A Tribute to Terrance Dicks

It is with the deepest sadness that we report the passing of Doctor Who giant Terrance Dicks, who has died at the age of 84 after a short illness. His contribution writing over 60 novelisations in the Target range of books, as well as authoring other non-fiction works like the best-selling 1976 Doctor Who Dinosaur Book, encouraged the reading habits of children across the globe.

Dicks wrote such classic series stories as Second Doctor swansong The War Games (co-written with Malcolm Hulke), Fourth Doctor introduction Robot, the first Rutan story Horror of Fang Rock, vampire classic State of Decay and the epic 20th anniversary celebration tale The Five Doctors. He helped to cast both the Third and Fourth Doctors and worked as script editor for the show between 1969 and 1975, collaborating closely with Barry Letts.

His association with the series never ended as he continued to write original novels for the New Adventures range, the Bernice Summerfield spin-off books, the Eighth Doctor novels, Past Doctor novels and (post 2005) New Series Adventures in the Quick Reads series. He also wrote audio plays for Big Finish and original spin-off video releases in the 1990s featuring such aliens as Sontarans, Rutans and Draconians (in Shakedown: Return of the Sontarans, Mindgame and Mindgame Trilogy). Dicks even brought Doctor Who to the stage with Seven Keys to Doomsday in 1974 and The Ultimate Adventure in 1989.

Current showrunner Chris Chibnall made the following statement at the news of Terrance Dicks’ passing: “He was one of the greatest contributors to Doctor Who’s history, on screen and off. 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.”

Australian Doctor Who fans were lucky enough to meet Dicks when he visited Down Under in December 2014, as part of Culture Shock Events’ Lords of Time 3 convention. As a tribute to him, we now present the interview that was conducted at that convention, republished from Issue 226 of Data Extract magazine – the issue as whole is also available from the DWCA Shop.

Hello Terrance. You were, of course, a driving force behind the Doctor Who TV series, but have recently done a lot more work in books, plays and audios. Is it fair to call Doctor Who a TV show anymore, or is it more a multimedia, cross-platform experience?

I think the TV show is the core of it. I mean, Big Finish is very good, and gives a lot of work to actors and writers. But it’s not really ‘Who’ Who. I have done a couple of things for them – I did my stage plays. It was hard enough working for the stage, when I’d never written for the stage before. When I wrote the first play, I suddenly had this terrible realisation that you can’t cut, and you can’t do a close-up. The audience just sits back and looks at it. Then Big Finish asked me to do them as audios, then not only can you not cut – you can’t see either! But yes – I think Who on television is the core, and everything else is spin-offs of one kind or another. But they’re all good and valuable and interesting.

Because it was born in the Wilderness Years, in many ways Big Finish has thrived on taking one-hit monsters, or ideas that were done in passing, and then giving them a bigger life on audio. Is that a good thing, do you think, or is there a monster that should stay as a one-hit wonder?

Bob Holmes, in his first story, came up with an idea which I liked, and I took it to Peter Bryant and Derrick Sherwin, who were the script editors I’d started working for. They said they didn’t need another show, but I suggested working on it myself, in case something went wrong with another story. And then one of the directors, David Maloney, found that the script that they had given him was absolute rubbish. There was this big crisis, and I said, “Well, I happen to have this four-part Doctor Who about my person.” So we did The Krotons, which was a good script. But the monsters called the Krotons were crystalline beings who lived in a blobby tank. And they are possibly the most inept monsters in the history of Doctor Who. All they could do was stand and loom in a menacing fashion. That was an example of a good script cocked up by a rotten monster. Later on we had Invasion of the Dinosaurs and did it all again.

One show I didn’t disrespect for ages was The War Games. Now The War Games came about, again, when Bryant and Sherwin sat around the BBC bar saying they didn’t have any scripts. Derrick Sherwin came into my office one day and said, “Terrance, we need a ten-part Doctor Who by next week”. I knew I couldn’t do it by myself, so I called in Mac Hulke, who was my friend and mentor. What we did was, we went round to Mac’s flat with a pile of scripts, I’d walk up and down, Mac’d sit at the typewriter, we’d discuss a line, and Mac’d type it out.

We wrote about two scripts a week – ten parts – which is ridiculous for Doctor Who. Four parts is good length for Doctor Who, six you can carry if you’ve got a strong story, but ten is nonsense. I used to go round to conventions, and if anyone brought that up, I’d say, “Well, it opens well, with the First World War, and the end scene, I think, is quite good – Time Lords and the Doctor and the exile to Earth – but in between is just running up and down corridors and captures and escapes.” And then, not that long ago, it was brought out on DVD, and Doctor Who Magazine reviewed it. The review started off, “Terrance has been talking rubbish about this show for years. It’s a good show all the way through, all ten parts!” And I was amazed and delighted to find that I’d been talking rubbish.

Do you always work well in a crisis?

