Dr Who: Wrexham: Cinema Finds Woman Who Helped the Yeti

A cinema has traced a woman who helped a Yeti that terrorised the hills of North Wales in long lost episodes of the cult TV series Dr Who.

EThe ODEON Cinema at Eagles Meadow in Wrexham launched a search for people who were part of the programmes shot in the Nant Ffrancon Pass in Snowdonia nearly 50 years ago as actors, extras or technical crew.

They are organising a live screening of the first instalment of the new television series starring actor Peter Capaldi in his first outing as the famous Time Lord on Saturday August 23 at 7:35pm.

Sylvia James, from Sunbury-on-Thames, Middlesex, worked as a supervisor on the six-part Doctor Who adventure, The Abominable Snowmen, starring Patrick Troughton as the man himself.

The mother-of-two and grandmother-of-four started her TV career on the first episode of Dr Who in 1963 with William Hartnell, and in 1967 she ensured that actors dressed as Yetis could roam the Welsh countryside in padded fur-covered costumes.

Kenny Kempster, assistant manager at ODEON at Eagles Meadow, is delighted to have found Sylvia.

He said: “She has got quite the CV, and she’s a part of TV history, not just with Dr Who but with other programmes as well. I think it’s fantastic that we’ve managed to find her.”

Sylvia, who still does a bit of freelance work and also works at Windsor Castle as a warden, said: “They were huge costumes. In Wales we were constantly looking out for the rain, and if it started we would have to rush indoors because they Yeti costumes were really hard to dry out.

“I absolutely loved it in North Wales because the scenery was beautiful.

“We had long days filming. We filmed for 17 hours straight on one day because we wanted to get it made while the weather was good. So we just got on with it.

“It was a great show to work on because it was a lot of fun and it felt like we were one big family. We all got on really well.

“I worked a lot with the people in costume and the people doing the special effects.

“We made mould of people’s faces and would use them to make masks. They were usually very reptilian.”

During her career Sylvia has also worked with legendary comedians Spike Milligan and Barry Humphries, and even worked with Ronnie Barker on the first series of Porridge.

She said: “I’ve worked on period production, light entertainment, plays, dramas, sitcoms, you name it.”

Sylvia added: “I think Peter Capaldi is going to be very good. There’s something about him – quirkiness that makes him different, and all the great Dr Who’s had that. Patrick had that.”

Set in Victorian London, the latest feature-length first episode, Deep Breath, reunites the newly-regenerated Doctor and returning companion, Clara, played by Jenna Coleman, with series regulars and fan favourites, Madame Vastra, Jenny and Strax.

It’s been directed by Ben Wheatley (Sightseers, A Field in England) and written by Steven Moffat (Sherlock, Jekyll).

Before the episode starts, there will also be a ‘never seen before’ 5 minute video from an upcoming Doctor Who DVD release. After the episode, there’ll be a special 10 minute behind-the-scenes of episode 1 feature.

Live from Leicester Square, there will be an exclusive question and answer session with special guests following the screening which will be streamed live.

Kenny added: “Dr Who fans are very excited indeed about the new series and the special screening at the ODEON is the perfect way to kick it off.

“I was thrilled with the response we had the last time we had a screening of Dr Who here. I was incredibly popular and we even has quite a few people turn-up in Dr Who costumes.”

Sadly, five of the story’s episodes of Doctor Who adventure, The Abominable Snowmen are among 106 episodes of Doctor Who missing from the archives.

Two short clips, off-screen telesnaps and a reel to reel tape recording of the soundtrack, made by a viewer in 1967, are all that survive of the missing instalments.

Two short home movies of the location filming taken by director Gerald Blake and Frazer Hines, who played the Doctor’s assistant, Jamie McCrimmon, also exist.

Dr Who fan and Eagles Manager Kevin Critichley thinks the search for people involved in the lost Dr Who episode is a great idea.

He said: “I had no idea that episodes of Dr Who had been filmed in North Wales and it would be brilliant to get some of the people involved down to the Odeon for the special screening of the new episode. I’m very much looking forward to watching it. I’m a big fan of Peter Capaldi and I think he’s going to make a fantastic Dr Who.”

For more information please visit odeon.co.uk/odeon-plus

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