Eric Pringle 1935-2017Bookmark and Share

Monday, 22 May 2017 - Reported by Marcus
The writer Eric Pringle has died at the age of 82.

Eric Pringle wrote one story for Doctor Who, the 1984 Fifth Doctor story The Awakening. The story was the only two parter to feature in Peter Davison's final season. It introduced the character of the Malus.

Eric Pringle was born in Morpeth, Northumberland. He wrote for the 1972 television series Pretenders and for the drama series based on a magazine's agony column writer Kate. In 1974 he wrote an episode of The Carnforth Practice.

In 1975 he was commissioned by then-Doctor Who script editor Robert Holmes to write a story The Angurth, for the programme's thirteenth season. This story was eventually abandoned but did eventually lead to the commissioning of The Awakening in 1981. The story was originally planned as a four-part story called War Game, but was cut down to two episodes when producer John Nathan-Turner decided the plot could not carry four episodes.

Pringle's later work concentrated on Radio with adaptations of The Wolves of Willoughby Chase and J. B. Priestley's The Good Companions. In 2001 his BBC Radio 4 play Hymus Paradisi, about the life of composer Herbert Howells, won a Sony Award.

Pringle wrote the children's novel Big George and its two sequels Big George and the Seventh Knight and Big George and the Winter King.




Geoffrey Bayldon 1923-2017Bookmark and Share

Thursday, 11 May 2017 - Reported by Marcus
The actor Geoffrey Bayldon has died at the age of 93

Geoffrey Bayldon was best known for his portrayal of Catweazle, the eccentric 11th-century wizard who was the star of the LWT children's series produced in the early 1970's, as well as playing the Crowman in the Jon Pertwee series Worzel Gummidge.

Bayldon was considered for the role of the Doctor twice. First when the series was commissioned in 1963. He turned the offer down, worried about playing such an old character and not wanting to commit to the then unknown series. When Hartnell left the role in 1966, Bayldon was again the frame to play The Doctor, but once more decided against joining the programme. It was not until 1979 that he eventually did appear in the series when he played Organon the astrologer in the Tom Baker story The Creature from the Pit

He would eventually voice the Doctor in the Big Finish Doctor Who Unbound stories Auld Mortality and A Storm of Angels.

Bayldon was born in Leeds in 1923. He joined the Royal Air Force and had a period studying architecture, before fulfilling his dream of becoming an actor, training at the Old Vic Theatre School. He was a regular face on British television from 1950's onwards appearing in Sword of Freedom, The Case of the Frightened Lady, An Age of Kings, The Victorians, The Massingham Affair, The Woman in White, Z Cars and The Adventures of Robin Hood where he played Count de Severne.

In 1970 he accepted the role of Catweazle, first appearing on Sundays afternoons in February 1970. It was a role that would endear him to a generation of children. The character, an eccentric medieval wizard trapped in the 20th century, amused and delighted both adults and children alike. In 2010 Bayldon spoke about the role.
Geoffrey Bayldon as Catweazle (Credit: LWT)It was a new idea, at the time of boring kitchen-sink drama. Everything was serious, working-class, and the idea of magic didn't even occur, let alone humour.

With the two together I thought the world would be mine!
In 1979 he entertained another generation of kids when he took the role of The Crowman in the Southern TV adaptation of Worzel Gummidge and in 1995 played Magic Grandad, an eccentric who took his grandchildren back in time to see historical events, a concept similar to the original premise of Doctor Who.

He remained a well-known character actor working well into his eighties, with appearances in Prince Caspian and the Voyage of the Dawn Treader, All Creatures Great and Small, Blott on the Landscape, Juliet Bravo, Devenish, Fort Boyard, Casualty, Heartbeat, Waking the Dead, My Family and New Tricks.

Geoffrey Bayldon died on 10th May 2017. His partner Alan Rowe died in 2000.




Moray Watson 1928-2017Bookmark and Share

Wednesday, 3 May 2017 - Reported by Marcus
The actor Moray Watson has died at the age of 88.

Moray Watson appeared in the 1982 Doctor Who story Black Orchid, where he played Sir Robert Muir, the Chief Constable of Oxfordshire and a friend of the Cranleigh family.