I like a good crisis. I think some of the best things have come out of it. Another one was Horror of Fang Rock. I was going to do a story about vampires. The BBC at the time were doing a big prestigious Dracula for their annual classic, and it was so prestigious they got Sir Laurence Olivier playing Van Helsing. And they sent down an order saying, “No vampires on Doctor Who. People will think you’re making fun of us”. We had a sudden crisis meeting – I went to see Bob, who had succeeded me as script editor, and said, “What are we going to do?” Bob said, “I’ve always wanted to do a story set in a lighthouse”, and I said, “Bob, I know bugger all about lighthouses”. And so in a great rush, with half my writing time gone, I wrote Horror of Fang Rock. And it just sort of happened – I thought, “At least we got a show out of it”. People are now saying that’s one of the best things I ever did.

Horror of Fang Rock arguably ticks a lot of boxes relating to what a Doctor Who story should be. Is there a quintessential Doctor Who story?

Barry Letts and I used to talk about something called Whoish-ness. You’d get a story, perfectly good and perfectly logical, and say it’s not Whoish enough. There was a man who said he couldn’t define poetry, but he knew it when he saw it. And that’s it – you know it when you see it, or you have a feel for it. To give an obvious example – you could never do Doctor Who porn. Although, with that said, if you look on the Internet, I’m sure you can find it!

Paul Darrow: 1941-2019

Actor and writer Paul Darrow has sadly passed away at the age of 78 following a short illness.

He first appeared in Doctor Who with Third Doctor Jon Pertwee in the 1970 story The Silurians as UNIT soldier Captain Hawkins. He returned as villain Tekker opposite Sixth Doctor Colin Baker in the 1985 story Timelash. Further to this he went on to play the part of Guidance with Eighth Doctor Paul McGann in the audio story The Next Life, as well as Kaston Iago in the Doctor Who spin-off audio series Kaldor City.

He was best known however for the role of Kerr Avon in Terry Nation’s Blake’s 7, the calculating criminal turned freedom fighter who was the balance to idealist Roj Blake in the show’s “Dirty Dozen in space” line-up. In addition to starring in all four seasons from 1978 to 1981, Darrow wrote the Blake’s 7 novels Avon: A Terrible Aspect (1989), Lucifer (2013), Lucifer: Revelation (2014) and Lucifer: Genesis (2015). His autobiography You’re Him, Aren’t You? was released in 2006, with an audio book version read by Darrow released in 2016, including an extra chapter.

Between 2012 and 2019 Darrow starred in over thirty original audio dramas for Big Finish, including multiple Blake’s 7 releases. Big Finish producer John Ainsworth stated: “I will cherish the memory of our days in the studio. How lucky I am to have worked with Paul. A real star and legend.”

The passing of Omega

The man who played Omega in the 1972 story The Three Doctors has died.

Stephen Thorne, a RADA-trained actor, died on 26 May at the age of 84.

He was best-known to the Whovian world for bringing to life three great Doctor adversaries during the early ’70s.

Stephen Thorne
11 Aug 2013

His towering presence and deep melodious voice were first came to the world of Who 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.

Born in London he trained at RADA before spending several seasons with the Old Vic Company and the Royal Shakespeare Company.

His Television credits included roles in Z Cars, Crossroads, Sexton Blake, David Copperfield and Last of the Summer Wine however it was radio where he really shone. His radio performances 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 also recorded more than 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.


Farewell to Pat Gorman

One of the unsung heroes of Doctor Who, Pat Gorman, has died the way he lived – quietly this past October, as confirmed by UK Equity this past week.

Gorman appeared in so many episodes of Who over the years that legend has it script editor Terrance Dicks joked it was in the BBC Charter that they couldn’t make an episode of the series without Gorman in it.

His name wasn’t always in the credits but his face was often in the crowd – he had 73 minor roles in the show during the ’60s. In fact, he often popped up in all sorts of BBC shows from the ’60s through to the late ’90s, sometime just in the background or other times chiming in with a “Yes sir”, a nod or perhaps even just to deliver the milk.

Born in England, he is best known for his work on The Elephant Man (1980) as a “Fairground Bobby”; the movie’s star, John Hurt, of course went on to become the War Doctor. His other notable performances came in the 1989 version of Batman, Z Cars, Fawlty Towers, I Claudius and Blake’s 7. His final credited performance was in the television series Soldier Soldier in 1994.

But it was his performances between 1964 and 1985 in Doctor Who that will be most remembered. He played a Silurian in The Silurians (1970), a Primitive in Colony in Space (1971), a Sea Devil in The Sea Devils (1972) and a pilot in The Armageddon Factor (1979) among his many many roles. He was often a soldier, guard or policeman – only six other actors have appeared in more Doctor Who serials than him.

R.I.P. Clive Swift, 1936-2019

DUAL Doctor Who guest star Clive Swift has died at the age of 82 after a short illness.

