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Bookmark and Share Rodney Bennett 1935-2017

1/18/2017 08:21:00 pm - 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.