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Graeme Harper Poster

Biography

Jump to: Overview (1) | Mini Bio (1) | Trivia (4) | Personal Quotes (11)

Overview (1)

Date of Birth 11 March 1945St. Albans, Hertfordshire, England, UK

Mini Bio (1)

Grame Harper was originally a child actor, appearing in adaptations of The Pickwick Papers (1952) and The Silver Sword (1957) among other productions, before becoming a floor assistant at the BBC in 1965 and then an assistant floor manager in 1969. He worked on the serials Doctor Who: Colony in Space: Episode One (1971), Doctor Who: Planet of the Daleks: Episode One (1973) and Doctor Who: Planet of the Spiders: Part One (1974) during the Jon Pertwee years, and Doctor Who: The Seeds of Doom: Part One (1976) and Doctor Who: Warriors' Gate: Part One (1981) in the Tom Baker era. In 1980 Harper started on the BBC's director's course. Doctor Who: The Caves of Androzani: Part One (1984) was the first job he got as a freelance director after working on Angels (1975) for Julia Smith. Harper went on to direct one further Doctor Who (1963) story, Doctor Who: Revelation of the Daleks: Part One (1985), and was also to have directed the third story in the abandoned season twenty-three, which would have been either Philip Martin's "Mission to Magnus" or Robert Holmes's "Yellow Fever and How to Cure It". Harper quickly became one of the industry's most competent and sought-after directors, working on almost every popular series drama in the UK. In 1993, he was scheduled to direct "The Dark Dimension", the ultimately aborted 30th anniversary Doctor Who (1963) story.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Anonymous

Trivia (4)

He is closely associated with the Doctor Who franchise as the only person to have directed episodes of Doctor Who (1963) and Doctor Who (2005). He also directed episodes of The Sarah Jane Adventures (2007). His work as a director on Doctor Who: The Caves of Androzani: Part One (1984) and Doctor Who: Revelation of the Daleks: Part One (1985) was widely acclaimed. Peter Davison has stated on several occasions that he was the best director he worked with on the series. He was also asked to direct Doctor Who: Battlefield: Part One (1989) but was unavailable. There was much excitement when he was announced as the director of the 30th anniversary special "The Dark Dimension", but this project was abandoned.
His favourite film directors are Martin Campbell, Sam Peckinpah, John Huston and John Ford. He is also a big fan of Ridley Scott's Alien (1979) and the work of Steven Spielberg.
His favourite authors are John Buchan and Arthur Conan Doyle.
He dislikes most electronic music, although he makes an exception for the music of Roger Limb, with whom he worked on Doctor Who (1963).

Personal Quotes (11)

[on Doctor Who: The Caves of Androzani: Part One (1984)] I think Robert Holmes was one of our great action thriller writers. I can't name all of his stories, but I worked on several projects of his which were not Doctor Who (1963) where he was the writer. He was a very visual writer. That's the reason the story is so good. Yes, I had my little tuppence worth, saying, 'Why don't we do this?', but I cannot say I contributed to the story itself, other than my interpretation of his story. To my knowledge, he enjoyed my interpretation. He could see the enthusiasm and pace I injected into it, so that there wouldn't be one dull moment. Robert Holmes and I got on very well, but I don't know anybody who didn't get on with him. He was just a great storyteller, and lapped up ideas. If you had an idea he thought was stunningly clever, he would use it. You'd be proud it had been taken on board.
If you look at Doctor Who: The Caves of Androzani: Part One (1984) - and it's the same with my other story, Doctor Who: Revelation of the Daleks: Part One (1985) - if you look at those two stories, I think you'll find there's less dialogue and more action compared to other Doctor Who (1963)s. They're more visual, with more of a movie feel. The thing about movies is that you cut all the time; why say something when you can show it? It's interesting, when I watched Caves again five years after it was made, I thought it was quite slow. But that's because I knew it so well, so I could anticipate it. Now, I look at it and say, for the period and for what we were doing at the time, this is quite pacey, and there's enough breathing space for you to enjoy holding onto a thought or a reaction at the end, rather than cutting away fast to the next scene.
I'd like to produce Doctor Who (2005). My problem is I don't ever want to stop directing, but if the opportunity came now I would probably grab it with both hands. What was wrong with it in our day - in the Eighties - was it was still shot on video and it should have moved to film. Now, I've changed my mind. I'd keep it on video because such exciting advances have been made. There is a way of bringing it into the 21st Century and making it exciting and alive. This cantankerous old bugger who's up in Space with all his aggression and sarcasm and wit? I think the character of Doctor Who (2005) will live forever.
It's really weird, I feel like such a new boy on Doctor Who (2005).
Doctor Who (1963) was a fantastic opportunity for me as a young director in the eighties, and I was really disappointed when it was killed off, because it didn't need to be. There was always going to be an audience for it, and it would have got better and built up its audience again.
I absolutely love science fiction. I could never understand why the BBC has not done much science fiction and still to this day, there are not many series you can think of that they've done. I've done two: I've been involved with Doctor Who (1963) and I did Star Cops (1987), which was killed and it shouldn't have been, because it was a terrific series. It was a really nice concept, but no, let's kill it, we don't want to show the audience that, and I don't know why, because the audience that did watch said, 'Can we have some more?' I love science fiction; I find it interesting and exciting, so I want to do more Doctor Who (2005), and with Russell (Russell T. Davies) and Phil (Phil Collinson) and Julie (Julie Gardner) at the helm, long may it reign, because they really are inventive and exciting with it.
I worked with David Maloney for example, who must have directed 30 or 40 episodes of Doctor Who (1963). Douglas Camfield is dead, God bless him, but I worked with him several times in my life and he was a fabulous director, and I think he actually holds the record for directing 50 episodes of Doctor Who (1963) in his career. I only did four half-hours and two 45-minute episodes, so I suppose I can claim to be old school, but I can't claim to be an expert in Doctor Who (1963), so I am a link, but only just.
A good example of a style of shot being stolen by many of us is the shot of Roy Scheider on the beach in Jaws (1975). We hear a scream in the distance and the camera tracks in fast. The lens zooms out and the focus and size is held on Roy Scheider, giving a very tense and disturbing image. It's brilliant but can never be as brilliant again as its uniqueness lies in that film for that moment unless of course you have never seen Jaws (1975).
As I read a script I immediately see a vision of how the scenes will look and play and ideas pop into my head straight away, but I don't make a note of anything until the second reading. That way I read the story straight off, like a viewer watching it for the first time, so I try and hold onto those first ideas in my brain. The stronger ones emerge again without fail and the less important ones drop by the wayside.
The best way to make a drama is single camera. Each shot is considered and lit for, whereas in a multi-camera studio you cannot light perfectly for 3/4 cameras so there are many compromises to be accepted. It is swifter, whereas with single camera it is a slower process - but you learn to be exact in your decisions on shot building, being very aware of how long you have to cover each scene. I prefer single camera, but I can do both.
I feel responsible that every story I tell, I do to the best of my ability. I want the audience to get as much excitement and pleasure from the action and the story, so I make it as I would love to see it. I don't want to bring a 'classic' style to it. I want it to be pacey and energetic. Very modern with never a dull moment. I really hope I manage to achieve that. Of course, as a director, you can never please everyone, but we try.

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