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Welcome to The Jungle

We talk sewers and space stations with Roger Murray-Leach, the production designer who joined Doctor Who on Season 12. “You start with the impossible,” he says…
Roger Murray-Leach today.
The Doctor (Tom Baker) and Sarah Jane Smith (Elisabeth Sladen) on the nightmare jungle world of Zeta Minor in Planet of Evil (1975). Roger designed the impressive sets for this story.

On 29 September 1974 Doctor Who was shooting on location at Hound Tor, a granite outcrop on the eastern edge of Dartmoor. At around 5.00pm the show’s star, Tom Baker, was confronting a Sontaran (“You unspeakable abomination!” etc) when he slipped on some wet grass and fell heavily on his left shoulder. Roger Murray-Leach, the show’s new production designer, saw it happen.

“It was a week’s shooting for a little thing called The Sontaran Experiment,” Roger, now 74, recounts. “We were four days in, I think. We’d had terrible weather. You wouldn’t know from watching it, but the rain across Dartmoor was absolutely horizontal. The ground was wet. What can you do? You can’t go around with a hairdryer. I’d been hanging about, thinking, ‘I’ve got to go back to London tonight, really,’ because I had to get back to Television Centre. But then Tom turned and slipped. He fell on the rock. And everything stopped. He was obviously in trouble. We called an ambulance.”

Chatting over coffee in the living room of the beautiful Oxfordshire home that Roger shares with Dale, his wife of 22 years, the designer explains how that Sunday on Dartmoor in 1974 marked the start of a beautiful friendship: “When the ambulance arrived we said, ‘Hang on, where are you taking him?’ ‘Torbay Hospital,’ they said. ‘Is there anybody who could go with him?’ So I said, ‘Well, I’m a bit of a spare part…’ ‘Would you mind following?’ they said. ‘Make sure Tom’s okay?’ I said, ‘How do I keep up with you?’ – because they had their lights and sirens on. ‘Tuck in behind us,’ they said, ‘and put your headlights on. If we jump a light, just follow us through.’”

Kevin Lindsay played Field Major Styre in The Sontaran Experiment.
Roger was among the Doctor Who cast and crew in Dartmoor in 1974, on location for The Sontaran Experiment (1975).
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About Doctor Who Magazine

TOM BAKER REVISITS HIS FIRST SERIES AS THE DOCTOR IN AN EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW! As part of DWM’s detailed preview of the forthcoming Season 12 Blu-ray set, Tom Baker reflects on the role that changed his life. Also in this issue... ROGER MURRAY-LEACH An extensive interview with the production designer who achieved the impossible on Season 12 of Doctor Who. THE HOLMES MASTER PLAN How Season 12 script editor Robert Holmes created a storytelling formula that continues to influence the modern series. KEVIN LINDSAY The life and career of the Australian actor who played Styre in Season 12’s The Sontaran Experiment. BREWING UP The untold story of how Doctor Who led a marketing campaign for tea bags in 1976. GEORGIA TENNANT The actress talks about how her life has changed since she made her Doctor Who debut – and met her future husband – in 2008. JESSICA MARTIN Jessica talks about illustrating her character Mags (from The Greatest Show in the Galaxy) for a new Seventh Doctor comic. NEW FACES The second part of a series looking at how new Doctors have been introduced to the public. THE TIME TEAM It’s hankies at the ready as the Time Team watch tearjerking episodes from 1982, 2006 and 2010. THE CLOCKWISE WAR Part Three of a new comic strip adventure written by Scott Gray and illustrated by John Ross. PLUS... The Blogs of Doom, previews, DVD and audio reviews, news, prize-winning competitions and much more!