One of my favourite parts of the Doctor Who TV Movie is the pre-credit sequence showing the trial and extermination of the ‘Old Master’ by the Daleks on Skaro. Clearly this was an insane way to open the movie as it would have alienated and confused viewers who’d never seen Doctor Who before; but you have to admire the amount of effort that went into every detail of that brief scene. Let’s take a closer look…
Detailed storyboards were created by Michael Wong for the pre-credits sequence showing the extermination of the ‘Old Master’.
Canadian actor Gordon Tipple was cast as the Old Master. He was fitted with reptilian-looking contact lenses.
Gordon Tipple: My vision was obscured, but I was able to see just enough to get around. The problem was how quickly they dried out. The optometrist had to be there and was constantly putting in eye drops so I’d be able to actually remove the lenses later.
Tipple was made-up with a false beard and dark rings around his eyes. The make-up department were provided with photographs of Roger Delgado and Anthony Ainley as reference. Tipple wore the same outfit that can be seen under Eric Roberts’ robes at the end of the movie.
Gordon Tipple recorded a voice-over as the Old Master but this was replaced with McGann’s narration. Here is the original scripted dialogue for the Old Master and the Daleks.
THE OLD MASTER: I do hereby make my last will and testament… If I am to be executed, and thus cruelly deprived of all existence, I ask only that my remains be transported back to my home planet by my rival Time Lord and nemesis – he who calls himself… the Doctor.
THE DALEKS: You, who dare to challenge the power of the Daleks, have been found guilty as charged. Exterminate! EXTERMINATE!
The Dalek voices were provided by director Geoffrey Sax.
SCRIPT: For those who know the series it is a Dalek voice, for those who don’t it is a cybernetic nightmare voice.
Geoffrey Sax: That was an actor called Gordon Tipple as the Master, not a CGI effect – he was actually there, although we eventually cut his voice-over and replaced it with Paul McGann’s.
The Old Master’s trial was recorded on a sound stage in Burnaby, near Vancouver, on Saturday 10 February 1996.
Gordon Tipple: That prison was a real thing that they built. Those glowing tubes were this material where you put a light on it and it glows back at you.
Michael Wong provided a detailed design drawing of the Daleks’ Dispersal Chamber.
A set of elaborate manacles were designed and constructed for the Old Master to wear in the opening sequence. They are hardly visible on screen.
Gordon Tipple: And they wanted a physical reaction from me when I died. Watch the hat, you see me moving.
The shot of Tipple was faded to a shot of the empty Dispersal Chamber. CGI elements were added to show the Master being incinerated. The shot of the empty ‘death cell’ was then blended with a shot of an explosion.
And that was the end of Gordon Tipple’s brief stint as the Master. I hope we hear him in a Big Finish production one day!
We’d like to thank Simon Guerrier for his help with this feature and Gordon Tipple for his kind permission to use his photographs. You can read Simon’s interview with Gordon from DWM here: http://0tralala.blogspot.co.uk/2016/05/gordon-tipple-interview.html
And as a special bonus, here are a few extra photographs taken by Gordon Tipple on the set of the Doctor Who TV Movie. This is the first time they have ever been ‘published’.