A Day With Dr. Who

A Day With

From the 1972 Countdown Annual

The sun shines gloriously in a clear blue sky, at least that's some consolation for having to get up so early. The winding lanes of Wiltshire rise and fall before us. The Renault rounds another bend and we've arrived at Aldbourne. We park the car in front of the village pond. While Roger unloads his cameras I take a look round.
Suddenly, a van sweeps into view, skidding noisily on the loose gravel. On its side, in large gold letters, we read BBC. The driver directs us up another narrow street which opens out onto a pretty village green. Still nothing out of the ordinary, just four men in conversation beneath the tower of the village church.
"Excuse me, is one of you gentlemen Pete Grimwade?" I ask. They all shake their heads.
"He's probably up there," I'm told. Next to a village school we find what we're looking for; a coach, three pantechnicons and numerous bottle-green Land Rovers and an absolute melee of actors, extras, and technicians.
I find Pete Grimwade and introduce myself.
"Can I see you later?" he called, at the same time supervising the removal of some large bundles of twigs and a maypole from the props wagon.
One of the supporting cast, Damaris Hayman, is having her make-up done. A group of Morris dancers jingle their way through the general hub-bub. Soldiers with UNIT on their shoulder flashes loll around.
"Good morning, everyone," says a cultured voice, and behind me, resplendent in crimson velvet jacket with a purple and black cloak, is Dr. Who, or, to be more precise, Jon Pertwee. We just have time to swap a few words before the make-up girl grabs his arm and leads him away. Still there's plenty of people to talk to now. A pretty girl in a tan trouser suit I recognise immediately as the Doctor's able assisstant Jo (actress Katy Manning). A man with a briefcase walks by, strangely familiar, but with something missing. Of course--it's the Brigadier (Nicholas Courtney) minus his moustache. Then, making an entrance that any of the cast could have been proud of, comes 'Betsy', gleaming yellow in the morning sun.
By ten the day's shooting has begun. It starts amongst the gravestones of the churchyard and progresses to the village green. Pieced together like a jigsaw puzzle, sometimes the shot may take only seconds, sometimes minutes. To the bystander, it all hardly makes sense as a story, but at the end of the day, which will end at about seven or eight, several cans of film will be ready for the editor to decipher in the cutting room.
Equally puzzling was the use of two giant arc lamps (looking a bit like monsters themselves) shining behind the camera crew. I asked the lighting cameraman and he explained that the light was so strong it was causing heavy shadows across the faces of the cast.
The three short breaks from the shooting were spent around the catering van. Star, technician or extra, no-one gets special treatment; it's first come, first served.
"In the acting profession, you learn to be a team man," explained Jon Pertwee.

The background color matches the color of the paper of the first page of the original article. For those of you intereted, a pantechnicon is a really large van which the BBC used to house all the equipment necessary to shoot on location. (Thanks to the person on Drwho-L who wishes to remain anonymous for this information.)

There are ten photographs to accompany this article. To see them, click on the appropriate number...

Image 1 (20761 bytes) -- Image 2 (8430 bytes)
Image 3 (9031 bytes) -- Image 4 (8146 bytes)
Image 5 (8178 bytes) -- Image 6 (12667 bytes)
Image 7 (6909 bytes) -- Image 8 (9409 bytes)
Image 9 (10056 bytes) -- Image 10 (21401 bytes)

[Main DW Page] [Back to the Gateway]