Archive for the ‘Derek Martinus’ Category

Derek Martinus (1980’s)

November 6, 2009

Derek Martinus directed the first three Doctors, taking charge of William Hartnell’s ‘Galaxy 4’ and ‘The Tenth Planet’, Patrick Troughton’s ‘Evil of the Daleks’ and ‘The Ice Warriors’, and Jon Pertwee’s ‘Spearhead From Space’. Has anyone else directed Daleks, Cybermen, Ice Warriors and Autons? Here, he talks about dealing with William Hartnell, trying to find tall actors for the Ice Warriors, and the strike-hit shoot for Jon Pertwee’s first story.

“William Hartnell regarded me with great suspicion when I arrived. He knew I was the new boy and he wasn’t slow to remind me how many hundreds of films he’d done and how many directors he’d advised on how to get the shots. Bill used to say ‘I don’t know why you’ve put the camera there, it’d be much better here. Then I can walk into a big close-up and you’ll be fine, you see’. I quite liked the old boy, I respected some of the work he’d done in the past and I remember the dear old man saying ‘I have carte blanche on all the casting and all the script alterations, because they can’t do the serial without me’. One did have to tread very carefully with him, but he warmed to me and I to him. We sort of found a way of communicating, as one had to do.

“Doing the regeneration was interesting, we were trying to get a slow transformation, which wasn’t really possible with roll back and mix. We were trying out new techniques using inlay and overlay. I can picture now the gasp of joy as that changeover actually worked – it was most important because it had to be good for the future of the show’s sake, which was far from certain then.

“It got a lot easier when Pat Troughton took over. He lent it an air of respectability. At that time, the programme was beginning to make a big impact and star names were attracted. I do remember being quite nervous about approaching Marius Goring to appear in ‘The Evil of the Daleks’, but he was attracted to the indulgence of the part. He liked to play these great Henry Irving style eccentrics, and we sold it to him on the basis that here was the chance to create a really rich, bizarre character. He seized on that and really went to town.

“I seem to remember a lot of filming in an old house, which was very good. The Daleks had to be shot very carefully and from exactly the right angle, because if you shoot them without care they do look rather tame and ordinary. You had to build up a Dalek’s entrance. I used to make them lurk in the shadows.

“The Ice Warriors was the worst to cast, simply because of the creatures themselves – it was a nightmare because I insisted, in accordance with the script, that every Ice Warrior should be over six feet tall. We had an incredibly weird collection of people who turned up to audition for that, some of whom were gentlemen with very dubious track records, with prison records and the like.

“Jon Pertwee was very nervous about ‘Spearhead From Space’, because he’d not done a lot of so-called straight acting before. He also saw himself very much as the big, outdoor kind of guy. He liked to be in control, and was always surrounded by flashy birds and fast cars. He was very particular about his image, which was a good thing. That first one we nearly lost and only saved because Derrick Sherwin, the producer, was a very energetic and determined bloke. He had a tremendous fight to get the go-ahead, but he did and for a while we all had this wonderful fantasy of doing ‘Doctor Who’ all on film and selling it to America.”