It seems that at last the BBC has decided to unearth Warriors of the Deep on DVD. I admire its nerve. I remember way back in the ’80s watching Room 101. Michael Grade was the man being interviewed and he was asked by Paul Merton why the Beeb had decided to drop the Doctor Who series. To explain his decision he had a clip from one of the episodes shown. Very embarrassing! The clip showed me fighting one of the monsters. There was no rehearsal. I was told to get in there, do a few feints and karate kicks (I was a black belt at the time) and then go for dead. Excruciating to watch.
Although I may have been the catalyst it wasn’t all my fault. It was the second Who I had done. A decade before (1972) I had played Galleia, Queen of Atlantis, when Jon Pertwee was still ruling the Universe. The series was called The Time Monster. Even then everything was a bit hairy. It was considered a feather in the cap to be asked to guest on a Who. I’ve never been sure why. It wasn’t for money or comfort. You worked at a high rate of knots with hardly a chance to change your socks and no chance at all of redoing anything you thought you could improve upon.
And the budget was strangulation tight. Towards the end of shooting we ran out of tape. Instead of getting some more the director, Paul Bernard, cut the scenes which hadn’t already been shot. I told him I had some tape under my bed at home, as one does, and offered to go and get it. But he wasn’t interested. The only relief was Jon Pertwee. He just marched on regardless of what was going on around him. It was great to hear, a year later, that I was to partner him again in the Amicus Hammer look-alike, The House That Dripped Blood. Jon predicted I would have a great future in comedy. Little did he know. The only comedy I did after that was a stage play, Don’t Bother to Dress, put on by my own touring Company.
By the time I arrived on the set of Warriors (1984) things, and Doctors, had changed. Peter Davison was in charge, or not, of the sonic screwdriver and Pennant Roberts was directing. I only got the job because Pennant was sorry for me. He dropped around to see me one day when I was in the throes of extending my house. It was chaos. Pennant decided I needed a break. He had cast everyone but Dr. Solow. A role for a male actor!
After seeing me in my builder mode he decided that I would be ideal for the job. Working with Pennant was a whole new kettle of lobster compared with working for Bernard. Pennant had it all worked out and kept to it. I guess it wasn’t his fault that I was responsible for Mike Grade cutting the Tardis adrift. If you must, have a dekko at the clip down at the bottom there (sorry about the language).
And Doctor Who now? Great stories. Acting – brilliant! Photography – superb. Effects – stunning! BUT……. I do miss the shaky sets, the Marks and Spencers wardrobe, the discontinuity. Now we are so overwhelmed by the professionalism of television that it is hard to feel connected. We are chained to the sofa while we are lasered with the latest state of the art technology. You can never tell if what you are seeing is real or the product of CGI. At least in its first incarnation you knew that the cardboard walls, Bacofoil interiors and Domestos bottle spaceships were the real McCoy.
And sex! Come on now. The whole point of the Doctor is that he is far above such earthly pleasures. We aren’t even sure if, under the costume, he has the necessary equipment. After all – he is an alien.
Ingrid Pitt writes every week at Den Of Geek. Her last column is here.