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29 October 2014

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    Doctor Who with faithful assistant K9
    Doctor Who with faithful assistant K9

    Doctor Who Revisited

    With the final episode of the new series of Doctor Who being screened this weekend, we discovered how much Buckinghamshire influenced the first eight Doctors.

    Doctor Who?

    The classic TV show provided over 600 episodes, 150 stories, two TV movies and K9's spin-off show.

    The First Doctor: William Hartnell 1963-1966

    The Second Doctor: Patrick Troughton 1966-1969

    The Third Doctor: Jon Pertwee 1970-1974

    The Fourth Doctor: Tom Baker 1974-1981

    The Fifth Doctor: Peter Davison 1982-1984

    The Sixth Doctor: Colin Baker 1984-1986

    The Seventh Doctor: Sylvester McCoy 1986-1989

    The Eighth Doctor: Paul McGann 1996


    Travelled with the Doctor between The Invisible Enemy and Warrior's Gate.

    K9 was the creation of Professor Marius, who had made the loyal robot dog to circumvent weight restrictions when travelling to the Bi-Al asteroid.

    When he returned to Earth, Marius gave K9 to the Doctor. Capable of independent thought, and equipped with a blaster, K9 was a useful companion.

    The Doctor gave K9 to Leela when he left her on Gallifrey, but had already prepared K9 Mk II.

    Despite numerous technical problems which put him out of action, K9 Mk II travelled with the Doctor until he was given to Romana as a parting gift.

    The Doctor sent another K9 to Sarah Jane Smith, after she had returned to Earth.

    What links Doctor Who and Rainbow? Where does K9 the robotic dog live now and does taking the stairs save you from a Dalek attack?

    These are just a few of the questions we found the answers to in our look ahead at the latest offering from the good Doctor as he prepares to hit our screens again later this month, aiming to capture a new generation of fans.

    Doctor Who is a true television phenomenon. It first graced our screens as far back as 1963 and since then we have seen eight Doctors battle to save the planet.

    Now, Doctor Who is back as a 13-part drama series coming soon to Saturday evenings on BBC One, starring Christopher Eccleston as the ninth Doctor and Billie Piper as Rose Tyler his assistant.

    But will the new series be able to live up to the legend of Doctors from days gone by? With many of the previous seasons filmed in Buckinghamshire, we asked former series stalwart Terry Molloy, who played Davros, Leader of the Daleks, what he thought.

    Terry Molloy aka Davros in between takes.
    Terry Molloy aka Davros in between takes

    "I think the quality of writers they have got on board will ensure that the thing that drives Doctor Who and the thing that made it so successful is that it is character driven and story driven, not effects driven" explained Terry.

    "There have been generations of kids who have not had a Doctor in their lives, a whole new generation of kids are going to have the safety of that Doctor alongside them to scare off the baddies and save the universe at the final moment."

    But for Terry trying to forget his previous incarnation as the evil Davros has proved more difficult than first thought.

    "I'm still the evilest man in the universe, you don't give up being the evilest man in the universe that easily.

    "I was in the series from 1983 through to the end and since then I have carried on doing stuff with the fans" he explained.

    Terry Molloy/ Davros leader of the Daleks
    Terry Molloy/Davros leader of the Daleks

    However being leader of the Daleks was actually more difficult than might be expected.

    "It was physically one of the most demanding roles I ever had" he revealed.

    "The chariot was all made out of timber, with two car batteries in the back and I was having to drag it around by my toes. It was like trying to push a supermarket trolley in the wrong direction. It was awful."

    But playing Davros also gives Terry the right to dispute the urban myth that you can stave off an attack from the Daleks by simply running upstairs.

    "They could float and back in 1985 they actually hovered. In Revelations of the Daleks, Davros hovers, and in Remembrance of the Daleks in 1989 there were Daleks following the Doctor upstairs in the schools" Terry said, dispelling the myth forever.

    Compared to the tough role playing the leader of the Daleks, John Leeson, the voice of K9, the Doctor's faithful robotic dog, may have had an easy job but he was fortunate to get it.

