Last weekend BlogtorWho was lucky enough to be at the BFI Southbank for the screening of ‘The Sea Devils‘. Throughout the day there were a number of interview sessions on stage. For the benefit of those who were not in attendance we present some highlights from those sessions.
Opening event proceedings was a screening of the ‘Defenders of Earth‘ trailer which announced the impending release of Doctor Who: The Collection: Season 9. Joining hosts Justin Johnson and Dick Fiddy on stage were actors Katy Manning, Julia Haworth and Isabelle Palmer plus writer/director Pete McTighe.
Initial questions were posed to the two young actors Julia Haworth (Kat) and Isabelle Palmer (Alex) about their awareness of Doctor Who.
“Now I understand the depth and the capacity of Doctor Who. You always hear about it but growing up I know my parents watched it and my brother and sister, who are a lot older than me, watched it.” – Julia Haworth
“How big the franchise is! Realising it’s just so big.” – Isabelle Palmer
A surprise special guest also joined the panel.
“I feel bad because it’s just his head. His body is actually quite large and the egg is massive and I wasn’t going to walk around London with a massive egg. Meet Junior.” – Pete McTighe
Cue a chorus of “Aww” from the audience as Pete McTighe pulled the Sea Devil hatchling from a padded envelope.
“This was sculpted and made by Mike Tucker, who we all know worked on the classic series. He really wanted to be here today. But he did an amazing job. I basically said ‘I want a Sea Devil cross with Baby Yoda’. It’s obviously a puppet. So, on set we had three eggs, one of which was hollow and Mike was under this false platform that we’d built operating it. It was amazing how it then comes to life.” – Pete McTighe
“There is a vague look in the eyes of something going back to the 60’s or 70’s.” – Katy Manning
“This fin material [on the side of the puppet’s head] is actually the only remaining original material that was used on the Sea Devils in the 70’s. So there’s a little piece of 70’s Sea Devil as part of him.” – Pete McTighe
“Truly, if these are not on everybody’s Christmas list I’ll be so surprised!” – Katy Manning
“I was thinking Easter! Like an Easter egg.” – Pete McTighe
“Even just holding it’s head, it’s got such incredible life.” – Katy Manning
“It’s adorable.” – Pete McTighe
“I was a little worried when Justin told me that Mike Tucker couldn’t make it but he was sending his head! This makes so much more sense.” – Dick Fiddy
Facing the Sea Devils
“Chris Thompson our brilliant CGI artist helped animate it a little bit giving it some blinks and stuff which just really helps sell it. This kind of monster works best when it’s something prac[tical] that’s on set that actors can interact with and then augmented with CG. It’s the best of both worlds.” – Pete McTighe
“That moment when we saw him breaking out of the egg, I don’t know if it shows in my eyes but I was completely and utterly in love, we all were. Absolutely every fibre of my being felt this moment. Then you think of the world and the way things really are. (To Julia and Isabelle) It was a magical moment to share with you. Thank you everybody who created these moments.” – Katy Manning
(To Julia and Isabelle) “Your faces were priceless when you saw the Sea Devil attacking you. That was brilliant. There was no acting.” – Pete McTighe
“That was quite terrifying.” – Isabelle Palmer
“I was quite terrified to be honest.” – Julia Haworth
“He’s here actually.” – Justin Johnson
In the audience was Hal Townsend who played the adult Sea Devil and stood to receive a well-deserved ovation of applause.
“Hal was our Sea Devil. I’m pleased that he is still standing because it was literally snowing when we were on the beach and I made him go in the water twice.” – Pete McTighe
“But the other amazing thing about Hal’s performance was we didn’t see little bits of him floating in the sea which we did when we originally did ‘The Sea Devils’.” – Katy Manning
Writing these trailers
“Pete can I just ask you about creating these new bits of content? I imagine it’s hugely enjoyable but also quite a lot of responsibility that goes with it. Taking a much loved character and adding a new dimension to them. Just telling us about that process.” – Justin Johnson
“Well obviously it’s a selling tool, that’s why they’re made. But for me they’re very much a love letter from me to my favourite show. Each one is obviously different. This particularly I knew it was going to be Katy’s final box set, all three of her seasons are out now. So I wanted to do something to celebrate Katy and celebrate Jo. And in particular celebrate that beautiful romance between Jo and Cliff and particularly celebrate Stewart. So that was my whole intent with this was to do something for the two of them and especially for Stewart.” – Pete McTighe
“Well you achieved that, it was really beautifully done.” – Justin Johnson
“They’re such a joy to do, they really are. This one especially, having done all of those with Stewart. This wonderful relationship that I’m so grateful for. I started as a 20 year old and now here she is ‘old granny Jo’ dragging herself around the planet. But that wonderful relationship that she and her husband Cliff had, it was something we talked about. Because I really felt, (to Pete) as you did, that we needed to say goodbye to this absolutely wonderful actor and remarkable man. After that moment I just collapsed, poor Pete, I just fell apart in tears because it all comes back to you. All those years that we were friends.” – Katy Manning
“Thank you so much all of you for being with us today to celebrate that moment and to see it on the big screen. It looked amazing. Thank you so much. And of course the baby Sea Devil!” – Justin Johnson