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Digital Subscriptions > Doctor Who Magazine > The Essential Doctor Who 14: Adventures in the Future > TWISTED ENGINEERING

TWISTED ENGINEERING

Production designer Michael Pickwoad shaped the future for the Eleventh and Twelfth Doctors in more than 60 episodes. “I always tried to make Doctor Who as classy as any feature film,” he says.

Early in 1968, Michael Pickwoad had his first taste of the entertainment business in which his father, the actor William Mervyn, made his living. He joined Shepperton Studios as a draughtsman, working on the Boulting Brothers thriller Twisted Nerve.

Afterwards, Michael moved on to the children’s film Guns in the Heather (1969) and Michael Winner’s The Games (1970). While engaged on the latter, he received a call from 20th Century-Fox. “I was pulled out to go and measure up an area of Knutsford for a film about the American general, George S Patton, who’d been stationed there,’’ he recalls today. “I went, did the measurements, and Fox said, ‘If anything happens, we’ll let you know.’ Shortly afterwards, they rang up and asked if I would go up to Knutsford again with a line producer and provide a breakdown of what was needed for the sets.

Production designer Michael Pickwoad.

“I went back to see Bill Kaplan, an executive at Fox in London, who had eyes like cash registers,” Michael continues. “He looked at what I’d costed, immediately said ‘I can’t afford this!’ and insisted I talk to the director. I had to fly out to Madrid to meet Franklin J Schaffner, who, before I’d even opened the design plans, said, ‘Carry on.’ Kaplan ended up giving him everything he wanted. It was only three days’ filming, but by then I was the assistant English art director on Patton [1970]. It’s still probably the biggest war film ever made.

“From then on, although I still worked in art departments, I was mostly the art director or production designer on films as wildly different as House of Whipcord [1974] and Withnail and I [1987], all the way through to Let Him Have It [1991], Christopher Eccleston’s first film.”

Michael also found work in television, working on series as varied as the anthology Murder Most Horrid (1991) and John Thaw’s legal drama Kavanagh QC (1998), plus the Agatha Christie hits Poirot (2003-04) and Marple (2007).

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About Doctor Who Magazine

Doctor Who’s predictions of the future have depicted the destruction of planet Earth and the ultimate collapse of the universe. Alien superpowers have subjugated star systems and galactic empires have fallen, leaving only a few witnesses to the end of time itself. This lavish publication sets the TARDIS co-ordinates for a journey into this dangerous realm, exploring landmark episodes and meeting the talents who brought them to the screen. Packed full of exclusive features, including a wealth of previously unseen images, this is the essential guide to the series’ greatest futuristic adventures.