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June Hudson is a British television costume designer, most famous for her work on British science fiction TV series in the 1970s. Her most notable work featured in the classic series of Doctor Who and Blake's 7.
Hudson first worked on Doctor Who in 1978, and (after being briefly reallocated to Blake's 7 later that year) became de facto principal costume designer on the series in 1979, a position which was formalized in 1980. Her opulent costumes for her first two productions, The Ribos Operation (1978) and The Creature from the Pit (1979) won praise from the producer, Graham Williams, who requested Hudson's allocation for at least two further productions in the 1979-80 recording block.
In 1980, on the strength of her success at producing lavish effects on a limited budget, incoming producer (and former production unit manager) John Nathan-Turner asked Hudson to be sole costume designer for the show's eighteenth season. While she was happy to accept, the BBC costume department felt that the schedule and demands of Doctor Who made sole stewardship of design an excessive burden, and Hudson was therefore asked to nominate a second designer to work with her; she chose Amy Roberts, whose style, though strongly idiosyncratic, was commensurate with Hudson's in its boldness and fantastical sensibility. Among Hudson's best remembered designs on Doctor Who are her costumes for the main characters. In both her first two years on the show, she was responsible for establishing a sartorial style for the Doctor's new companion -- Mary Tamm as the Time Lady Romana in 1978 (The Ribos Operation) and Lalla Ward as Romana's second incarnation in 1979. Hudson's collaboration with Ward was particularly fruitful: the designer created more than half of the outfits Ward wore for the role, establishing a playful, tomboyish style for the second Romana, which was popular with fans.
More controversial, and initially troubling to the designer herself, was the production office's forced redesign of Tom Baker's costume as the Doctor. This was the first time in the show's history that control over costume had been taken away from the incumbent leading man by a producer. Hudson felt strongly that any change, especially an insensitive or radical one, could undermine Baker's performance. She therefore devised what she says was meant to be an "apotheosis" of the established costume image, retaining the iconic scarf, long coat and hat rather than departing too strongly from precedent. Her new design was marked principally by the fact that it was largely monochrome, with plum-coloured overcoat, hat and Norfolk suit offset by touches of rust and aubergine in the predominantly plum scarf and gold thread in the vintage-velvet waistcoat. Hudson was also asked to design a new, distinctive shirt for Baker, and the producer required her to put embroidered question-marks on the resulting garment's pointed lapels - much to her chagrin, as she felt embroidery was fussy and inappropriate, and the joke it embodied crass. (The question-mark motif was to become a branding gimmick that endured on the Doctor's costumes as long as the classic series was in production.)
Of the incidental costume designs Hudson devised for the show, perhaps the most striking were the white, cigarette-quilted outfits for the exquisite android Movellans in Destiny of the Daleks, the faintly chiton-esque yellow robes for the Argolin in The Leisure Hiveband the Gundan Warriors for Warriors' Gate. The armor for the Gundans, gorgeously conceived and finished, typifies Hudson's capacity to produce safe, comfortable, impressive costumes on a tight budget: the armor was actually made of thin, vacuum-formed plastic, and given is pewter finish by metal deposition, while the grills on the helmets were made from junked mail trays.
Hudson is surely one of the most broadly imaginative costume designers to work on Doctor Who, espousing not one but a whole range of different aesthetics, from faery-tale, 'pre-Raphaelite' richness to minimalist, machine-turned modernism. She is certainly one of the most influential and best-remembered Doctor Who costume designers of the 1970s and 80s, equaling the output of James Acheson and Ken Trew, and producing designs of comparable importance in the enduring legacy of the show.
Her Blake's 7 costumes include (notable costumes in brackets) many of the costumes in the second series of the show: overall, her most notable contribution was putting the Liberator crew in leather, arguably one of the most memorable aspects of the show.
Redemption: Kerr Avon's dark blue leather and studs (dark leather and studs were to become the character's trademark), Roj Blake's voluminous green leather bat-sleeves and boots, Cally's wide-shouldered outfit.
Shadow: Avon's infamous silver leather tunic [Hudson refers to fans calling it "oven-ready"], studded belt and thigh-high black leather boots, opulent velvet suits for the Terra Nostra crime lords.
Weapon: Large, elaborately decorated collars for Servalan, Coser, Rashel and Clonemaster Fen. Servalan wearing the same white feather cloak as Romana in The Ribos Operation. Travis's new uniform made of ribbed black material. Androgynous, flowing leotard-cloak-skirt combinations for Carnell and the Federation officer. Jenna and Cally's elaborately cut and pleated long dresses. Avon's infamous red leather "lobster suit" that proved difficult with producers, directors and the actor himself. The original costume included conical spikes on the collar, which she had originally designed to symbolise the character's angry nature, but which had to be removed on the insistence of the producer. [Source: June Hudson's interview, Blake's 7 Season 3 DVD extras]
Horizon: Velvet costumes for Ro and the Federation officers, flowing blue robes with elaborate feather decorations for Ro and Selma's native costumes.
Pressure Point: Servalan in a coat-like dress revealing her thighs and legs, made entirely of soft white plastic, complete with hat and wide collar. Later, she sports an elaborately cut and pleated white gown with a large metal insect-shaped decoration holding the dress in place.
Trial: New leather costumes for the whole Liberator crew.
Killer: Insect-like plastic capes for laboratory workers, insect details on their white costumes, safety suits made entirely of modified Michelin Man costumes.
Hudson mentions delegating the costume design to other colleagues for the second half of the second series, so for example, she doesn't identify as the designer of the extravagant costumes of the episode Gambit, although she approves of the work and is still credited as the costume designer on the end credits throughout the second series.
Hudson continues her involvement with design for the screen, as designer, consultant and teacher of design (for the last four years she has been Lossett Visiting Scholar each May at the University of Redlands). Her interest in Doctor Who persists, and she has recently produced the front cover of TARDISbound, a book on the series from the publishers I.B. Tauris. She also produced the cover illustration for Iris Wildthyme and the Celestial Omnibus, from publishers Obverse Books.
- Britton, P.D.G. (1999). "Dress and the Fabric of the Television Series: The Costume Designer as Author in Dr. Who,"Journal of Design History, 12(4):345-356
Other sources and links:
- "June Hudson's Costume Designs", an extra feature on the Blake's 7 Season 3 DVDs.
- "June Hudson's Leisure Wear", an extra feature on the Doctor Who Leisure Hive DVD.
- The BBC Doctor Who Classic Series Episode Guide
- June Hudson on Internet Movie Database
- June Hudson's website
- Tom Baker's website (See Doctor Who Costume Designs in the Photos & Videos section)