anyway, they set all this up and did the shot and Barry sad ‘Yes, Katy, very good, lovely. Let’s do something else’, and they all temporarily forgot about me. I was sinking deeper and deeper, not quickly but slowly and stickily and I shouted my head off, demanding to be rescued. I think Jo would have been proud of me!

“I decided to leave, to prove to myself that I could actually act in other things. It was a very hard decision to make. I went to Barry Letts fairly early on in the season and said I was thinking of leaving, and he said that this would probably be a good idea, as by then Jon would have completed four years and it was unlikely that he’d do it much longer. If I was to leave with Jon, Barry pointed out, any potentially good publcity I might get at announcing my own departure would be swamped in the news of Jon’s leaving. It was a career thing, really – I wasn’t fed up with it, and I went on loving it ’til the very last. I adored ‘The Green Death’, it was my favourite along with ‘Terror of the Autons’ and ‘The Daemons’. At the end, I cried buckets.

“If truth be told, I did them (the nude photos with the Dalek) for the money, although I also said to myself when I started acting that, as an actress, I should greet each new experience as it came along. That’s another way of saying I needed the money! No, seriously, I was a bit surprised at all the fuss that ensued. I’d been out of ‘Doctor Who’ for some years when I did the pictures and, let’s face it, you’d need a microscope to spot anything with me! I think people did get a little uptight about it, because ‘Doctor Who’ girls are supposed to have this image of being whiter than driven snow, which is just silly.”

Caroline John (1987)

September 27, 2009

Caroline John played Liz Shaw, one of the few companions to have been denied a farewell scene. She appeared in just the one season, Jon Pertwee’s first, and then was gone the following year, only reappearing more than a decade later in ‘The Five Doctors’.

“At the time I went for Liz Shaw, it was a kind of mutual decision between my agent and myself that I should go for some major television work, after having done considerable amounts of stage a cting. Knowing roughly the kind of thing the ‘Doctor Who’ people would be after, I sent them a leggy picture of me along with my details, hoping that this would sway their decision. I was called in to read and before long I was told that I had the part.

“There’s no getting away from the fact that ‘Doctor Who’ is about the Doctor, not his assistants. Even if you were allowed to initiate some kind of action, it would invariably get you into trouble and the Doctor would then have to rescue you. You couldn’t really win.

“Making the whole of ‘Spearhead From Space’ on location meant that you were given very little time for rehearsal – you tended to have to turn up, run through it and then go for the take. The director was Derek Martinus, and it was very lucky that he was organised and knew what he was doing, because it was difficult for the actors and nerve-wracking for myself.

“It was done in a very short space of time, which was new to me as I’d thought television would at least give you some chance to think. ‘Doctor Who’ was very much a treadmill production process, and you had to be careful not to let it get to you. For instance, if one developed a cold, there was no way you could stay at home and miss a rehearsal, lstill less filming. You had to go on. The people who played the mannikin monsters could barely see where they were going, but they still managed to avoid that detectable hesitancy that you get when you’re walking in the dark.

“It didn’t help that most of the series was made in the autumn and winter months, which could make it purgatory for me, because they would insist on dressing me in mini-skirts and not a lot else. I used to point out that these sorts of clothes would hardly have been Liz Shaw, Cambridge scientist’s kind of wardrobe, but I think they were a bit too scared there would be trouble if the traditional ‘Doctor Who’ glamour girl was dispensed with.

“Some of the worst cold was when we were filming ‘The Silurians’ in some inhospitable location somewhere. We had quite a few shots of Jon driving me along in Bessie, the Doctor’s car, and the wind would whistle away, cutting right through you. The worst thing about it was that it really called upon your reserves as an actress, because it was hardly possible for me to look as if I was freezing and wishing only to be inside in the warm. The children would have been very put off! (However) the blokes in the Silurian suits nearly died of heat in the studio, but they would save their discomfort until after a take.

“There was quite a lot of rushing about in ‘The Ambassadors of Death’ and some quite eerie bits which made it all the more rewarding to do. One episode finished with a tremendous car chase, with me driving Bessie and ending up being pusued along a canal bridge. The end of the episode comes with a struggle which results in me being sent flying over the edge of the bridge. Now that was difficult to film for two reasons. The first was that I couldn’t drive Bessie on public roads, because I didn’t have a driving licence. As a result, the chase had to be carefully filmed on private property. Secondly, the chase up the bridge was a bit nerve-wracking, because had I slipped it would have been straight into the raging weir below and goodbye ‘Doctor Who’. As it was, I had to have a double for some of the scene, and that was quite amusing, as they actually got a stunt man dressed up in a copy of my outfit, which looked very odd on this burly stand-in!

