Posts Tagged ‘Barry Letts’

Tom Baker (2009)

October 17, 2009

Very briefly, here’s a transcript of Tom Baker’s recent appearance on Radio 4, discussing Barry Letts, who died just over a week ago.

Q: Barry Letts was an actor before he was a producer, wasn’t he?

A: The whole of television seemed to be staffed entirely by… the producers, directors, script editors were all actors, because where did the original people come from? At that time, when television got going, the only people who knew anything about theatricality were actors, so lots of the producers had been actors in their day. I remember seeing Barry, I think, in ‘The Cruel Sea’. He was the big link in changing my entire life, really, because he it was who decided to cast me in ‘Doctor Who’. It was left down to Barry Letts deciding to employ me or not. He was very anxious, because replacing Jon Pertwee was considered perdour. Then it just so happened that there was a film I was in, a big special effects film called ‘The Golden Voyages of Sinbad’, next door to the BBC, and Barry went next door to see it and saw me playing some old wizard, and I was on. He filled me with great confidence. He was a good man, you know? A really good man.

Q: Did he bring any of his philosophical or spiritual beliefs to the programme? Some people think that in the mid-70’s, ‘Doctor Who’ pioneered issues of ecological disaster.

A: Well, I mean he was too sensitive to have said any of that explicitly, but there were several stories, weren’t there, where people were, you know, groups of people, monastaries or nuns, sisterhoods, you know, strange orders where they believed in strange things, and believed in the power of light or eternal flames and that sort of thing, quasi-religious things, and he did all of that with great style.

Q: Did he encourage you to make your Doctor very different to Jon Pertwee’s?

A: He was very subtle, really. He tried to induce from people their way of doing it, without actually saying ‘You’ve got to be different’. I was naturally very different, even though, of course, the problem was that the writers were still writing in the style of Jon Pertwee’s character. The point is, Dr. Who’s not really an acting part, any more than Sherlock Holmes.

Q: Barry Letts employed you as Sherlock Holmes, didn’t he?

A: He did, he did. I wasn’t very good at playing Sherlock Holmes, the BBC apologised for my performance in it, so Barry actually was mistaken there. His intuition betrayed him. He was a gentleman. So kind. There’s no substitute for kindness, is there?

Barry Letts (1989)

October 10, 2009

Barry Letts, who died yesterday, is one of the most important figures in ‘Doctor Who’ history. Without the success of his and Terrance Dicks’ early Jon Pertwee seasons, the show would likely not have reached its tenth anniversary. When they took over in 1970, few in the BBC expected the programme to last more than one more year. Barry Letts remained involved with the show, in various capacities, for a decade, and then went on to a successful career directing, among other things, episodes of ‘Brookside’ and ‘EastEnders’. He was also a regular at ‘Doctor Who conventions. In this DWM interview from 1989, he talks about his entry into television, his time on ‘Doctor Who’ and his thoughts on the show’s cancellation at the end of the 80’s.

Starting Out

“When I got into television, I was just fascinated by the whole process of directing and whenever I could I was up in the gallery watching what was going on. I directed episode of ‘The Newcomers’, which I knew well because I’d written for it; I’d been a writer for television since 1960. Because I’d got on ‘The Newcomers’ treadmill, the BBC took up my contract and I stayed there for another 18 years. I’d been a director a month short of three years when I took on the job of producing ‘Doctor Who’, which was slightly unusual. To be honest, I think I was asked to do it be cause nobody else wanted it, as the programme was on the skids. They didn’t think it would last more than a year, but I was to try it and see how it went. I arrived in the office, Derrick Sherwin had already gone and there I was – Producer. They just threw me in at the deep end!

