DEATH TO THE DALEKS
This show all took place on a distant planet!
Lots of barren planet and tunnels and caves in the studio which had to be built from polystyrene which is always a problem. Polystyrene always looks like polystyrene but what else is there?
It gave me the opportunity to try some new effects - the reflective paint on road signs transmits back nearly 100% of light directed at it down the same axis - so it meant that if the stuff were used on a costume then glowed if some light were shone down the axis of the lens - Derek Slee the lighting director did a brilliant job of getting the levels right so that only the 'paint' showed the new light and not the rest of the costume when used on the Exxilons...
Daleks are renowned for their inability to climb stairs - even to go up one step but that is nothing compared to their inability to move on sand. Not an inch and all of the location filming was destined for a sand pit or quarry.... Normally the problem is solved by laying down sheets plywood and keeping them out of shot - I believe that location film should be used for the scenery or the action and close ups work well in the studio, so there had to be a way to move them more than a couple of feet -
A theme of the story was secret people (exxilons) watching what was going on - people, watching people, watching Daleks - I loved the costumes for the Exxilons out on the sand dunes - sort of hooded warrior monks - I liked the mystery of them and their double vision - all that subjective camera work on in Liz in the Tardis at the beginning worked well and I think was better than a 'normal' chase/attack I had done before in the series. You couldn't see their faces so you could decide for yourself how horrific they were or not.
Back to Daleks and sand - the solution I decide was to mount them on rails which could be disguised in long shot and make one long railway line in the sand and keep using it shot from different angles. Elemac camera dollys run on rails so the solution was to mount the existing Daleks on Elemac dolly bases and then hire every foot of track in the country. Worked well although the Dalek actors John Scott Martin and the Cy Town could not paddle with their feet as normal. They needed to be pulled along by wire or pushed by the actor walking with them or best solutions have the tracks running slightly down hill - so that's what we did - the ground is sloping slightly downhill when you see the shot of the Dr and the others walking along in a group. Take 1 made me laugh till I ached - on action each actor had to give his Dalek a push off to start it moving down the railway track. Jon and the others gave their Daleks a very good heave then started walking along doing their dialogue and things... The Daleks quickly accelerated down the track (no breaks) and went out of control with John and Cy inside shouting for help. They developed an amazing wobble from side to side until the first reached the end of the track and came to an abrupt stop in the sand. Fine except the following Daleks were on the same track and proceeded to run into the already stationary Dalek.... Very frightening for the actor/operators but you just had to laugh at un-controllable Daleks....
I liked the snake coming up out of the coloured water of one of the 'ponds' in the quarry but the 'Thunderbirds' type wires holding it up did not vanish in Long Shot as I had hoped / expected. I think it was very sunny and they glinted in the rays. The Dalek balanced on the edge of the pond was on a standard piece of 6x4 plywood.
The games and model city were all challenging for the tight schedule of studio recording better suited to dialogue scenes than the painstakingly slow business of creating visual effects. The story was sometimes difficult to tell and the characters perhaps a bit cardboard - all the creative writing went into the Daleks story I think. Of all the Dr Who's I directed, this one has the fewest memories.