Biography and CV
(sort of updated APRIL 2013)
A Brief Round Up - fuller details below - scroll down, or click on links
I spent most of my, what could termed, 'early career' at the BBC. I briefly worked first in the Photographing 'Stills' Library for Television News, then moved to the Visual Effects Department, where I stayed for around 23 years, making an overall total of a couple of months short of 25 years. (So no gold watch...)
I left the BBC in 1993 to pursue 'other interests', although still within the general media. This included producing and directing and the odd bit of presenting. I also attempted to get a movie made of Arthur C. Clarke's novel A Fall of Moondust, but as with so many potential movie projects, it didn't get green lit.
I also continued with my writing, most, but not exclusively, on model-making topics, both for magazines, and for a growing range of books.
I got directly involved with a number of other programmes over the years, possibly the most significant being regularly appearing on Swap Shop and Superstore; co-presenting and co-producing TECHNO; producing and directing on Future Fantastic (a Tomorrow's World spin-off); co-devising Robot Wars and, most recently, operating K-9 for (new) Doctor Who and The Sarah-Jane Adventures.
All inter-dispersed with talks; lectures; guesting at SF Conventions and talking part in endless DVDs on 'the making of Doctor Who'.
Writing books continues. Some on model-making; one, with Mike Tucker, on the whole story of the BBC Visual Effects Department.
I also regularly contribute to Scale Model News
More specific details below - with links to other pages on this whole website.
Below here, these run TELEVISION - THE FX YEARS,
with a sub-sections APPEARANCES and TV - THE RECENT YEARS
VIDEOS & DVDs;
WRITING - Books;
TALKS; EXHIBITIONS and DISPLAYS;
TELEVISION - THE FX YEARS
Using a convenient foot-rest during a break in the filming of the Doctor Who 3D charity special
I have spent most of a varied life associated with many aspects of the media. I was for many years with the BBC, the majority of the time as a Visual Effects Designer, working on programmes as diverse as Doctor Who and Blake's 7 to Tomorrow's World, QED, Horizon and The Sky at Night. Also many of the 'science specials' - The Comet is Coming; Origins and the three-part Spaceships of the Mind. Children's programmes included : Think of a Number and Think Again; Rent-a-Ghost; Galloping Galaxies and Space Vets - plus the series that arguable started all these 'challenge-type' programmes - The Adventure Game. Comedies from Dave Allen at Large, It Ain't Half Hot Mum, To the Manor Born and onto Are You Being Served?; the odd Casualty and Bergerac and the BAFTA Award-winning dramas The Singing Detective and Edge of Darkness (aka MAGNOX). The last has been released as newly re-mastered DVD, with all the extras.
I also complied and directed (and narrated) a half-hour story of the Visual Effects Department (called VFX - The Movie), and directed a number of in-house videos for the Design Group.
I appeared regularly on such Saturday morning programmes as Multi Coloured Swap Shop, Saturday Super Store and Going Live, as it was found that I could be placed in front of a camera and didn't freeze! Over the years I then did many many one-offs, including: Pebble Mill at One; The Model World of Bob Symes; The Great Egg Race; Top Ten Sci-Fi; Tomorrow's World; The Sky at Night - 50th Anniversary; Doctor Who Confidential; Totally Doctor Who; The Cult of___ (insert one of six SF series - Blake's 7, Doomwatch, The Tripods, Moonbase 3, The Survivors or Adam Adamant!) and Channel 4 News for the 25th Apollo 11 Anniversary. (Though never - contrary to popular urban myth - Blue Peter!)
I had my own programme in the Small World series.
I co-presented, with Kate (Dilly) Bellingham, and co-produced the ten-part series TECHNO, (winning an RTS Award), the first specific programmes on design and technology, for BBC Education.
With my largest 'plastic model', my Reliant Scimitar GTE, during the making of TECHNO,
(pictured at the Reliant factory in Two Gates, Staffordshire, with new SE6 bodies in the background)
TELEVISION - THE RECENT YEARS
I returned temporarily to the BBC and as one of the producers on the Future Fantastic series (as introduced by Gillian - The X-Files - Anderson), and directed the episode titled Starman - on space and time travel.
I was one of three that created the BAFTA-nominated ROBOT WARS in the UK, acting as one of the main Technical Consultants over the first few series, (below left) . Later I was 'laterally transferred' to the Judging panel (right).
I also did some work on the Robot Wars spin-off, TECHNO GAMES, mostly involving the rocketry sections - both conventional vertical and horizontal with rocket cars.
