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.




Derrick Sherwin 1936 - 2018Bookmark and Share

Monday, 29 October 2018 - Reported by Marcus
Former Doctor Who producer Derrick Sherwin, the man responsible for creating UNIT, has died at the age of 82.

Derrick Sherwin worked on Doctor Who in many capacities, writing scripts, producing the series for the transition between the second and third Doctor, and even appearing in one scene, playing a Car Park Attendant in the 1970 story Spearhead from Space. His most lasting legacy was creating the United Nations Intelligence Taskforce or UNIT for the 1968 story The Invasion. UNIT, helmed by Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart, was an essential component for the Third Doctor's tenure, with its influence reaching as far as the Twelfth Doctor.

Sherwin was born in 1936 in the Buckinghamshire town of High Wycombe, just west of London. His early work was in the theatre, but he quickly moved into television appearing in the 1958 show Duty Bound. Over the next ten years, he had a steady series of small roles appearing in dramas such as Here Lies Miss Sabry, The Edgar Wallace Mystery Theatre, United! and Armchair Theatre.

His first contact with Doctor Who came when he joined as Assistant Script Editor to help the incumbent Peter Bryant who was preparing to take over as producer. It was a baptism of fire as he was immediately charged with rescuing a number of scripts which were not ready for production. He told Doctor Who Magazine.
It was just before Christmas, and I was landed with a great pile of scripts that had to go into production immediately after the holiday break. The director had sent them back and said he wouldn’t do them. Pat Troughton had thrown a wobbly – they really were appalling! That set the pattern for the first three months. It was a real baptism of fire.
He took over as Script Editor for the 1968 story The Dominators and later that year had the chance to write his own story from scratch. The result was The Invasion, the Cybermen story that set up the pattern for the series for much of the next five years. Sherwin felt the series had become too fantastical, with different monsters every week. He wanted to give the series a more grounded approach and saw as his inspiration the 1950's Quatermass stories. To help achieve that he took a character created for the story The Web of Fear, Colonel Lethbridge-Stewart, promoted him to Brigadier, and created UNIT around him.
I sat down and wrote a couple of pages about this special task force, specifically with members from all nations, which had been set up to investigate funny things happening in space or the possibility of UFO’s or whatever. It was basically an army intelligence unit with special powers and, on some occasions, special weapons.
Sherwin took over of producer for the last Patrick Troughton story, The War Games and was responsible for casting the third Doctor Jon Pertwee and overseeing the series move from Black and White to Colour. He left the series after Spearhead in Space

He moved onto produce the series Paul Temple and later The Man Outside and Perils of Pendragon

In the 1980's, when Doctor Who was under threat of cancellation from the BBC he offered to buy the franchise from the BBC and produce it independently.
I wrote to Michael Grade and said ‘Look, obviously the BBC can’t afford to do this and doesn’t know where to go with it, so I will take it off your hands, produce it independently, finance it independently, and sell it back to you as a package’. He turned me down, saying that he’d got plans for the series. Then, when Grade left, I wrote to Peter Cregeen about it. So I offered to buy ‘Doctor Who’ out twice!
Derrick Sherwin died on the 17th October after a long illness.




Zienia Merton 1945 - 2018Bookmark and Share

Sunday, 16 September 2018 - Reported by Marcus
The actress Zienia Merton has died at the age of 72.

Zienia Merton appeared in the 1964 Doctor Who story Marco Polo playing the Chinese girl Ping-Cho.

45 years later she appeared in the Sarah Jane Adventures playing the registrar who married Sarah Jane to Peter Dalton, played by Nigel Havers.

She is best remembered for playing Sandra Benes in the 1970's Gerry Anderson series Space: 1999.

Zienia Merton was born in Burma. Her mother was Burmese, and her father half-English, half-French.

Early television appearances included parts in The Six Wives of Henry VIII and Jason King. She played Christina in the 1971 Dennis Potter TV adaptation of Casanova with Frank Finlay.

