Sunday, 9 February 2014

Hell on Earth - Revisited

Whenever I'm asked "What's your favourite story out of the ones you've made?" it's always Hell on Earth. This story came into my head in an instant, which is a rarity. Usually I'll come up with a basic idea or scenario and then structure out scenes in my head before typing, but this hit me like a cricket ball to the groin. I wanted to do another Peter Davison story, but I didn't want to do anything with the Daleks or the Cybermen, which is a problem when you look at the Davison era of the toy shelf!

I make no reservations in admitting this story was based on The Woman in Black (the play, not the film with Daniel Radcliffe), which I had gone to see in London with two friends. I've always been freaked out by the paranormal and that sense of otherness, and this play was full of shocks and scares galore. So it was from that I decided I wanted to do a haunted house story. Other than the setting I plucked two things from that play, the first was the blood curdling shriek of a woman (which I think only happens once or twice in my story) and the name Mr Kipps. Come on, that's a great name for a butler.

So what of the Master and the return of the Mara? Where did that come from? Well I wanted to use the Anthony Ainley figure, and although it grinds my gears he's in that ruddy tux it actually works here. He was always popping up in Davison stories in some pointless disguise, so it fit. The Mara on the other hand, well I'm not sure. I guess I knew I wanted to do something paranormal and creepy, and Kinda has some really mad, creepy, what-the-hell-is-happening moments to it, and so that's what I wanted to replicate. All of this came to me as we were walking from the theatre. The bare bones were there and then I went home and wrote it. There wasn't much to think about, it just sort of flowed and wrote itself within about a week. Very fun to write, and even more fun when you imagine the real actors and the real settings. I've never written a script and thought how it would look with toys. I cross the toy bridge when I have to film it!

If you watch Part One its mainly just "weird stuff is happening", and that's what I was after. I wanted the people watching to be scratching their head's going "What the frig is going on?", but I wanted them to want to know what's going on and tune in next week, and I think the Master cliffhanger added to that. The scenes set within the Darkness of the Inside were shot to resemble the scenes in Kinda as much as possible. Although Snakedance gets mentioned and the crystal link idea is used, I wanted to keep it closer to Kinda as that is the best of the two Mara stories. I was also keen to work Adric (which was needed for The Honour of War, which was produced not long after) as well as some other monsters to reflect the Doctor's fears and inner demons.

This story also featured a few new customs, namely Turlough, which was fashioned out of the head of an Auton on a Primeval figure's body, and Tegan, which used my original Peri custom. New hair, destroy the old Milliput and repaint! Yes, painting her dress did take ages. Another special addition was the Mara. Now when I wrote this story I just assumed I'd find a decent looking snake toy online and use that... well if I still had the original rushes with the snake toy you would see it looked worse than the Kinda snake! I don't think any footage of the rubber snake made it into the story, or if it did the real Mara from Snakedance overlays it. Yes, it was so horrendously awful that I had to rotoscope footage of the real Mara puppet onto a green background and chroma key it into the footage. Not ideal, and I don't think it looks too bad. Certainly better than that rubber toy.

Overall, this was an enjoyable story to film, but by Jove it was a fun story to write and edit. This story got a really lovely response when it went out, and I was thrilled. Sadly, the BBC took umbrage to my use of the title sequence and took a lot of the episodes down, and with it those lovely comments. So when you see the title as 'Copy of Doctor Who...', that's because it is. And for those wondering why I used Davison's console for the Master's TARDIS rather than the one made by AFT, well that's simply because it's what the BBC used to do!


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