HE HAS been staying one step ahead of the Daleks’ extermination ray for half a century now.

Fans of Doctor Who are preparing to celebrate the show’s astonishing anniversary.

And Dorset can claim quite a few connections to the Doctor – both as a filming location and through some of the key people in the show.

It was on November 23, 1963 that the Echo’s TV listings mentioned a show called Dr Who on the BBC at 5.15pm, after Grandstand and before The Telegoons.

Within a few weeks, Doctor Who was the talk of the country, thanks to the introduction of the Daleks.

The early shows, starring William Hartnell, were pretty much studio-bound. But in December 1966, the second Doctor – Patrick Troughton – was at Winspit Quarry in Dorset’s Worth Matravers, which was doubling for a volcanic island above Atlantis in the story The Underwater Menace.

In November 1973, the Daleks pursued the third Doctor, Jon Pertwee, to Dorset. The time, the ARC Sandpit at Pudletown Road, Gallows Hill, was used as the planet Exxilon. Amid all the sand, the Daleks had to be pushed along on rails by the cast they were supposed to be pursuing.

Pertwee came to Dorset many times as a visiting celebrity. He flew a powered glider at Compton Abbas airfield in July 1981 and judged attempts to guess the weight of a hot dog for Bournemouth’s Tenovus charity in August that year.

In 1982 – now known by another generation of children as Worzel Gummidge – Pertwee opened the parade for the Great Poole Extravaganza and appeared at the Great Christchurch Show. The following year, he opened the menswear shop Giannini in Westbourne. He was still visiting Poole’s Dolphin Centre as Worzel in 1992.

His death in 1996, at the age of 76, came shortly ahead of a scheduled appearance at the Blandford Festival.

The third Doctor, Tom Baker, came to Dorset in November 1975 for some location filming at Athelhampton House, accompanied by Elisabeth Sladen as Sarah Jane Smith. The story was The Seeds of Doom, and the house was in the grip of a giant plant monster.

Baker was back in June 1979, when two Purbeck quarries were used as Skaro, home planet of the Daleks, in Destiny of the Daleks. The locations were the ARC Binnegar Heath Sandpit, Puddletown Road, Wareham and Winspit Quarry, Worth Matravers, where old buildings represented the ruins of the Kaled city.

Tom Baker made several appearances locally during his time as the Doctor. In 1975, he signed books at TH Sperrings in Ashley Road, Parkstone, attracting a queue 200 yards long by 9am, before going on to another appearance at the Ringwood branch.

The fifth Doctor, Peter Davison, first came to the area in July 1983, for the story The Awakening, in which an alien war machine is turning a civil war re-enactment into the real thing. The locations were St Bartholemew’s Church, Shapwick; Bishops Court Farm, Shapwick; Tarrant Monkton; and Martin village, Martin Down and Damers Farm, all at Martin near Fordingridge.

Davison was at Gallows Hill for his last Doctor Who story, The Caves of Androzani, in March 1984, with the sandpit standing in for a doomed desert planet.

The sixth Doctor, Colin Baker, never filmed in Dorset but probably visited the area more often than any of them, in a long line of stage productions at Poole Arts Centre and the Pier Theatre.

In 1994, the Echo told how his number one fan Mavis Sanderson had come to Bournemouth for her first holiday in 13 years so she could see him every night at the Pier Theatre.

The seventh Doctor, Sylvester McCoy, came to Lulworth Cove in April 1989 for the adventure The Curse of Fenric. Warmwell Quarry was the setting in May 1989 for The Greatest Show in the Galaxy. Stanton Court in Weymouth figured as a haunted house in the 1989 story Ghostlight, while McCoy’s crew decamped to Warmwell Quarry again for Survival.

A 1996 TV movie with Paul McGann was made in America, and when the BBC produced Doctor Who again in 2005, it had moved beyond using quarries as alien landscapes. But there were still local connections.

Two long-time local fans, Nick Wade and Leighton Haberfield, were extras in the show and told of their meetings with Ecclestone and co-star Billie Piper. Nick was also the owner of a full-size, remote control Dalek which he demonstrated for the Echo along Bournemouth seafront.

Dorset was even the home of one of the new shows’ stars – Julian Bleach, a former student at Poole College’s Jellicoe Theatre, played the Daleks’ creator Davros against the 10th Doctor, Christopher Ecclestone.

Colin Baker, interviewed by the Echo in 2006, when he spoke to Bournemouth Literary Luncheon Club, said he was pleased with the new show.

He added: “It’s a joy. There’s a whole generation been deprived of their own Doctor.”

My time as a Cyberman

MANY an actor has put on a rubber suit to do battle with the Doctor – but Stuart Fell has done it more than most.

Stuart, 71, of Barton-on-Sea, spent decades as a stuntman and fight arranger in films and TV, working on Superman and The Empire Strikes Back among others.

But he played a host of parts in Doctor Who from 1971-83, including Alpha Centauri in the Jon Pertwee adventures The Curse of Peladon and The Monster of Peladon, a Sea Devil in the Pertwee story The Sea Devils; and Morbius in the Tom Baker serial The Brain of Morbius.

“Jon Pertwee liked the action. He used to encourage the producers to do a lot more outside filming. There used to be quite a lot of fighting in them,” says Stuart.

“With Tom Baker there was quite a lot of action too.

“After that, I think they got a bit worried about health and safety.”

Some stuntmen would be reluctant to take on a Doctor Who, because it meant foregoing film jobs for a short spell of work but Stuart says: “I used to to enjoy them. I much prefer doing that than sitting around on a film set and then the scene is cut.

“You hear all these stories about the BBC wasting money. I never saw them with any money.”
One of Stuart’s specialities was dying as a Cyberman when the automatons’ heads or limbs were blown off.

“The smoke got inside the costume and I nearly choked in one of those,” he remembers.

“The extras didn’t used to like falling down in the costumes because they were like wearing a suit of armour and they weren’t made to measure.

They used to get me to double the Cybermen dying.”