The look and feel of early Doctor Who is often praised and individuals such as director Waris Hussein and designer Peter Brachaki are rightly applauded for their efforts on those extraordinary episodes. But another name should be added to that roll call… Step forward vision mixer, Clive Doig…
Vision mixers were essentially ‘live editors’ who controlled when a specific camera was actively recording. They would work under a director’s guidance but had to make many of the calls themselves; sat in the control booth above the mêlée of the studio floor they decided and dictated when to switch between the several unwieldy cameras that captured the action. Vision mixers also oversaw some visual effects, such as crossfades, and orchestrated the insertion of pre-recorded material into an otherwise ‘live’ scene.
Doig served as vision mixer on Doctor Who’s first three serials as well as The Sensorites and the season 2 opener, Planet of the Giants. To understand his skill and the debt of gratitude Doctor Who owes him, simply watch the very first episode and marvel at those opening sequences which form a mesmerising, opulent and visually arresting tour de force. If Doig had left the BBC in December 1963, he would still have merited a mention in these pages for that masterful passage alone.
Following his work on Doctor Who, Doig went into other areas of the TV world. He proved a successful director, for example, at the helm of shows including the much-loved children’s serial, The Phoenix and the Carpet. He also wrote for television and produced hits including We Are the Champions and Beadle’s About. In recent years he has worked with BBC Worldwide, occasionally contributing to DVD documentaries in which he recalls the early days of Doctor Who and his work on those multi-camera classics.