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Bookmark and Share Norman Taylor

1/15/2011 02:05:00 pm - Reported by Marcus

Doctor WhoNorman Taylor, one of the men behind the original iconic Doctor Who title sequence, has died.

Norman Taylor was a BBC Technical Operations Manager on Crew 9 based at Lime Grove in London. He was the man who, while experimenting with a camera looking at a monitor showing its own picture, made the serendipitous discovery of "visual howlaround" - the effect that was subsequently used for Doctor Who's original title sequence.
I got the usual effect of diminishing images of the monitor disappearing into limbo, when suddenly some stray light hit the monitor screen and the whole picture went mobile with swirling patterns of black and white. Later I repeated the experiment but fed a black and white caption mixed with the camera output to the monitor, and very soon got the Dr Who effect.

The original titles for Doctor Who are believed to have been recorded in August 1963 in an empty TC5 at Television Centre. Bernard Lodge, who was credited for the sequence, was in the gallery and Norman Taylor lighting matches to trigger the howl-round. Hugh Sheppard was on the camera at the time.

Taylor was later given a Technical Suggestion award of £25.00 for his howl-round idea which featured in various forms in the title sequence until 1980, when it was replaced by the star-field effect.

You can read more about his contribution to the series on the Tech-Ops History site.