Doctor Who / Sci fi

The Producers of Time and Space: A history of the ‘classic’ Who Producer.

Through out Doctor Who’s bright and wobderful past, there have been 9 producers who have watch over the shows classic era. These individuals where responsible for treating and editing the scripts, making influential decisions that would effect the show’s future, creating new concepts and casting the new actors to play the Doctor. With many writing and directing various episodes throughout there tenure on the show.

 

Related posts; Who is the best incarnation of The Doctor? Who is the best incarnation of The Master? and Who had the best TARDIS design?

Verity Lambert 1963-65 (86 Episodes)

Lambert was not the first choice for the Producer role, but after the BBC’s first three choice turned down the position, she became not only the shows first producer of the show but the only female to take the helm. The show was originally intended to be an educational science-fiction half hour to be shown on a Saturday evening.

The show quickly became a success, this was mostly down to the introduction to the Daleks. Even though Head of Serials, Donald Wilson strongly opposed using any scripts in which the Daleks make an appearance, Lambert took the risk and it paid off superbly. The show became a strong favorite for Saturday night viewing.

However after 2 season of the show Lambert left, stating that after 18 intense months at the helm, a fresher perspective would benefit the show.

 

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John Wiles 1965-66 (24 Episodes)

Wiles over saw just one series of the show, manning the helm for 4 serials. The most prominent been ‘The Darleks Master Plan’ which lasted for a staggering 12 episodes.

However he found his time on the show difficult. He found it challenging to change the format of the show. He planed on making the show much darker in tone, but it was vetoed by William Hartnell. Additionally his wishes to give companion Dodo Chaplet a cockney accent was  blocked by the BBC.

Hartnell was in poor health and Wilse wanted to replace the actor with someone who would play the same incarnation of The Doctor. But it was met with hostility from his superiors. Not long after this he resigned from the show.

 

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Innes Lloyd 1966-68 (77 Episodes)

His duration was short, lasting only two seasons. However, his input into the show has withstood the test of time. His biggest contribution was developing a way for the lead actor to be replaced. Lloyd and his editor came up with the idea of regeneration, so that a new actor could come in and play the role. They decided to recreate The Doctors personality and style, casting Troughton in the titular role.

It was during his era that the show introduced the Cybermen and other notable monsters like The Ice Warriors and the Yeti. Subsequently ending the era of historically dominant episodes that had came to be the norm.

 

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Peter Bryant 1967-69 (56 Episodes)

Bryant was producer for notable epidodes like ‘The Tomb of the Cybermen’ ‘The Ice Warriors’ and ‘The Enemy of the Wood’

Under his tenure the show continued to gain strong ratings, his main contribution to the show was casting Jon Pertwee as The Third Doctor.

 

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Derrick Sherwin  1969-70 (14 Episodes)

Sherwin started off as a script editor for the show becoming assistant producer for 3 seasons. Sherwin was credited for the creation of the Time Lords, and the writing of the script that introduced UNIT.

So when he took over the helm of the show he was already well established within the series. Sherwin was responsible for the plot line involving The Doctor been banished to earth as an attempt to boost the struggling ratings of the show and bring the show more reality.

 

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Barry Letts 1970-75 (128 Episodes)

Letts became at the time the longest running “Show Runner” of Doctor Who. He over sore the full tenure of Pertwee and created a family atmosphere within the show. The serie began to be filmed in color and with an increased budge, the show was able to shoot dramatic action sequences in new exciting locations.

Letts oversaw the 10th anniversary special which was the first multiple Doctor story. Letts was the first “Show runner” to direct an episode of the series. He directed and wrote a total of seven serials on the show. One of his final contributions to the show was casting Tom Baker.

 

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Philip Hinchcliffe 1975-77 (70 Episodes)

Hinchcliffe took over the role of producer at the age of 29 making him the youngest producer in the shows history. His first year consisted of producing scripts that had be commissioned by the former production team. It was not till a full year later that his influence was seen with the serial ‘Planet of Evil’.

The era of the show ushered a change in tone for the show. The series became darker, Gothic and more adult in its themes. Hinchcliffe was unhappy with using monsters that has been involved in the series already. The Cybermen, Sontarans, Daleks, Time Lords and The Master only appeared once during his tenure and they where all in the Latts influenced first series.  Additionally the Brigadier and UNIT been phased out of the show.

During his tenure the series produced more episodes that achieve 10 million viewers than any other, matching the success it had achieved within the sixties. However during this period the show began to receive complaints about its violent nature with many critics believing it was during this time that an erratic decline in quality and popularity occurred within the series.

The BBC defended the shows critisisms for three seasons before moving Hinchcliffe to the adult police thriller Target.

 

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Graham Williams 1977-80 (72 Episodes)

Upon taking over the show he was instructed to make the show lighter in tone and reduce the violence within the show to distance it from its dark reputation.

Williams attempted to make the show more humerus however he believed this would cost a great deal of money. This was problematic as the show had a limited budget. The viewing figures where more rocky during his tenure, dipping in his first two seasons. However the show gained over 16 million viewers for the serial ‘City of Death’. Williams left the show after 3 difficult years at the helm of the show, struggling to change the shows image and reputation.

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John Nathan Turner 1980-89 (170 Episodes)

Turner was the “Show Runner” for the remainder of the classic who era, becoming the longest running in the shows history.

He produced the final series of Tom Bakers tenure, casting the next 3 actors to play the title character. Turner believed that many members of the show had stopped taking it seriously and hindered its reputation, on member in particular being Tom baker. Because of this Turner restricted Bakers creative influence on the show and also changed the shows executive producers. He redesigned the theme music and Bakers classic costume and did a shuffle around with crew members to try and recreate the show.

Due to the long gap between the final Baker series and the first Davision season, Turner persuaded the BBC to fill the gap by scheduling series repeats and a Christmas special ‘K9-and Company’. Due to Turners inexperience with writing most of the story production was left to his new script editors. Turner brought back classic monsters like The Cybermen, Omega, Mara, The Master and the Darleks. While also reintroducing the Brigadier and UNIT. Although the reintroduction of the characters was a complex process due to many of them previously been written out for good. However, Turner had no interest in continuity and was more interested in the publicity. This meant that plot lines were often seen to be ridiculous and far-fetched even for a science fiction program, but the rise in publicity helped the show regain some of its ratings.

However, the show took a downward plummet. It employed excessive violence in Colin Bakers era and Turner displayed hostility towards the idea of using past writers and directors and gained a reputation of casting light entertainment stars. The casting of companions was also seen as gimmicky, with an Australian companion been cast to favor Australian viewers and the American companion Peri Brown been used to gain the favor of the American viewers. It is believed that it was down tot these castings that Division decided to leave the show. The show gained further criticism because of the question mark that was added to all the costumes in his Doctor Who era.

But even with all the problems within the show, external factors also contributed to the shows inevitable cancellation. With all the classic enemies been revived on screen, it was impossible to see the true enemy lurking behind the curtain, The BBC. The show was put on a lengthy hiatus in and then received brutal budget cuts and a change in time slot, resulting in its inevitable cancellation.

 

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