Saturday, 26 September 2015

Shooting - Day 1

Thursday 5 March 2015

On the day before I was due on set, I received a phonecall from James, the 2nd Assistant Director, who gave me the calltimes and information of the parking arrangements they’d made for me. 

The normal shooting day on set (so I was told) was about 7:00am to 7:00pm, but on this day the schedules had all been pushed back because of the previous week’s shooting in Tenerife, so I was told to report to the BBC Roath Lock studios in Cardiff Bay for midday.

Upon arrival I was given my parking permit and directed to my space.

As per instruction I then rang James, who met me and escorted me into Studio 3, where I was led onto the set of the Dalek control room in their city on Skaro. On the set of the control room there were almost 20 Dalek props, including:

  • 9 or 10 bronze ‘Time War’ Daleks;
  • The Red Dalek Supreme from “The Stolen Earth”/”Journey’s End”;
  • 1 black Dalek (which presumably was the Dalek Sec prop);
  • 2 silver and blue original Daleks from “The Daleks”;
  • 1 silver and blue Troughten-era Dalek;
  • 1 silver and blue Troughten-era Dalek with a black dome from “The Evil of the Daleks”;
  • 1 Special Weapons Dalek from “Remembrance of the Daleks”;
  • And 1 grey and black Dalek from “Remembrance” (which was my Dalek).

Also on set was the TARDIS.

The set itself was brilliant; it looked very much like the Dalek city out of the very first Dalek story from 1963 (the doors were identical). There were windows that looked out onto the barren wastes of Skaro, which were actually giant photos hung outside the set. There was also a raised platform, or ‘stage’ as we referred to it, with a number of consoles on. Derek, was placed up in the centre of this stage (and that was where he stayed throughout the four days of filming). In the very centre of the room was a smaller, lower podium, on which the Dalek Supreme was placed. 

Here is a quick sketch that I drew of the control room set the following day (obviously, there were far more Daleks on set than I actually drew here):

After being shown the set I was taken to the canteen where I met the other Dalek operators, who were the nicest, most welcoming people imaginable. They had all done work on Doctor Who before, some as Daleks, but mostly as other monsters such as Cybermen, Ood, Judoon etc. Over the four days I was at the BBC, I heard some interesting stories from them.

After a brief respite (as we waited for all the Dalek operators, or SAs (Supporting Artists) as they are properly termed, to arrive), it was time to begin. We started the day with a ‘Dalek workshop’, led by Barnaby Edwards and Nicholas Pegg, who are the show’s two main Dalek operators that have been with the show since it returned in 2005. This workshop basically involved everyone being assigned their Daleks (naturally, I was in Derek), and then we were taught how to ‘act’ like a Dalek on-screen. To be fair, most of the operators there that day had been Daleks before in previous series, but there were a couple who hadn’t. This workshop brought us all up to speed.

On an interesting note, the Special Weapons Dalek is slightly shorter than all the other Daleks, so the chap operating him had to crook his neck at an odd angle to fit inside. Added to that is the fact that it is almost impossible to see out of this Dalek, which made it rather interesting to operate on set. There were numerous instances of the Special Weapons Dalek bumping into walls, other Daleks, and even a camera on one occasion! This led to it being given the nickname of Special Needs Dalek!

Once the workshop was complete, the cameras and the actors were brought on set and shooting commenced.

The scene we shot was the finale of episode 1 and involved Clara and Missy being brought into the control room, at which point Clara notices the TARDIS. Missy tries to convince the Daleks that they need her to operate the TARDIS, but they exterminate her. Clara then tries to run away and is shot too. Finally, the Daleks turn to the TARDIS, a giant laser is lowered from the ceiling, and the TARDIS is destroyed.

During the scene where Missy was exterminated, she came up onto the stage and stood right in front of Derek for her speech to the Daleks. The downside to this, of course, is that when we had to exterminate her, I shot her in the back! Hardly the behaviour of a gentleman.  

Here are some photos from the set that day (as you’ll note, during most rehearsals, the Daleks have their tops off!).


The weird ‘bow’ on top of my head in these photos is part of the ‘balaclava’ that the Dalek Operators wear to hide their features from being seen through the Dalek grilles (naturally it covers the whole face, but is usually rolled up when not in use. See this selfie from the BBC toilets for more detail of it rolled up).


Perhaps one of the most exciting things from that day was when, during one of our breaks, Dani, the 3rd Assistant Director, took me from Studio 3, which was where the Dalek city set was, and showed me Studio 2, which houses the TARDIS set! Nicholas Briggs and Barnaby Edwards came with us as they had not yet seen the set this series and presumably wanted to see the tweaks that had been made. Naturally, it was awesome! Rather disconcertingly, one enters the TARDIS through a door at the very bottom of the set, rather than through the traditional Police Box doors, but this then allowed me to ascend the staircase to reach the main console. Unfortunately, we didn’t have that long in there before being called back on set, but I did manage to snap this cheeky photo before I left.


It was on this day that I caught a glimpse of Steven Moffat walking across the set. However, since I was sat in my Dalek with the lid on, I didn’t get a very clear look at him (nor could I rush over and say “hi”).

No comments:

Post a Comment