Swift was best known as the long-suffering Richard Bucket in the British comedy series Keeping Up Appearances.

However, for fans of Doctor Who he will be remembered for his appearance in 1985 with Sixth Doctor Colin Baker in Revelation of the Daleks, where he played Jobel, the chief embalmer of Tranquil Repose of Necros.

But Swift may be even better remembered for his second Who appearance, where he played Bayldon Copper – a clueless Earth historian and employee aboard the Titanic opposite Tenth Doctor David Tennant and Kylie Minogue in the 2007 Christmas special Voyage of the Damned.

Clive Walter Swift was born in Liverpool in 1936. He and elder brother David (also an actor) were educated at Clifton College before Clive when up to study English literature at Cambridge University, eventually becoming a teacher at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art.

His television and film career started in the ’60s and included a filmed production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream for the Royal Shakespeare Company in 1968 with a cast that included Diana Rigg, Helen Mirren and Ian Richardson. He regularly appeared in the BBC Comedy series Dig This Rhubarb and 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 Anthony Trollope’s Barchester Chronicles.

But his breakout role didn’t come until later in life. From 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 starring Patricia Routledge, the series has become the BBC’s best-selling series in its long history, seen around the world.

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

Vale Doctor Who Producer Derrick Sherwin, 1936-2018

He was a Doctor Who jack of all trades, but Derrick Sherwin, who died on 17 October at the age of 82, will be best remembered as the man responsible for creating UNIT.

Producer Derrick Sherwin died after a long illness.

Producer Sherwin worked on Who writing scripts, producing the series for the transition between the second and Third Doctor, and even appeared in one scene, playing a Car Park Attendant in the 1970 story Spearhead from Space.

But his real legacy came in 1968 when he created the United Nations Intelligence Taskforce or UNIT for the story The Invasion.

Born in 1936, he worked first in theatre before moving into television in 1958 and appearing in the show Duty Bound. His early work in dramas including as Here Lies Miss Sabry, The Edgar Wallace Mystery Theatre, United! and Armchair Theatre.

He joined Who 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.

Sherwin moved into the role of producer for the last Patrick Troughton story, The War Games, which also featured his ex-wife Jane as Lady Jennifer, 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 moving on to produce the series Paul Temple and later The Man Outside and Perils of Pendragon.

But that was not the end of his love for Doctor Who and when the show was under threat of cancellation from the BBC he offered to buy the franchise and produce it independently however he was turned down.

Sherwin died on the 17th October after a long illness.

RIP Michael Pickwoad, Doctor Who production designer

The DWCA is sad to announce the passing of Michael Pickwoad, production designer on Doctor Who from 2010 to 2017.

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, perhaps most significantly designing the TARDIS interior that debuted in The Snowmen and was later tweaked for the Twelfth Doctor. He also worked on several episodes of the spin-off series Class.

Born in 1945, Michael Pickwoad was the son of actor William Mervyn, who appeared in First Doctor story The War Machines, and theatre designer Anne Margaret Payne Cooke. He began his career as an art director in the early 1970s before becoming a production designer in the 1980s, with one of his first films being the cult classic Withnail and I – starring Paul McGann.

His work on TV included Rules of Engagement, Kavanagh QC and Murder Most Horrid, the last 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, becoming 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.

Moffat said, “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.”

RIP Peter Miles

The DWCA is sad to report on the passing of Peter Miles.


Miles is probably best known to fans as Nyder, Davros’ henchman. He played this role in the classic series Fourth Doctor story Genesis of the Daleks.

He had also previously been in the Third Doctor stories – Doctor Who and the Silurians and Invasion of the Dinosaurs.

Miles also returned to the role of Nyder in Big Finish’s range of I, Davros audios.

In addition to Doctor Who, he was also in Blake’s 7 and Z Cars.

Miles was 89.

RIP David Fisher

The DWCA is sad to report on the passing of writer David Fisher.

David wrote four Doctor Who stories, all of which featured the Fourth Doctor, Tom Baker.

His first contribution to the series was in 1978, when he wrote two stories in the Key to Time season. These were The Stones of Blood and The Androids of Tara.

In 1979 he returned to the show and wrote The Creature from the Pit. He was also working on a story called A Gamble with Time, but for personal reasons, had to hand it over to script editor Douglas Adams to finish what became City of Death.

His last full contribution to the series was The Leisure Hive.

David Fisher was 88.

RIP Paddy Russell

The DWCA is sad to report on the passing of Paddy Russell.

Paddy was the first female director to work on the show and worked with the first, third and fourth Doctors.

Paddy was first involved with Doctor Who directing the William Hartnell story, The Massacre of St Bartholmew’s Eve.

It was eight years later she directed the six part Jon Pertwee story, Invasion of the Dinosaurs.

She was involved twice more with the series directing Tom Baker stories Pyramids of Mars and Horror of Fang Rock.

Paddy was 89.