ARTICLES

LATEST | FEATURES | INTERVIEWS | NEWS | FRIGHTFEST | REVIEWS

Doctor Who: Exclusive Interview With Effects Master And Writer Mike Tucker
By James Whittington, Monday 21st April 2014

Mike TuckerMike Tucker is one of the heroes of Doctor Who and during the pogramme’s classic and recent runs has helped bring to life some of the show’s most special effects. Here he talks about his work on the series, his writing career and about his company, The Model Unit.

HC: Did you know from a young age that you wanted to work in effects?

MT: Actually, I originally wanted to build models for the Natural History and Science Museums in London – I was fascinated as a child by the forced perspective dioramas. Then I discovered this amazing industry called special effects and the focus of that interest in models changed.

HC: Did anyone’s work influence you?

MT: If you’re around my age and into miniature effects then there’s no chance that you won’t have been influenced by the work of Derek Meddings and Ray Harryhausen. Thunderbirds, Captain Scarlet, UFO, the Sinbad films – all huge influences.

HC: How did you become part of the BBC’s famous Effects Department?

MT: I saw an edition of the BBC magazine programme Pebble Mill At One that featured an interview with Bernard Wilkie who was the head of the VFX dept. I got hold of a copy of his book The Technique of Special Effects in Television and that was my career path set. My parents arranged a visit to the VFX dept in the early 80’s, and I had a long talk with the guys there. I followed their advice on what courses to take, then joined as a trainee the day I left college.

HC: Your first work on Doctor Who was for The Trial Of A Time Lord, were you nervous?

MT: Excited more than nervous. To finally get to work on a show that I had loved since a child was quite a strange feeling. And to get to build the TARDIS as one of my first jobs, too.

HC: From the classic series, you’re best remembered for the work you did for the Seventh Doctor adventures. What was it like working on those stories?

MT: A lot has been written about the ‘family’ feeling that classic Doctor Who had, and it’s true, it was a very close knit team. A lot of that came down to producer John Nathan Turner setting up a kind of rep company of people he trusted, and then letting them all contribute to the final programme. The whole BBC worked in that manner back then, you were part of this very special organisation. TV Centre, Lime Grove, the BBC Film Studios at Ealing were all magical places to work.

HC: What sort of budgets did you have to work within?

MT: Very small! I was never involved in the actual budget side of the classic series as I only ever worked on it in an assistant capacity, not as a designer. But we’re talking thousands of pounds as opposed to tens of thousands.

HC: What did you learn from working on a show like Doctor Who?

MT: The challenges were always producers and directors sitting down and showing you an effects sequence or model from a film like Star Wars or Alien and saying ‘I want something like that’, and then having to go away and create a similar effect for a fraction of the budget. The melting face effect in Dragonfire is a great example. We were shown the sequence from the climax of Raiders Of The Lost Ark and then had to do something similar in a matter of days. We were always looking back at how effects were achieved in early B&W features. Some of those early FX pioneers were very clever, and the methods they created still valid.

HC: Are there any stories you wish you’d worked on?

MT: I’d have loved to do a Dalek story for the classic series, and if I’d been around in the department in the 70’s then I’d have loved to have worked on something like Seeds Of Doom or Pyramids Of Mars – a proper Tom Baker horror story.

HC: Why is it do you think viewers still prefer model shots to CGI effects?

MT: I think people like the tactile element of models. On screen I think it’s because you are intrinsically hardwired to know that the physics and dynamics of what you are seeing is correct. Also when those models and props are actually there in front of you, and you can touch them and examine them up close, then I think there is an admiration of the craft that went into their construction. It’s tricky to get the same sense of wonder when you’re looking at a wireframe model on a computer monitor, even though there’s the same level of skill that goes into its creation.

HC: What’s your proudest special effects moment from the classic series and what’s your fondest memory of working on classic Doctor Who?

MT: I’m very proud of being part of the team that did the big motion control shot for Trial Of A Time Lord, but I’m also proud of my work on Greatest Show In The Galaxy because its seamless with the live action. In terms of favourite stores then The Curse Of Fenric was a hugely enjoyable experience, both in terms of the fantastic time that we had on location as a crew, but also the quality of the end result.

HC: You’re a multi talented person who has also carved a very successful career in writing, how did that come about?

MT: I’d always had a hankering to write, and when Sophie Aldred (Ace) and I collaborated on a behind scenes book about our work on Doctor Who it allowed me access to an editor and a publishing house. That led to me doing a short story, then a novel. From there it’s just kept going as a second career running alongside my work as an effects designer.

HC: Could you tell us about your company, The Model Unit?

MT: I set up The Model Unit following the closure of the BBC VFX department in 2005. At that point I had specialised into being a designer who purely did miniature effects and wanted to continue doing that kind of work. We initially set up shop at Ealing Studios to handle the miniature effects for the BBC Krakatoa documentary and were there for the next 8 years, working on a huge variety of different projects. We’re currently at Wimbledon Studios and our work on the most recent series of Doctor Who has been handled from there.

