Doctor Who Top 5: Costume prosthetic and makeup


Prosthetics are the roots of Doctor Who. Where would we get all of our favorite aliens without the amazing work of the prosthetics department?

Not everything in Doctor Who is CGI. In fact, some of it is very real. Very real people, some of our favorite actors, under impressive makeup – and even robotics! With Halloween and costuming on our minds, we decided to look at our five favorite prosthetic and makeup jobs that have made our favorite characters, or even changed or hidden them.

Burning_Up on Twitter gave us this idea, and we took it a step further, highlighting guest stars, the some iconic changes, and some characters that wouldn’t be possible without the prosthetic department. We have no idea the hard work these people do, and how much of it isn’t CGI, it’s truly made by hand, all for a few minutes in one episode!

So carry on, and see what we picked out! Did we pick your favorites?

5. Lazarus

Remember Lazarus from The Lazarus Experiment? It was the first time we saw Mark Gatiss on our televisions in Doctor Who, though he hardly looked like himself at all! He played Professor Lazarus, who announced he was going to change what it means it to be human by using a machine to make himself look younger. (A device used later in the third series by the Master!)

Of course, because Mark Gatiss isn’t actually old at all, it took a bit of work to make him look the part! In order to do so, as the props and wardrobe people show above, they have to cover him in glue to make the mask to get the shape of his head, and then begin the silicone mask. Once it’s on, while the skin looks realistic, there are also other parts, such as the teeth, and the hair (or lack of!).

This may not be the most extravagant work put in on Doctor Who over the years, but Mark Gatiss is always someone I love to mention as much as possible, and The Lazarus Experiment is one of my favorite episodes!

4. Razor (The Master)

In a more recent episode, World Enough and Time the makeup helped the surprise twist at the end that had us all shocked! The Master, who had been living on the bottom of the spaceship that was heading towards the black hole. After The Master had taken over the city and turned it into a Cyberfactory, he changed into Razor.

This most likely happened when he saw the Doctor, Missy, Bill and Nardole arrive and since he obviously had the time, made up the disguise. It was a fairly clever disguise, and it was good enough to fool fans as well. The Doctor Who props and wardrobe people also went through the process of what it took to turn John Simm into Razor, using a face prosthetic.

While some of us could look through Razor to see the Master because of the coincidence, and knowing John Simm would be in the episode, the actual prosthetic is incredibly elaborate. If you watch the sped up version of the mask on, he has the silicone face to make him look older, the hair and the beard, even fake teeth as well. The finished product is very different from Simm, and no one on the street would know it was the Master.

3. Robot people from Deep Breath

Okay, the reason these aren’t #1 is because I didn’t know how much they counted. Since they’re technically not makeup jobs, I didn’t want a prosthetic riot to ensue. So, they’re neutrally at number three. Because to be honest, I couldn’t ignore the amazing work of these creatures, but I know CGI is at work more than other people.

However, during the behind the scenes look of Deep Breath, you can see that these robots are 100% active and deserve commendation for their stunning work at how realistic they are. So realistic, they freak out Jenna Coleman! So while we might not be changing the appearance of people to make them look older, younger, or different, they’re making robots look shockingly human. Isn’t that really the peak of what anyone would want to achieve?

As you can see in the video, the robots are so lifelike that it almost looks like a human is actually part of the costume! But rest assured, it’s all wires and a prosthetic face and body, ready to freak out the next person that comes in contact with it.

And don’t forget, of course, the amazing moment when Peter Capaldi accidentally had to use a prosthetic face of Matt Smith! Now that’s a memorable moment for your first episode!

2. Ten’s 100 year old face, and 900 year old face

Remember #5, Lazarus’s Experiment to make him turn younger? Later in series three, when The Master, he captures Ten, Martha, and Captain Jack, he uses the technology to do the opposite of what Lazarus did. He makes The Tenth Doctor look 100 years older than he originally looks.

As David Tennant’s face is actually a thing of beauty and not 100 years old, you can imagine the prosthetics it took to make his face! His experience is the same with Lazarus. The took a cast of David Tennant’s head so they could work on making the prosthetic skin look real. They even brought in Neal Gorton, a specialist in aging makeup! Gorton said that since he was only 100 years old for one scene (before The Master makes him older and CGI takes over), he had to look like David Tennant so people weren’t confused.

These two different ages are so important because they use the height of the CGI to make David Tennant look unrecognizable at 900 years old. However, they can’t do that with prosthetics. The 100-year-old face was done incredibly well and carefully so that everyone saw it. And it paid off as one of the most iconic scenes in David Tennant’s run as the Doctor.


1. The Paternoster Gang

As for the best done with prosthetics, I would say the Paternoster Gang. The ability to make Neve McIntosh into a lizard, and making Dan Starkey into Strax! One scene of the three characters of Madame Vastra, Jenny, and Strax has more prosthetic work than most scenes in a series of Doctor Who!

First, let’s look at Neve McIntosh, who is our favorite Victorian Silurian. We can’t find a video of the work done on the actress herself, but there was a version done at the Doctor Who Experience. Makeup Artists came in and brought someone up and changed them into a Silurian. And they spared no expense. Look at how realistic he looks, just like Madame Vastra! The two could be from the same Silurian family. The video goes to show all the work that it takes from a regular face to the final project.

It looks like they used a hat for the top of the skull for the fan to slip on. But the facial features were done by molding a quick piece of prosthetic to look like their face Ater that, they paint it and shade it to make it look more realistic. Unfortunately, the video is only pictures, so we don’t know exactly how long it would take. But doesn’t it look amazing?

This video is a hilarious depiction of what it takes to turn Dan Starkey into Strax. They say in the video it takes about 2 hours between putting the face, the head, and doing the makeup. You can see for yourself how intricate it is. Strax and Madame Vastra really have a lot of work that goes into them. It’s a good thing we all love them so much!

These are only a few of the amazing creatures that are made on Doctor Who. There is definitely a rabbit hole of videos to watch how some of the people/aliens we’ve met along the way came to look like they do on camera. But these are our five favorites, for their delicacy, extravagance, and memorable appearance!

What’s your favorite human-to-alien change? Did we get your favorite or miss one?