Watson was born in Berkshire in 1928. He trained at The Webber Douglas Academy of Dramatic Art and made early appearances in London's West End. In 1953 he made his Television debut, appearing in the much acclaimed BBC series The Quatermass Experiment. A long career in British Television followed including a regular role as the Art Editor, Richard Lowe, in the BBC series Compact. He appeared in Silas Marner, No Wreath for the General, Laughter from the Whitehall, Z Cars and Upstairs, Downstairs as well as many appearances in one-off plays in series such as Thirty-Minute Theatre and The Wednesday Play.

In 1971 he played Lord Collingford in the children's series Catweazle and in 1974 played Barrington Erle in the BBC adaptation Anthony Trollope's The Pallisers. He played Angus Kinloch in the Cold War thriller series Quiller and Chief Constable Chubb in Murder Most English

In the 1980's he played Mr. Bennet in the BBC adaptation of Pride and Prejudice and Wordsworth in the comedy Union Castle. Other notable apperances included parts in Agatha Christie's Miss Marple: The Body in the Library, Minder, Winston Churchill: The Wilderness Years, The Professionals, Rude Health, Rumpole of the Bailey and The House of Eliott.

In 1991 he played the Brigadier in the ITV version of The Darling Buds of May .

He appeared in several films, including Operation Crossbow and The Grass Is Greener, in which he played opposite Cary Grant, Deborah Kerr, Robert Mitchum and Jean Simmons.

Moray Watson appeared in several one-man shows, including The Incomparable Max based on the life and work of Max Beerbohm and Ancestral Voices, based on the diaries if James Lees Milne. His final show, Looking Back and Dropping Names was written and devised by himself based on his own life as an actor. It was published in book form in September 2016.




Tim Pigott-Smith 1946-2017Bookmark and Share

Friday, 7 April 2017 - Reported by Chuck Foster
The actor Tim Pigott-Smith has died, aged 70.

Born in Rugby, Warwickshire, he trained as an actor at the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School. Appearing in a number of Shakespearean stage productions and small television roles, his big break came with the role of Ronald Merrick in ITV's The Jewel in the Crown, which saw him win Best Actor in the BAFTA Awards for 1985. Other notable appearances included Chief Constable John Stafford in The Chief (1990-1993), a recurring role in ITV drama The Vice as Ken Stott's nemesis, DCI Frank Vickers, Bloody Sunday and two separate adaptations of North and South. His film career included the 2004 film Alexander, The Four Feathers, Gangs of New York, Johnny English, The Remains of the Day, V for Vendetta, and also in the James Bond film Quantum of Solace.

However, his first speaking role on television was on Doctor Who, playing Captain Harker in the 1971 story The Claws of Axos: "I have my orders, Brigadier," he announced as he puts our heroes under arrest! He returned to the show in 1976, playing Duke Giuliano's friend Marco in The Masque of Mandragora. Speaking to Doctor Who Magazine about this role in Issue 187, he said:
My son had just been born, and my contribution to his upbringing was the night-time feed so, in the studio, everyone had to keep waking me up! But I have fond memories of The Masque of Mandragora. Actually, I nearly got fired, I think, for laughing. We had one of those terrible jokes about Scarlatti, the torturer - every time he came towards us with the branding iron, with an "S" on the end, we just cracked up! Rodney (Bennett) got a bit upset about that.

As well as his 1985 BAFTA, he also won the Directors' Week Award for Best Actor in 2002 for his role as
Major General Ford in Bloody Sunday. He received an OBE in 2017.

His agent said:
It is with deep regret that I have to announce the sad news that Tim Pigott-Smith died this morning. Much-loved and admired by his peers, he will be remembered by many as a gentleman and a true friend. He will be much missed. We ask that you respect the privacy of his wife, the actress Pamela Miles, his son Tom and the family.

The actor can currently be seen in BBC One's Decline and Fall.

