BAFTA-winning make-up and visual effects designer

Born: March 5, 1949;

Died: February 12, 2018

DORKA Nieradzik, who has died of cancer aged 68, was an accomplished make-up, hair and visual effects designer who was awarded a special award by BAFTA in 2000 and an MBE - for services to drama - in 2004, such was her impact on the film and television industries that she had dreamed of entering since she was a child.

She was born in Poland but when she was young the family relocated to her Scottish mother Alice’s birthplace, and she was brought up in Chirnside, Berwickshire. Her father George had been a bank manager and was a trained pharmacist whilst her mother turned her hand to teaching, working at the Pringles knitwear factory and opening a small shop.

Dorka attended Berwickshire High School and it was there that she announced to her classmates that she intended to work in television make-up: a bold claim which engendered howls of derision. She was determined though, and after abandoning art college after one year she studied hairdressing in Newcastle before relocating to London. She worked backstage at the National Theatre and then became wardrobe mistress at the Young Vic, before being offered a job at the BBC - to which she had been doggedly applying - as a make-up trainee.

As was commonplace at the time, she learnt her craft and gradually moved from trainee to artist to supervisor/designer. In the latter category she oversaw classics of every genres: comedies such as Last of the Summer Wine (1979-83), Yes, Minister (1980), and Only Fools and Horses (1989); dramas including Play for Today (1980-82) and By the Sword Divided (1983); and small screen mainstays like Top of the Pops (1981) and EastEnders (1986).

She made an especial mark on the science fiction series Doctor Who, which she joined in 1980 when it was undergoing a visual renaissance under new producer John Nathan-Turner. She came up with ideas for alien creatures which were both beautiful and strange, otherworldly yet practical. The gold and green skinned Argolin in her first story, The Leisure Hive (1980) were a stunning example of this, although even they were eclipsed by her make-up for leading man Tom Baker (who had to be aged several hundred years) which remained one of her proudest achievements. She worked on nine Doctor Who adventures in all, designing such memorable creations as the Watcher (Logopolis, 1981), some particularly ghastly mutants (Revelation of the Daleks, 1985) and the Kandyman (The Happiness Patrol, 1988).

When she left the BBC she was in demand for high profile productions including Karaoke and Cold Lazarus (by Dennis Potter, 1996) and the ratings topping ITV drama Foyle’s War (2002/03) but she finally settled into feature films, becoming the personal hair and make-up artist of the actor Clive Owen. Her work with him included Stephen Poliakoff’s Century (1993), Closer (Mike Nichols, 2004), King Arthur (2004), Children of Men (Alfonso Cuaron, 2006), Elizabeth: The Golden Age (2007) and Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets (Luc Besson, 2017).

She won a BAFTA for her work on John Schlesinger’s 1995 production of Cold Comfort Fram and Royal Television Society awards for A Perfect Spy (1987) and Ashenden (1991). She was also nominated for awards for Far from the Madding Crowd (1998) and Perfect Strangers (2001).

She is survived by her father, George, her older sister - the costume designer and artist Anushia Nieradzik - and younger brother David. She was also very close to the daughters of her younger sister Eva Pilbrow (who predeceased her): one, Lydia, has followed her aunt into the make-up profession whilst the other, Aurora, is an actress and puppeteer.