THE LIFE AND TIMES OF A DOCTOR WHO DUMMY
I returned to a vibrant ‘swinging’ London of psychedelia, bedsits, mini-skirted ‘birds’ and a house I shared with other lads near the Portobello Road. With an anguished German girl we watched on black and white TV as England kicked the daylights out of her country’s team in the 1966 World Cup. I wrote my debut novel and saw it published (Square One, about the pop scene), and was interviewed on radio by a young DJ called Terry Wogan. I became a husband and father for the first time. As a crazy consequence of all this I found my surprised self attached to a BBC TV show. The show was out of favour with BBC executives, and in urgent need of a re-boot. It was called Doctor Who.
I was the director’s helper in the first colour transmission of the Doctor Who story Spearhead From Space. Spearhead was also the only serial of the Time Lord shot entirely on film. Followers of Rob’s Ramblings on this website will know that I was pressed into service as the main Auton. So I became the first Doctor Who alien to appear in colour on British television. Throughout the shoot I was also the unit driver and general gofer, which provided a rich hoard of material to work on.
Doctor Who Greats
In the book I use diaries and memories to weave anecdotes about colleagues on both sides of the camera. They include my boyhood hero Jon Pertwee, director Derek Martinus, Terrance Dicks, Derek Sherwin, Peter Grimwade, Christine Rawlins, Stan Spiel, Nicholas Courtney, Caroline John and other Doctor Who greats, including Tom Baker. I met Tom later, and worked with him in an easy-to-miss-if-you-blink role on Logopolis, as well as appearing in extremely small (I like to think of them as beautifully formed!) parts in The Daemons, Full Circle and others.
Pursuing a screenwriter’s life I once found myself alone with John Hurt for half an hour and had an enforced, yet ultimately delightful impromptu chat with this extraordinary man and actor. I briefly came face to face with Richard Burton during the filming of Under Milk Wood. The great Welshman gave me no more than a passing glare. Yet the astonishing thing Burton then did has always intrigued me. In fact it still intrigues me, so it’s in the book. As well as developing my career as screenwriter and novelist, I appeared as a ‘walk-on’ or ‘extra’ in most of the best-known British TV dramas, serials, series and sitcoms of the era.
Animated Sinister Doctor Who Dummy
I hope The Life and Times of a Doctor Who Dummy is a fascinating read for everyone interested in Doctor Who, the Sixties’ pop scene, the process of making television programmes, and British television since 1965. Don’t expect a documentary-style blow-by-blow account of those times, the narrative is more impressionistic than obsessively detailed. I wanted to write an entertaining and insightful look at the life and times of a dreamy salesman who aimed to be a writer, and found himself playing an animated Doctor Who dummy of sinister intentions, in what has become one of the most successful television programmes of all time.
I’d like to say a special ‘Thank You’ to Jack Heathcote who won the cover design competition on my Facebook page. His strong image adorns the front of my book.
The Life and Times of a Doctor Who Dummy
By Robin Squire
Paperback and eBook
Sepia and colour photographs throughout
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Robin talks about The Life and Times of a Doctor Who Dummy, and more with Anthony Mason on Radio Warrington:
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