He concluded: “Everything we do in Cardiff… is out of love for the show you’re about to watch. I’m never more of a fan than when I work on Doctor Who, attempting to re-create what you’re about to see.”
And so episode one began. Although I’ve watched Tomb countless times, I have to say the big-screen experience gave me the shivers. It’s a brilliant, suspenseful piece of 60s television. I wonder, what must it have been like coming to this story completely cold in September 1967..?
A glitch in the projector between episodes brought Michael Troughton up to the stage early. He revealed that his father, Patrick, who died in 1987, was “an incredibly nervous actor. I think this is something people don’t realise. He worked from the inside out, very emotional. Unlike Jon Pertwee, for instance, who was a very technical actor. My father worked from instinct.”
He spoke of his reluctance to write a biography of his late father. “I left almost 20 years. He was a very private man. I wanted to wait until the dust had settled and I got full-ish agreement with his family. If you read the book, you’ll realise he had three families.”
After the screening, the main panel featured six guests who were either involved on Tomb or with the Troughton period. Well-worn anecdotes were inevitable but here are My Best Bits.
As companion Polly, Anneke Wills worked with the first two Doctors, and she’s now hoping to revise her opinion of William Hartnell by reading his granddaughter’s biography. “There was so much more to Bill than I knew at the time. All I knew was this difficult, bad-tempered person who kept saying, ‘It’s not my line, it’s your line and you forgot it.’ The switch-over from Bill to Patrick was like day from night. No wonder I was completely in love with Pat, because he was simply marvellous.”
Director Michael Ferguson recalled working as an assistant floor manager on the first Dalek story in 1963: “I have this claim to fame, because I was the first Dalek. Sitting on the front of a [camera] crane, I held the plunger [that came into shot in the cliffhanger].” Ferguson rates Troughton as “by far the best actor of them all, certainly from the early period. He was a thinking, caring actor, with an enormous amount of experience.”
Deborah Watling, who played companion Victoria in Tomb, spoke of the chemistry with her co-stars. “We got very close over the year I was in it. Pat became like a second father and a best friend, but he got me into a bad habit.” Young “Watters” liked to have a quiet, sober, sandwich-box lunch, “but Pat said, ‘You’ve got to come with us.’ So he took me to the BBC Club – and I’ve never looked back!” she said, with heavy meaning.
Bernard Holley, who went on to star in Z Cars, said Tomb was only his second telly role. “I was alive in the first episode and dead in the second. But I got the same money for both.” In 1971, he made a second Who, playing an alien in The Claws of Axos, directed by Ferguson. “Michael came up to me in the BBC Club and said, ‘How do you look in gold..?’”