THE CHAIRS OF DOCTOR WHO – Season 8

Last time on ‘The Chairs of Doctor Who’.

Season 11 and 12 rang the changes, and the chairs selected were present during some seismic moments, namely the first Sontaran invasion, the genesis of the Daleks, and the regeneration from three to four.

This time around we look at season 8.

Pertwee’s debut season was pretty unique, but the staples of his era are cemented here. Earth, outer space, the military, Jo, the Master and memorable scenes where the chair is the star attraction.

Terror of the Autons

For example, take ‘Terror of the Autons’. Everyone remembers the scene of poor McDermott just ‘slipping away’ in the chair. And it’s true the star of that scene is a chair. Of course, I’m talking about this ‘Brno’ chair, for the Knoll studio. Designed by Mies van der Rohe in 1930, this chair uses the ‘less is more’ philosophy – removing anything superfluous, to create a rather elegant design.

So what of that inflatable chair? It’s currently undetectable, suggesting it might be a creation of the BBC’s visual effects department. There was a certain ‘space age’ cache to inflatable furniture of the era, and to this day I’m amused by inflatable versions of classic designs available on the market. Take this blow up black ‘Chesterfield sofa’ – useful for those ‘high life’ days on the campsite, when it’s pouring with rain, and you can enjoy a nice glass of wine in the freezing cold.

Farrell (junior) controls his plastic empire, while sat on an Eames ES 104 executive chair. Designed in 1959 for Herman Miller, this aluminium and leather office chair was originally designed as a lobby chair for the Time Life Building in Manhattan. ‘Sylvia’ must have had a keen eye when it came to ordering good furniture on a company budget.

At UNIT HQ there is a 19th century French oak armchair.

And some kind of tufted upholstered red sofa, similar to this.

The Mind of Evil

There’s a nice collection to be found in this story.

Seen prominently throughout the prison is David Rowland’s 40/4 stackable chair – a significant design of the 20th century. Noted for its ability to conserve space, it is one of those designs that has remained on the market for over 50 years. It was launched in 1964, and the chair has never been out of production.

The chair used alongside the Keller device is a 1950 La Reine ‘Restrocrat’ barber’s chair. I don’t know much about it, but to be frank, I hadn’t anticipated that I would be sitting here talking about 1950’s barbers chairs.

There are millions of variations of Danish dining chairs from then and now, but based on the shape of the uprights, the angle on the backrest and the seat, I’m convinced that the chair seen in the Brigadier’s office is a 1960’s G Plan Kofod Larsen teak dining chair with solid teak tapered legs and black vinyl cushion seat.
The chairs were designed by Ib Kofod Larsen – a popular Danish designer.

As usual, there were disappointments in my attempt to be as completist as possible. The Brigadier’s office chair is similar to one of the endless Eames models available, or an Asko desk chair. However, I’m not convinced.

The mustard lounge chair within the Embassy is also unidentifiable. It is a double disappointment, as I had noticed a white version in ‘Frontier in Space’. It’s very similar to a Edward Wormley desk chair for Dunbar, but there are subtle variations, so I’m guessing it might be a knock off.

And as for the grey upholstered sofa set? Well, it could be anything.

I’m happy to say I’ve found the black leather and chrome swivel chair seen in the governors office, so can add a pink border to it. But alas the exact make is still trickier to pin down. It’s listed as ‘angular’ – that’s all there is to go on.

What about the items I can’t match exactly? The other chair in the governor’s office is a leather/wooden library chair, possibly late 19th century.

And Yates gets a bit tied up in an oak Captain’s chair, which will pop up again the ‘The Time Warrior‘.

The Claws of Axos

For all its inventive camera angles and far out direction by Michael Furguson, ‘The Claws of Axos’ rarely ventures below waist height, meaning any chairs are either only glimpsed, or obscured in the way the scenes are blocked. Devastating news, but I’ll get over it in time.

Colony in Space

Industrial designer Don Albinson was named head of the Design and Development Group of the Knoll studio in 1965. Not long after, the 1601 aluminium stacking chair was introduced. I really like these chairs for their simplicity, so naturally I expect you to like them too.

In the dome we have Verner Panton’s cantilevered stacking chair (often referred to as the Panton Chair).

‘This innovative design was the first to be made of a single piece of material. The choice of plastic, specifically fibre-glass-reinforced polyester, was a flexible, durable alternative to hand-crafting the design from plywood, which would have been prohibitively expensive. The sleek S-curve shape and shiny finish added a sense of otherwordliness to this post-war design classic.’ (2)

There are industrial office chairs a plenty. I’m really not sure of the date on these, so am going to plump for 1950’s. Open to ideas.

The next chair was tricker to identify, but I got there in the end. It’s a space age swivel lounge chair, dating from the 1960’s. I initially discovered that it was of American design and manufacture, and eventually led me to a Globus Pod Chair by Overman. Subsequently I discovered it had appeared in Doctor Who since 1968.

A couple of further chairs I can’t find…

…although I came close, with these MCM chrome and black vinyl folding chairs.

Our old friend, the La Reine ‘Restrocrat’ barber’s chair from 1950, makes a return appearance. This time there are two of them. Double the fun!

Many will be familiar with Eero Saarinen’s tulip chair for Knoll 1958, a classic piece of moulded fibreglass if ever there was one. But the one that features on the IMC deck is in fact a (Maurice) Burke Tulip chair, manufactured in Dallas, Texas, in the early 1960’s. As the excellent ‘Film and Furniture’ website notes:
The Burke Tulip chairs are the first cousins to Saarinen’s Tulip chairs. Some might say rip-off, but they got away with it on a mass scale and in fact the Burke Tulips are collectable and have value in their own right.  (1). These chairs featured frequently in the original Star Trek series.

Captain Dent opted for a more obscure design – a 1960s/70’s Verco (then known as William Vere Ltd) vintage leather swivel chair.

The Dæmons

The ‘Cloven Hoof’ pub uses Wheelback chairs. These will be next glimpsed as Dr Fendelman enjoys a leisurely breakfast with his gang in 1977.

Standard issue office chair for the UNIT pleasure zone.

Victorian dining chair.

Finally, the Brig sits in one of those mainstays of Doctor Who – a PEL desk chair designed by Oliver Bernard, which probably dates from the 1930’s.

I’m off for a pint.

(1) https://filmandfurniture.com/2014/11/startrek-tulip-chair/

(2) https://www.vam.ac.uk/articles/space-age-chairs

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