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Inside the TARDIS
Report by Nicola Mody

This was a month-long tour by Colin Baker (the 6th Doctor), Sylvester McCoy (the 7th Doctor), and Katy Manning (Jo Grant, companion to the 3rd Doctor, played by John Pertwee). Auckland had the last show, held at the wonderful Civic Theatre. We got there early and had a coffee in Stark's Bar next door. (Sorry, 'scapers, it's named after Freda Stark who used to dance naked at the Civic during the war, but bizarrely, the logo looks like our Stykera.)

I wore my multi-coloured scarf, but it's winter and I always wear that scarf because it goes with anything. Besides, it's the wrong colours; far too bright. There were however a few fans in proper 14-foot scarves, hand-knitted in the right colours, but I didn't see anyone dressed as the 6th or 7th Doctors whom we were there to see. Who would be brave enough? Yes, quite.

Sorry about the photos. We were only allowed to take them afterwards in the foyer, and no one was using a flash so I assumed we couldn't, and the ambient light was really bad. I have some nice scans at the end though.

The show was presented by Tim Ferguson, SF geek and comedian, who introduced the guests and interviewed them for us.

Katy Manning

Katy is tiny, blonde, vibrant, and bouncy with huge eyes and smile, and a husky voice due, I think, to a cold. She told us about how John Pertwee could never remember the scientific jargon so he used to write it all over the place—on the floor which would promptly be covered with dry ice mist, or on objects which Katy would move to tease him.

Her most embarrassing moment was having to use a loo in a tent on location on a windy day and having the whole tent blow away while she was in it.

Someone once gave her the advice never to say you couldn't do anything. She was once asked if she could abseil, and said yes because, she thought, how bad could it be? She loved the ocean. However she suspected something was wrong when she found herself at the top of a cliff with no ocean in sight.

"Where's the water?"

"What water?"

"The water I'm going to sail on."

"Katy, abseiling is bouncing down a cliff on a rope."

Which she did, like the trouper she is. However when she got to the bottom, Pertwee said, "Well down, Katy," instead of 'Well done, Jo," and she had to do it all over again.

Colin Baker

Colin looks more like a mild-mannered Anglican bishop with his round cherubic face and fluffy white hair. Appearances are deceptive—he's as crazy as ever. He lamented the lack of violence in his character and used to beg to be allowed to shoot people and Daleks with huge pieces of ordinance. He wanted explosions. (No wonder he remembers the part of Bayban so well.) He wanted to kick Davros in the head, but was thwarted. In the episode where Davros's polystyrene hand is blown off, he picked up a severed finger and stuck it up his nose.

Clothes He described his clothes as the result of an explosion in a tartan factory. He was asked what sort of outfit his Doctor should have, and requested black leather, preferably in a long black coat that would swish as he walked. Instead they asked the costume designer for something colourful and bizarre and kept sending her back till in exasperation she designed a really over-the-type outfit—and they said, "That's it!"

Nicola Bryant / Peri Near the end of his tenure, Peter Davison used to warn Nicola Bryant about having to work with Colin. "Oooh," he'd say, sucking his teeth, "you'll be working with Colin, eh?" and shake his head. The 6th Doctor, Colin said, was a little deranged by his regeneration and used to hide behind Peri when startled. In one scene, Colin was crouched there, cowering, and when the scene was finished, something came over him and he bit her on the bum. He regretted this almost immediately and thought he'd make it look like something normal on the set and bet a guest actor a fiver he wouldn't bite Nicola on the bum. He did, and Nicola turned round and floored him with an uppercut.

Props There was always a BBC prop man on hand. Once they were filming on Brighton Beach, which is known for its lack of sand. It's covered in pebbles. Colin had to walk moodily down the beach and sling stones into the sea and each time the prop man would run officiously up to him and had him a BBC pebble to throw. For 'The Mark of the Rani', there was a small box of BBC earth provided for Colin to smear over his face when trying to pass as a miner. However a dog visited it just before filming, unbeknownst to Colin. Outraged, he shouted that he had dog shit all over his face, but he had to stand in place while cameras were moved—and the crew took their sweet time.

Sylvester McCoy

Sylvester  is much shorter than I imagined, but he still looks much the same. He was extremely funny physically as well as verbally, clowning about on stage.

The TARDIS He was surprised to find the TARDIS controls and central console covered in tiny writing which turned out to be John Pertwee's technobabble lines; the crew had preserved them in his memory.

Daleks Sylvester was upset that the BBC made such a big thing of Daleks levitating upstairs when they'd already done it for his Doctor. We watched the clip, then he explained that two great poles were shoved into the Dalek away from the camera and another pole put between them with six men hang onto to counterbalance and push up the stairs, sweating and gasping and in incipient danger of hernias.

There was an actor who'd spent most of his career inside a Dalek. "I've been a Dalek man and boy," he told Sylvester. Often he'd be forgotten when there was a tea break and they'd hear this mournful voice, "'Ere, what about me, then? Where's everyone gone?" In the end they installed a tea-maker inside the Dalek so he could brew up.

Once the Doctor was supposed to blow a Dalek's top off with a big gun (Colin must have been envious) but Sylvester objected, saying he wasn't a violent Doctor. So they wrote him <i>talking</i> it into submission. We watched the slip which culminated in the Dalek being so distraught it, rotated at high speed and blew up.

Explosions Once they set up a huge explosion under Waterloo Station. The filming was done on Easter Monday, and on the 60th anniversary of an Irish uprising so London was on alert for IRA action. The BBC warned the Railway Police about what they were doing, but the Railway Police never thought to pass it on to anyone else. The crew duly set off the explosion, and the police and ambulances rushed to the scene, one of roiling black smoke. Their mouths dropped open in shock as out of the smoke glided ... three Daleks.

The rest

The show had been touring Australia and NZ for a month. They drew a seat number in each one for someone to go in the draw to win a trip to the set of the series being filmed now in 'the secret location of [cough] Cardiff'. I mention this because I was three seats away from the woman who was drawn. Three! She also got to go on stage during the 'radio play' they put on and provide the sound effects of an alien beast's mating call (a raspberry). The play was a spoof; Katy's lines consisted entirely of "But Doctor..." and screaming. Every time she screamed, Sylvester leaped about in shock, dropping his script—the funniest part of it.

Blake's 7

OK, no one actually mentioned it, but they did agree that their favourite writer was Robert Holmes.

And when I met Colin in the autograph queue, I said to him that I loved his portrayal of Bayban, and he said, "Fine woman, my mother. She called me Babe, you know. She told me to live every minute as if it's your last. See you in a minute, Vila."

OK, so he paraphrased it and made an hour into a minute, but how cool is that? I grinned all the way home.

Signed photos


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