HC: So what are you working on at the moment?

MT: We’re in discussion about a number of projects - some TV, some film, some exhibition - but I’m afraid that I can’t be any more specific than that at present!

HC: Mike Tucker, thank you very much.


MORE INTERVIEWS
Interview with Jessica McLeod, star of The Hollow Child
Posted on Friday 8th June 2018
Picture of Jessica star of The Hollow Child

If you like your horror movies to have a strong paranormal theme to them you'll need to look out for The Hollow Child when it gets released later this year. It stars the incredibly talented Jessica McLeod so we decided to have a chat about this and her career to date.

HC: Was there a certain person you saw who inspired you to become an actor?

JM: I don't think I had seen a movie by the time I had wanted to be an actor. But Reese Witherspoon continues to inspire me, although my career has been entirely different from hers at my age.

HC: Can you recall what it was like to be on a movie set for the first time?

JM: I believe I got to wear a prin...

SHARE: READ MORE
Interview with Steeve Leonard co-director of Radius
Posted on Monday 21st May 2018

In the chilling movie, Radius, a man wakes from a car crash with amnesia and what's more anyone who comes into contact with him instantly dies. This FrightFest favourite is receiving its UK TV premiere on Friday 25th of May so we chatted to its co-director and co-writer Steeve Leonard about this celebrated and cerebral movie.

HC: How long did Radius take to write?

SL: Radius took about 4 years to write, on and off. We had the radius of death idea first but we didn't know what to do with it, and so we shelved it for a while. Later we came up with the more interpersonal twist we have now and we weaved it together with the radius idea.

HC: Was it written with a cast in mind?

SL: No....

SHARE: READ MORE
Exclusive: Director Johannes Roberts talks 'The Strangers: Prey at Night'
Posted on Tuesday 1st May 2018

This weekend sees the release of a long-awaited sequel to one of 2008's most beloved slasher films. Yes, nine whole years after The Strangers premiered, UK cinema-goers will be met once again by Dollface, the Man in Mask and Pin-Up Girl in The Strangers: Prey at Night.

Starring Mad Men's Christina Hendricks, Bailee Madison, Martin Henderson, and Lewis Pullman, son of the late Bill, the film sees a family of four being stalked and tormented shortly after arriving on what was supposed to be a quiet family trip to a remote mobile home. The family must decide whether to take on the dreaded strangers hell-bent on wreaking havoc, or to run for their lives.

We had a chat with the film's direct...

SHARE: READ MORE
Interview with Andy Nyman, co-writer, co-director and star of Ghost Stories
Posted on Monday 9th April 2018

I've met Andy Nyman on many occasions over the last decade or so, and over that time I've watched his career constantly go from strength to strength. To call him multi-talented would be an understatement and along with Jeremy Dyson has created the must-see horror movie of 2018, Ghost Stories. Here he chats about the stage play, Ghost Stories as well as how it changed on its way to the big screen.

HC: When did you first meet co-writer and co-director Jeremy Dyson?

AN: Jeremy and I met at a Jewish Summer Camp in 1981, and you just get thrown together in dorms of four people and Jeremy is from Leeds and all my family are from Leeds so I used to spend most of my weekends up in Leeds so we instantly ha...

SHARE: READ MORE
John Krasinski talks directing and starring in 'A Quiet Place'
Posted on Friday 6th April 2018


In case you hadn't heard, A Quiet Place has opened in cinemas nationwide.

The film, starring real-life couple, John Krasinski (US adaptation of The Office and 13 Hours) and Emily Blunt (Sicario, Wind Chill and The Devil Wears Prada) takes place in a post-apocalyptic(-ish) environment, in which strange wild creatures that hunt by sound have destroyed a significant amount of the population.

Krasinski and Blunt's characters, husband and wife Lee and Evelyn try to lead a life with their family as quietly (and by that we mean literally) as possible, in able to ensure their survival.

We sat down with the director and one half of Krasinski-Blunt to talk about the film, what scares him the most, and which...

SHARE: READ MORE
Interview with David Howard Thornton, star of Terrifier
Posted on Monday 26th March 2018

If you're a fan of slasher movies then you'll have to check out the bood-splattered shocker Terrifier. The movie is a full-blown, hair-raising homage to grindhouse slashers that introduces a new murderous icon in the form of Art the Clown. Art id surely destined to become a true horror anti-hero and here David Howard Thornton, the guy who plays art, chats about this brilliantly brutal movie and what he's up to at the moment.

HC: What movie or person inspired you to want to work in the film industry?

DT: I would say that would be the film Who Framed Roger Rabbit film wise. I was obsessed with that film when it first came out, and still watch it at least once a year when I need some inspiration. It meshe...

