Doctor Who: Flux – the prosthetics designer

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The UK’s first female-run hair, make-up and prosthetics company was hired to work on the six-part Doctor Who Series 13 story Flux.

After hiring Neill Gorton’s Millennium FX for Doctor Who Series 11 and Robert Allsopp & Associates for Doctor Who Series 12, Square Peg Studios, a company run by Danny Marie Elias, became Doctor Who Series 13’s new prosthetics design firm.

Elias began her film and TV career in specialist hair and make-up design. Elias was working on 2013’s The Time of the Doctor when she was asked to double up as prosthetic designer Neill Gorton’s assistant. She worked on Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Sherlock and The Crown before setting up her own company, Square Peg – with Doctor Who as its first major commission.

“This has been a hugely, hugely creature-led series,” explained Elias in the Doctor Who Magazine 2022 Yearbook. “And we really hit the ground running. Because of the structure of this season, we had a lot of creatures to prepare very early doors. We did nine creature builds within nine weeks, which is my record.I don’t think I’ll ever beat that!”

“Neill [Gorton’s] mentorship has been everything to me. I owe so much to him,” Elias further told DWM. “So my motivation was to honour what they’ve done in the past, but I also wanted to put my own mark on it. I hope that when people watch it, they’ll see that it’s something different. With the vibrancy and the colours, it almost feels like a living animation at times.”

Elias described to DWM the design of the Ravagers Swarm and Azure.

“They were the first characters I designed. I wanted to give them almost an anime feel – of these characters existing in a fantasy world. It just felt like an opportunity to take inspiration from new forms of science fiction and cartoons, and sort of merge them together Hopefully you can see that influence with the vibrancy of the colours, and also with the sharp angles and styles.”

“We also wanted to keep the characters as androgynous as possible – we put a little nod to that in there by keeping Azure blue, and focusing pinks and purples on this devilish male character [Swarm]. Rather than making him darker shades, we actually flipped that on its head.”

There was also a design for Old Swarm for actor Matthew Needham.

But more interestingly, there was an abandoned design for Ravager Guards, who were never used. They were meant to be eyeless, mouthless, adolescent Ravagers who percieve and communicate telepathically.

Elias spoke of the Sontaran design to Doctor Who Magazine 570.

“It was such a tricky one to find the balance between old and new. And also, there have been so many versions of them over the years…”

“We set about stripping that back. We went back as far as we could, and then added our own markings to it. The question we set ourselves was: How do we move forward with the design, without losing the integrity and the original feel that everybody knows and loves?”

“I think we ended up finding a sweet spot which made us feel like we’d given credit to the very original version, but still allowed it to feel like it lived and breathed in 2021.”

The slightly different design of the Weeping Angels is described by Elias in the DWM 2022 Yearbook.

“We did change the Angels a little bit. It’s not massive, but you should be able to see a slightly softer, longer, more feminine face shape. We tried to take them back from the earlier, more rounded Grecian style and give them a slightly more modern look. Being a female prosthetics designer, it’s great for me to be able to bring a more feminine perspective to it.”

Elias described the inspiration behind the design of “space Cockapoo” Karvanista.

“Karvanista was based on Chris Chibnall’s dog– we matched it as much as we possibly could. But I have to admit when I sculpted him, I had my dog Blue next to me the entire time, and she’s a little blue Staffy, so the nose I took from her. I thought it would be nice to have both our dogs in there.”

Elias smiled as she described her experience working on Flux to the DWM 2022 Yearbook.

“I don’t think you could ever take on something like this thinking it was going to be an easy ride – that you could just pull something out of the cupboard and make it work. There’s so much care, heart and soul that goes into the smallest of details on this show. “I don’t think I’ll experience anything like this again. There’s nothing else like it.”

The Doctor Who Magazine 2022 Yearbook is available on newsstands and by digital issue now.