The Making Of Bodywarp
Bodywarp is possibly the only episode that has had a semi-decent budget. The total cost for the episode is probably about £700.00. We won’t see money like that ever again! Most of it went on making the Alien which gave me several heart attacks whenever I looked over at it. I had it on my bed and my computer was right next to me and I kept forgetting it was there – then thinking: “Good god man that’s freaky!!!” Whenever I looked at it. I thought the best beginning would be Chan going on a voyage to see his old friend with a little reasoning behind it. There’s a little which Chan doesn’t tell Mandrake in the beginning. I thought this would drive more of a wedge between them. It turns out that Traitormass has actually invited Walrus to visit him for possibly more than one reason! Though he probably does want to betray him as well!
Basically I thought: What could a backstabbing traitor possibly want with someone like Chan and realised that he could be betraying people without intent, which would be a worrying problem for anyone! Rather than having both Chan and Mandrake going down together, which would have made it hard for Traitormass to betray Walrus, so Walrus has to go down alone. (The old Split up and Look for Clues!) I emotionally blackmailed Chris into helping me and playing the role of Traitormass. This was a huge mistake as he is one of the funniest guys I’ve ever met. Chris made filming almost impossible because we couldn’t stop cracking up on set. He was so good in fact that I begged him to join me as permanent crew!
The episode design was simple. Walrus would go down alone to meet his old friend Traitormass and get tricked by him. I worked out that the most ridiculous idea would be for him to walk willingly into an obvious trap, whilst being good natured enough to to trust even a treacherous traitor like Traitormass. I had some ideas for the future involving Vegans from Vega and Vegans so I threw in a small joke about Vegans from Vega eating meat. I used the Alien mask I’d bought from Shattered FX “Vok” and crafted a body for the Alien. I built a dummy body and filled it with a smoke machine and my trap was ready for Walrus to blunder into which he did. Much to the amusement and relief of all concerned.
I had the plan to split Walrus and Mandrake up for two episodes where Traitormass would do a Bodywarp, making himself look like Chan Walrus. Mandrake would then later realise the deception and hilarity would ensue as he wound Traitormass up… However Chris was so brilliant in his role that I insisted that he had to join me! I rewrote the episode so that Walrus would be left behind, and allow an option for Traitormass and Mandrake to sort of bond. My new plan involved them all meeting up in a few episodes time… But no spoilers!
The entire episode idea was inspired by the episode Turnabout Intruder in which a character called Janet Lester body swaps with Kirk. I changed the concept slightly so Traitormass instead adopts a brilliant disguise. Originally I was going to play two characters and film scenes twice with me in both roles, but then a brilliant idea struck: What if Traitormass’ disguise is so bad that it’s obvious to see though, but no one can actually see through it. So instead of giving him a good disguise, I didn’t even give him a costume change, just a wig and a green pen to draw Walrus’ beard on. He also shaves off Walrus’ beard while he’s asleep because I hate beards and it would logically make him look less like the Chan Walrus that Mandrake is familiar with.
• I swapped the wigs intentionally as a nod to Glynis Barber’s inexplicable hairstyle and costume changes in Blake’s 7.
• The Green marker pen was unintentional, I originally wanted to use a red one but I couldn’t find it at the time of the shoot.
• Traitormass’ name is a joke relating to Professor Quatermass from the Quatermass Xperiment. Originally I wanted to have an episode called the Traitormass Xperiment.
• The sets were made and built in my kitchen and the front room.
• To get the effect on the TV screen behind the dead Alien, I used a HDMI lead to connect it to an AF101e Camera I had set up filming at the same time.
• The hand scanner Walrus uses is part of a car seat. Don’t judge me.
• I grew a beard for the character of Chan Walrus just to give him it as a recognisable character trait in the episode.
• Chan Walrus actually wears a wig, and so does Mandrake.
• I lost Mandrake’s visor for this episode because I am an idiot.