What’s creepier about a giant maggot, other than the facts that it is a) already a maggot, and b) already giant? Well, reader, we have an answer from a rather bizarre source.
To celebrate what would’ve been Jon Pertwee’s 100th birthday this weekend, the official Doctor Who channel has released a lovely interview between Matthew Sweet and Sean Pertwee, Jon’s son, who’s perhaps better known beyond his connection with his father as Gotham’s occasionally-child-hitting take on Alfred the Butler.
The chat is full of wonderful little reminisces of not just what Pertwee’s action-packed, car-and-Venusian-akido-loving Doctor was about, but Pertwee the man himself. But Sean Pertwee also offers, out of nowhere, some spectacularly gross insight about one of the monsters in the Third Doctor’s most famous stories: the giant Maggots of “The Green Death,” which was Katy Manning’s final regular appearance as the Third Doctor’s second companion Jo Grant.
Both Pertwees loved collecting props from Doctor Who as memories of the experience, apparently, with Sean himself owning everything from the Metebelis III crystal that ultimately proved to be the Third Doctor’s undoing in his final story, “Planet of the Spiders,” to an Auton’s blaster-hiding mannequin hand. But one of his proudest was an animatronic giant maggot from “The Green Death”...which apparently was brought to life with a really freaky addition:
I had the Green Death maggot. The head of it was rotted ferret’s head, which I found fascinating as a young boy. I’d go up to the special effects department and hang out with them. They would somehow rot these ferret heads, and stick them on to a sort of glove puppet body part.
Rotted. Ferret. Heads. Oh my god.
There’s long been myths about some of the components that went into making the maggots as practical props—like the infamous and hilarious rumors that some of the “background” maggots for wide shots were made out of inflated condoms. So maybe Pertwee is just repeating a likewise myth, a tidbit told to a child, because what young boy doesn’t get a bit gleeful over icky things?
Or maybe the giant maggots have rotted ferret skulls for faces, and I can never watch “The Green Death” again without immediately thinking of this factoid—and then not being able to sleep afterwards. Thanks, Sean Pertwee!
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