    The fourth Doctor Tom Baker, Romana and K9
    Fourth Doctor Tom Baker, Romana and K9

    "I got the part by accident. As a classic actor trained at RADA you don't expect to end up playing a tin dog do you really, but versatility is the name of the game they say!" said a grateful John.

    However, John was known in the industry as being prepared to take unusual parts and already had experience of performing in difficult circumstances.

    "Back in 1972 I played Bungle in Rainbow for one year and it was the hottest job I have ever had in my life, inside a bear suit in a small, very over lit studio.

    "It was not terribly comfortable, I had to have salt tablets in order to survive the day."

    Being the voice behind K9 also allowed John to work with one of the more eccentric actors to play the Doctor, Tom Baker.

    "We didn't have massive budgets, it was done on the cheap, we weren't paid to do it right, we were paid to do it right the first time."
    Matt Irving, BBC Visual Effect Department

    "He was absolutely fantastic, with mental energy and physical energy - I've never worked with another actor like him" described John.

    By season eighteen the decision was taken to allow K9 to leave the series and he was given arguably the most fitting departure ever given to one of the Doctor's companions.

    K9 went off to become Romana's assistant as she became a female Doctor in E-Space, having effectively served her apprenticeship aboard the TARDIS. However, in reality, K9 actually went to live in Milton Keynes, rather less glamorous!

    Big George takes control.
    Big George takes control.

    Matt Irving worked for the BBC's visual effects department and helped create the legendary robotic dog. He is now the keeper of K9 in Milton Keynes.

    "We all had a hand or should a say spanner in him at some time or other, it was such a frantic rush to get him ready, the whole department were working on him" said Matt.

    "It took less than two weeks to build K9, somebody was doing the fibre glass bodywork another person was doing the mechanics, another the radio control.

    "It was the early days of radio control and nobody knew how to work it, I was about the only one who knew how it worked and I crashed him less than others" he added.

    While many people fondly remember the rather unique approach to sets and costume design, Matt explained that there was method to their madness.

    Big George takes a peek inside K9.
    Big George takes a peek inside K9.

    "We didn't have massive budgets, it was done on the cheap, we weren't paid to do it right, we were paid to do it right the first time" he said.

    Unfortunately, or fortunately depending on how you look at it, the new series is unlikely to have the same standards of visual effects.

    "Sadly the department of visual effects was closed a year or so ago after 49 years" revealed Matt.

    "People think that the department only ever worked on Science Fiction, we did do Hitch Hikers, Red Dwarfs, Blakes 7 and Doctor Who, but in fact most of our time was spent doing sitcoms."

    "I worked on Are You Being Served, and one day we had to recreate Mrs Slocombe's pussy, it was a cat basket with a furry tail on a motor" said proud Matt.

    So it wasn't only Doctor Who that had unique robotic animals then!

    The final episode of the new series of Doctor Who will be screened on Saturday 18 June at 7pm on BBC One.

    last updated: 16/06/05
    Have Your Say
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    I realy like k9 .Im glad hes back !!!!!

    Supreme Being
    Im pleased to see DR Who back. The new series is excellent! Also, Davros wasnt killed. In 'Remembrance of the Daleks', he escapes the doomed starship in an escape pod and is trapped alive on earth in 1963.

    Is K9 going to be in the new series?? It would be great! Also, is Davros going to be in it? The Daleks may of killed him, but he is SUPPOSED to be a genius!

    I'm really thinking about building a radiocontrol k9 for myself. With a remote control car underneath!

    Ian Webb
    I think the new Doctor Who is great, i used to watch the original ones and i am glad to say you have done really good job of keeping the essence of the old style, but throwing in new and better effects, Keep the good work up.

    I'm a Trekkie, but I am so glad that Doctor Who is back. Trek has gone down abit. Thank you BBC.
    is there a new k-9 in the new doctor who ?

    plz ! put it on prime too !!!

    sue collins
    its about time!

    it should never have been taken off but hopefuly it will be worth waiting for. im just trying to convert my teenage daughter now and i hope she likes it as much as i did.

    Andrew Bird
    Thank you BBC, I am and have always been a fan of Doctor Who and am very pleased that it is back. Although I do think that the BBC hasn't been value for money for a while. Maybe this marks the return to good programmes and licence fees.

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