Last time on ‘The Chairs of Doctor Who’.
Season 16 and 17 was a time of innovation during a period of ever increasing production pressures. From Atrios to Zanak, it was an A-Z of planet types, and the eclectic range of designs on show reflected the breadth of settings used throughout the season.
As I move towards the end of my quest to identify as much seating used in Doctor Who, it’s time to tick off another Doctor.
Season 22 was my first major test of Doctor Who. I was a 7 year old when it was first broadcast, and I remember not warming to it. It was simply down to the fact that Peter Davison was ‘my’ Doctor, and Tegan and Turlough were my ‘friends’. It took some time to get used to a new actor playing the role. Typically, I warmed to ‘Sixie’ and Peri, just as they left the series.
And the hiatus? Well, I remember it making ‘The Six O’Clock News’ and thinking that the whole country must be rioting in the streets.
Let’s see what all the fuss was about.
Attack of the Cybermen
None. None chairs.
Vengeance on Varos
Let’s get the disappointment out of the way first. Currently, this leatherette industrial armchair cannot be identified. It comes from the genus curved armrests, which were commonplace from the 1920’s onwards. It shares similarities with the Bauhaus SP9 chair by PEL, and various desk chairs from the first half of the 20th century.
But it’s not that it made an appearance on Saturday Superstore around the same time, nor the fact that it appears in both Varos, and ‘The Two Doctors’, but it’s that colour scheme. It’s like it belongs in a diner. Pink and Blue eh? (Sucks air through the teeth, while enjoying the sheer audaciousness of it).
Meanwhile on Varos itself, we have the dystopia of a ‘living room’.
I love the that that some of these chairs almost made it through the whole of the classic run. This PEL desk chair, first featured towards the tail end of the Hartnell era. It was designed by Oliver Bernard and probably dates from the 1930’s.
The Vitramat 200, first seen in season 18, appears one last time.
Charles Pollack’s high backed Comforto, last seen as the Marshall’s big, bad, red chair in ‘The Armageddon Factor’, also reappears, this time in black.
The Mark of the Rani
As you would expect, there are various historical artefacts on show here, including a tufted leather office chair. Meanwhile, the closest match to the wooden chair featured, is this colonial chair made by the Hitchcock company.
The Two Doctors
Dastari sits in an ornate carved wooden armchair. I can’t find an exact match, but the armrests are probably the best clue, once I’ve worked out whether its a serpent or griffin design – or something else entirely. Closest guess is a Louis XIII armchair.
The restaurant owned by Oscar Botcherby (Las Cadenas) uses French Louis XVI style medallion velvet dining chairs.
Antique wooden wheelchair. Obvs.
Spanish dining chairs.
And most importantly, the return of the car seats used on the Scorpio flight deck, during the final season of Blake’s 7.
I can’t find these armchairs anywhere. They are a very simple style, leaving me to think they might be custom built. But they do appear to have an influence – these 1980’s armchairs by Giancarlo Vegni and Gianfranco Gualtierotti. If anyone knows different, let me know!
Scotland, 1885, and there is what looks like an upholstered Gainsborough library armchair.
On Karfel, there is an interesting range of furniture. This one looks so much like a Milo Baughman tub chair, but I can’t find the exact match.
I’ve always said that the most fascinating thing about Ubald Klug’s Terrazza sofa, is not what it was influenced by, but the challenge for an actor – the ability to sit on it convincingly.
In ‘The Robots of Death’ Louise Jameson goes for the excited childlike ‘plonk’, while here, Nicola Bryant adopts the sophisticated folded legs pose. This leaves us to ponder Colin Baker’s sprawling posture, which suits his character perfectly. He seems to meld into the sofa beautifully, and totally owns it, like the sofa was designed for him.
This armchair is interesting. Once again, I can’t find the exact match, but it does look like it was influenced by the Ettore Sottsass led Italian ‘Memphis group’, whose, colourful, minimalist and fun approach characterised postmodern design until 1987.
“The abstract and angular furniture and graphic patterns devised by this Italian-based collective were the antithesis of streamlined, midcentury style; one critic described a room of their work as a series of “flat disks, lozenges, and saw-toothed edges; some resemble slices of lemon, toothbrushes and imaginary animals. And the colours—pastel and punchy—were even more striking.” (1)
Next to the ‘Memphis’, we have this chrome cantilevered design. It makes its first appearance in ‘The Leisure Hive’, and a small version appeared in Blake’s 7 ‘ Traitor’. I’m still wondering whether it was custom built.
And speaking of Blake’s 7, we have this this chair.
As far as I can tell, we first see it in ‘The Three Doctors’ (recorded in 1972) and it is more familiar to me as Servalan’s chair in season B of Blake’s 7. Here it is given a bit of bling, and is the last time I have seen it on screen.
Chair, I salute you!
Revelation of the Daleks
The DJ and his surroundings are a fabulous tribute to 1960’s design.
We have a design classic – the Charles and Ray Eames lounge chair from 1956. If I’m being 100% precise, there is a possibility it is one of the similar replicas out there. But I won’t tell anyone, if you don’t.
1960’s Arkana fibreglass stool.
The moulded green fibreglass chair looks so similar to a number on the market, but this has a different shape, with a shallower backrest. The search goes on.
And while we’re here, I wanted to acknowledge Joe Columbo’s 1970 ‘Boby’ storage unit, also seen in a couple of early Tom Baker stories.
Finally, there is this rather fine 1980s furniture set in Kara’s office. It looks like it is fibreglass, but I can’t be certain. Like other artefacts in this season, I can’t rule out that it is custom built.
Although I can’t identify the armchair next to the monitor, there is a sofa that is traceable. It’s very similar to a 1970’s Maralunga sofa by Vico Magistretti for Cassina. Or a 1970’s leather sofa by Rolf Benz. But I’m reasonably sure it’s a 1970’s Alanda sofa by Paolo Piva for B&B Italia. Enough to put the pink border around it.
Season 22 houses its final showdown with Orcini stuck to a chrome barrel back cantilever chair in the style of Milo Baughman, or William Plunkett – see season 2 for more.
So a mixed bag then. Whether custom built, or on the market, some of the seating on view is very bold indeed. A bit like this season.