Doctor Who: Remembrance of the Daleks

Effects Master Mike Tucker Recalls Low Budget Doctor Who Challenges

Special effects ace Mike Tucker, one of the handful of individuals to have worked on both pre- and post- 2005 Doctor Who, has done an interview with the Horror Channel, as part of their promotion of classic scary Doctor Who episodes. In the interview, he talks mostly about the challenges of working on the lower-budgeted classic series and how he is still not a fan of CGI.

On the problems presented by working within Who‘s infamous “very small” budgets:

The challenges were always producers and directors sitting down and showing you an effects sequence or model from a film like Star Wars or Alien and saying ‘I want something like that’, and then having to go away and create a similar effect for a fraction of the budget.

Tucker talks about his proudest moments on the classic series:
I’m very proud of being part of the team that did the big motion control shot for Trial Of A Time Lord, but I’m also proud of my work on Greatest Show In The Galaxy because its seamless with the live action.

And on why he prefers models over CGI:
I think people like the tactile element of models. On screen I think it’s because you are intrinsically hardwired to know that the physics and dynamics of what you are seeing is correct…It’s tricky to get the same sense of wonder when you’re looking at a wireframe model on a computer monitor, even though there’s the same level of skill that goes into its creation.

Mike Tucker is also a writer and has written several Doctor Who books and short stories.  His company, The Model Unit, continues to do work for Doctor Who – including those stunning exploding Daleks in The Day of the Doctor –  as well as many other productions. Head to the Horror Channel website for more, and also check out the latest three issues of Doctor Who Magazine (470-472) which also feature extensive interviews with Mike and his Model Unit colleagues, past and present.

Kasterborites, do you prefer models or CGI when it comes to those most special of effects?


Drew has been a fan of Doctor Who ever since he flipped through the channels late one night and saw a girl blowing up an army of funny robot men with nothing but a slingshot and some old coins. He currently lives somewhere in the woods of Missouri with his beautiful wife Barbara.

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