Tim Pigott-Smith, 13th May 1946 - 7th April 2017

Reference: Doctor Who Magazine issue 187




Neil Fingleton 1980-2017Bookmark and Share

Sunday, 26 February 2017 - Reported by Marcus

The actor Neil Fingleton has died at the age of 36

Neil Fingleton played the Fisher King in the 2015 Doctor Who stories Under the Lake and Before The Flood

In 2007 Fingleton was awarded the Guinness World Record as the tallest British-born man and the tallest man in the European Union, standing at 7 ft 6in or 2.33m.

Neil Fingleton was born in Durham in 1980. An outstanding basketball player, he spent 8 years in education in the United States, winning a sporting scholarship and studying at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and later at the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Massachusetts.

In 2004 he made his professional debut as a basketball player for the now defunct Boston Frenzy. He later played professionally in China, Italy, Greece, England and for the spanish teams Club Baloncesto Ilarcuris and Ciudad Real.

In 2007 injury forced him to abandon his sporting career and he took up acting. He appeared in the film 47 Ronin alongside Keanu Reeves, and played the giant Mag the Mighty in the TV series Game of Thrones. He appeared in the 2015 film Jupiter Ascending, the Fox Studios film X-Men: First Class and in the Marvel Entertainment film Avengers: Age of Ultron.

Neil Fingleton died on Saturday after suffering a heart attack.




Sir John Hurt 1940-2017Bookmark and Share

Saturday, 28 January 2017 - Reported by Marcus
The actor John Hurt has died at the age of 77.

John Hurt, the man who played the missing regeneration of the Doctor, the War Doctor, was one of the most respected actors of his generation. Over a 50 year career, he played some of the most memorable characters in British Film and television, dominating the profession with his rich voice entrancing audiences. His career earnt him two Academy Award nominations, a Golden Globe Award, as well as four BAFTA Awards.

John Hurt was born in Chesterfield, Derbyshire on 22nd January 1940. He trained at the Grimsby Art School, before winning a scholarship allowing him to study at Saint Martin's School of Art in London. In 1960, he won a scholarship to RADA, where he trained for two years.

His first film was The Wild and the Willing but he made his mark in Fred Zinnemann's A Man for All Seasons playing Richard Rich. His portrayal of Timothy Evans, in 10 Rillington Place, the true story of an innocent man hanged for murder, earnt him his first BAFTA nomination.

He won a BAFTA playing Quentin Crisp in the TV play The Naked Civil Servant, produced by ex-Doctor Who producer Verity Lambert, a role he would reprise in the 2009 film An Englishman in New York. He won further plaudits in the 1976 series I Claudius playing the psychotic Roman emperor Caligula.

In 1978 he won his first Acadamy nomination for Midnight Express, losing out to Christopher Walken, but for which he won a Golden Globe and a second BAFTA. His unique voice graced the animated films Watership Down and Lord of the Rings. In 1980 he played John Merrick in The Elephant Man earning him his second Acadamy nomination. The same year he came to a gruesome end as Kane in Alien, and four years later he played Winston Smith in the film adaptation of the Orwell classic set in that year Nineteen Eighty-Four.

He had roles in the Harry Potter films and the Merlin TV series and played the MP Alan Clark in The Alan Clark Diaries. Hurt recently starred in Oscar-nominated biopic of President John F. Kennedy's widow, Jackie, which is currently showing in cinemas.

In 2013, at the age of 73 he made his debut in Doctor Who, playing The War Doctor, a character invented by show-runner Steven Moffat to fill the gap in the series 50th Anniversary story, The Day of the Doctor, when it became apparent that Ninth Doctor Christopher Eccleston did not wish to take part.

Moffat later told Radio Times
I remember saying to Marcus [Wilson, producer], What if there was an incarnation of the Doctor none of us knew about? And, coincidentally, he was played by the most famous actor in the world? Specifically, someone who might have been cast as the Doctor during the long hiatus. For instance, John Hurt...
Hurt accepted the offer almost immediately, giving him a place in the series history as one of the rare breed of actor to have played The Doctor.
He was quite insistent, saying to me and to others: “So I am properly Doctor Who now. I am a Doctor Who.I can say it?” He loves the fact that he’s Doctor Who. Only having to stay in Cardiff for three weeks, he gets to be Doctor Who.
Hurt would return to the role for Big Finish in 2015

In 2015 Hurt received a knighthood from Her Majesty The Queen for services to drama, to add to the CBE he received in 2004.

