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The Ian Scoones Scrapbooks

If anyone lived up to the title ‘special effects wizard’ then it was surely Ian Scoones. The acclaimed visual effects designer spoke to Doctor Who Magazine in 1992. These are highlights and previously unpublished extracts from that interview, along with rarely seen pictures from Ian’s collection.
Ian Scoones in the 1990s, making light of his dark reputation.

The most flamboyant designerin the Visual Effects Department – and one of the most charismatic of all Doctor Who’s crew members – was the late Ian Scoones. Contradictory stories of Ian’s legendary antics still circulate amongst his friends and colleagues, some of whom suspect he practised black magic. One thing everyone can agree on is that ‘Scoonesy’ was quite a character.

Flying the TARDIS for Pyramids of Mars, his favourite Doctor Who story, in 1975.

Ian struck me as more mischievous than malign. He certainly had a macabre sense of humour – the contents of his cellar included a prop of a rotting corpse that he retained in order to spook visitors from the gas board. Ian would chuckle as he recalled how one meter-reader ran screaming from the house in blind terror, only to return with the police in tow.

Ian had a predilection for military uniforms, but even when he was ‘off duty’ his eccentricities were expressed in his clothes. The first thing I noticed about him was that he wore white shoes, but a typical Scoones outfit would also include a brightly coloured shirt and a velvet jacket. For decades he maintained a curiously angular haircut which, when combined with pointed sideburns, made him look like a cross between Screaming Lord Sutch and the Witchfinder General.

His career had begun at Hammer Film Productions in 1961, under the patronage of none other than Peter Cushing, and the years he spent with the company were clearly some of the happiest of his life. He would often reminisce about the films he’d worked on at the company’s studio in Bray. This was where he’d learned his trade and met his heroes.I suspected it was also the place where his morbid fascination with life’s cruelties had been actively encouraged.

Ian admitted that he’d had something like 70 different addresses and had spent much of his life living out of a suitcase, but when we first met in 1992 he gave the impression of having been temporarily grounded. He lived in a large house owned by his frail and rather deaf mother, a former dancer who proudly informed me she was in her nineties.

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About Doctor Who Magazine

Special effects can transport audiences to alien planets, render familiar surroundings unrecognisable and bring terrifying monsters to life. Doctor Who has been at the forefront of such television trickery for more than 50 years. This richly illustrated publication celebrates the series’ greatest effects and meets the people who created them. From the trailblazers of the 1960s to the digital artists of today, here is the story of Doctor Who’s journeys into the impossible.