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Designer (crew)

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This article is written from a real world point of view

A designer was a member of the pre-production staff of the 1963 version of Doctor Who. He or she was responsible for designing the visual look of props, sets and sometimes graphics used in an individual serial.

The position was somewhat similar to the modern production designer, but far more limited in scope. Because designers worked only on a serial-by-serial basis, no one was in charge of the overall look of the episodes. Hence some important design elements, as with the first TARDIS interior, were simply the product of the original designer, Peter Brachacki — who never worked on Doctor Who again.

Also, the designer had oversight of fewer visual elements than the production designer. In particular, the designer had extremely limited interaction with the costume department. Thus, if a monster was achieved by the use of a costume, as with the Cybermen, it was the costume supervisor, and not the designer, who created the look. This is one of the reasons that the Cybermen changed in almost every appearance, whereas the Daleks — achieved through the use of a prop — remained stable.

In some instances, the job of the early Doctor Who designer more closely resembled that of a concept artist. Because Doctor Who for many years lacked the ability to construct its own models and props, they had to subcontract the work to firms outside the BBC's control. The designer would submit a detailed drawing and hope that the manufacturer could adhere to it. If the firm failed to adhere to the design, there was often little the designer could do about it before filming began. This problem abated somewhat in the 1970s and 1980s, as Doctor Who's ability to call on the in-house workshop increased.

Nevertheless, the designer was not in any kind of formal control of the people who executed his designs. Like he himself, individual artisans and craftspeople would've been assigned to Doctor Who per serial by a BBC scheduler. They were all employees of the BBC, rather than employees of Doctor Who. This is decidedly not the case of the modern production designer who, as the head of the art department within a production company that is technically distinct from BBC Wales, has managerial oversight of hundreds of employees.

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The Mysterious Planet - John Anderson
Mindwarp - Andrew Howe-Davies
Terror of the Vervoids - Dinah Walker
The Ultimate Foe - Michael Trevor

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