Later appearances included Grange Hill, Return of the Saint, Bergerac, Angels, Tenko, Dempsey & Makepeace, Lovejoy, Doctors, Casualty, EastEnders, The Bill and Coronation Street.




Lovett Bickford 1942 - 2018Bookmark and Share

Friday, 14 September 2018 - Reported by Marcus

Director Lovett Bickford has died at the age of 76.

Lovet Bickford directed the 1980 Doctor Who story The Leisure Hive, the first story of Tom Baker's final season of the series. The story marked a new beginning for the series with the appointment of a new producer John Nathan Turner.

The production was notoriously fraught with difficulties, with the leading man proving difficult to direct and the production going substantially over budget. As a result, Bickford never worked on the series again.

Bickford had previously worked on Doctor Who in the 1960's in the role of Assistant Floor manager.

Other directorial credits include The History of Mr. Polly, Angels, Z-Cars, The Enigma Files and Emmerdale

Lovett Bickford died on 29th July 2018, aged 76. A service of thanksgiving will be held on Monday 1st October, at St Mary's Church, Battersea.




Peter Benson 1943 - 2018Bookmark and Share

Sunday, 9 September 2018 - Reported by Marcus

The actor Peter Benson has died at the age of 75.

Peter Benson played Bor, one of the Vani, in the 1983 fifth Doctor story Terminus.

Benson was best known for playing Bernie Scripps in the ITV series Heartbeat, appearing in all 18 series from 1992 to 2010.

He played Henry VI for the BBC 1983 production of the Shakespeare trilogy detailing the life of the King and played his successor King Henry VII in the first series of the comedy Blackadder. He appeared in the ITV soap opera Albion Market and the Drama on the life of Pope Alexander VI, The Borgias

Other parts include roles in The Bill, Coronation Street,

Peter Benson was born on June 13, 1943. He died on September 6, 2018




Jacqueline Pearce 1943-2018Bookmark and Share

Monday, 3 September 2018 - Reported by Marcus

The actress Jacqueline Pearce, best known for her role as the main villain, Servalan, in the science fiction series Blakes 7, has died at the age of 74.

Born in Woking in the south of England, Jacqueline Pearce trained at the British stage school RADA and at Lee Strasberg's Actors Studio in Los Angeles.

Her TV career began in the 1960's with regular roles in the ITV Play of the Week as well as appearances in shows such as The Avengers and Armchair Theatre

She starred in two Hammer horror films, The Plague of the Zombies and The Reptile, filmed simultaneously in 1966. Other film roles include Sky West and Crooked, Don't Raise the Bridge, Lower the River and How to Get Ahead in Advertising.

Roles in the 1970's included Rosa Dartle in David Copperfield, Claudia Haswell in Couples, and Anna Rupius in Vienna 1900. But it was in 1978 that she was cast in the role for which she would be ever known.

Servalan was the Supreme Commander of the Terran Federation in Blakes 7, the TV drama devised by Dalek creator Terry Nation. The character was only expected to appear in one episode of the saga, but Pearce's electrifying performance ensured the character would survive far longer than the title character, appearing in all four series.

A cold, calculating, ruthless sociopath Servalan's main aim was to destroy the crew of the Liberator and the relish with which Pearce played the character ensured she would remain a fan favourite for the series duration.

Her Doctor Who appearance came in 1985, playing Chessene of the Franzine Grig in the Colin Baker story The Two Doctors. She later appeared in Audio productions for Big Finish.

In 1991 she played Miss Pendragon in the Russell T. Davies series Dark Season.

She also appeared in series such as Casualty, Doctors, Daniel Deronda and The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles

Jacqueline Pearce relocated to South Africa for several years, initially to care for orphaned monkeys. Her autobiography, From Byfleet to the Bush, was published in 2012.

