Despite what many fans would have you believe special effects have always played a key part in Doctor Who. Now that Doctor Who on TV has entered the digital effects age it�s finally possible for the effects teams to do justice to the visions of the writers.
The new series of Doctor Who contains more special effects than any other UK produced TV series and from what has been seen so far in trailers and excerpts they stand up well against the expensive US sci-fi airing on channels such as Sky One.
The computer-generated (CG) effects for the new series have been handled by Oscar-winning London-based effects house The Mill who have worked on blockbuster movies such as �Gladiator�.
Speaking recently about their work on the new series The Mill�s Chief Executive Robin Shenfield said: �With Doctor Who the storytelling was so good we knew it was something we really wanted to do.�
Visual effects producer Will Cohen agrees: “The show is a national institution and people working out how best to do a shot would often say something like ‘But it’s Doctor Who, it has to be good’.”
Will explains how the work they were asked to produce was more ambitious than anything else seen on TV: �One computer-generated character needed four minutes of lip-synching, which is a huge undertaking in a TV project.”
Complimenting the digital effects are more traditional model shots courtesy of Doctor Who veteran Mike Tucker and the BBC Miniature Effects Unit.
Tucker worked on the show during the Colin Baker and Sylvester McCoy eras enabling him to compare the difference between the original show and the new: “The kind of things we’re doing now couldn’t have been done 15 years ago when the show was last on. Computer technology in visual effects was in its infancy,” he says.
“The gulf between what we can do now and did then is enormous. Effects we could never have achieved are now possible – that’s the biggest change.�
Speaking of the model work Mike remarks that his team �spend a lot of time making models and setting them up only to destroy them in a matter of seconds, but it’s part of the job.”
Tucker and his team also worked on the full sized Dalek prop which he describes as �a bonus!”