Terrance Dicks 1935-2019Bookmark and Share

Monday, 2 September 2019 - Reported by Marcus
Terrance DicksOne of Doctor Who's most influential writers Terrance Dicks has died at the age of 84.

Terrance Dicks's contribution to Doctor Who was immense. He wrote forty-five episodes of the series between 1969 and 1983 and was script editor from 1969 until 1975, steering the programme through one of its most successful periods, helping to cast both the third and fourth Doctors.

For a whole generation of fans, he was the man who brought the series to life through his Target novelisations. In the days before DVD's and Videos, the only way of reliving old episodes was through the Target books. Over 60 were written by Dicks and they enabled fans to experience stories shown years before many were born.

Terrance Dicks was born in East London shortly before the second world war. He studied English at the University of Cambridge before serving for two years in the British Army. On his discharge, he won his first writing job working as an advertising copywriter before writing radio play scripts for the BBC.

It was his friend and mentor Malcolm Hulke who got him his first job in television, helping with the scripting on the first series if the ITV adventure series The Avengers. He would later return the favour by commissioning scripts from Hulke for Doctor Who.

His work on Doctor Who began in 1968 as assistant script editor, rewriting much of the Brian Hayes story The Seeds of Death. Promotion followed and he was charged with writing out the second Doctor with the epic 10 part series The War Games.

In 1970 a new producer Barry Letts was appointed and thus began one of the highest regarded partnerships in the whole series run. Together they guided the series for five years, one of its most successful periods. Both men left the series at the same time as Jon Pertwee but not before casting the unknown Tom Baker as Doctor number 4.

His commitment to the series didn't end with the third Doctor. He wrote several more stories including The Brain of Morbius, Horror of Fang Rock and State of Decay. In 1983 he penned the 20th-anniversary story The Five Doctor's, the last script he completed for the television series.

He wrote two Doctor Who plays, Doctor Who and the Daleks in the Seven Keys to Doomsday in 1974 and Doctor Who - The Ultimate Adventure in 1989.

Away from Doctor Who he co-created the short-lived BBC science-fiction TV series Moonbase 3 and wrote for the ATV science-fiction series Space: 1999. He served once more as script editor to producer Barry Letts on the BBC's Sunday Classics strand, before succeeding Letts as the producer overseeing productions such as Oliver Twist, David Copperfield and Vanity Fair.

Tributes to Dicks have been paid from many associated with Doctor Who including current showrunner Chris Chibnall
The lights of Doctor Who are dimmer tonight, with the passing of Terrance Dicks. He was one of the greatest contributors to Doctor Who’s history, on screen and off. As writer and script editor, he was responsible for some of the show’s greatest moments and iconic creations. As the most prolific and brilliant adaptor of Doctor Who stories into Target novels, he was responsible for a range of books that taught a generation of children, myself included, how pleasurable and accessible and thrilling reading could be. Doctor Who was lucky to have his talents. He will always be a legend of the show. Everyone working on Doctor Who sends his family and friends our love and condolences at this difficult time.




Glyn Houston 1925-2019Bookmark and Share

Thursday, 4 July 2019 - Reported by Marcus
The actor Glyn Houston has died at the age of 93.

Glyn Houston appeared in two Doctor Who stories. In 1976 he played Professor Watson, the director of the Nunton Experimental Complex, in the Fourth Doctor story The Hand of Fear.

In he came up against the fifth Doctor playing Colonel Wolsey in the 1984 story The Awakening.

Glyn Houston had over 200 television credits dating back to the 1950s, appearing in some of the most loved programmes in British TV history.

Houston was born in Rhondda, in the Welsh Valleys, and brought up by his Widowed Grandmother, after his Mother died young and his Father disappeared.

He served in the Royal Signal Regiment during World War II and was briefly a stand-up comedian performing to soldiers. He made his first film appearance playing a barrow boy in The Blue Lamp in 1950. In the 1970s he played Lord Peter Wimsey's valet Bunter opposite Ian Carmichael in the teleplays of several of Dorothy Sayers tales. He played Ronald Judge in The Sherman Plays and Bernard Ingham in Thatcher: The Final Days.

