Posts Tagged ‘The War Games’

Neil Gaiman (2003)

October 22, 2010

Okay, this isn’t an interview, it’s choice quotes from a foreword to Paul McCauley’s novella ‘Eye of the Tyger’, but it’s relevant to ‘Doctor Who’ and it’s a good read. I’ve only quoted a few highlights, to read the full thing (and if you haven’t, I’d very much recommend it), you can either go and find a copy of the novella or you can read the full foreword at Neil Gaiman’s blog.

“The complaint about Dr Who from adults was always, when I was small, that it was too frightening. This missed, I think, the much more dangerous effect of Dr Who: that it was viral.

“Of course it was frightening. More or less. I watched the good bits from behind the sofa, and was always angry and cheated and creeped out by the cliffhanger in the final moments. But that had, as far as I can tell, no effect on me at all, as I grew, the fear. The real complaint, the thing that the adults should have been afraid of and complaining about was what it did to the inside of my head. How it painted my interior landscape.

“The shape of reality – the way I perceive the world – exists only because of Dr Who. Specifically, from The War Games in 1969, the multipart series that was to be Patrick Troughton’s swan song. The Doctor and his assistants find themselves in a place where armies fight: an interminable World War One battlefield, in which armies from the whole of time have been stolen from their original spatio-temporal location and made to fight each other. Strange mists divide the armies and the time zones. Travel between the time zones is possible, using a white, boxlike structure approximately the same size and shape as a smallish lift, or, even more prosaically, a public toilet: you get in in 1970, you come out in Troy or Mons or Waterloo.

“These days, as a middle-aged and respectable author, I still feel a sense of indeterminate but infinite possibility on entering a lift, particularly a small one with white walls. That to date the doors that have opened have always done so in the same time, and world, and even the same building in which I started out seems merely fortuitous – evidence only of a lack of imagination on the part of the rest of the universe”.

Frazer Hines (2005)

September 17, 2009

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

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

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

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

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

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