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Digital Subscriptions > Doctor Who Magazine > The Essential Doctor Who: Robots > IMITATION OF LIFE

IMITATION OF LIFE

The Doctor’s second robot companion suffered a short, troubled and over-ambitious journey.
“I am Kamelion”, the shape-changing robot tells Peri Brown (Nicola Bryant) in Part Two of Planet of Fire (1984).

Kamelion is unique for starting out, not as a character idea in a script, but as a pre-existing prop that came into being with no Doctor Who connection whatever. This life-sized humanoid robot was built in the early 1980s by engineer Chris Padmore and software designer Mike Power. Their company, CP Cybernetics, had been commissioned by a car manufacturer to create the prototype android for an advertising campaign. However, the car company cancelled further funding when they deemed the initial results unimpressive. In an effort to secure further development money, Padmore and Power turned to Richard Gregory, whose Imagineering company provided a variety of film and television services.

Gregory had been working on Doctor Who in 1981, notably building the Terileptils for The Visitation and the new Cybermen for Earthshock. Promotional literature made great claims for the android so Gregory made a point of showing the robot to producer John Nathan-Turner. Brought to the BBC’s Television Centre for a demonstration in late 1981, it was part-dressed in an archaic bathing suit and rubber cap to hide its unfinished bodywork; more importantly, it ‘talked’, ‘sang’ and moved from the waist up. “It really was very impressive”, said Nathan-Turner, who became keen to use it in Doctor Who on the assumption that a genuine robot would be popular with the younger audience.

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About Doctor Who Magazine

Robots have been an essential part of Doctor Who for six decades. The latest issue of Panini’s lavish Doctor Who bookazine includes features on classic robot stories such as Galaxy 4, Pyramids of Mars and The Robots of Death. Other highlights include interviews with the actors, writers and directors who helped to create some of these episodes. Packed with exclusive content and rare images, this 116-page bookazine is a must-have for fans