Tributes Paid to Deborah WatlingBookmark and Share

Saturday, 22 July 2017 - Reported by Marcus
Tributes have been paid to actress Deborah Watling, who died yesterday after a short illness.

Watling played Victoria in the 1960's, alongside Patrick Troughton and Frazer Hines, who was one of the first to comment. Deborah Watling (Credit: Big Finish)Watling was an active member of the convention circuit and much loved by many other stars of Doctor Who. Nicola Bryant tweeted "I am so sad to hear of the passing of the lovely Deborah Watling.We had so many laughs & heart to heart", while Katy Manning added "So deeply saddened to hear that the wonderful funny talented #DeborahWatling has gone on her awfully big adventure ,oneofthe absolute best"

Deborah Watling's sister is the actress Dilys Watling and her brother the former actor, and current Member of Parliament for Clacton, Gyles Watling, who told PA
She was bubbly, vivacious, with a great sense of humour. We grew up together – she was ahead of me in the acting game. She had a great career. We toured together all over the country and shared digs – we had a wonderful life. She passed away peacefully.
In recent years Watling had returned to the character of Victoria for Big Finish audio productions. Senior Producer David Richardson said
Victoria was one of the Doctor’s loveliest companions from one of the show’s greatest seasons, and Debbie was always a joy to work with at Big Finish and so committed to the work. The Doctor Who universe has lost another of its shining stars.
Deborah Watling is survived by her husband Steve.




Deborah Watling 1948-2017Bookmark and Share

Friday, 21 July 2017 - Reported by Marcus
It is with deep sadness we report the death of Deborah Watling, forever known as the Second Doctor's companion Victoria.

Deborah Watling joined Doctor Who in 1967, just over 50 years ago. She remained with the series for just under a year, playing the Victorian orphan taken into the care of the Doctor.

Alongside Patrick Troughton and Frazer Hines, Watling would occupy the Tardis throughout what is now viewed as the classic monster era of the show, featuring Cybermen, Daleks, Ice Warriors and, of course, The Yeti.

Deborah Watling was born on 2nd January 1948. She was born into a theatrical family, her father the actor Jack Watling and her mother the actress Patricia Hicks. It was inevitable that she and her siblings would end up on the stage and by the age of ten, she was appearing in the ITV series The Invisible Man, playing the niece of Peter Brady.

In 1965 she played Alice Liddell in the BBC Wednesday play written by Dennis Potter and based on the life of Lewis Carroll. It was this appearance which led her to be cast as Victoria Waterfield in the final story of Season four, The Evil of the Daleks.

It wasn't initially to be a companion role. The producers were hoping to persuade Pauline Collins, who had appeared in the previous story, to stay on. When Collins declined, the role of ongoing companion was offered to Watling and Victoria joined the TARDIS crew.

It is well known that the team of Troughton, Watling, and Hines got on extremely well with Watling often the butt of the boys jokes. Many of her stories have been wiped since transmission, and the return of two to the archive a few years ago, The Enemy of the World and most of The Web of Fear brought her considerable delight.

She left Doctor Who in April 1968, at the end of Fury from the Deep. Small roles in the films That'll Be the Day and Take Me High followed. On TV she appeared in Rising Damp and The Newcomers and in 1979 she played Norma Baker in the ITV series Danger UXB.

She briefly returned to the character of Victoria in 1993, for the Children In Need skit, Dimensions in Time before recreating Victoria in a number of audio plays for Big Finish.

Deborah Watling was diagnosed with lung cancer six weeks ago and died earlier today.





Trevor Baxter 1932-2017Bookmark and Share

Monday, 17 July 2017 - Reported by Chuck Foster
The actor and playwright Trevor Baxter has died, aged 84.

Graduating from RADA in 1961, Baxter appeared in a variety of shows since his debut in the 1950s, chalking up credits in a number of well-known series such as Adam Adamant Lives!, Z Cars, Thriller, The New Avengers, George and Mildred, Rumpole of the Bailey, and in later years roles such as Lanyon in Jack The Ripper, Gordon Naylor in The Politician's Wife, and Dr Albrigtsen in Maelstrom. On the big screen, he appeared in films including Nutcracker, Parting Shots, Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow and Van Wilder: The Rise of Taj.

However, for Doctor Who fans it is the pairing up with Christopher Benjamin to play Professor George Litefoot alongside Henry Gordon Jago that he will be remembered for. Created for the 1977 fourth Doctor tale The Talons of Weng-Chiang, the partnership proved popular and memorable, and though rumours of a spin-off television series never came to fruition at the time, the duo found new life through Big Finish with their own series of audio adventures. (You can read the Big Finish tribute here).

Louise Jameson played Leela alongside Baxter in The Talons of Weng-Chiang and today paid tribute to the actor.
Unbelievably sad to learn that marvellous TrevorBaxter has left the building.He has been in my life since 1976.Witty and vibrant to the end.
Off-screen, Baxter appeared with the Royal Shakespeare Company, and was also an accomplished playwright, with plays such as Edith Grove, The Undertaking, Ripping Them Off and Through A Glass Darkly. In 2003 he adapted Oscar Wilde's A Portrait of Dorian Gray for the stage, and in 2005 Wilde's short story Lord Arthur Savile's Crime.