Other appearances include Better Days, Inspector Morse, Keep It in the Family, Minder, It Ain't Half Hot Mum, The Sea Wolves, Breakaway, Shoestring, A Horseman Riding By, Some Mothers Do 'Ave 'Em, Target, The XYY Man, Robin's Nest, Are You Being Served? , Beasts, Five Red Herrings, The Nine Tailors, Dixon of Dock Green, Sporting Scenes, Reg Varney, Jackanory, Clouds of Witness, Z Cars, Softly, Softly: Task Force.

Glyn Houston was the younger brother of film star Donald Houston and was a close friend of fellow Welsh actors Richard Burton and Stanley Baker. In 2009 he was presented with the BAFTA Lifetime Achievement Award.

His friend and biographer Dean Powell announced his death with deep regret.
He was kind, generous and an incredibly funny man who was a pleasure to know for over twenty years.

He enjoyed his career and was proud of his achievements and although I think he genuinely wanted to be a comic more than an actor, his vast quantity of work will remain a great legacy to the man and his natural talent.

Glyn enjoyed life, his family and his hobbies and didn’t let work get in the way of that. He always had time to speak to you, showed a genuine interest in other people’s lives.

Although he left the South Wales valleys seven decades ago, he had all of the great qualities of a working-class Welshman at heart.




Paul Darrow 1941-2019Bookmark and Share

Monday, 3 June 2019 - Reported by Marcus
Paul Darrow
The actor Paul Darrow has died at the age of 78.

Paul Darrow is best known for playing freedom fighter Kerr Avon in the Terry Nation series Blake's 7. He appeared in two Doctor Who stories, Doctor Who And The Silurians in 1970 and Timelash in 1985.

Paul Darrow was born in Surrey. After leaving school he trained at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art. His first professional performances were with the Bristol Old Vic.

In the 1960's he made his television debut in the series The Odd Man. A regular role in Emergency-Ward 10 followed, where he met his future wife Janet Lees-Price.

He appeared in Coronation Street, The Newcomers, The Flaxton Boys, Murder Must Advertise, Within These Walls and The Legend of Robin Hood where he played the Sheriff of Nottingham. In 1970 he had his first role in Doctor Who playing Captain Hawkins a UNIT officer helping the Third Doctor fight the Silurians.

The role for which he will always be remembered was as Kerr Avon, the amoral computer genius who was thrown together with the idealistic Roj Blake and found himself a freedom fighter taking on the corrupt Federation. Such was his presence in the role that Avon soon developed into the major character in the series, When actor Gareth Thomas left, Darrow's character assumed command. He appeared in all but the first episode, with the series finishing in dramatic style with Darrow's face being the last image seen on screen.

He returned to Doctor Who in 1985 playing Malin Tekker, a controversial performance with Darrow playing the part in the manner of Richard III.

He continued working with long-running roles in Emmerdale and Law & Order: UK, but in late 2014, he suffered an aortic aneurysm. Over the next few months, health complications meant he lost both of his legs.

Speaking to the BBC, Darrow’s friend and Personal Assistant Maureen Marrs, said:
Over three decades I have been Paul’s confidante and have had the immense privilege of being part of his life. A star has gone out today; the world will be a darker place without him.
Paul Darrow died early on the morning of the 3rd June after a short ilness.




Stephen Thorne 1935-2019Bookmark and Share

Sunday, 26 May 2019 - Reported by Marcus
Stephen Thorne (Credit: Chuck Foster)The actor Stephen Thorne has died at the age of 84.

In the 1970s Stephen Thorne created three of the greatest adversaries of the Doctor, characters whose influence endures in the programme today.

His towering presence and deep melodious voice were first witnessed in the 1971 story The Dæmons, where he portrayed Azal, the last living Dæmon on Earth, in a story often cited as one of the most appreciated of the third Doctor's era and story emblematic of the close-knit UNIT team of the time.