Over the years, since around 1990, I've been the sole-operator of K-9, (as it appeared I was the one one who still knew how he worked?). Most recently this has mostly been involved with the new incarnation of Doctor Who, and it's spin-off series The Sarah-Jane Adventures. Very sadly the latter will now have to come to a halt with the untimely death of its star Elizabeth Sladen.
I currently still work freelance in the media industry on all aspects to do with programme making - producing; directing; writing; consultation; supplying space models as set decoration; the odd special effect and even odder occasional bit of presenting. There are a number of projects currently being worked upon and up-dates will hopefully appear here, if and when....
I'm always (well mostly) available for consultation; you only have to ask, email@example.com
VIDEO and DVDs
In 2000 the specialist video production company REELTIME PICTURES decided to add me to its MYTH MAKER series of videos. These started as a celebration of the actors behind Doctor Who, and later branched out to include Blake's 7 actors and then some of us 'behind the scenes'. (I think I'm number 49 in the original series?)
Then a video of that most self-opinionated of mechanical dogs - K-9 - was made, with an interview with myself along with many others associated with the making of Doctor Who - and - at that time - its only spin-off - K-9 and Company. (below right)
DVD versions of these are now available - for the DVD Myth Makers release (below left) I am lucky to be combined with Louise Jameson! For details check Reeltime Pictures, or send an SAE (inland UK only) to : Reeltime Pictures Ltd, PO Box 23435, London SE26 5WU, UK
The Blake's 7 Second Season boxed DVD set also has many extras in the form of three other programmes on which I appeared, and that have mentions of B-7.
This also applies to many of the recent DVD releases of Doctor Who. Currently I seem to be on at least half a dozen of the Who releases, (including one story I didn't even work on!), either with specific interviews on the FX work; interviewing FX colleagues or doing the optional commentary over the episodes. (Or sometime all three - and more). This includes the K-9 boxed set with both his first appearance in Doctor Who -The Invisible Enemy - and his last during 'the time of Classic Doctor Who' - K-9 and Company, (below centre).
There is a strange inclusion called Weird Science on The Pirate Planet DVD in the The Key to Time box-set, (below left) where I play the 'Beaker' character to David Graham doing his 'Dr Bunsen Honeydew' impression, which perhaps doesn't quite come off as intended, but, hey... (Click on the DVD box image for a brief glimpse - if you dare...)
However on The Full Circle DVD, part of The E-Space Trilogy boxed set, (below right), I take part in more scientific discussion on Alternative Universes.
BBC DVDs are available all over the place, including here.
I also interviewed Sir Patrick Moore, originally for space.co.uk. The DVD can be bought from the sirpatrickmoore.net website
I started writing for the general model magazine, Scale Models International, (initially purely Scale Models), in its original MAP/Argus/Nexus days, which I did for around 25 years. I have also had articles in : The Airfix Magazine; Model Cars Plus; New Scientist; Model Mart - later Model and Collectors Mart; Tamiya Model Magazine International; Collecting Scale Models; Motor Sport Collector; Collectors Gazette; Spaceflight and the American magazines; Model Car Journal; Kit Collectors Clearinghouse, Scale Auto and Fine Scale Modeler.
For SMI, I compiled a column on model cars, Freewheelin', that started in 1986 (originally called Off the Road) and ran until 2001. Other articles that regularly appeared were on space and science fiction in Fact and Fiction; Starbound and Rocketry Round-Up.
Most recently I have been supplying articles for the on-line e-zine, Scale Model News, and some articles to the new version of The Airfix Magazine, Airfix Model World.
I have written specific reports for Titan Magazines' Star Trek, Star Wars, Babylon 5 and Robot Wars magazines and for two years supplied model car articles to the 'full-size' car magazine, Classic Cars, (known in the USA as Thoroughbred & Classic Cars).
BOOKS : To date I have written over a dozen books. These include some on technological topics (one pictured bottom right); one on a kids' introduction to space; an early one on Doctor Who Special Effects (bottom left), then several model-making books, including Automodelling Masterclass and Creating Space - on all space-related kits ever made. Plus I've acted as a contributor or consultant to a number of others.
Most recent is the co-authored book with Mike Tucker, on the whole story of the BBC Visual Effects Department. Click cover for more details.
The latest car modelling book, was published September 2011. Click cover for The Car Page.
For more details of the space modelling books click cover for The Space Pages
I've also been associated for many years with model making both professionally - as part of the special effects work - and in the hobby sense. I've written many articles, and the odd book, on many aspects of the hobby (see above). I've also set up many model displays in the past for such as the Model Engineer Exhibition and The International Model Show. Besides one-off events, currently I regularly display models at the IPMS Nationals in Telford and co-organise a sereis of model shows, under the overall HaMeX name in my local Village Hall. I have also devised the display content for a large touring space display, One Small Step, devised by Experience Design .