“I think the story itself was a little bit stretched, but as an actress one was aware of that, as were our directors. If a scene was a bit dull we would try to think of something to live it up a bit – we were given quite a lot of leeway to change lines and add things if we felt that what was written didn’t actually work.

“I liked working with Douglas Camfield a lot, and the story which he was responsible for, ‘Inferno’, is probably my favourite piece of ‘Doctor Who’. He was thorough in the extreme, and treated the whole thing like a vast military operation which, considering our schedule, was probably a great thing in his favour. He didn’t like any arguments, he had it all planned out and if there was any trouble he knew about it at once and sorted it out. He was refreshing to work with because of his drive, but of course he didn’t stay with us on that one for more than a few weeks because he fell badly ill during rehearsal one day. I remember his wife Sheila was in the serial and when we went back to work after Douggie had been taken to hospital, everybody was absolutely stunned. One minute he had been on his feet, the next he could scarcely draw breath. It was very frightening. Our producer had to take over and he was excellent in taking our minds off what had happened and back onto the pressing matter of the story itself.

“I was fond of the actual story, because it allowed me to do something a bit special with the character and to play the parallel world Liz with a great deal of sneering cynicism. She was very much the tough, cold professional soldier and that was a whole new dimension to latch onto and enlarge. Killing Nick Courtney was an added bonus which gave us all many a laugh, and which was very difficult to do with a straight face, as was most of that very po-faced, tight-lipped alternative world stuff. I might add that the costume for that was very kinky indeed, what with its boots and mini-skirt, but no-one seemed to think of this until after it went out and I got some rather peculiar letters!

“I think it was fairly clear quite early on that my character didn’t really fit into the prescribed ‘Doctor Who’ format of action, action, action. I felt they weren’t really giving me enough reason to stay on, although I might have done a bit more if they had wanted me to. However, there was a new producer in the form of Barry Letts and he clearly wanted to take things in his own direction to make something of his own with the show’s limited character format. On top of all this, I had never established the best kind of rapport with Jon Pertwee, who I think basically saw the show in a very traditional light and didn’t want a companion who in any way matched up to him in terms of intelligence. Coupled with this, I’d married and decided that I wanted to start a family, so that was obviously a priority in personal terms. That was that: I left after we finished ‘Inferno’ and I never got to say a proper goodbye to the Doctor or the Brigadier!

“They asked me to do ‘The Five Doctors’ as a kind of birthday present to the fans, and I was quite happy to go back for that little scene, which was really a case of going into rehearsal for an afternoon and the studio the next morning. More recently, I was on Terry Wogan’s ‘Children in Need’ appeal on a ‘Doctor Who’ item, which involved a lot of the old stars and was great fun.”

Elisabeth Sladen (2002)

September 13, 2009

Here’s a transcript of Elisabeth Sladen talking about the changeover between Jon Pertwee and Tom Baker. She says she felt left out, at first, because TB and Ian Marter seemed to be getting on so well, but the interview ends with a great story about TB and some fairy lights, so enjoy:

“First of all, I knew Jon was leaving before he actually left. Even when I joined. All these names were mentioned, Alan Dale, Ron Moody, and then Barry Letts, the director, came rushing in one day and said ‘Wonderful, we’ve got Tom Baker!’. In my ignorance, I didn’t know who Tom Baker was. And the first time I saw Tom was when we were filming ‘Planet of the Spiders’ and we were filming Jon’s demise and it was the take-over, so it wasn’t a time to really say so much. Jon was in his own little box of ‘I am leaving’, Liz as Sarah had to be upset because she thought Jon was dying, and it was just ‘Hello’. That night I had to go to the studio to film with them, with Tom, and I think if things work well you get that extra frisson on screen.

