Mike Tucker, one of the most dedicated and inventive visual effects artists to work on the Doctor Who TV series – and the author of several Who-related books – has co-authored a new title about the making of the show that is sure to appeal to downthetubes readers.
Doctor Who: Impossible Worlds: A 50-Year Treasury of Art and Design by Stephen Nicholas and Mike Tucker, out in October, will offer “an intimate, behind-the-curtains tour of the sets, costumes, spacecraft, alien planets, creatures, weapons, and gadgets used to create the stunning world of Doctor Who,” according to published sales information.
For my money, while there are many talented people who work on the show’s visual effects, I can’t think of many people better placed to work on this book. Mike was instrumental in helping me out on Doctor Who Magazine when I was editor, enabling us to publish numerous features on the visual effects work on the show – and offering the occasional off the record comment to put the successes and failures of what made it to screen in context. He helped us contact the right people at the BBC to secure designs we could print in the magazine; and was of invaluable assistance to numerous comic artists when it came to translating TV designs to the Doctor Who comic strip. So obviously, I’m glad to see another of his books is on the way.
Stephen Nicholas, his co-author, was the supervising art director (or in some cases the chief supervising art director) on most episodes of the modern Doctor Who, from Rose through to the fifth season.
From distant galaxies in the far-flung future, to ancient history on the planet Earth, Doctor Who is unique in British television for the breadth of imaginative possibilities it offers the artists charged with bringing each episode to life. Mining the depths of the BBC archives, Stephen and Mike have, we’re told, compiled this breathtaking collection of rare and never-before-published images that are interwoven with fascinating insights from the show’s writers.
Showcasing the work of the show’s remarkable designers, Doctor Who: Impossible Worlds pays tribute to the care and attention to detail essential to creating the look of the show, from the characters themselves – including recurring villains like the Daleks or the Cybermen – to the smallest hand prop featured in the briefest of scenes, to the TARDIS console room and other regularly used sets.
The new title explores how the art department works together with costumers and make-up and special effects artists to produce a coherent look for a diverse range of alien worlds; reveals how the artists’ relationship with the computer graphics department allows them to create locations far grander than possible in the real world; and shows how today’s creative artists have built upon the designs produced by their predecessors – the pioneers of the program’s “classic” era whose legacy has delighted audiences since 1963.
Divided thematically, Doctor Who: Impossible Worlds examines the history of the program and its art and set design, and highlights how various re-occurring designs have evolved over time.
Given that we’re assured the book is “chock full of surprising, illuminating, and fascinating information, photographs, and trivia”, it really does sound as though Doctor Who: Impossible Worlds is the kind of ‘coffe table’ book that will appeal to both Who fans and artists alike. I’ll definitely be looking out for this on release.
• Doctor Who: Impossible Worlds: A 50-Year Treasury of Art and Design by Stephen Nicholas and Mike Tucker. To be Published 27th October 2015