The Model Unit Summer 2016 Update

The eleventh series of cult SF series Red Dwarf arrives on Dave in September, and the Model Unit have been involved with both props and miniature effects sequences for the new series.

Written and directed by Doug Naylor, and produced by Baby Cow Productions, two series have been shot back-to-back, with audience recordings taking place at Pinewood Studios.

Whereas previous series have allocated the effects work to one overseeing company, Series Xl and Xll have split the work across a number of vendors, and The Model Unit has been working alongside model crew from the Magic Camera Company, as well as the digital effects team.

Model Unit regulars Nick Kool and Alan ‘Rocky’ Marshall – both veterans of the first 8 series of Red Dwarf from the BBC VFX Department days – joined Effects Supervisor Mike Tucker for the recent model shoot, continuing a relationship with the show that stretches back 28 years.



The Model Unit at the Doctor Who Experience

The Model Unit is currently engaged in programme of refurbishment of props from the classic era of Doctor Who for the Doctor Who Experience in Cardiff.

Working with Brad Kelly of BBC Worldwide, several vintage props and costumes from the 1970s and 80s have been earmarked for restoration, as part of an on-going programme intended to bring items that have not been exhibited for decades to a new audience.


That programme had been launched with the restoration of the original Davros costume and chair, last seen in 1985 in the Colin Baker story Revelation of the Daleks.


Using the original moulds, and by tracking down contemporary dressing elements, the prop has been returned to its last screen-used appearance, and presented to a new audience of ‘Doctor Who’ fans for the first time in a over a decade.

Further refurbishments are planned over the coming months.

Origin Unknown

Working alongside director and VFX supervisor Hasraf ‘Haz’ Dulull, the Model Unit has provided models and miniature effects effort for the forthcoming British SF feature Origin Unknown.

Miniature Effects Supervisor Mike Tucker explains how the Model Unit became involved:

“I was contacted by DoP Adam Sculthorp, who had acted as our 3D Supervisor on the 50th anniversary Doctor Who story, The Day of the Doctor. Adam explained that Haz was looking to achieve the bulk of his effects through practical means, and we were more than happy to get involved.

The challenge has been to try and bring Haz’s high-end, cinematic vision to life within the confines of an extremely tight budget, but the shoot that we have just competed has resulted in some truly epic looking shots.”

Live action photography for Origin Unknown is currently scheduled to take place early next year.

Celebrating 10 Years of The Model Unit


August 1st  marks exactly ten years since The Model Unit was registered at Companies House. Twenty years of working in-house at the BBC had finished, ending one chapter of my life, and starting a totally new one.

It would be easy to fall victim to the reality television cliché of saying that ‘it has been the most extraordinary journey’, but the truth is that the last ten years really have been extraordinary.

From the point that we arrived at Ealing Studios and set up shop, my crew and I have had the pleasure of working on some of the most exciting effects projects that anyone in my profession could hope for. We’ve built spacecraft and dinosaurs, we’ve destroyed buildings and crashed aircraft, we’ve recreated volcanoes, hurricanes, tornados and tidal waves, we’ve provided effects for shows that had inspired us when we were children, we’ve been involved one of the most successful British films for decades, and we’ve worked alongside some incredibly talented companies and individuals.

That work has taken us to the USA, Canada, and Norway, it has garnered us a Primetime Emmy nomination, multiple RTS and BAFTA nominations, and two BAFTA Craft Award wins, and I am incredibly proud of every single shot that we have been involved with.

Nothing that The Model Unit has created would have been possible without the hard work, skill, dedication and good humour of the amazing group of people that have worked with me over the last ten years – either in the workshop, in the studio, or supporting me behind the scenes – and so to all of you I say simply this:  Thank you.

Everything that we have achieved since 2005 is down to you, and I hope that the next ten years will offer us as much fun, excitement, satisfaction and laughter as the last ten have.

Mike Tucker
Director and Effects Supervisor, The Model Unit
August 2015


With The Model Unit nominated for an RTS Craft Award, here are some images from our projects which were nominated in previous years…

RTS Craft Award Nomination for The Day of the Doctor

The Model Unit is very proud to announce that it has been nominated, alongside Real SFX, for an RTS Craft & Design Award for the practical effects work seen in the Doctor Who 50th Anniversary episode The Day of the Doctor.

For miniature effects supervisor Mike Tucker this is the fifth time he has been nominated in this category, having previously been put forward for individual awards for 999 International – Missing in Action, The Brighton Bomb, and Horizon: Last Flight of the Columbia, and under the Model Unit banner for Human Body – Pushing the Limits.

“Having won the BAFTA earlier in the year, its fantastic for the team to now get a second nomination, and I’m delighted that it’s for a show that really showcased how well practical effects can work within a modern drama production.”

– Mike Tucker, Visual Effects Supervisor

For more information about the Model Unit’s work on this episode please contact Mike Tucker.

award-winning models and miniature effects for television and film