“Ian Marter was there with Tom when I got there and they seemed already to have a really lovely relationship and I actually felt very excluded, and I felt I had to sit back and wait on it. From the word go it was a very very new Doctor, which was lovely because you’re only as good as the people you work with. And the Doctor makes the running. It’s like in a George Formby thing, you can’t have ten George Formby’s, it wouldn’t work, so all I could do was wait to see what Tom gave me. And whereas Jon’s Doctor had been very protective, arm around the chick, Tom’s Doctor was ‘You can do it’, and it was wonderful. Tom comes from Liverpool, and I do, and Tom’s so generous and disarming. It was great.

“By the time we came to do ‘Planet of Evil’, we knew we were really flying. You just knew it was really really good, and that’s a very rare feeling, and when something is really good you dare to be brave, you dare to make mistakes, and by that you get better results because you’re braver. You trust the people around you. We didn’t have to finish sentences. We’d rehearse, and Tom would say by the time we got to the studio we had to know exactly what we were doing, exactly where the marks were, exactly how many seconds to pause, because the special effects were so important. You could do twenty, thirty takes and be brilliant, but if the stun gun didn’t work you’d got nothing. We knew they’d take the one where the stun gun worked, so we were on the ball, and Tom used to say to the director’s box ‘Sir, Liz and I have just thought of -‘ and the director would say ‘Lovely idea, Tom, but we haven’t got time’. Tom would say we’ll do it but we have to get it right.

“An example is ‘Pyramids of Mars’. There’s a Marx Brothers film where they walk in, turn and walk out, and we did that in ‘Pyramids of Mars’ when we saw something in one of the tunnels, Tom was supposed to say ‘Quick, Sarah, hide’, and he said ‘I’m not saying that again’ so it was in, turn, out. It was very good, it was accepted, but if he’ got it wrong we wouldn’t have been very popular because the clock was ticking. You only had until ten o’clock in those days. We used to record from seven thirty at night until ten o’clock at night, so it was rather like being live.

“And I remember we were going filming one day, I never used to know where we were going, I just got on the bus, and it was six o’clock at night, we were going down the motorway, we came to a whole load of houses and Tom sat back and said ‘You know, Liz, if we stopped and I knocked on the door or one of these houses and said Do you mind if I come in and watch myself?, there’s no-one who’d say No’.

“It’s so simple, ‘Doctor Who’, but if you mess around with it you’ve got nothing. I wish we’d had more money. Tom was always having ideas. He’d say ‘Shall we try it this way’, they’d say ‘No, Tom’, he’d say ‘Alright, but I’ll have another idea in a minute and that one might work’, you know, you could be wrong a hundred times but if you’re right just once, it’s worth having your input. We’d camera rehearse and the make-up girls would run after Tom and say ‘Tom, can I just comb your -‘ and Tom would say ‘Darling, I’m too busy, I’m saving the universe’. Wonderful. Fantastically professional irreverance.

“When we were doing ‘The Hand of Fear’, I think they were a little anxious that we mustn’t film the last scene as the last scene, in case it got a little too, whatever, maudlin. We used to often record out of order, but this particular time we recorded the end halfway through, but I remember one of the last scenes we did, it was where Eldred was injured and we were climbing up this slippery slope, and it was in the studio so it wasn’t desperately slippy but we had to sort of pretend to slide back. Tom thought it was quite funny, and we kept doing it and going up and sliding up and we just couldn’t stop laughing. It really was very sad leaving, but I needed to go because I didn’t ever want to be asked to leave, and I wasn’t Philip’s choice, he inherited me. Tom gave me a party at his house, and he put fairy lights in the trees in the garden, and as a joke I said ‘Tom, it’s lovely, do you always have it like that?’, he said ‘No I bloody don’t, I did it for you!'”

Nicholas Courtney (1999)

September 1, 2009

This is a transcript of parts of an interview you can find here, in which he discusses how he’d like to be buried, his experiences working with Jon Pertwee and Harry Hill, and the many times he’s worn dresses and fish-net stockings.

Q: I never realised that your mentor was Sir John Gielgud. How big an influence has he been for you?

A: Well when I was a very young actor I found him rather magical to look at and to listen to. I mean his voice is not to everyone’s choice but it was when I was young, because of course Shakespeare is my, as it were, my governor. I wish I could do some more Shakespeare and I hope I do. He was a hero of mine, he spanned such a long period from the 1920’s, 1930’s right up, and he’s still living now, albeit he doesn’t often take much work. He (Gielgud) wrote several books that influenced me enormously, on his attitude to his work and how he thought actors should comport themselves and behave, and he just became a major hero of mine.

