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TERROR FIRMA

As the man behind some of Doctor Who’s greatest alien invasion stories, director Michael Ferguson never allowed being Earthbound to limit his imagination…
London threatened by The War Machines (1966). This was the first Doctor Who serial directed by Michael Ferguson.

The great stage and screen actress Dame Edith Evans once shared the secret of her success with Michael Ferguson. “Darling,” she told him, “all I have ever tried to do is to bring a little dignity to what is, after all, a very undignified profession.”

Michael laughs as he tells the story. Yet his career, like Dame Edith’s, has been anything but undignified. Over 50 years, he established himself as one of British television’s most-respected directors and producers, while the four Doctor Who serials he oversaw in the late 1960s and early 70s are among the most ambitious, vividly realised stories of the series’ entire run. Indeed, producer Barry Letts described him as “one of the best directors, one of the most imaginative and creative, we had on Who.”

Barbara (Jacqueline Hill) in two telesnaps from The Dead Planet, the first episode of The Daleks (aka The Mutants, 1963-64).

Tirelessly inventive, Michael would happily spend whole days in the studio experimenting with new technology or, failing that, giving the existing technology a sly kick to see if anything interesting would happen. (One of his favourite techniques was achieved by putting the boot into the Sports Department’s slo-mo machine). He brought budget-busting action scenes to the show, while even his title cards played out like urgent mini-dramas (The Ambassadorsof Death.)

Michael Ferguson today. Photo © Paul Kirkley.
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About Doctor Who Magazine

This essential guide celebrates Doctor Who’s most renowned invasion episodes. Interviewees include Anna Barry (Day of the Daleks), Ray Brooks (Daleks’ Invasion Earth 2150 A.D.), Johnny Byrne (Warriors of the Deep), Michael Ferguson (The Seeds of Death), Peter Harness (The Zygon Invasion/The Zygon Inversion), Douglas Mackinnon (Flatline), Victor Pemberton (Fury from the Deep), Toby Whithouse (The Vampires of Venice) and Jon Davey (Rise of the Cybermen/The Age of Steel). Plus, there are rare images, a tribute to Nicholas Courtney, Terry Nation’s original storyline for The Dalek Invasion of Earth, details of Jon Pertwee's unmade story The Spare-Part People and much more!
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