Alliance Agents who worked with the actress paid tribute.
Everyone at Alliance Agents are devastated to learn of the passing of our wonderful friend and client Jacqueline Pearce. Jacs was a glorious eccentric who enriched our lives during the time we knew her. She did everything "her way" and you never dared to stand in her way. She loved meeting her Blake's 7 fans and we are glad that we managed to give her a few convention appearances when she returned to the UK from Africa. We'll miss you Jacs. xxx
Jacqueline Pearce died at her home in Lancashire, shortly after being diagnosed with lung cancer.




Michael Pickwoad 1945-2018Bookmark and Share

Tuesday, 28 August 2018 - Reported by Marcus
Michael PickwoadMichael Pickwoad, the man behind the look of Doctor Who for the last seven years, has died at the age of 73

As Production Designer Michael Pickwoad oversaw the look of the series from Matt Smith's first Christmas story, A Christmas Carol, until the end of the Peter Capaldi era in Twice Upon A Time. He worked on 71 episodes of the series, designing a new TARDIS interior for the Eleventh and Twelfth Doctor's, as well as several episodes of the spin off series Class.

Born in 1945, Michael Pickwoad was the son of the actor William Mervyn, who appeared in the Doctor Who story The War Machines, and the theatre designer Anne Margaret Payne Cooke. He studied Civil Engineering at Southampton University.

He began his career as an Art Director in the early 1970's, working for the Children's Film & Television Foundation on short films such as Wreck Raisers. In the 1980's he moved onto Production Designer, taking responsibility for the overall visual look of a production. One of the first films he worked on was the cult classic Withnail & I, starring Paul McGann

His work on TV included Rules of Engagement, Kavanagh QC and Murder Most Horrid, the Dawn French comedy, part of which was co-written by Steven Moffat. He worked with Moffat on his series Coupling and again on his 2007 drama Jekyll.

In 2010 he took over as Doctor Who's Production Designer, only the second person to hold the position since the series returned in 2005. His tenure saw him create sets that ranged from Victorian London to the Wild West, from the badlands of Skaro to the wilds of Sherwood Forest, from a Cold War Submarine to the Orient Express in space.

Tom Spilsbury, Editor of Doctor Who Magazine throughout his tenure, paid tribute.
We often hear about ‘unsung heroes’, and while it would be misleading to say Michael Pickwoad’s genius was completely unsung, his brilliant contributions were a massive part of Doctor Who’s success over the past eight years. His sets were simply extraordinary. A wonderful man.
Former Doctor Who Showrunner Steven Moffat added
The only downside of great men, is that they make terrible losses, and we've lost Michael far too soon. He was a genius and a gentleman and we will all miss him.
Michael Pickwoad died on Monday 27th August.

Michael Pickwoad told BBC News where he got his inspiration for the new look TARDIS




Janet Hargreaves 1937–2018Bookmark and Share

Thursday, 16 August 2018 - Reported by Marcus

The actress Janet Hargreaves has died at the age of 81.

Janet Hargreaves appeared in three episodes of the 1988 Doctor Who story, The Greatest Show in the Galaxy, playing Mum.

She is best known for her performance in the long running soap, Crossroads, where she played Rosemary Hunter from 1971-1980. The series at the time attracted up to 18 million viewers in its late afternoon timeslot.

Hargreaves graduated from RADA in 1956, achieving a productive stage career appearing in Elgar and Alice, Habeas Corpus and a well-regarded performance in the Agatha Christie play The Mousetrap.

Prior to Crossroads she had a regular role in the soap Compact, playing Clare Farrell and The Doctors, playing Dr. Cheryl Barnes. She later appeared in Follyfoot, The Avengers, and Poirot and played a spy in Danger Man.

She remained active into her 80's continuing to teach and act, and was a regular at Crossroads reunions.

Janet Hargreaves died on Saturday, August 4th.
Thanks to Tim Brown




Alan Bennion 1930-2018Bookmark and Share

Sunday, 29 July 2018 - Reported by Marcus
Monster of Peladon (Credit: BBC)The actor Alan Bennion has died at the age of 88.