Q: In your opinion, what’s better to do – live theatre or recording in a studio?

A: Well I think at the end of the day, probably live theatre. I started in live theatre before I went into television and films, and I think live theatre is most satisfying because you get that tremendous feedback from the audience, you get that rapport between audience and actor. One of the things that is very pleasurable for an actor, performing in comedy or tragedy of whatever, and you can feel an audience’s attention, if they’ve very gripped by what you’re trying to do. Of course in comedy, to get a laugh is lovely… and sometimes it’s wonderful, if you want to, to kill a laugh, and if you can manage to stop the audience laughing when you want to, I think it gives you qutie a sense of power. So I think having starte in the theatre, that’s my first love, but I love all branches of the profession, really. There’s something to be said for each one of them. Television is fascinating, one learns a lot. Of course my first television I ever did, I was appalling, because I was pulling too many faces. I hadn’t realised I wasn’t in the theatre.

Q: Of course it’s different when you’re doing ‘The Rocky Horror Picture Show’…

A: Yes, I did that one stage and I learnt a lot doing that. (laughs) That was 1980. I think, as a joke, on the last night of our tour the narrator, which is the part that I played, had a smoking  jacket but below that I had fishnet stockings. Just as a bit of a joke.

Q: You had the pleasure of working with Jon Pertwee for so many years. What is the one thing about him that people don’t know about?

A: Well I think one of the things that people don’t know about him is… Actually, we were talking about it this past weekend, because we’ve just had a big ‘Doctor Who’ convention in Coventry, which is quite near Birmingham, and we had a very successful weekend… But one of the things that I think maybe many people don’t know about Jon Pertwee is, in my view he was a very good leading man to have at the head of a company, because when we started a story – apart from the regular people who we got to know – we had our first read-through of the script, we’d then go upstairs and have some coffee, and he would make it a point with all the guest people who were with us, to find out about them, to find out what made them tick. He took an interest, and he made everyone feel very much at home. And that’s why he was a particularly good leading man. He wanted to find out about other people, and I suppose by doing that he found out more about himself. He was a very hard worker, he drove himself very hard.

Q: And you were in ‘The Mousetrap’?

A: Yes. Doing a play like that night after night for a year, you’re bound to get to a point, maybe six months in or whatever, where it becomes very repetitive and you’ve got to make sure that it isn’t repetitive because the audience has paid good money to see it, and you’ve got to bring freshness to it. You’ve got to bring fresh energy to it every night, and not amble or walk through it, because it’s very unprofessional to do that, and very rude to the audience. That’s quite a discipline. It was hard work, that, very very hard work. It was very nice for the security, to have a year’s work, but it was very hard work to try to keep fresh all the time.

Q: In the 1980’s, when you were an established film, stage and television actor, did you ever think that appreciation for the Brigadier would come back like this? Beginning with ‘Mawdryn Undead’, then ‘Battlefield’, did you think all this would happen, when you did your first ‘Doctor Who’ back in the 1960’s?

A: No, no I didn’t. When I did my first ‘Doctor Who’, as Brety Vyon in ‘The Dalek Masterplan’, to me it was another job, an engagement for four episodes, and I thought ‘Well that was fun’ and got on with it. I think the director, Douglas Camfield, more than anyone else has been responsible for my longevity in that part, because he directed me as a colonel in ‘The Web of Fear’ and then he directed me in the first Brigadier story with Patrick Troughton, and of course later with Jon Pertwee, and of course he directed me with Tom Baker as well, in ‘Terror of the Zygons’. Of course he was an army man himself, he was a 2nd Lieutenant, I was only a private, I didn’t have any ambition to be a serious soldier… and he (Douglas Camfield) saw in my performance in ‘The Web of Fear’ that I was a natural for officer material, and I told him that I’d only been a private, but he said I came over naturally as an officer type. My father was a real army officer in the first world war, before becoming a diplomat, and it must have rubbed off on me, observations of my father, and indeed observations of officers under whom I served during my national service period.

Q: So Graham Chapman’s take on the Brigadier in ‘Monty Python’s Flying Circus’, was that flattering?

A: I’m trying to remember that.

Q: One thing that sticks out is the blacmange episode, Monty Python’s take on ‘Doctor Who’, and Graham Chapman’s imitation of you doing the Brigadier was spot on.