Producing Doctor Who

“The producer and script editor should be like a two-headed Beeblebrox. They should never speak with different voices. If they don’t get on, they shouldn’t be working together. The script editor has got to be the producer’s representative as far as scripts are concerned, and the producer should be involved in the scripts right the way through. I didn’t just hand it over to Terrance, we worked together. We did exactly the same (later) on the classic (BBC costume) serials (after Doctor Who). If we ever work together again, which I hope we do, that’s how we’ll work, although Terrance is now a producer in his own right, so we’ll work asĀ  co-producers. My wife and I just went over to Wimbledon to see ‘The Ultimate Adventure’ and of course to see Jon Pertwee, and we thoroughly enjoyed it. Obviously, if you’re doing a stage show it’s done in a different way from a television show. It was great fun and I thought it went very well.

Terror of the Autons

“When we made ‘Terror of the Autons’, there were big leading articles in several newspapers complaining bitterly about what we’d done. We even had a letter from Scotland Yard about the policemen who turned out to be Autons, saying ‘Don’t do it again’. I think we did go over the top, but when you think of it, the most terrifying things are ordinary things that can’t be trusted. If it’s a monster, it’s a monster, you know where you are. But if a toy comes to life and tries to kill you, it’s not so funny. They kept a very close eye on us a fter that, and we made sure we didn’t do that sort of thing again, although things like ‘The Daemons’ came close to it.

The Daemons

“The Daemons was very much my baby because I wrote it with Bob Sloman. I would have liked to have directed it as well, although Chris Barry did a very good job. I’d worked on the programme for a year and had discussed with writers how Terrance and I thought a ‘Doctor Who’ story should go. I thought I’d love to have a go, to say this is the way a ‘Doctor Who’ story should be. We got very involved with thinking up demonic ideas, to the extent that we really became obsessive and started seeing Devil’s faces all over the place. I was pleased with the end result because I’d managed to do what I’d hoped – what we’d been asking other people to do. I’m very pleased and gratified that it means so much to so many people.

Warship

“Funnily enough, when Terrance and I did ‘The Sea Devils’, we worked with the Royal Navy and found them to be so co-operative and eager to work with us that we thought up a story about a frigate. We went to our contact at the Ministry of Defence and told him our idea, and he told us we were a bit late as the BBC were already talking about it. If we’d been a year earlier, we could easily have been the originator and producer of ‘Warship’.

Returning as Executive Producer

“When John Nathan-Turner took over ‘Doctor Who’, just as the series and serials departments combined, Graeme McDonald suddenly found that he’d got twice as many programmes to see, twice as many scripts to read, and twice as many people to look after. ‘Doctor Who’ had a new producer and a new script editor, neither of whom had done that job before. Graeme said to me would I, in effect, do his job for him. My job was similar to head of department: keeping an eye on the scripts, advising John, seeing how it went, and then see the final programmes and make any comments that might be helpful for the future. Executive Producer is a strange aniimal, it’s largely what you make of it. I was like a bit of continuity with the past, as I’d been on it before. I wasn’t in charge, John was the producer, I just wish now that I hadn’t put my name on it, as it wasn’t very fair to John as everyone thought I produced it.

“I know there was quite a campaign against John, and there are a lot of people who knock him. To the extent that I worked with him, we got on fine. What I think John has done as a producer, which has helped the show enormously, is that he’d got a great feeling for the show business side of television. ‘Doctor Who’ has become public property over the years, and John has picked up on this and expanded it enormously. An awful lot of the expansion of the programme in America was due to John’s efforts in publicity. That side of producing was something that I wasn’t very good at, and John is. You couldn’t work on the show for years unless you love it, and love the work you’re doing. Ultimately it becomes an expression of your personality. You wouldn’t do the job just as a way of earning money, because you don’t earn that much.

Almost adapting Narnia

“I later enquired about the rights to the Narnia books, but at that time they weren’t available. By the time they were, I was no longer adapting children’s novels – except for ‘Alice in Wonderland’. I thought the books transferred quite well; some of it was very good, although in parts it was pretty naff.

