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He is perhaps best known for his work on Doctor Who, for which he was a Visual Effects Designer, from the 1970s to the 1980s. He is credited with building the first K-9 prop for the serial The Invisible Enemy (1977). He was not told that it would be required beyond that story, thus the prop he designed was only capable of traversing the studio floor and proved useless when brought on location for subsequent stories. Irvine eventually built a second K-9 that could cover rougher ground. He occasionally operated the K-9 prop during filming.
In the late 1970s and early 1980s, he made regular appearances in the BBC children's TV shows Swap Shop and Saturday Superstore, initially to discuss special effects on BBC drama series, and later as a more general expert on science and space issues.
His connection with K-9 has continued. In 1981, Irvine served as Visual Effects Designer for the Doctor Who spin-off K-9 and Company. In 1993, he operated K-9 for the Doctor Who charity special Dimensions in Time. In 1999, he once again operated the robotic dog when a model K-9 (in reality one of the original props) was given to the character Vince as a birthday present in Queer as Folk. He operated K-9 in an episode of Totally Doctor Who in 2006.
He spoke about his work on Blake's 7 and The Tripods in 2006 on BBC Four's The Cult of... series, in the episodes The Cult of...Blake's 7 and The Cult of...The Tripods.
Nowadays, he makes appearances at sci-fi and Doctor Who conventions, often alongside K-9.