A: Oh, yes, I find that very flattering.

Q: And speaking of comedy takes of the Brigadier, you’ve been on TV tap-dancing with Cybermen?

A: Well not quite tap-dancing. This is a show I recorded about four weeks ago, a comedy by Harry Hill who’s got a very special type of comedy show, satirical, whacky, I don’t know very esoteric, a very particular type of comedy – incidentally, a very nice man, very charming – and the reason I got that part, and I did another part last year with another actor – and these are the leading men now who grew up with the Brigadier, so that’s great that I’m being booked by these younger people. Harry Hill called my agent and asked me to do a guest spot, and I said ‘Sure’, and I got on very well with the whole company, I had a very enjoyable three days.

I don’t exactly tap-dance with the Cybermen, it’s a very satirical programme and what happens is that Harry Hill announces that the new Dr. Who is going to be Clare Short. She’s the minister for development in the present government, and she’s a very full, large lady indeed, well fairly large anyway… and then the Brigader says ‘Well we at UNIT are thrilled that Clare Short is going to be the new Doctor’, and I have to say this with a very straight face, ‘We’re delighted that she’s going to join us and we’ve got a present for her’, and it’s a cut-glass vase, and then a Cyberman appears and breaks the glass, and the Brigadier turns to him and says ‘You always have to break things, don’t you? You can’t keep anything nice around here’, and he almost breaks into tears. It’s all comedy, it’s lovely stuff. Then later on in that show, I appear again in a sort of space send-up, space spoof. The Brigadier suddenly breaks in, fires a few shots into the air, and a puppet’s head flies off, and Harry Hill says ‘UNIT got a tip-off that someone was here’, and then later the Brigader… there’s a song, there’s a group called The Communards, pop music, well the Brigadier sings three lines of ‘Don’t Leave Me This Way’. So it’s a whacky show.

Q: I want to talk to you about dresses.

A: Dresses? Yes, well I did a show, a comedy show, and again this was written by a fan of the show, and it’s set in Wales, and I’m playing a sort of public schoolboy who went to the bad and his life fell apart, he was left without a penny, and the Welsh family out of the kindness of their hearts put him up, but he’s so ashamed of himself he hangs himself. So one scene I had, this guy is dead and in heaven, he likes to wear dresses, this guy, he’s a transvestite. So there’s the Brigadier in a long white gown and sipping a glass of wine and he’s happy now, because he can wear what he likes in heaven. That was a thing called ‘Satellite City’.

Q: If the royal armed forces said to you that, in the event that you pass away, we’d like to give you a full military burial, what would you say?

A: Well that would be very nice, very interesting indeed. Not that I’d be around to enjoy it! I’ve made my will, and when I go I want to be cremated and I want my ashes to be scattered, ideally in the Mediterranean sea, or any sea would do, but ideally the Mediterranean because I was born and grew up in Egypt and France and all that and I love the sea. I feel very close to water, and I feel very comfortable with water.

Jon Pertwee & Katy Manning (1993)

August 16, 2009

This is an edited transcript from the 1993 Panopticon convention appearance of Jon Pertwee and Katy Manning. Among other things, you’ll learn which was the only story Katy didn’t like (Jon agrees), and there are some nice stories about Roger Delgado.

Q: It would be true to say, Jon, that you are the current Dr. Who, with your series on Radio 5.

JP: That’s correct. I’m not the only Doctor to be Doctor twice. Who was the other one? Colin Baker, correct. He did a very short session on radio.

Q: Did you enjoy doing it?

JP: Oh enormously. It was wonderful, I mean, having the old Brig back and having Liz, Liz Sladen and Peter, who is the most evil villain in the world. He’s a bastard. And he’s one of the gentlest people you could meet off stage, he wouldn’t say boo to a carpet slipper, he really wouldn’t, but he’s a terrible, terrifying man.

Q: Was it fun getting back together again?

