Lavender Castle - Part III: The Long Wait
If you haven't read parts one and two yet, you can find them by clicking below:
Part One: How I met Gerry Anderson
As soon as Gerry clapped eyes on my Lavender Castle proposal he fell in love with the concept - that being an interplanetary adventure quest to find and protect the elusive Lavender Castle from the arch-villain Dr. Agon and his ugly henchmen. As it happened, the great source of light and peace in the universe did not need protecting, but our heroes in their starship the Paradox were not aware of this.
As it also happened, the crew of the Paradox (assembled in the first of the 26 episodes), were my way of saying "we can do this together", in other words, the characters were all of very different races and colours, who as individuals were not up to the job, yet together, with all their inadequacies, doubts and differences they became a force to reckon with - a team of likeable and determined misfits.
Dr. Agon on the other hand was driven by the classic spirit of megalomania. He wanted to control the whole universe, but Lavender Castle stood in his way. It must be destroyed together with all who revered its' blessed power and benevolence.
My pitch portfolio was "Andersonised" a little with references to production details and intended participants. I brought some people to the table myself - Pauline Fisk, the award-winning children’s novel writer, and Rick Wakeman, who needs no introduction.
Myself and Gerry as we appeared in the much-touted portfolio
Gerry set out to sell the show and to cut a long story sideways (one of his favourite expressions), he wore out some shoe leather!
The principal TV children’s broadcasters of the time - BBC and ITV - both took a very long time to show interest in our baby and then, without good reason, suggested that we go, run and jump! Gerry continued to tout the thing faithfully, yet even he was struggling with the thought of making Lavender Castle within a reasonable budget to the standard we both wanted with limited technology at our disposal. In short, it took us ten years from concept to pre-production commencement. Oh how I hate wasting time!
Sometime in 1995 Gerry Anderson phoned me saying:
"Okay we’ve got the finance [compliments of Carrington International], I want you at the production meeting!"
Even at that stage there were changes - Rick Wakeman could not commit and was replaced by Crispin Merrell for musical soundtrack composition and others from the provisional production team flew the nest.
Finally though, I started work on design to support the first scripts that were approved by Gerry. In addition to the diversity of characters, I set to work on environment design and some unusual spacecraft including the Paradox itself - a high-tech, flying, thatched cottage!
The Paradox (Side View)
The Paradox (Lounge and Kitchen Alcove)
Roger's Starfighter (Side View)
The Twaddle's Rocket Yard
Dr Agon had his space battle ship The Dark Station and his intermediate transport The Mammoth Machine, while his chief ally, the space pirate - Short Fred Ledd needed concept design for his ship The Cutting Snark.
The Dark Station (Front View)
The Dark Station (Side View)
The Mammoth Machine (Early Version)
The Mammoth Machine (Rear View)
The Cutting Snark
The Cutting Snark Deck (Looking to the Stern)
The stop-motion models where expertly made at Mackinnon and Saunders with sets and stop-motion photography handled by Cosgrove Hall Films in Manchester. I would visit these companies regularly over a period of two years to check on the progress.
Onset with (from left to right) Captain Thrice, Sir Squeak-a-lot, Sproggle and Isembard