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Over the last 30 years, Robert Allsopp has been m eeting som e of Doctor W ho’s m ost unusual dem ands – nam ely, “the stu that falls betw een being strictly costum e or prop”…
The ‘space pig’ (Jimmy Vee) from Aliens of London (2005).

Ican’t tell you anything specifically,” says Robert Allsopp, w hose w ork in props, costum es and e ects has been seen in Doctor W ho from Delta and the Bannerm en in 1987 to Resolution earlier this year. Rob is sw orn to secrecy about the series in production right now, for broadcast in 2020. “W e have quite a few bits and pieces to do,” he’s prepared to adm it. “A nd som e m ajor pieces as w ell, all in very close collaboration w ith Ray Holm an, the costum e designer – as it w as last year. It’s all good, and interesting, w ork. But let’s talk about som ething else.”

Let’s talk about how Rob began his very specialised career. “D octor W ho w as one of the m ain things that sparked m y interest, in the late 1970s,” he says. “A long w ith Star W ars and that kind of thing. I w as alw ays interested in the design and m aking process w hen they’d feature that on TV. M at Irvine, the visual e ects designer, w ould crop up on [the Saturday-m orning series] Sw ap Shop.

“Then I w ent to various sci-ficonventions in m y teens,” he continues, “w here I m et Susan M oore, w ho often had a stall selling resin figures she had m odelled. I stayed in touch w ith her w hen I m oved to London to study theatre production and design at Croydon College. She ended up w orking on Doctor W ho in the 1980s, as did som e of the friends I m et through her – w riter M arc Platt and com poser M ark Ayres. Then on m y course there w as this guy called M ike Tucker.”

Last issue, M ike told Doctor W ho M agazine that, as a student, he’d m ade contact w ith a visual e ects designer w orking on Doctor W ho, having seen him featured in the Radio Tim es. “Yes, dear old Richard Gregory,” says Rob. “H e invited M ike and I to his w orkshop in W itney, and w as very friendly and generous w ith his tim e and experience. It w as a great introduction to that side of the industry – and the sort of w ork I do now.”

In his third year at Croydon College, Rob undertook w ork experience w ith prop m aker M artin Adam s. “H e’d done a certain am ount of Doctor W ho – he m ade the M elkur for The Keeper of Traken [1981] and provided various costum e props and helm ets. For M artin I w orked on the m ovie The Last Em peror [1987]. The costum e designer, Jam es Acheson, had done all that am azing w ork on Doctor W ho in the 1970s.”

M eanwhile, M ike had got a job w ith the BBC Visual E ects Departm ent and in early 1986 worked on the epic, 14-part Doctor W ho story The Trial of a Tim e Lord. Rob’s first encounter w ith the Doctor cam e the follow ing year when M artin Adam s was asked back. “K now ing I was interested in the show, he allow ed m e to do it,” says Rob. They worked on tw o Doctor W ho stories in the sam e production block, creating helm ets for Dragonfire and a prop introduced in Delta and the Bannerm en that becam e an icon.

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About Doctor Who Magazine

This issue includes: • An exclusive interview with new composer Segun Akinola • A candid interview with Eric Saward, Doctor Who’s longest-serving script editor. • Former showrunner Steven Moffat discusses Eric’s legacy. • Robert Allsopp describes his unusual contributions to Doctor Who’s prop and costume departments – from the Sylvester McCoy episodes to the present day. • Alex Mercer describes what it’s like to be one of the current producers of Doctor Who. • Storyboard artist James Iles talks us through some of his stunning illustrations. • Jacqueline King – aka Sylvia Noble – answers questions from the TARDIS tin. • A tribute to Shane Rimmer, who guest starred in The Gunfighters in 1966. • Part Four of Herald of Madness, a new comic strip adventure featuring the Thirteenth Doctor and her friends. • How one cosplayer became the War Doctor’s companion. • The Fact of Fiction explores the 1979 story Nightmare of Eden. • The Blogs of Doom, audio reviews, previews, news, prize-winning competitions and much, much more!