John Hurt was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2015 but was later given the all clear. In an interview last year he said he had no fear of death.
I hope I shall have the courage to say, ‘Vroom! Here we go! Let’s become different molecules! I can't say I worry about mortality, but it's impossible to get to my age and not have a little contemplation of it. We're all just passing time, and occupy our chair very briefly.
John Hurt was married four times. He is survived by his wife of 12 years Anwen Rees-Myers, and his two sons Alexander and Nicholas.




Philip Bond 1934-2017Bookmark and Share

Saturday, 21 January 2017 - Reported by Marcus
The actor Philip Bond has died at the age of 82.

Philip Bond appeared in five episodes of the second Doctor Who story, The Daleks, first shown in 1963/4. He played the role of Ganatus, a member of the Thal expedition who traveled with Ian and Barbara on their expedition to enter the city via the mountains. During the journey, Ganatus witnessed the death of his brother, an experience which brought him closer to Barbara.

Bond was second choice for the role, cast when the original choice Dinsdale Landen became unavailable. He accepted immediately, being friends with both producer Verity Lambert and fellow actor William Russell.

Philip Bond had a prolific career in British Television, appearing in over 70 series over a 50 year period.

His best-known role was probably playing Albert Frazer in the 1970s BBC drama The Onedin Line, where he appeared in 24 episodes. Other roles included parts in Walk a Crooked Mile, 199 Park Lane, No Hiding Place, Sherlock Holmes, The Avengers, Justice, Z Cars, The Main Chance, The Children of the New Forest, An Englishman's Castle, Shoestring, Only Fools and Horses...., The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby, Casualty and Midsomer Murders.

Bond's was the father of the actress Samantha Bond who played Mrs Wormwood in The Sarah Jane Adventures.

Philip Bond died suddenly last Tuesday while on holiday on the island of Madeira. He is survived by his long-standing partner Elizabeth, his children Matthew, Samantha and Abigail and his Grandchildren.





Rodney Bennett 1935-2017Bookmark and Share

Wednesday, 18 January 2017 - Reported by Marcus
Rodney Bennett (Credit: Toby Hadoke)The director Rodney Bennett has died at the age of 81

Rodney Bennett directed 10 episodes of Doctor Who.

His first outing was on the two part 1975 story The Sontaran Experiment, the first Doctor Who story to be filmed entirely as a Television Outside Broadcast. The production, filmed on Dartmoor, was disrupted when the leading actor, Tom Baker, broke his collarbone during filming, necessitating the actor wearing a neck brace under his scarf.

He returned to the studio for his next production The Ark In Space, which was shown before The Sontaran Experiment despite being filmed after it. The story is widely regarded as a classic, with both Russell T Davies and Steven Moffat citing the story as one of their favorites from the original run of the series. The story enjoyed some of the highest ratings in the programmes history, with 13.6 million tuning in for episode two.

Rodney Bennett's final story for Doctor Who was the 1976 story The Masque of Mandragora. Filmed largely at the welsh resort of Portmeirion, the story also marks the first appearance of the TARDIS' secondary console room.

Rodney Bennett had a long career with the BBC first working in Radio. He moved into Television in the late 1960's, working first in the Schools department. He happened to be in the right place when the regular Z-Cars director fell ill, giving him a chance to move into mainstream drama. He went on to work on such series as The Legend of King Arthur, Sense and Sensibility, Dombey & Son and Doctor Finlay.

In 1980 he directed the BBC Television Shakespeare version of Hamlet in which he cast Derek Jacobi as the eponymous Dane, alongside Patrick Stewart and Lalla Ward. In 1993 he directed the ITV production of The Darling Buds of May in which he cast a relative unknown called Catherine Zeta Jones.

He received two BAFTA nominations for Monsignor Quixote and The Legend of King Arthur.

Rodney Bennett was born March 1935, died January 2017.

You can read a full obituary by Toby Hadoke, who interviewed Rodney Bennett for the Big Finish Who's Round series, at tobyhadoke.com.

Toby has also compiled a tribute to those from the world of Doctor Who who died in 2016 which can be viewed on YouTube.