He returned to the series in 1972 playing Omega, the renegade Time Lord fighting The Three Doctors, a character that would return to confront the Doctor in later years. In 1976 he opposed the Fourth Doctor playing the male form of Eldred, last of the Kastrians in the story The Hand of Fear.

Stephen Thorn was born in London in 1935. He trained as an actor at RADA and spent several seasons with the Old Vic Company and the Royal Shakespeare Company.

Television credits were many and included roles in Z Cars, Crossroads, Sexton Blake, David Copperfield and Last of the Summer Wine.

His voice was suited to Radio work where roles included Aslan in The Magicians Nephew, Treebeard in The Lord of the Rings, and Colon in Terry Pratchett's Guards! Guards!. He has played many characters for Big Finish Audio productions including reprising the roles of Omega and Eldred.

Thorne recorded over 300 unabridged audiobooks including children's stories and often gave readings at events in places such as Westminster Abbey. His awards include a Talkies Award 1996 for Enigma by Robert Harris and several Golden Earphones Awards from Audiofile Magazine.

The death of Stephen Thorne was announced on Twitter by Lisa Bowerman on behalf of one of his great friends.
It's with great sadness that Chris Benjamin has just asked me to announce the death of his oldest and dearest friend, actor #StephenThorne He leant his magnificent voice to many productions, and those who knew him, know what a gentle man he was. Many thoughts to his family. RIP




Paul Condon (1970-2019)Bookmark and Share

Monday, 20 May 2019 - Written by Charles Martin
Paul CondonDoctor Who raconteur and mega-fan Paul Condon has died at the age of 48.

Paul Condon was a popular DJ at Gallifrey One, UK convention runner, and a BBC producer. He was beloved by fans of Doctor Who, Strictly, Line of Duty, Eurovision Song Contest and many other shows for his work in fandom and behind the scenes of these and other shows.

Condon was the editor of the book 1001 TV Shows You Must See Before You Die, an authority on UK and US television. That passion resulted in a career working for the BBC (mostly) and ITV (briefly), eventually rising to his last position as iPlayer Content Delivery Manager as well as production and/or website duties on many other BBC shows, including Doctor Who.

Originally from Ormskirk, Paul was the head organiser of the Manopticon 3 convention held in Manchester Town Hall in 1994 (the first con appearance of an intially-skeptical Caroline John, who thought fans wouldn’t remember her), as well as Icon 2 the following year. Along with lifelong best mate Jim Sangster, he wrote or co-wrote books on television, film, and specific franchises, including TV Heaven, The Matrix: Unlocked, The Complete Hitchcock, and Six Feet Under: The Unofficial Guide.

American fans would know Condon best a passionate but conscientious fan, a wicked trivia competitor, the consummate DJ for convention dances, a reliable and ever-cheerful friend, and the life and soul of any party. He took great pride in his iPlayer team and getting to live in Salford, and serving as an ambassador at the London Olympics in 2012, and never failed to encourage and celebrate others’ accomplishments while being more modest about his own.

Paul Condon died unexpectedly but peacefully after a brief illness on Friday, 10-May, shortly after returning from a holiday in Spain. He is survived by his father and leaves behind a long string of loving friends reeling from his sudden departure.




Tommy Donbavand 1966-2019Bookmark and Share

Wednesday, 15 May 2019 - Reported by Marcus
Tommy DonbavandThe writer Tommy Donbavand has died at the age of 52.

Tommy Donbavand was an authour and entertainer who wrote over 100 books for young readers, including the Scream Street series. He wrote the Doctor Who book Shroud of Sorrow featuring the Eleventh Doctor.

In 2016 Donbavand was diagnosed with stage four inoperable throat cancer, meaning he was unable to work. Two books were published, A Target for Tommy and A Second Target for Tommy, to raise money to support Donbavand and his family while he battled against the disease.