Starwatch

Chris Leach asked me to produced ‘Starwatch’ if the project got off the ground. I looked at it and was very impressed with what I saw. By the time they reached the pilot stage, Chris was quite happy with what he was doing. I said to him ‘You’re quite happy with all your decisions, so you don’t need me to rubber stamp them, I’ll bow out’, which I did, wishing them all the luck in the world.

Brookside

Directing ‘Brookside’ was fascinating. It’s such a small operation where everybody knows everyone else. One works under tremendous pressure, and everyone does their damndest to get very high standards. Everyone always helps out working fast, efficiently and well.

The 1989 Cancellation of Doctor Who

“I know the BBC don’t intend to drop it completely, and I’ve heard that from the horse’s mouth. Peter Cregeen (Head of BBC Drama Serials) told me it was time it had one of its periodic rests, though this is in fact only its second. They’ve said they won’t do another season until they’ve discussed the situation and come up with an answer. Going over to independent production is just one of the options they can take. One of the problems is the changes within the BBC and the drama department. Peter Cregeen hasn’t been there all that long, and there’s been an awful lot of shifting around. At the moment it’s been somewhat mixed up and it’s just starting to settle down.

“Money is another problem. I was lucky with my timing – people were starting to buy colour licences, so the BBC’s income was increasing. Then things reached a point where the only way they could get more money was by increasing the licence fee, which has become a political thing. Then they started cutting back wherever they could. The licence fee is indexed to the cost of living and the rate of inflation. The inflation in the entertainment business, however, is higher, even more so in drama. The real income of the BBC has gone down enormously and is going to do down over the next few years. Everyone is trying desperately to find ways of keeping the quality with diminished money. What that means for ‘Doctor Who’ and other programmes – who can tell?”

Out of interest, click here to read the obituary, written by Barry Letts, for his friend and fellow ‘Doctor Who’ writer Robert Sloman back in 2005.

Jon Pertwee (1989)

August 29, 2009

Here’s a transcript of Jon Pertwee talking to Terry Wogan in 1989. He was promoting ‘The Ultimate Adventure’, the stage play in which he reprised the role of the Doctor, but he doesn’t really talk about that -instead, the dominant theme seems to be ‘wind’, which got him expelled from RADA and blew him off course in a hovercraft while filming ‘The Sea Devils’.

Q: You’re back as Dr. Who on the stage after a fifteen year gap, are you glad to be back?

A: Oh, sure, the money’s good.

Q: Do you miss being Dr. Who?

A: Yes, I do from time to time. But I enjoyed being Worzel Gummidge too.

Q: You followed William Hartnell and Patrick Troughton. What gave you the inspiration for the flamboyance?

A: The clothes? Well that was a bit of luck, really. I wanted to wear something very severe, like a suit, but they said no, that was too severe. So in order to do something for the front cover of the Radio Times I put on an old velvet smoking jacket, and a cape, and a frilly shirt from Mr. Fish, who was very trendy at the time, and stood like that on the front cover, and they said they liked it. I said ‘Well how are we going to explain it?’, so in the first story they had me go into a changing room and nick a lot of clothing from various doctors. Some doctor had a hat, some doctor had a coat, then I put them on, went outside and leapt into an old motor car, an old Vauxhall 1938 and drove off, and that eventually became Bessie.

Q: I think the programme was maybe at its peak when you were in it. Maybe the technology got taken over by things like ‘Star Wars’…

A: Yes, well we kept things pretty simple, and we kept the threats on Earth when I was there, the majority of the time anyway.

Q: Yes, you fought off a number of Cybermen in your time –

A: No I didn’t! Daleks, yes. And a giant spider got me in the end. Well, not in the end, but he got me! (laughs)

Q: Did you do your own stunts?

A: Yes. Yes, I did, much to the infuriation of Terry Walsh, my stuntman. I did everything that I could apart from falling. If it was riding motorbikes or speedboats or climbing down ladders from helicopters, I did that. If it was falling, I didn’t know how to do that, and if I broke something then everybody’d be out of work.

Q: You nearly killed half a crew once, didn’t you?