JP: Yes. This all started because when we heard that ‘Doctor Who’ was unlikely to come back on television, I suggested to Dirk Mags, one of our finest radio producers that I’d done, maybe some of you heard, ‘Superman’ on radio, and I liked working with him enormously, and I suggested to him ‘Why don’t we put Doctor Who out on radio?’, and he said ‘Well, it’s a good idea, if it’s not coming back on television it’ll be one way of getting it back’. And he had a talk with the heads and as usual with the BBC they were very fast, it took them two years, and they agreed it would be a good idea to put ‘Doctor Who’ on radio. But by that time Dirk Mags was busy on other things, but he delegated a brilliant young producer, and thank God it was absolutely brilliant. And when we were talking about the set-up to it, he said ‘Well who’s going to write it?’, and I said ‘Get someone who knows about the programme, who knows about the construction of the programme’, and we both said ‘Well what about Barry Letts?’, would Barry do it? Barry, as you all know, used to be my producer for many years doing ‘Doctor Who’, and of course he’s been an actor, and of course Barry wrote some of the finest ‘Doctor Who’s under various pseudonyms because he was forbidden by the BBC to write anything, so he did it as Guy Leopold which was a mixture of two names, and I enjoyed Barry’s more than practically anyone’s, so I said get Barry.

Q: It must have felt right having a Barry Letts script, with Liz, with Nick…

JP: Yes, right in. And of course with Maurice Denham in it too, a wonderful, wonderful elderly actor. And Maurice said, he said ‘You know, dear boy’ – you can’t see his teeth, he’s worn them all out with his pipe – he said ‘You and I did our first broadcast here in BH together 51 years ago’, and I said ‘Don’t be so ridiculous, I’m not that old’, he said ‘Oh yes you bloody well are’. He was absolutely right, we had done a radio show 51 years before at BH, 51 years to the day, and he produced the clipping from the Radio Times to show it, it was a programme by John Putney, the great poet. He said ‘It was absolutely wonderful, that’, and I said what were you doing before that, he said ‘Oh, I was working at BH, I was working here’, I said ‘What were you doing?’, he said ‘Installing the elevators’, and he was, before he was an actor, he was an elevator installor.

Q: Looking back over your career, is there anything you wish you’d done differently?

JP: Oh yes. I wanted to have a much bigger film career, I like cameras, I have, as Michael Caine put it, he has a love affair with the lens. You can see what he’s thinking through his eyes, and I have that to a degree too, I have a rapport with the lens. I like film work, I like the medium of pictures, and I made in the 50’s and 60’s an awful lot of movies and I would like to have gone on to do… I was under contract with ABPC with George Cole, and unfortunately George walked out of his contract just as we were about to do a big picture called ‘Baby in the Battleship’ which some of you may have seen, John Mills eventually played it. I said ‘Well if George is gone, who am I going to play with?’ and they said ‘You’re not’, they got two other people and that was the end of my contract with ABPC which was a shame because that really cattled me in the film industry for many years.

Q: I mean up to the time that you played Dr. Who, the characters you played were loud, were humerous. Was ‘Who’ the first time you played straight?

JP: It was, really, because I remember Shaun Sutton, who was the head of programmes at the time and a dear friend of mine, he asked me to do it, I said ‘Well let’s have a bite of lunch’, we had lunch, and at the end of lunch he said ‘Well will you play it?’, I said ‘Let me think about it’, he rang me up the next week and said ‘Do you want to do it?’, I said ‘How about another lunch?’, we had another lunch and he said ‘So, do you want to do it?’, I said ‘How about dinner next week?’. After about three meetings I said ‘Well I’ll play it, but how do you want me to play it?’. He said ‘As Jon Pertwee’, and I said ‘Well who the hell’s that?’, because I didn’t know who Jon Pertwee was, I’d never played myself, I’d hidden under a green umbrella all my life, like Peter Sellers, my friend Peter Sellers used to do…

Q: Was that conscious, hiding under characters?

JP: Yes, I was frightened to come out. I mean, when I did plays like ‘Girl in My Soup’, which was a straight role, in England and America, I wore thick horn-rim glasses as a sort of cover, something to hide behind. I always wanted to hide, like Peter wanted to hide.

Q: Did you ever hide in the streets? I mean if you went out shopping, for example?

JP: Oh no, that’s a very different thing. I never did that. I used to dress up. Occasionally I’d dress up in dark glasses and go like that (mimes being blind), and people would help me. Got me very good seats on the train.

Q: So looking back at ‘Doctor Who’, there must have been some happy years of your working life?

JP: Oh yes, I loved it. I loved Friday night particularly, when the cheque came. And regularly too, ’cause we did an awful lot of them in those days. Yes, it was five very happy years indeed.

Q: Everyone you talk to from your time on the programme says it was a happy time, everyone was friends, everyone got on.

