How They Made ‘Doctor Who’ In The Early ’70s

Invasion of the Dinosaurs

There’s a scene in the film 28 Days Later when a confused Cillian Murphy is seen wandering around a deserted London, having just woken up in hospital, confused by the lack of people in what should be a bustling metropolis. It’s an idea taken from lots of classic science-fiction, most notably from John Wyndham’s The Day of the Triffids, which starts in a very similar fashion.

The difference is, The Day of the Triffids was written as a book. When you write a scene like that, and you know you have to film it,  in the middle of London, what do you do?

The Doctor Who production team were faced with exactly this dilemma in 1974, when they were making Invasion of the Dinosaurs. The story called for abandoned London streets, from which the Doctor and Sarah Jane would have to try and figure out exactly what was going on (although, let’s be honest, the title of the story is a dead giveaway).

Now, for the first time, some of that production team have been describing exactly how they managed it, as part of the DVD release of The UNIT Files, a compilation of Invasion of the Dinosaurs and the Tom Baker adventure The Android Invasion.

Remember, this is a BBC production, in the 1970s: the level of tolerance for media types interfering in the working day of the capital city was precisely zero. It was, after all, only five years since the police told the Beatles to stop playing on the roof of their own office.

And here’s how it looked in the end.

Fraser McAlpine

Fraser McAlpine

Fraser is a British writer, broadcaster and the the author of the book Stuff Brits Like. He is Anglophenia's resident Brit blogger, having written BBC Radio 1's Chart Blog, the Top of the Pops website, and for NME, the Guardian and elsewhere. Favorite topics include slang, Doctor Who and cramming as much music into Anglophenia as he can manage. He invites you to join him on Twitter: @csi_popmusic
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