SHARE: READ MORE
Interview with Richard Elliot, Managing Director of 88 Films
Posted on Saturday 17th March 2018

Recently I've been lucky enough to review some rather tasty Blu-rays from 88 Films. This company has been behind amazing releases of titles such as A Cat in the Brain, Anthropophagous and Don't Go in the Woods...Alone. So I decided to chat to managing director Richard Elliot about 88 Films and how they survive in a cut-throat market.

HC: How did 88 Films start?

RE: 88 Films started after James and I met working for another label and it was the usual "we think we can do it better than the boss" scenario. So we slowly developed an idea of what we wanted to do after work down the pub and after lots of head scratching and pork scratchings and some setbacks BE Movies was born... which quickly became 88 Films...

SHARE: READ MORE
Interview with Paul Urkijo, director of Errementari: The Blacksmith and the Devil
Posted on Thursday 1st March 2018

One thing that Horror Channel FrightFest prides itself in is by championing new talent. This year's Glasgow event is no different with a whole host of newbies bringing their first features. A real highlight is Paul Urkijo's Errementari: The Blacksmith and the Devil which is a sumptuous piece that Terry Gilliam would be proud of. Here he chats to us about this stunning movie.

HC: Where did the idea for Errementari: The Blacksmith and the Devil come from?

PU: I was inspired by the Basque story "Patxi Errementaria". He was registered by JM Barandiaran, an anthropologist priest who dedicated his life to recording stories and legends of the Basque Country. It is a legend about a blacksmith who was so ev...

SHARE: READ MORE
Interview with Adam MacDonald, writer and director of Pyewacket.
Posted on Wednesday 28th February 2018

There have been a number of occult and demonic movies over the last few years but none have come close to the tension and terror of Adam MacDonald's Pyewacket. The superb piece of cinema is showing at Horror Channel FrightFest Glasgow this week so I had a quick chat with Adam about this superior shocker.

HC: Have you always been a horror fan?

AM: It really started when I was about 7 years old when my older brother showed me Evil Dead. I couldn't believe what I was watching, it truly rocked me. The card scene in the film did not leave my mind for days. That film is stained on my brain. I was terrified. But then I had a realisation that I loved that feeling. It was primal. Then I watched The Shinin...

SHARE: READ MORE
Interview with Kelly Greene, writer and director of Attack of the Bat Monsters
Posted on Tuesday 27th February 2018

Making movies can be a tough business but to have to wait almost two decades to release your work takes true dedication. At Horror Channel FrightFest Glasgow this weekend Kelly Greene's Attack of the Bat Monsters is finally unleashed. Here he tells us the story behind this celebration of 1950s creature features.

HC: You were inspired to write Attack of the Bat Monsters when you were researching 50s movies, did it take long to write?

KG: It took quite a while because I was working 50 to 60 hours a week at a video production facility while raising a 2-year old and 8-year old, along with my wife, who was also working. I would write at night between 9 and 11pm, and maybe a little more ...

SHARE: READ MORE
Interview with Patrick Magee, writer and director of Primal Rage
Posted on Monday 26th February 2018

There's been a spate of "bigfoot-style, beast in the woods" types of movies recently but none have come anywhere near Primal Rage. This superior creature feature from Patrick Magee will be having its European Premiere at Horror Channel FrightFest Glasgow this Friday so I decided to have a chat with this very talented and creative person.

HC: Did you know from a young age you wanted to work in the film industry?

PM: Since a very young age I was always into, even obsessed, with movies. Specifically horror movies, monster movies really. As a hobby, I got really into special make-up effects and drawing. It got to the point where I was so obsessed with it, I decided when I was a teen that I ha...

SHARE: READ MORE
Interview with Gabriela Amaral, writer and director of Friendly Beast
Posted on Sunday 25th February 2018

As we get ready for the trip to Scotland for this year's Horror Channel FrightFest Glasgow I've been lucky enough to chat to Gabriela Amaral about her powerful movie Friendly Beast which is getting its UK Premiere at the event.

HC: Was there a certain piece of work or person that inspired you to work in the industry?

GA: Yes, there was. I am a huge fan of Alfred Hitchcock and I decided to study cinema because of him. In the beginning, I didn't know what would I do with movies. Would I be an academic? A film critic? A director? I just knew I had to live doing something that had to do with movies. I graduated in Communication Studies in Brazil where I studied horror movies and literature (specific...

SHARE: READ MORE
Interviews Archive: 2018 | 2017 | 2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013 | 2012 | 2011 | 2010 | 2009 | 2008 | 2007 | 2006
PICK OF THE WEEK
28 Days Later
28 DAYS LATER
Friday 29th June
10.50 PM
Eden Lake
EDEN LAKE
Tuesday 26th June
10.55 PM
Insidious
INSIDIOUS
Thursday 21st June
10.50 PM