With the 50th anniversary Dr Who show televised and on cinema screens tomorrow (Saturday November 23), County Times head of Photography Steve Cobb looks back to 1988 when an episode was filmed at Bramber.
‘Filming of ‘Silver Nemesis’, a 25th year celebratary story of BBC series Dr Who, came to St Mary’s House in Bramber, during July 1988.
‘As an attendee, my overriding memory is of a great deal of hanging about.
‘I saw extras resplendant in full period costume lounging on deck chairs, I heard hysterical squabbles between production staff in animated conflabs whilst director John Nathan-Turner tried to pour oil on troubled waters.
‘I saw camera operators and writers kicking their heels as props were repaired and sets mended.
And throughout the frenetic activity I saw the series stars, Sylvester McCoy and Sophie Aldred, the Doctor and his assistant Ace, quietly running through their lines in St Mary’s House garden, having sought out leafy corners away from the noise.
‘Time passed. More time passed. ‘Quiet!’ was bellowed from within the house and all eyes turned to clip-board wielding assistants making sure the next take wasn’t ruined by outside chatter.
‘Naturally a car droned by along Bramber’s main road. ‘Cut!’ The vibrations had rumbled through the timber-framed building destroying the renaissance atmosphere within. More time passed. More checking of make-up, more resetting.
‘The hours ticked by. And then it was lunch. But no we couldn’t disturb the actors as it was their own alloted time and the clock stopped and started at very strict times.
‘But I watched them queuing ready to eat meals served by the outside catering van. They seemed to be having a happy time. The conversation seemed convivial. And still the sun was shing as groups of children strained to catch sight of the Doctor through wrought iron fencing.
‘And so more time passed. Filming recommenced. More waiting. And finally it was time for tea.
‘At which point everyone was suddenly available. Hurrah. How pleasant they all were.
‘Sophie was a delight and posed for pictures sitting on a garden wall, Sylvestor joined her to peer around artfully trimmed conifers, then John Nathan-Turner joined the group for a good-humoured group shot.
‘Taking Sylvestor’s single pictures he remained in character for some reflective pictures in front of the house and generously allowed further shots as he chatted through his tea-break.
‘At last, the children were allowed to meet their heroes. Once again the stars were so gracious and welcoming that the delight on the childrens’ faces was bound to be a sign this would be a treasured memory.
‘For those patient children who actually saw the real Dr Who on that sunny summer day in 1988, time stood still forever.’
Were you one of the children pictured in our slideshow?
What are your favourite memories of Dr Who over the past 50 years?
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