Alan Bennion appeared in 13 episodes of Doctor Who, playing Ice Lords in three serials featuring the Ice Warriors.

He first played Slaar, the leader of the Ice Warriors in the 1969 second Doctor story The Seeds of Death. He returned to the series in 1972 playing Izlyr, the Ice Warrior delegate to Peladon alongside the third Doctor, in The Curse of Peladon. His final appearance as a martian came in 1974 when he played Azaxyr. the leader of the Galactic Federation troops, sent to Peladon in the story The Monster of Peladon

Other television roles included playing The Scorpion in Sexton Blake, the Magistrate in Oliver Twist and Ted Williams in Juliet Bravo. He appeared in A Family at War, Z Cars, The Gentle Touch and Sorry!.




William Hughes 1998-2018Bookmark and Share

Friday, 13 July 2018 - Reported by Marcus
William Hughes, the actor who played the Master as a young boy, has died at the age of 20.

William Hughes played The Master in the 2007 story The Sound of Drums. At the age of eight, he was the youngest actor to play the renegade Time Lord. He also appeared in the 2008 Torchwood story Sleeper.

Hughes, from Mumbles in Swansea, Wales, gave up acting shortly after appearing in Doctor Who. His interests turned to Boxing, joining the Bonymaen ABC boxing gym in Swansea.

Fighting for the club he won 3 Welsh titles, before winning gold and bronze at the Great Britain championships. He won Gold at the 2017/18 British Universities and Colleges Sports Championships.

He was described as tremendously talented by former World Champion boxer Enzo Maccarinelli, who mentored the young athlete.
Absolutely heartbroken my little protege Will Hughes passed away today words can’t describe what the young man meant to me I loved him like family rest in peace will x
Hughes studied at Bishop Vaughan Catholic School in Swansea, where he was described as an exceptionally talented sportsman.
His warm and gentle character meant that he had many friends and they, the staff and the governors all hold his family in their thoughts and prayers at this very difficult time
Hughes had just completed he first year of a finance degree at Queen Mary University in London. It is believed he died on 9th July while on holiday on the Greek island of Corfu. A spokesman for the Foreign & Commonwealth Office confirmed their staff were supporting the family of a British man following his death in Corfu and were in contact with the Greek and UK police.




Helen Griffin 1958 - 2018Bookmark and Share

Saturday, 30 June 2018 - Reported by Marcus
The actress and playwright Helen Griffin has died at the age of 59.

Helen Griffin appeared in the 2006 stories Rise of the Cybermen and The Age of Steel, playing Angela Price, known as Mrs Moore, who joined The Tenth Doctor and Rose in the fight against Cybus.

Griffin was born in Swansea in south Wales. She initially studied to be a psychiatric nurse at nursing college alongside comedienne Jo Brand and was a psychiatric nurse until 1986, when her passion for acting took over.

She is best known for playing the masseuse Lynette in the Welsh cult classic Twin Town, a 1997 British dark crime comedy-drama film filmed and set in Swansea.

Her first full-length play was Flesh and Blood, which she adapted into the screenplay for the film Little White Lies , in which she also starred, winning a Welsh BAFTA for her performance.

Griffin also appeared at The Edinburgh Fringe festival, alongside former collogue Jo Brand, in a collaborated play called Mental, based on their experiences as psychiatric nurses. Other television appearances include The Sherman Plays, Mortimer's Law, A Mind to Kill, Prime Suspect, The Life and Times of Vivienne Vyle, Casualty, Gavin & Stacey, Criminal Justice, Coronation Street and Going Forward.

In a statement, her agent said Helen Griffin died peacefully on Friday night surrounded by her loved ones.
She was a beautiful, talented, funny, clever and an inspirational woman who is much loved and will be sorely missed by all who knew her
Twin Town director Kevin Allen said:
Helen was a fantastic actor and a terrific writer, she was deeply principled but approached everything she did with a twinkle in those gorgeous, sexy eyes of hers. She was an intuitive, unselfish and very clever actor. The Welsh film industry has lost someone very special and she will be so sorely missed.




