Fighting and farting about on the set of Blake’s Seven

Few quarries had as much on-screen time on British sci-fi TV as Winspit, near Worth Matravers in Dorset, about an hour from where I grew up. Winspit was used until about 1940 as a stone quarry (producing high quality Purbeck stone for major buildings in London), then was the site of naval and air defences during the second world war .

But that’s not why we watched Blake’s 7 avidly when it became the planet Mecron II, or  Doctor Who when it was transformed magically into the planet Skaro for ‘Destiny of the Daleks’.

The beauty of this really ordinary looking location was that you could shoot actors in enormous settings, making it feasible to arrive in exactly the same spot on a different day, point the camera a different way and christen it a new planet. Interestingly none of these planets ever saw much sunshine.

That didn’t stop producers from choosing Winspit  to double up as a hot desert location for  Servalan, supreme commander of the Terran Federation…

…or a barren wasteland where you find yetis apparently up-ended in the ground

Getting around these quarries wasn’t as easy as it looked. Here Del Tarrant tries to give  Soolin a leg up one particularly difficult incline…

…only to split his pants a little while later. The BBC’s costume department could have done with a few more stitches there:

Guns would frequently misfire:

Transportation was frequently rather difficult…poor Soolin having another tough time here:

and as you can see by watching one of several out-takes tapes, there were many more hazards to shooting in quarries…


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