The Daily Mail – a paper which lambasted Twice Upon A Time for ‘sanctimonious piety’, ‘right-on smuggery’, and said it was ‘achingly worthy and deep in self pity’ – has for once come up trumps by publishing previously unseen pictures from Doctor Who Season 2. And what makes them all the more remarkable is that we’re talking Season 2 with William Hartnell, not Season 2/28 with David Tennant!
The photos are from two 1965 stories, The Web Planet and The Chase. In the first photo, Verity Lambert enjoys a cheeky cigarette lit by an obliging Mechanoid. The other photos give a fascinating insight (literally) into the Zarbi costumes. The costumes (props? costumes?) are a marvel of imagination and engineering. Presumably cast in fibreglass, they are strapped and braced to the actor in several pieces. The actor sees out through a panel in the chest. The Zarbi costumes must have been one of the most uncomfortable costumes ever to be warn by an artist in the series, requiring him to spend much of the shoot with a bent back and presumably with his arms cramped next to his body. Have any cosplayers ever attempted one?
John Scott Martin once said playing a Zarbi was like ‘stumbling along with a wardrobe strapped to your back’ and the Zarbi surely joins the female Eldrad and the Ice Warrior as a costume in which it was impossible to take a bathroom break. Judith Paris, who played Eldrad, recalled that she was unable to drink anything once in costume as she couldn’t visit the loo.
What perhaps impresses most about the photographs is the extraordinary imagination and ingenuity of the designers and prop builders, who produced such marvels as the Mechanoid and the Zarbi on such a tiny budget. Perhaps the smallness of the budget itself encouraged such creativity in using little money to great effect. No wonder viewers in 1965 marvelled at this wonderful new programme. No wonder it caught on.
Surely it is time for Jodie to face off against the Zarbi, the Mechanoids, and the power of the Animus? A lot more imaginative than that bloody silly P’ting thing from last season, anyway…