Tommy Donbavand died yesterday. The news was announced by his friend, on his website.
It saddens me enormously to say that Tommy passed away in hospital this morning. My kind, funny, courageous, ridiculous friend is no longer with us.

I know he’d want me to say a big thank you to everyone who has been reading his blog, offering support, good vibes, prayers, and well-wishes. He appreciated it all, and there were times in the last year or so that I think the outpouring of love and support helped carry him through the harder times. He was immensely grateful for it, and everyone who knew and loved him is, too.




Graeme Curry 1957-2019Bookmark and Share

Monday, 25 February 2019 - Reported by Marcus

The writer Graeme Curry has died at the age of 61.

Graeme Curry wrote the 1988 Doctor Who story The Happiness Patrol, starring Sylvester McCoy as The Doctor and Sophie Aldred as Ace.

The story featured Sheila Hancock as Helen A, a character now acknowledged to be based on the then Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher. The story is unique in Doctor Who stories for being mentioned in the Archbishop of Canterbury's Easter Sermon when Dr Rowan Williams referenced the story in his 2011 message.

The Happiness Patrol was the first television commission for Graeme Curry after he pitched an idea to script editor Andrew Cartmel about a planet where it was a crime to be unhappy. He went on to write for EastEnders as well as The Bill and the Radio 4 drama Citizens.

Cartmel paid tribute on twitter
My dear friend the wonderful writer Graeme Curry died yesterday after a serious illness. He’s left a huge hole in the world. I miss him already.




Clive Swift 1936-2019Bookmark and Share

Friday, 1 February 2019 - Reported by Marcus
The actor Clive Swift has died at the age of 82.

Clive Swift appeared in two Doctor Who stories. In 1985 he appeared with Sixth Doctor Colin Baker in the story Revelation of the Daleks, playing Jobel, the chief embalmer of Tranquil Repose on Necros.

Swift returned to the series in 2007 appearing with David Tennant in the Christmas special Voyage of the Damned, as Bayldon Copper an employee aboard the Titanic.

Swift was best known for his role as Richard Bucket in the British television comedy series Keeping Up Appearances.

Clive Swift was born in Liverpool in 1936. After stydying English literature at Cambridge University he became a teacher at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art.

In the 1960's he made his first apperance on British television appearing in Theatre Night. He had regular roles in the BBC Comedy series Dig This Rhubarb. Regular TV roles followed including playing Major Bagstock in Dombey and Son, Inspector Waugh in Thirty-Minute Theatre and Albert Benbow in Clayhanger.

In 1982 he played Bishop Proudie in the BBC adaptation of of Anthony Trollope's Barchester Chronicles.

Between 1990-1995 he starred in 42 episodes of the British sitcom, Keeping Up Appearances playing Hyacinth Bucket's long-suffering husband, Richard. Written by Roy Clarke and staring Patricia Routledge the series has become the BBC's best selling series in its long history, seen around the world.

Later appearances included parts in Midsomer Murders and Peak Practice.

Thirteen million watched his apperance in Doctor Who in 2007 alongside singer Kylie Minogue. To promote the story Swift did a famously grumpy interview with Doctor Who Magazine, berating the interviewer for his 'silly' questions.

Swift was married to novelist Margaret Drabble between 1960 and 1975 and was father to daughter Rebecca, who died in April 2017. He is survied by his two sons.




W. Morgan Sheppard 1932 - 2019Bookmark and Share

Monday, 7 January 2019 - Reported by Marcus

The actor W. Morgan Sheppard has died at the age of 86.

William Morgan Sheppard appeared in the 2011 Eleventh Doctor story The Impossible Astronaut / Day of the Moon playing the older version of ex-FBI agent Canton Everett Delaware III, who accompanied the Eleventh Doctor during the latter's visit to the United States of America in 1969. The younger version of the character was played by his son Mark Sheppard.

William Morgan Sheppard was born in London and trained at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art. He spent 12 years as an associate artist with the Royal Shakespeare Company.

Sheppard has a strong connection with Science fiction, appearing in both Star Trek The Next Generation and Star Trek: Voyager as well as the films Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country and the 2009 reboot Star Trek.