I consult with several of the model companies including Airfix; Revell-Monogram; Revell Germany, Round-2 and Glencoe Models.
See also the smallspace Model Services page; The Car Page and the The Space Page.
TALKS; EXHIBITIONS and DISPLAYS
This tends to cross over with 'Model Making' (above), as most of the exhibits are models, whether they be FX-type models for TV, or hobby model-making!
The events can range from astronomical displays; (such as One Small Step); SF conventions, (such as Collectormania), and modelling shows, (such the IPMS Scale Model World Nationals), and my own HaMeX (Hanslope Model Expo) show held annually at my local village hall.
I also have nine displays (at the last count?) in the Space Gallery at the Science Museum in London.
Left : a talk on the first 'space' flight of SpaceShipOne, June 2004 , with two models of the craft - the 1:72 scale model of the whole craft, White Knight and SpaceShipOne from Unicraft on the table, while he is holding the semi-scale SpaceShipOne - a flying model from Estes. The image on the screen shows the pilot, Mike Mevill after his record-breaking flight - part of a film Mat shot at the time.
Left : during the talk on 'Space - As It Should Have Been', which discusses the various space designs that were around in the 1950s which - if built - could have got us permanently into space 30 years ago! (And which forms Chapter 3 in Creating Space)
EXHIBITIONS : There was my own exhibition in the Space Gallery of the Science Museum in London, called Creative Space that ran for six months, (below).
Then I was one of the organisers for the visionary Sir Arthur C. Clarke Eye to the Future display (directly below) at the Museum, which included several models illustrating his visions and craft from his books. This was followed by a display on the Search for Life, that included building a full size model of the Mars rover - Sojourner, (below).
EYE TO THE FUTURE - the Life and Times of Sir Arthur C. Clarke
(left) models representing the 'Visions' of Sir Arthur as depicted in his various novels.
(right) The copy of The Fountains of Paradise as flown on board the Space Shuttle.
The 1:1 scale model of Mars Rover Sojourner built for the London Science Museum
Also built was a 1:48 scalemodel of Mir for the Museum. When the Space Gallery itself was re-designed
(early 2000) I added several more displays, including the very popular 'Rocket Park'.
Displays have also recently been on exhibition at the Oxford City Museum and Abingdon Museum
More on these on the The Space Page and SMALLSPACE MODEL SERVICES pages.
Having worked on many television programmes over the years that dealt with astronomy and space subjects, it got me intrigued as to what these sites actually looked like 'for real', so I started travelling. Mostly this has been to North America, with currently 39 of the 50 US States visited.
More photographs of these visits are on the SPACE SITES page
By the monument to Robert Goddard - who launched the world's first liquid fuelled rocket in 1926 at Auburn, Massachusetts. The site is now the municipal golf course, though this still involves missiles going in various directions...
Waving from the platform overlooking Meteor Crater - Arizona's biggest hole in the ground
And checking the new sundial at the McDonald Observatory, Davis Mountains, Texas - it was a bit slow...
In general I have avoided joining clubs and societies, as I tend to work on the Groucho Principle.
(This states "I couldn't possibly join any organisation that would have me as a member...")
However there are a few exceptions...
I am a founder member of the Astronomical Society of Haringey, a Society, created by Fred Clarke, that can boast connection with not only the night sky, but two Knights of the Realm. The Society came out of a suggestion to Fred from Sir Patrick Moore, way back in 1970, and had Sir Arthur C. Clarke as Patron.
For the Society I co-organised many of their well-known Space Age Exhibitions, have been Secretary and Chairman in the past, and I'm currently Vice Chair and Editor for the ASH magazine 2002. [The photo above shows a less-than-a-day-old Moon]
One of the regular display items at the ASH exhibitions was the Baader Planetarium, seen here [left] at 'Space Age 4' - organised by the ASH in 1974.
However the years took their toll and the main drive motor ceased operation. However with thanks to Thomas Baader at the Baader Planetarium Company, a new motor was located.This then allowed me to re-built the planetarium back to operational status [right].
Click on the right-hand picture to find out more about Baader products.
I am also a member and Fellow of The British Interplanetary Society
Advice on astronautical, astronomical and space in general has also been given to various organisations; from what the surface of Mars looks like, ideas on interstellar travel, to comments on the accuracy (or lack of...) of mocked up Apollo space suits!
I also have a vast range of photographic material of space, astronomy and and associated subjects. However it is acknowledged that much research these days has moved to obtaining images off the 'net, but there still maybe something that can't be found - in which case enquire.
More details on the available images are on the smallspace Photos page.
Mat Irvine can be contacted at : <firstname.lastname@example.org>