Trevor Baxter, 18 Nov 1932 - 16 Jul 2017




Brian Cant 1933-2017Bookmark and Share

Monday, 19 June 2017 - Reported by Marcus
Actor and Children's presenter Brian Cant has died at the age of 83.

Brian Cant appeared in two Doctor Who stories. In 1965 he played Kert Gantry, a Space Security Agent, in the first episode of The Dalek's Master Plan. He returned to the series in 1968 playing Chairman Tensa in two episodes of The Dominators

However for most people in the United Kingdom Brian Cant will be lovingly remembered for his work on children's television.

He was working for a BBC Schools drama on The Romans in 1964 when he heard that the BBC was holding auditions for presenters on a new programme aimed at pre-school kids, Play School, due to launch on the new station BBC Two. His audition involved getting into a cardboard box and pretending to row out to sea. He joined the in its third week and stayed for twenty-one years.

His work on Play School led him to be selected as the voice on three Gordon Murray puppet series: Camberwick Green in 1966, Trumpton in 1967, and Chigley in 1969.

In 1971 the BBC launched a spin-off from Play School, Play Away, aimed at older children, featuring songs and jokes and airing on Saturday afternoons, with Cant as the main presenter alongside actors such as Toni Arthur, Derek Griffiths, Floella Benjamin, Johnny Ball, Carol Chell, Jeremy Irons, and Tony Robinson.

In 2007 Cant topped a poll of presenters with the best-loved voices in children’s TV.

The actor had been living with Parkinson’s disease in recent years and died at Denville Hall, a retirement home often used by those in the entertainment industry.

A family statement said:
It is with great sadness that we, his family, have to announce that Brian Cant has died aged 83 at Denville Hall. He lived courageously with Parkinson’s disease for a long time. Brian was best known and well loved for his children’s programmes Play School and Play Away and was honoured by Bafta in 2010. Donations would be most appreciated to Denville Hall and the Actors’ Benevolent Fund.
Cant's Play School co-presenter Derek Griffiths paid tribute on Twitter, posting a reunion picture of the team. And former Blackadder star Sir Tony Robinson also tweeted: "Brian Cant was my mentor and friend on Play Away. We wrote and performed together for two years. Always patient, courteous and funny P-L-A-Y R-I-P."

Brian Cant was married twice, and had five children, including the actor Richard Cant who appeared in Blink.




Peter Sallis 1921-2017Bookmark and Share

Monday, 5 June 2017 - Reported by Marcus
The actor Peter Sallis has died at the age of 96.

Peter Sallis was best known for playing Norman Clegg in the long-running BBC Sitcom Last of the Summer Wine, a part he played from the series debut in 1973 until the final story in 2010, appearing in every one of the 295 episodes. In later life, he was famous as the voice of Wallace, the eccentric inventor in the Aardman Animations series of films.

Sallis appeared in the 1967 Doctor Who story The Ice Warriors, playing Penley, the rebel scientist who helped the Second Doctor defeat the Martian menace. He was due to return to the series in 1983 to play Striker in the fifth Doctor story Enlightenment but when industrial action delayed filming he was no longer available and Keith Barron took the role.

Peter Sallis was born on 1 February 1921 in Twickenham, Middlesex, England. After attending Minchenden Grammar School in North London, Sallis went to work in a bank. After the outbreak of World War II he joined the RAF. He failed to get into aircrew because he had a serum albumin disorder and he was told he might black out at high altitudes. He became a wireless mechanic instead and went on to teach radio procedures at RAF Cranwell.

Sallis started as an amateur actor during his four years with the RAF when one of his students offered him the lead in an amateur production. His success in the role caused him to resolve to become an actor after the war, and so he trained at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts, making his first professional appearance on the London stage in 1946.

He appeared in many British films in the 1950's and 60's such as Saturday Night and Sunday Morning, Doctor in Love, The Curse of the Werewolf, The V.I.P.s, Charlie Bubbles, Scream and Scream Again, Taste the Blood of Dracula, Wuthering Heights, The Incredible Sarah and The Day of the Triffids.

His first notable television role was as Samuel Pepys in the 14 part BBC serial of the same name in 1958. Other roles followed including an episode of The Persuaders and the BBC comedy series The Culture Vultures

In 1973 Sallis was cast in a one-off pilot for Comedy Playhouse entitled The Last of the Summer Wine, as the unobtrusive lover of a quiet life, Norman Clegg. The pilot was successful and the BBC commissioned a series, and it became the world's longest running comedy series, and the role he was best known for.

In the 1980's he started to get a reputation for voice work and in 1989 he first voiced the character of Wallace in the short film A Grand Day Out. The film won a BAFTA award and was followed by the Oscar-winning films The Wrong Trousers in 1993 and A Close Shave in 1995.

Sallis was awarded the OBE in the 2007 Birthday Honours for services to Drama

Sallis died peacefully, with his family by his side, at the Denville Hall nursing home in Northwood, London, on 2 June 2017. He is survived by his son Crispian and two grandchildren.




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