ReelTime Productions presents the seventh compilation of the long-running Myth Makers series, where classic Doctor Who alumni are reverently scrutinised by presenters Keith Barnfather and Nicolas Briggs. Briggs is famous for many things in the DW universe, but he and his Myth Maker colleagues are unquestionably fans first. Indeed, this series represents the longevity of their devotion; impressively spanning from 1997 to 2018, these interviews let some of the Doctor’s most formidable enemies take centre stage.
On a superficial level, there is much to criticise about the results. Each 45-minute interview features almost zero production value: no music, no narration and no energy. The uncooked footage typically entails the subject sitting in their living room amid a one-camera set-up and flat lighting. In lieu of an unseen interviewer, Nic Briggs reads out each question while sitting miles away at his office desk – a feat achieved through jarring edits resembling Windows Movie Maker. There are editing flubs, no subtitles and no DW footage for context.
But such technical criticisms are nitpicks from a documentary purist. For a hardcore Doctor Who fan, these DVDs provide unique insight into the careers of actors who, although generally not famous, are equally fascinating in their own right. This time including: Roger Delgado (The Master), Ian Collier (Hyde, Omega), Bernard Archard (Bragen, Scarman) David Gooderson (Davros), Peter Miles (Lawrence, Whitaker, Nyder) and Julian Glover (Richard the Lionheart, Scaroth).
Barring an intro with Briggs and Barnfather, the DVD kicks off with a gushing portrait doc of Delgado, i.e. the original Master. This segment is unique in that it’s a much more produced feature (being made in 1997, it was obviously when ReelTime had a sizeable budget in hand).
It’s an interesting (if narrow) perspective on the late actor, squarely built on interviews of those in his professional rather than personal life. We learn of his difficulties with typecasting and his generosity towards colleagues, but overall, we don’t get a deep sense of Delgado’s personality or how he approached his craft. Jon Pertwee and Barry Letts offer some amusing anecdotes, and the story of his death is tragic, but detail and intimacy are disappointingly low-key. It’s a brief but kind tribute to an actor who had more to offer the world than exotic villains.
The following five segments are stark interviews, sometimes mixed with convention appearances. Julian Glover (also famous for Star Wars and Indiana Jones) gives perhaps the best interview, balancing his past and future with his musings on modern television, and also gives some refreshingly honest thoughts on “egotist” First Doctor, William Hartnell.
Collier and Archard document their life-stories with varying but ultimately emotional effectiveness, which is accentuated by their subsequent deaths. Collier caps his interview with a personal revelation that deeply resonates, while the 90-year-old Archard credits his long-term partner and the DW fans for his lastingness.
Fans still lament the loss of Peter Miles, who passed earlier this year, but will likely be cheered by his jovial attitude and constant use of the phrase “You get me?” before tapping along to his rendition of Watch What Happens over the end credits. Finally, David Gooderson – the actor to have appeared only once in Doctor Who – is oddly granted the longest interview. Additionally, his performance as Davros paled in comparison to Michael Wisher’s, but then so did Terry Molloy’s. Gooderson is an engaging man nonetheless, and tells of his escapades as a prolific storyteller, as well as a member of the famed Cambridge Footlights.
Being from around the same generation, each actor gives a common historical insight. The trials involved in transitioning from theatre to television in the late ’50’s offers a dimension for TV enthusiasts, particularly those with an interest in the early BBC landscape. Furthermore, these stories will inspire the realisation that fame is not everything, and that working character actors deserve a lot of credit.
They could be considered “no-name” actors, but that is not synonymous with “no talent”. All five interviewed men stress a similar spiritual satisfaction from their associations with Doctor Who, made possible by the ever-passionate and devoted fan base. While only semi-professional, it is this same passion that renders Myth Makers worthwhile.
Written by Ben Aldis