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Black Velvet

Highlights of Amy Roberts’ contributions to Doctor Who include enduring designs for three characters introduced in Season 18…

“I ’m just a jobbing costume designer, going from job to job – yes, lucky me – and I don’t spend long thinking too much about things.”

So says four-time BAFTA winner Amy Roberts, by way of explaining her sometimes hazy recollections of working on Doctor Who between 1977 and 1982. From Play for Today in 1977, all the way through to the third series of Netflix hit The Crown, on which she was busy with pickups when Doctor Who Magazine caught up with her, Amy’s CV is a litany of high-profile successes that might easily banish State of Decay (1980) or Image of the Fendahl (1977) from even the most retentive mind.

Of the six serials she worked on, Amy admits that she remembers almost nothing about the last two, Time-Flight (1982) and Mawdryn Undead (1983); only the fact that she has copies of her drawings for Mawdryn and the Black Guardian prove to her that she really did design them, as opposed to ‘baby-sitting’ for another designer. However, mistiness of memory certainly shouldn’t be taken as implying a lack of enthusiasm for Doctor Who. On the contrary: Amy looks back on the programme as “a golden opportunity” that offered her unparalleled scope for invention.

“Designing a show like Doctor Who, particularly back in the 1970s and early 80s, was almost the only opportunity in TV to be wholly imaginative in your approach to the design of the stories,” she says. “That isn’t to say it shouldn’t be grounded in some kind of reality, of a period or science. And it’s vital to research and be inspired by what you see. But Doctor Who allowed you to run free and not adhere to historical accuracy all the time. So, in a way, it allowed you to be wholly creative – which was rare.”

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About Doctor Who Magazine

Few television programmes make the same production demands as Doctor Who. With such diverse settings as distant points in Earth’s history and alien civilisations in the far future, the series has always stretched the ingenuity – and resources – of its talented costume designers. This unprecedented magazine features numerous rare and previously unpublished illustrations showing how the look of a Doctor Who episode evolves from sketch to screen, plus exclusive interviews with many of those designers including: • Alexandra Tynan (costume designer in the 1960s who created the look of the Cybermen) • Barbara Lane (the designer of Azal, Alpha Centauri, the Axons and more – this is her first interview in over 40 years) • Lee Bender (designer and owner of Bus Stop, a boutique which supplied outfits for Sarah Jane Smith) • June Hudson (designer of the Fourth Doctor’s final outfit and many elegant costumes for Romana) • Colin Lavers (designer of the Fifth Doctor’s costume) • Amy Roberts (designer of Anthony Ainley’s Master) • Lucinda Wright (designer of Christopher Eccleston’s series as the Ninth Doctor) • Howard Burden (designer of the Twelfth Doctor’s costume) • Ray Holman (designer of the Eleventh and Thirteenth Doctor’s costumes, and Doctor Who’s current costume designer) Plus, the stars who wore the designers’ creations in Doctor Who look back at their characters’ clothes: • Anneke Wills (Polly) • Katy Manning (Jo Grant) • Sophie Aldred (Ace) • Camille Coduri (Jackie Tyler) • Catrin Stewart (Jenny Flint)