The Making of The Daleks' Master Plan
By Derek Handley & Dean Rose

 
 

Derek Handley Talks us Through the Making of...
Episode 1 - The Nightmare Begins

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This first episode reflected its title and really was a nightmare in places! We were fortunate to have pictures for most of the sets used and a few surviving film inserts, but very little else survives from this episode.

One of the biggest problems I had with the first few episodes was that there are so few pictures of Katarina and in several of these she is looking directly to camera, which makes them almost impossible to use. Some playing around in Photoshop gave me a few extra variations, but any shot with her in was always a difficulty.

An existing set picture of the TARDIS control room gave us the reference for the bed in which the wounded Steven rests on throughout most of the episode and showed that the Doctor's 'magnetic chair' was really just the normal wooden chair seen in the control room.

The existing film clip gave us material to use for Kert Gantry, but there was very little material for Bret Vyon. Despite his many appearances in Doctor Who, there are very few pictures of Nicholas Courtney without a moustache. For extra variety I used some screen grabs of him from The Avengers and Randall & Hopkirk. Another difficulty with Bret was that there were a variety of body positions he had to be seen in but no suitable photographic material, such as Bret crouching in the jungle, falling over and sitting in the Doctor's chair. After some attempts in Photoshop to recreate the positions we needed, we abandoned that route and decided that we'd have to take some pictures of somebody in the correct body positions to use. I dug out some dark clothes and made up a shoulder strap that approximated an SSS Uniform. Dean then acted out the postures needed and I added details such as the correct buttons later in Photoshop.

Bret's radio transmitter could be seen in one of the jungle set pictures, but this was very small and the resolution not really good enough to see clearly. I asked Stuart if he could make up a CGI model based on the existing picture that I could use instead. This would also give more flexibility in the angles available. Around a week later, Stuart had modelled the transmitter and I had all the shots I needed.

There were a variety of set pictures available for the Earth Central Communications Centre, plus some press pictures of the Technix with the Doctor and Chen taken on the set. There was nothing available for the characters of Roald and Lizan. Actor Philip Anthony who played Roald, had appeared in The Avengers a year or two before Master Plan, so this provided me with a variety of good shots of him. Actress Pamela Greer (playing Lizan) was another matter entirely. Her filmography when I first looked her up was just showing Master Plan. Some time later I found that she had also appeared in an episode of The Likely Lads, but this episode was also listed as missing from the archives. However, it turned out that the episode had been found as part of the BBC's 'Treasure Hunt' appeal for missing episodes and had recently been shown on the BBC! I soon found somebody with a copy and managed to get a few screen grabs of the elusive actress. I later found that she had in fact changed her name shortly after Master Plan to 'Lushyana' Greer and had appeared for a short run in Z Cars but these too were missing episodes.

The actor playing the Interviewer, Michael Guest, had made a few previous appearances in Doctor Who, in Marco Polo, The Crusade (4) and The Time Meddler. With no clear shots of him available from The Time Meddler, I was rather stuck, as the other episodes were also missing. For the Marco Polo recon I had used a still of him from Upstairs, Downstairs, but this was very poor quality and didn't give a clear enough shot of him to use. Eventually I found a reasonable shot in a telesnap from The Crusade.

Whilst inserting the existing film clips in to the episode, I realized that the clip for the long shot of the Dalek city (as seen by the Doctor) had been erroneously attributed as a 'starfield overlay'. This was an easy mistake, as it doesn't look much like the city model and appears to be just a few twinkling lights. Surviving BBC documentation confirms that this clip is in fact the city.

The Dalek reception area was one of the few sets from this episode that there were no design pictures for. There were a few pictures of the Doctor on this set, but they did not show very much detail. The set was used extensively throughout episodes one and two. I had originally made up a background picture for the set in Photoshop from bits of other sets, but this was very limited in terms on angles and lighting. Again, I turned to Stuart to produce a CGI set for me to use for backgrounds. I forget quite how many iterations this went through before I was happy with it, but I don't think Stuart ever wanted to see it again afterwards!

Having CGI Dalek stills with corresponding image mattes to use for this recon enabled us to create some simple animations in Mediastudio, video-editing software. Basically we were able to superimpose cutout Daleks over background pictures and, by panning and zooming the cutout in relation to the background, we were able to create reasonably realistic movement. These effects were used extensively throughout the recon.

The final scene of the Doctor approaching the TARDIS and finding the Daleks there was originally just done with still pictures, but this lacked the dramatic effect needed. Stuart once again came to the rescue with a complicated CGI animation that finished the episode off perfectly!