Leslie Grantham 1947-2018Bookmark and Share

Friday, 15 June 2018 - Reported by Marcus
Leslie Grantham (Credit: BBC)The actor Leslie Grantham has died at the age of 71.

Leslie Grantham had a small role in the 1984 story Resurrection of the Daleks playing Kiston, a member of Lytton's mercenary company. He will be best remembered for creating the role of Den Watts in the hugely successful soap opera EastEnders.

Born in Camberwell, south London, after leaving school, Grantham joined the Royal Fusiliers becoming a lance corporal. He was 18 when serving in Germany he bungled a robbery. During a struggle, he shot and killed a taxi driver, Felix Reese. Grantham insisted he did not know the gun was loaded and it had gone off by accident. The jury didn't believe him and convicted him of murder.

The next 11 years were spent in British jails. It was while serving in Leyhill Prison in Gloucestershire that he met actress Louise Jameson, who was working as a prison visitor. She encouraged him to take up acting and on his release, he was offered a place at drama school

Leslie Grantham's big break came in 1984 when he was offered the role of the pub landlord in the BBC's new gritty drama, EastEnders, set in the working class area of East London. The director of the show's first episode, Matthew Robinson, had also helmed his appearance in Doctor Who.

His was the first voice heard in the show. The character was immoral, unscrupulous and cruel and it gripped the imagination of the British public. When the character made his daughters schoolgirl friend pregnant he was dubbed Dirty Den by the tabloids.

The Christmas 1986 episode, in which Den handed divorce papers to his wife Angie, was watched by 30 million viewers, half the population of the UK.

Grantham left the series in 1989. Other roles followed but he never achieved the success enjoyed while in EastEnders. He was lured back in 2003 for an 18 month stint.

Grantham has lived in Bulgaria for the last few years. He recently retured to the UK for medical treatment He died on Friday morning

He is survived by his three children, Michael (“Spike”), Jake and Danny




Graham Strong 1949- 2018Bookmark and Share

Friday, 18 May 2018 - Reported by Marcus
Mark Ayres and Graham Strong (Credit: Stephen Cranford)Graham Strong, the man responsible for the survival of many high-quality audio recordings of missing Doctor Who episodes, has died at the age of 69.

Graham Strong was a 14-year-old schoolboy when Doctor Who began in 1963. A keen electronics student, his hobby included building valve and transistor radios, as well as repairing televisions for neighbours. He was the proud owner of a second-hand Reel to reel tape machine and decided to use this to preserve the audio of this exciting new serial.

I can’t recall if I actually recorded the first episode of Doctor Who. The earliest recording I still have was the first episode of The Keys of Marinus first shown on 11 April 1964. Recordings were made via a basic crystal microphone (which came with the machine), hanging over the television speaker with a plant pot placed on the top of the T.V. to keep the microphone in place! Mother was given instructions to not enter the room when ‘recording was in session’
Following The Daleks' Master Plan, episode 7, Strong, used his electronics knowledge to wire the audio output from the television into the Tape recorder. A highly dangerous procedure that breaks every rule of electrical safety but one that resulted in recordings that were crystal clear.

Strong was one of a small number of early fans who recorded audio from the now missing stories. However, he is believed to be the only one to record directly from the Television, resulting in the superior quality of his recordings.

In 1994 an accidental meeting with a Doctor Who fan who had contacts in the BBC brought his collection to the attention of the corporation. By this time the master tapes of most early episodes had been junked and the episodes were either missing or only existed as film prints. After reassurance that his tapes would be carefully cared for, Strong handed over recordings containing over 100 Doctor Who episodes.

Strong's recordings have been used for the animated releases of missing episodes such as Power of the Daleks. His recordings are so clear that they often exceed the quality available on the surviving film prints of the episodes, and as a result, a number of DVD's of early episodes contain audio taken from Strong's recordings rather than the film print.