A: I’m afraid so. Well, Barry Letts, my producer, said ‘You can drive anything, can’t you?’. I said ‘Well no, not without a bit of practice’, he said ‘Well there’s a hovercraft, why don’t you have a go at that, we’ll see if we can get that into the programme’. Well we got it into the programme, but he never gave me any time to practice. I kept saying ‘Can I practice?’, he kept saying ‘Not yet, not yet, I’ll let you know when’, and he never told me until he said ‘Okay, go’, and I had to come up a river bank on the river Severn, go between two cameras and go over a stuntman who was playing an old tramp and as he lay back I went over the top of him with the hovercraft. Well I did this, but unfortunately there was a very strong wind at the time and it pushed me to the port side and I wiped out the entire camera crew. It was very dangerous, because you’ve got propellers roaring around both down there and up there, so it could be very dangerous. Barry said ‘Can you do it again?’, and he said to everyone ‘Go round the other side, go round the other camera’. They all went round the other camera, and they said to me ‘Allow for the wind’, and I said ‘Yes, I’ll allow for the wind’. So I did it again, and I allowed for the wind, but there wasn’t a wind and so I wiped out the other camera.

Q: You were born into a very theatrical family, you had no choice, you had to be an actor. Did you ever play this theatre? (referring to the studio where ‘Wogan’ was taped)

A: I certainly did, when it was the Shepherd’s Bush Empire, I remember very well that I came out of the stage door one night and I’d gone very well, which was difficult in vaudeville, especially in Glasgow where they threw everything at you… but I came out, and there was an enormous Irish gentleman – there were a lot of them about Shepherd’s Bush in those days – he was leaning up against the wall and he went ‘Oi!’, I said ‘Me?’, he said ‘Come over here’, he said ‘Here you are, sign that’. I said ‘Of course, how could I resist such a charming invitation’, I signed it and gave it to him, and he threw it away! To this day I don’t know who he thought I was!

Q: Did you ever recover from this?

A: Never!

Q: You were continuously expelled from school, weren’t you?

A: Yes, I was. That’s a family trait, well not my brother Michael, he was very well behaved, but –

Q: You got expelled from RADA?

A: Yes, I got thrown out of RADA, I’m afraid. I’d refused to be a wind. There was a lady who taught Greek dancing and Greek tragedy, and I just had to go ‘Wooooo’ and I thought it was terribly expensive for my poor father to pay for me to be a wind. So I rebelled, I refused to be a wind.

Q: Didn’t Noel Coward speak highly of you once?

A: Well yes, Kenneth Barnes told me I had absolutely no talent whatsoever of any kind in the theatre, so I was in a play at the end of my season and, just before I was about to be expelled, I played two parts, I played the man who was murdered in the first act and the man who found out who murdered me in the last act, with full make-up and moustaches and so on. And at the end of the show, Kenneth Barnes said to Noel Coward, who was the guest of honour, ‘Was there anyone you thought had particular talent in the company?’, and Noel Coward said ‘Yes, very good performance from the man who was murdered in the first act, and I particularly liked the man who played the detective in the last’. (laughs) So I promptly gave him a kiss, which was a very dangerous thing to do, and I never looked back!

Q: How did you get involved with ‘Worzel Gummidge’?

A: Well when Keith Waterhouse and Willis Hall asked me to do a movie that they’d written of Worzel Gummidge, of course I jumped at it, but unfortunately the movie hit the wall, they didn’t get the distribution that they wanted, or the money, so I said ‘Could you give me a pilot, cheap?’, and they gave me a pilot, bless them, and we sold it to television. The BBC turned it down flat, incidentally, they said it had no future at all (laughs), so I then took it to Thames because I knew they’d jump at it, having just done ‘Whodunnit?’ for them, and they turned it down flat too. Then there was a man called Lewis Rudd at Southern Television, a man of great perspicacity, and he said ‘I think it’s wonderful’ and we made it, and within five or six weeks we were something of a cult.

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.