He appeared in two roles in Babylon 5. His best known role was probably Blank Reg in the comedy Max Headroom. In the films Gettysburg and Gods and Generals he played the Confederate general Isaac Trimble.

As well as Doctor Who he appeared alongside his son in the television series NCIS.

William Morgan Sheppard died on Sunday in Los Angeles, California. He is survived by his wife and children.




Doctor Who In Memoriam 2018Bookmark and Share

Monday, 31 December 2018 - Reported by Marcus
As 2018 draws to a close, Toby Hadoke has released his annual look back at those from the Doctor Who universe whose lives drew to a close in the past twelve months.

Remembering those people from the world of Doctor Who who we lost this year.




June Whitfield 1925 - 2018Bookmark and Share

Saturday, 29 December 2018 - Reported by Marcus
Actress and comedy legend June Whitfield has died at the age of 93.

June Whitfield made an enormous contribution to British comedy with a career stretching over 70 years. Her single appearance in Doctor Who came in 2009 in The End of Time, when, at the age of 84, She played Minne Hopper, a member of the silver cloak tracking down the Tenth Doctor.

June Whitfield was born in Streatham, London, in 1925. Her first stage appearance was at the age of three at Robinson's Dance Studio. After studying to be a secretary she enroled at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, graduating in 1944.

Whitfield began her career in radio in the 1940s appearing with Wilfred Pickles. In 1951, she had her first credited television role in The Passing Show, and she joined the London cast of the musical South Pacific.

In 1953 she had her big break joining the radio comedy series Take it from Here, starring Jimmy Edwards and Dick Bentley. She played Eth, fiancée of the dim Ron Glum and earned a place in the nation's heart.

For the next 15 years, Whitfield had many supporting roles on television, including in Dixon of Dock Green, Arthur's Treasured Volumes, The Arthur Askey Show, Faces of Jim, The Benny Hill Show, Steptoe and Son and Frankie Howerd. She had a place in one of the greatest comedy skits of all time, playing the Nurse to Tony Hancock's Blood Donor.

In 1959 she made the first of her four appearances in the Carry On film series.

The 1960s saw her as a leading lady with regular parts in a succession of television comedy series. Beggar My Neighbour ran for four years before Whitfield teamed up with Terry Scott in Scott On.... The partnership was so successful that the two worked together for the next ten years with many viewers assuming they were actually married. A Comedy Playhouse sitcom pilot called Happy Ever After developed into a series running for five years. The couple then appeared together in the Terry and June which ran for 65 episodes.

After appearing an episode of French and Saunders in 1988, Whitfield was asked to play Jennifer Saunders Mother in the sitcom Absolutely Fabulous a role that introduced her to a new generation of fans.

From 1984 until 2001, she was a regular on the Radio 2 satire programme The News Huddlines. From 1993 to 2001, she played Miss Marple in 12 radio adaptations of Agatha Christie's Miss Marple books

Work continued into her ninth decade with appearances in Coronation Street and EastEnders. In 2013, Whitfield became the inaugural recipient of the Aardman Slapstick Comedy Legend Award, a recognition of her lifetime's contribution to the world of comedy.

June Whitfield was appointed a Dame in the 2017 Queens Birthday Honours.

Jon Plowman produced the first four series of Absolutely Fabulous for the BBC. He paid tribute to the actress
Very sad at the news of the death of the wonderful June Whitfield. There was no-one with more warmth or a better ability to just "place" a line ,always an act of utter precision. Hit after hit! Take it from Here Terry and June Absolutely Fabulous over seven decade. A great loss
June Whitfield died peacefully in her sleep early on Saturday morning. She is survived by her daughter Suzy.




Bill Sellars 1925 - 2018Bookmark and Share

Wednesday, 19 December 2018 - Reported by Marcus
The television Producer and Director Bill Sellars has died at the age of 93,

Bill Sellars directed the 1966 Doctor Who story The Celestial Toyroom, which saw the creation of the character of the Toymaker.