Johnny DennisBookmark and Share

Monday, 5 December 2016 - Reported by Marcus

The actor Johnny Dennis has died.

Johnny Dennis played the bus driver Murray in the 1987 Doctor Who story Delta and the Bannermen.

As well as Doctor Who, Dennis appeared in television shows such as The Bill, The Devil's Crown, The Enigma Files, Prospects, Dempsey and Makepeace, Surgical Spirit and Conjugal Rights. On film, he appeared in Billy the Kid and the Green Baize Vampire, The Great Escape II: The Untold Story, and Il giovane Toscanini.

He had a long association with the Player's Theatre Music Hall in Leeds and took over from Leonard Sachs as the host of The Good Old Days in 1988.

Outside of entertainment, he was a keen cricketer, was affectionately known as the Voice of Lord’s, having been the MCC’s senior announcer for 18 years. It was whilst playing for Lords Taverners that he met Test Match commentator Brian Johnston, who recommended him for the role. When the incumbent announcer Alan Curtis became unavailable owing to an acting engagement in a Carry On film, Dennis took over. This led to a career spanning some 38 years and some 136 test matches. He finally retired in 2014.

The voice for The Home of Cricket




Ken Grieve 1942-2016Bookmark and Share

Sunday, 27 November 2016 - Reported by Marcus

The Television Director Ken Grieve has died at the age of 74

For Doctor Who Ken Grieve directed the first story of Season 17, Destiny of the Daleks, which saw the reintroduction of the Daleks to the series, after a gap of four years, and the return of Davros. It was the last script wirtten by Dalek creator Terry Nation, altough the story was heavily rewritten by Script Editor Douglas Adams.

Ken Grieve was born in Edinburgh in 1942.

After training as a cameraman, he moved into directing, working on episodes of the soap opera Coronation Street, with 42 episodes to his credit. He directed the location film footage of Manchester used in the Coronation Street opening titles used between 1976 and 1990, which included the first Corrie cat.

As well as Doctor Who his credits include The XYY Man, Buccaneer, Crown Court, Game, Set, and Match, Bergerac, Bugs, Peak Practice, The Bill and the Casualty episode Stormy Weather.

He taught at the National Film School and the Manchester Film School.

Kenneth Grieve died peacefully, on Tuesday, November 15 after a long illness. He is survived by his long-term partner Jane, his four children and three grandchildren.




Steve Dillon 1962-2016Bookmark and Share

Saturday, 22 October 2016 - Reported by Marcus
The comic book artist Steve Dillon has died at the age of 54.

Steve Dillon was a regular contributor to Doctor Who Magazine in the 1980's where he created the character of Abslom Daak.

Dillon's art was first seen in the fifth edition of the magazine, then called Doctor Who Weekly, in which he co-created the character of Kroton with writer Steve Moore.

He was the main backup strip artist until issue #29, during which time he had helped to create Daak as well as Plutar, a bumbling Time Lord student, and Gnork a hyper-intelligent Ogron.

He returned to the magazine as the artist on the final Fifth Doctor comic story, The Moderator, which portrayed the death of comic-strip companion, Gus.

Dillon was best known for his work with writer Garth Ennis, including the critically acclaimed Preacher as well as Hellblazer and The Punisher.

Steve Dillon was born in Luton in 1962. He died in New York earlier this week.




Terence Bayler 1930-2016Bookmark and Share

Wednesday, 21 September 2016 - Reported by Marcus

The actor Terence Bayler has died at the age of 86

Terence Bayler appeared in two Doctor Who stories. In 1966 he played Yendom, one of the Monoids' slaves, in the First Doctor story The Ark. In 1969 he returned to the series playing Major Barrington, an officer in the British Army, in the final Second Doctor story, The War Games.

Bayler was born in New Zealand, where he first trained as an actor, appearing the 1952 film Broken Barrier, playing a young journalist who falls in love with a Maori woman.

After moving to the UK he made regular appearances on British Television appearing in Hamlet, Moonstrike, Compact, Maigret, Ivanhoe, The Brothers, Upstairs, Downstairs, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, The Squad, London's Burning, The Bill and Dangerfield.