JP: Yes, well I insisted on that because there were so many shows that you’d been watching for years where there are regular teams, and usually those people are so cliquey, they don’t communicate at all with the guest artists who come in. Like on ‘Coronation Street’, they’d say ‘No, you can’t sit in that chair, get out of that, that’s Emily’s chair’, and with my team, with the Brig, and John Levene and Katy and Liz and all our team, I used to say to them ‘Now listen, when our guest artists come in you make a real fuss of him, make him a cup of tea, make sure he’s got a chair, really make a fuss of him’, and it worked, worked like a dream, and we had laughs, we laughed our way silly through the whole thing. In fact Barry used to get terribly cross, he’d say ‘Well what have you done today?’, and I’d say ‘We had a dart-throwing competition out the window’, and Barry said ‘I’m furious about this’, he ticked me off, and I said ‘You’re wrong, by doing that we’ve got great good humour in the company and we can get much more done, so tomorrow we can work late and nobody’s going to say a thing’, and they didn’t. We had this great rapport and feeling with our guests.

Q: That’s how it comes across. It’s nice to know that it really was true.

JP: Anyone seen ‘Return to Devil’s End’? The tape? Well you’ve seen that, when we all got back together again, we were all terrified because we thought we wouldn’t remember anything, and then Nick came out with this book of photographs and he said ‘Do you remember this?’, I said ‘Oh yes, that was when Bessie was going along the road and there was this funny thing where someone was pushing her from the back and fell under the wheels’, and of course we were off. Each photograph brought back memories. We could have made a film about nine hours long, I think.

Q: Was that an enjoyable experience, going back there?

JP: Yeah, it was lovely. Going back to, what was it called… Albourne.

Q: A lot of people rate ‘The Daemons’ very highly, it’s one of the most popular…

JP: It’s my most popular, yes. My favourite.

Q: Roger Delgado, let’s have a little word about Roger Delgado. Were you really good friends?

JP: Roger was one of my greatest friends, yes. We were enormously… the most extraordinary man, Roger Delgado, there was another example of a man who looked absolutely terrifying, with that beard and those eyes, and yet he would not say boo to a chickflit. He was the most nervous man about everything, I mean when we did ‘The Sea Devils’ putting Roger on one of those boats, those little jet boats, he nearly died. And someone said ‘Come on, Mr. Delgado’ and the director said ‘Shut up!’. He said ‘What’s the matter, guv?’, he said ‘It’s a miracle we’ve got him on the thing at all’. And when we put him in that immersion tank and sank him in the sea, I mean he really died a million deaths. I’ve often said this before, he was incredibly cowardly but therefore the bravest man I’ve ever known in my life. I would do these things joyfully because I’m a complete berk. I’ve been gadget-mad all my life, I fly, I’ve raced speedboats, I’ve raced motorcars, I’ve raced motorbikes in my lifetime, and so I loved all that. Roger hated it. His idea of a wonderful life was for us all to go out and have dinner, or eat at his house or mine, have a great dinner, drink several bottles of wine, put his carpet slippers on and then drink a bottle of port. That was a really dangerous evening and a good one.

Very sad, of course you know what happened, he was making a film out in Turkey, and the film company car… the plane was diverted, so the film company car didn’t pick him up, and being Roger he didn’t want to miss out on anything so he took a taxi and the taxi driver who drove him was a complete idiot and he drove him over a cliff and he was killed.

(At this point, Katy Manning joins).

Q: When you first got the job as Jo, when you first met him (Jon Pertwee), what were your thoughts?

KM: I thought he was frightfully tall, and because I’m very short-sighted I didn’t actually see what he looked like. I got to the waist, and I often wondered what the top bit looked like. And when I finally got to put my glasses on, and I saw what he looked like, I thought ‘Yes, I’m going to like this job’.

Q: And did you?

KM: Yes, I did. I had the most wonderful three years and Jon was extremely kind to me. I loved doing ‘The Daemons, we had the best time doing ‘The Daemons’. I mean this might sound stupid, but I loved every minute that I worked. I really did. I have the fondest memories of everything that we did and we all got on frightfully well together. I mean I loved ‘The Daemons’ and I liked the very first episode that I was in. There was one I didn’t like, and it seems to be very popular, and I really didn’t like it, there’s only one, and I always get the title wrong…

JP: ‘Day of the Daleks’? It was one of the Dalek ones. We were surrounded by Daleks. Two Daleks. It was terrible, they said ‘There’s an invasion of Daleks, and they’re surrounding this house with all these Commonwealth presidents’, and they surround the house, I said to the director ‘Well where are the Daleks?’, he said ‘Over there’. There were two. I said ‘How do you surround a house with two Daleks?’. He said ‘Well you shoot them, then you move them, you shoot two more’.

