Monday, May 15, 2006

Dr Who monsters

I used to have Dr Who monsters in the front room. The best ones were the Mutants, looked like rather large insects with big claws. Mother (a theatrical costumier) also made the bubble creatures, lots of vacuum formed plastic over enormous frames. I never went onto a Dr Who set, but I did see the Muppets being filmed (met Raquel Welch) and loads of other things. The Dr Who stuff - I met the designers, saw the designs (we threw them away!), and knew exactly how every monster trick worked.

My house was full of monsters, masks, costumes - all sorts of theatrical and TV stuff. Being the daughter of an actor and a costumier made for an 'interesting' childhood. I spent much of it in theatres, at TV studios and learned that all the 'magic' was imaginary.

In theatres I met Placido Domingo, and watched Rudolf Nuriyev dance. I was, in many ways, very lucky to have this extraordinary artistic upbringing. In other ways - it was not so good. But hey, I've got some stories to tell out of it all.

I have a photo of my aunt and my mother dressed as flies - and also my aunt as a Robin (a suit which was later worn by Eric Morcambe, a famous - and now dead - British comedian). Mum used to make plaster casts of different features for full facial masks (such as Patrick McNee for the Many Faces of Steed), imaginary creatures (she'd create the face/monster desired out of clay first), to single features ... for many years we had a plaster cast of Marty Feldman's nose.

I remember my mum's work stuff all over the house - large sheets of foam rubber, tubs of latex, pins everywhere (my mother still sheds pins like a dog does hair), and sequins on just about everything. She also used to work on children's productions of David Wood stories, like the Gingerbread Man and the Owl and the Pussycat. I remember on a day off from school having to take a train down to Basildon because she'd forgotten the Cuckoo's beak and glasses. I also remember a large plum pudding costume made with wicker sticks forming an enormous frame and then covered in sparkly purplish material - the sort that would make you a very nice evening dress, but not in that shape.

I need to interview mum and get some of her stories down, not just for posterity, but for entertainment.

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