Sellars joined the BBC in the 1960's working on the drama A for Andromeda as a Production Assistant. Director roles followed on Compact, United and The Newcomers.

The majority of his work for the Corporation was as a Producer, responsible for some of the best loved drama series of the time. He produced 29 episodes of the Sunday night deama The Brothers, giving Colin Baker one of his first major roles. His best loved series was the adaptation of James Herriot novels about the life of a Yorkshire vet, All Creatures Large and Small, starring a young Peter Davison as Tristan Farnon.

All Creatures Great and Small won him two awards nominations, a BAFTA nomination for Best Drama Series in 1979, and a Primetime Emmy nomination for Best Children's Series in 1990.

Perhaps his biggest misfire was a producer of Triangle, the soap set and shot on a cross channel ferry on its journey across the North sea.

Other series include One by One, Flesh and Blood and The Terracotta Horse.

On retirement he managed The Georgian Theatre Royal in Richmond, Yorkshire, the oldest and most complete Georgian theater in the world.

Bill Sellars died peacefully in his sleep.




Andrew Burt 1945 - 2018Bookmark and Share

Wednesday, 28 November 2018 - Reported by Marcus

The actor Andrew Burt has died at the age of 73

Andrew Burt played Valgard, one of the Vanir, in the 1983 fifth Doctor story Terminus.

Born in Wakefield, West Yorkshire, he trained at Rose Bruford College of Drama.

He was a regular on television throughout the 1970's, 80's and 90's. One of his first TV roles was in 1972, playing Jack Sugden in the new TV soap Emmerdale Farm. He played Captain FitzRoy in the TV drama The Voyage of Charles Darwin.

In 1979 he took the title role in The Legend of King Arthur alongside former Doctor Who companion Maureen O'Brien playing Morgan le Fay. Another folk hero came his way when he starred in Gulliver in Lilliput alongside Elisabeth Sladen. He played Ven Jarvik in a 1980 episode of Blake's 7.

Regular roles in Mystery!: Campion, Angels, Bergerac, The Bill and Oscar Charlie followed. He was the voice of Radio Norwich for both series of I'm Alan Partridge, appearing in one episode as Alan's old Headmaster.

In recent years Burt worked as a counsellor for people with stress-related illnesses.




George A Cooper 1926 - 2018Bookmark and Share

Sunday, 25 November 2018 - Reported by Marcus
The actor George A Cooper has died at the age of 93.

George A Cooper was known to a whole generation of children for playing the caretaker, Mr Grifiths, in the children's drama Grange Hill, appearing in 103 episodes between 1985 and 1992. He appeared in Doctor Who in 1966, playing Cherub in the First Doctor story The Smugglers.

George Alphonsus Cooper was born in Leeds in 1925. After training as an electrical engineer and architect he was called up for National Service, working for the Royal Artillery in India. During that period he became interested in performing and on his discharge joined Joan Littlewood's Theatre Workshop in Manchester. To avoid confusion with American actor George Cooper he used his middle initial in his stage name.

His first appearance on television was in 1946. Over the next fifty years, he was a regular on the screen developing a career out of portraying slightly bumbling authoritarian characters. In 1964 he won a recurring role in ITV's Coronation Street playing businessman Willie Piggott who famously tried to bribe Ken Barlow to give his son Brian a pass on his tech exam.

He had regular roles in Z-Cars and Dixon of Dock Green. In 1960 he appeared in the West End play Billy Liar playing the father of the title character, later reprising the role in the 1973 television series. He appeared in comedies such as Some Mothers Do 'Ave 'Em, Sykes and Mind Your Language.

In 1985 he took on the role of no-nonsense caretaker Eric Griffiths in the incredibly successful children's drama Grange Hill, playing the role for seven years and earning a place in the hearts of a generation of children.

His last TV appearance was in a 1995 episode of Casualty.

George A Cooper died at a nursing home in Hampshire last Friday. He is survived by his son Adam.