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|The Life and Times of a Doctor Who Dummy|
|Written by:||Robin Squire|
|Cover by:||Jack Heathcote|
|Release date:||28 September 2014|
Publisher's summary Edit
The Life and Times of a Doctor Who Dummy or Doctor Who: My Part In His Second Regeneration is Robin Squire's personal time-travel journey sans Tardis, revisiting the densely-packed years 1965-69 which he began by hitch-hiking to the South of France, meeting other freewheeling youth along the way and experiencing, among other things, Beatlemania at first hand in an echoing public hall in Nice, from which, as he puts it, his head is still ringing from the screams. Squire returned to a vibrant "swinging" London of psychedelia, bedsits, mini-skirted "birds" and a house shared with other lads near the Portobello Road, watched on black and white TV with an anguished German girl as England kicked the daylights out of her country's team in the 1966 World Cup, wrote and had his debut novel (about the pop scene) published, was interviewed on radio by a young DJ called Terry Wogan, became a husband and father for the first time and, as a crazy consequence of all of which, found himself, much to his surprise, attached to BBC TV on a show called Doctor Who, which at the time was falling from favour with BBC executives and in urgent need of a re-boot. In its humble and always modest way, Squire's was one of the boots applied.
His position as Doctor Who director's helper in what was to be the first colour transmission of the programme, Spearhead From Space, and the only serial of the Time Lord ever made entirely on film, found him also pressed into service as the main monster, known as an Auton, for special close-ups while away on location during a BBC studio strike, becoming thereby the first Doctor Who alien ever to appear in colour on television. Throughout the shoot Squire was also the unit driver and general gofer, all of which provided a rich hoard of material to work on. He is a natural raconteur, drawing on his diaries and memories with insight and humour to weave anecdotes about colleagues on both sides of the camera, including his boyhood hero Jon Pertwee, director Derek Martinus, Terrance Dicks, Derek Sherwin, Peter Grimwade, Christine Rawlins, Stan Spiel, Nicholas Courtney, Caroline John and other Doctor Who greats, including Tom Baker who he met later and worked with in an easy-to-miss-if-you-blink role on Logopolis, as well as appearing in extremely small but what he likes to think of as beautifully formed parts in The Daemons, Full Circle and others.
In pursuit of a screenwriter's life he once found himself alone with John Hurt for half an hour and had an enforced yet ultimately delightful impromptu chat with this extraordinary man and actor, and briefly came face to face with Richard Burton during the filming of Under Milk Wood, upon which the great Welshman gave him no more than a passing glare, yet the astonishing thing Burton then did has always intrigued him greatly. In fact it still intrigues him, so he mentions it in the book. As well as developing his career as screenwriter and novelist, Squire appeared as a "walk-on" or "extra" in most of the best-known British TV dramas, serials, series and sitcoms of the era. His book is a fascinating read for everyone interested in Doctor Who, the Sixties' pop scene, the process of making television programmes, and British television since 1965.
Don't expect a dry documentary-style blow-by-blow account of those now classic times, the narrative is more impressionistic than graphically detailed, always entertaining, and an insightful look in sparkling colour at the life and times of a dreamy salesman, destined to be a writer, who found himself playing an animated dummy of sinister intentions in what has since become one of the most hugely successful television programmes of all time.