KM: They were Daleks with very large personalities. I mean it was just one of those stories that I was never happy with how it worked –

JP: Nor me.

KM: But apart from that… and I liked ‘The Curse of Peladon’, that was fun…

JP: With Pat’s son in it.

KM: That’s right, David Troughton. Every single one was great.

Q: But there must have been moments when you thought ‘I can’t stand this any more’?

KM: Never. No. Oh, once! Can I tell this story? It was Jon’s fault. We didn’t actually have a row in three years, except for once and Jon was being very impatient that day, and it was all over reading a map. Do you remember what you did?

JP: No…

KM: We’d had a lovely time in the car, we’d made up a whole opera about brussel sprouts… such mature and grown-up people… and Jon hates brussel sprouts, he loathes them… and I can’t remember how we got into it, but Jon was very cross with me because I wasn’t reading the map right.

JP: You were reading it upside down.

KM: Yes. Now I don’t think it’s fair to mock the afflicted, do you? Jon was being very unreasonable about me reading the map upside down, and it was probably the wrong map anyway, and I couldn’t find where we were going, and I got really distressed by this, and he actually had his first go at me. And all these people who had worked with us for all this time saw this first row going on, and in three years that’s not bad.

Q: Was it hard work?

KM: Arguing with Jon? Impossible. You can’t win. You don’t argue with this man. Never. You go into it knowing you’re going to lose. He’s bigger, he’s smarter –

Q: Jon, do you go into this knowing you’re going to win?

JP: Of course I know I’m going to win, yes.

KM: As soon as I’d look at Jon and say ‘I know I’m 100% right’, this big smile would come on his face and I knew I was wrong.

Q: Jon, you came back for ‘The Five Doctors’, ten years ago. Katy, would you ever come back if you were asked, if there was ever a new series?

KM: What the hell would you do with Jo? Five years ago, I’d have said no, but now, if I had to come back as Jo I think I would, but only if they let Jo come back a certain way. I would not come back and say ‘But Doctor, enough of your knavish tricks’, no. But Jo, I tell you what, she left him, the one she went off with, she got halfway up the Amazon, she said ‘This is not going to work’, so I would only come back if (a) she was no longer married, and (b) she could be somebody that many years later.

Q: What would she be, though?

KM: Well there’s a nice question. Everybody write in their answers.

I think the greatest thing the Brig ever said to me, when I questioned him deeply, about the way he used to underline his script in many different colours… and whenever you’d say ‘Brig, it’s your turn to speak’, he’d say ‘No, can’t be, I haven’t underlined it’, and I finally asked him why he did it. He said ‘The red is so that when somebody asks me a question, I know that I have to answer’, so in other words if the Brig didn’t have it underlined he didn’t answer your question… the workings of the man’s mind, do you remember all those incredible coloured pencils?

JP: I remember them very well, yes.

KM: And I went to the pub with him once, and I felt so sorry for him! I always sort of saw he was alright with his Bovril in the afternoon, but at lunchtime do you remember he didn’t come with us, he went to the pub –

JP: He went to the pub and had his three pints, that’s right.

KM: Three pints exactly.

JP: Well he’d had four breakfasts!

KM: He was so sweet, he said ‘Nobody ever comes to the pub with me’, and I looked at his little face and I thought ‘Oh dear’ so I went to the pub, which I find extremely boring, and I sat with him the whole lunchtime. He’s just the loveliest person to work with in the world, isn’t he?

JP: Yes. You can’t throw him. It didn’t matter how hard we tried to really screw him up, you couldn’t. Where he was playing the doppelganger, you know two roles, with the black patch over his eye, and what I said was ‘What we’re going to do is we’re all going to dress up as the Brig’, so we all put black patches over our eyes, and we had our backs to him, and he came in and said ‘Now look here, Doctor’, and I thought that would break him out completely, but he just went straight on, you simply couldn’t throw the Brig.