In 1971 he needed stitches above an eye after he was injured in a sword fight while the shooting Roman Polanski's 1971 film of Shakespeare's Macbeth where he played Macduff.

Terence Bayler had a long association with the Monty Python team, appearing in Eric Idle's BBC TV series Rutland Weekend Television as well as in The Rutles, All You Need Is Cash and in the play Pass The Butler. He appeared in two Terry Gilliam films, Time Bandits and Brazil. He had a small but memorable role in the film The Life of Brian declaring I’m Brian and so’s my wife.

In later years he played the Bloody Baron in the Harry Potter films.

Terence Bayler died early last month.




Michael Leader 1938-2016Bookmark and Share

Thursday, 25 August 2016 - Written by Andy Keast-Marriott
The actor Michael Leader has died after a short illness.

He was best-known for his 31-year stint as Eastenders extra Michael the Milkman, appearing in the first episode. He was a stalwart as a background artist on scifi shows, including Red Dwarf, Blakes 7 and '80s Doctor Who (The Leisure Hive/The Visitation/The Kings Demons/Mawdryn Undead).

He was best known among Star Wars fans as the stormtrooper who knocked his head while boarding the Deathstar in A New Hope (1977), although this particular acclamation was contested by a fellow extra. He spoke at many signings and scifi conventions around the world, and in particular, his fond memories of working with Peter Davison (the Fifth Doctor) were both heartfelt and amusing, as were Davison's anecdotes of him.

Born in 1938, he was the son of well-known bandleader Harry Leader. He would later play the resident bandleader throughout the run of '80s comedy "Hi de Hi". His other diverse background comedy roles included Keeping Up Appearances and Yes, Minister.

A founder member of The Laurel and Hardy Appreciation Society, his long-standing friendships across the entertainment industry included the likes of Rolling Stones founder member and hellraiser Brian Jones, Doris Day and Dame Barbara Windsor. It was Windsor who insisted that he played a small part in her exit storyline in Eastenders, when he he chauffeured her around the Square in his milk float and was given some dialogue with her to mark the importance of their friendship, and his contribution to propping up the Queen Vic bar.

Leader had a reputation across Showbiz as a true professional and a friend of rising talent, with the tributes on Eastenders' Facebook page and on Twitter, including from Bonnie Langford (Mel), a testament to the support and encouragement he gave to younger members of the cast.

The Leader, as we called him, will be sorely missed at the 'Club for Acts and Actors' in London's Covent Garden, a popular haven for many Doctor Who actors and fans. Married three times, he is survived by a daughter and many pals who will remember his humour, his remarkably funny anecdotes and his unstinting friendship




Michael Napier-Brown 1937 - 2016Bookmark and Share

Saturday, 20 August 2016 - Reported by Marcus

The actor Michael Napier-Brown has died at the age of 79.

Michael Napier-Brown appeared in the 1969 story The War Games, playing Arturo Villar, a soldier plucked from the Mexican Civil War who helped the second Doctor in his battle against the War Lords.

Napier-Brown had a long career in British Television and Theatre. His first credited role was in a 1963 episode of the crime series Maigret. He played Miller in several episodes of the 1970 adaptation of Ivanhoe. Other roles include parts in Secret Army, The Dick Emery Show, Terry and June, 1990 and Casanova.

He was a long standing stalwart of the Nottingham Theatre scene and was the last artistic director of Northampton's Royal Theatre. He is credited with discovering Gian Sammarco, the actor who played Adrian in The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole, and who later played Whizzkid in The Greatest Show in the Galaxy.

His daughter Kate broke the news of his death with a statement on her Facebook page:

I have to tell you the sad news that my Darling Dad Michael Napier-Brown died yesterday at 4.20 in the afternoon at Princess Alice Hospice in Esher . He was surrounded with Love , my mum was with him and I caught his last breath , Henry , George &Tom had been with him an hour before telling him what a wonderful grandfather he was . He was tiny and tolerant and adorable near the end . I loved him deeply , he was also my dear friend and had been my boss and I am privileged to know he trusted me to sort stuff for him and get things sorted ,he was a mischief mistro & twinkled to the end he deserves to bathe in a heavenly place.