Dr Who

16 10 2009

Fans of the popular tv series Dr Who will be surprised to learn of the close connections that the Time Lord has with the Isle of Lewis. William Hartnell, the first Dr Who, was a keen fisherman and spent many years tramping the moors of Lewis in search of trout and salmon. He was also regularly up in front of the Sheriff for partaking in nocturnal poaching activities.

When the second series of Dr Who was in production, Hartnell demanded that some of the filming should take place on Lewis to allow him to partake in his favourite pastime. As most Dr Who episodes requiring outdoor shots were filmed in old sandpits and quarries, the producers, in an effort to keep their star happy, were willing to search Lewis for a suitable quarry. Consequently, many episodes of Dr Who were shot in the Marybank Quarry throughout the sixties and seventies. The village of Garyvard also doubled as an alien planet on several occasions as it didn’t require any special effects whatsoever to recreate a hostile environment.

A number of mid sixties episodes of Dr Who filmed on Lewis fell foul of the BBC ‘clear out the cupboards’ policy. Among those episodes lost were ‘Attack of the Gugamen’. This was filmed entirely on location on Sulasgeir. The storyline revolved around the second Dr and his companions landing by Tardis on a barren island and been attacked by a fierce tribe of savages who worship a strange seabird/rat deity. The BBC film crew and actors accompanied the Neisochs out to Sulasgeir and spent a fortnight plucking guga in between filming location shots. The actual Tardis used on location for these episodes is still on Sulasgeir, as the Neissochs refused to take it back on the fishing boat as it would limit the number of guga they could take back to Lewis. The Tardis is now used as a lighthouse run entirely on guga oil.

Another episode filmed on Lewis and now lost/destroyed was ‘Exodus of the Daleks’. This was from the Jon Pertwee era and was the first Dr Who episode to feature the prototype K-9, the Dr’s robotic dog. The storyline revolved around the Daleks being cleared from their crofts by an unscrupulous landlord and forced to emigrate to America. These episodes featured the Daleks draped in tartan and talking in a robotic form of Gaelic. ‘Tha mi exterminate’ as they said. The prototype K-9 was also a metallic sheep dog who came to an unfortunate end when he fell into a sheep-dip and rusted.