Why You Can’t Decorate Underwater

Anneke Wills: she decorates on a Sunday.

SFX have been chatting to Sixties Doctor Who companion Anneke Wills about the fantastic rediscovery of the presumed lost second episode of the Second Doctor serial The Underwater Menace.

Informed a day before the BFI’s Missing Believed Wiped event – although unable to attend as she was: ‘In the middle of decorating my bathroom’ – Wills, who played Polly, a companion alongside both Hartnell and Troughton’s incarnations of the Doctor, was left bouncing around her cottage with joy at the news:

“It means we have two episodes of The Underwater Menace now, so it might be brought out on DVD, which would be wonderful. What I’m very happy about is that it includes the bit which I’ve always wanted to see, where I say ‘You’re not turning me into a fish!’”

It seems that any other hopes of finding more long-lost episodes like those from both The Underwater Menace and Galaxy 4 – unearthed by former TV Engineer Terry Burnett who unknowingly purchased them at a school fete in Hampshire during the 1980’s – are increasingly dependent on private collectors; something of which Wills concurs with:

“I believe there are people – though I don’t know any! – who don’t realise how big Doctor Who is, so they just pop it in a fete box and don’t realise that the world is waiting… These are treasures when they’re found.”

What Wills doesn’t treasure are her own experiences making The Underwater Menace:

“What I remember is Patrick Troughton snarling and growling about [director] Julia Smith, because he didn’t like her! It was actually our least favourite story, I have to say… We didn’t like it. We didn’t think that it was going to work very well. And we thought the costumes of the Fish People were rather hokey.

With this recently discovery Wills hopes that the interest of the latest generation of Who fans will be piqued – especially with a certain Time Lord’s approval of the Second Doctor:

“I recently read a very lovely quote from Matt Smith – ‘What makes a good Doctor? Patrick Troughton.’ And I thought that was lovely.”


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