William Russell 1924 - 2024Bookmark and Share

Tuesday, 4 June 2024 - Reported by Marcus
William Russell (Credit: BBC)

William Russell, the actor and one of the original stars of Doctor Who has died at the age of 99.

William Russell played Ian Chesterton in the very first episode of Doctor Who, the teacher who investigated the mysterious pupil at Coal Hill School and who was spirited away in the TARDIS by the first Doctor. 

As one of the original stars of Doctor Who, Russell was a huge part of the initial success of the show, who, along with Jacqueline Hill playing Barbara Wright, often bore the weight of keeping a long-running weekly show on the straight and narrow. 

Russell stayed with Doctor Who for its first two years, appearing in 78 episodes. His last appearance was in The Planet of Decision, the final episode of The Chase, broadcast on the 26th June 1965.

He recreated the character of Ian for the Big Finish audio series. In 2022 he brought the character back to the Television series with a cameo in the final thirteenth Doctor story The Power of the Doctor. He holds the Guinness World Record for the longest gap between TV appearances of an actor playing a television character. 

 

William Russell was born as William Russell Enoch on the 19th of November 1924.  He studied at Wolverhampton Grammar School and Oxford University before doing his National Service in the Royal Air Force where he became involved in organising entertainment. 

After university, he gained a place in a repertory company and thus began a 70-year career as a successful actor.  He began his career with the stage name Russell Enoch, later changing it to William Russell at the request of Norman Wisdom when they made a film together in 1955. He was known to his fellow artists as Russ. 

His real success was in television where he was a presence in so many well known British dramas. His first credited appearance was in Gift Horse in 1952, a time when all television drama was transmitted live.

By 1956 he was a leading man, playing a swashbuckling knight, the title character in ITV series The Adventures of Sir Lancelot. When the series was sold to the US, the first British TV import to be shot in colour for an American audience, Russell rode down Fifth Avenue on a horse in full regalia. 

A year later he was on BBC Television playing Dickens Nicholas Nickleby in a ten-part series. 

Movie work including a role in the war movie The Great Escape where he played Soren. He met his first wife, the French model and actor Balbina Gutierrez on a location shoot in Malta for the film 1954 They Who Dare

By the time he was offered the role of Ian Chesterton, he was established as a reliable character actor. His experience was vital in the series which was recorded as live with one episode produced each week. With William Hartnell sometimes struggling to remember his lines, the onus of keeping the show running often fell on Russell with improvisation and adlibbing needed to ensure plot points were explained and the episode was recorded successfully.

After he left Doctor Who Russell was a constant presence on British television with roles in series such as Dr. Finlay's Casebook, Harriet's Back in Town, Crown Court, Van Der Valk, Strangers, Disraeli, Shoestring Testament of Youth, The Professionals, The Black Adder, Robin of Sherwood, Coronation Street, Casualty, Poirot, and Heartbeat. 

William Russell was present at many conventions and was always very proud of his work on Doctor Who. 

Russell is survived by his second wife, Etheline Lewis, a doctor, whom he married in 1984, and their son, the actor Alfred Enoch, and by his children, Vanessa, Laetitia and Robert, from his marriage to Balbina, which ended in divorce, and four grandchildren, James, Elise, Amy and Ayo.





FILTER: - Obituary - Classic Series

Richard Franklin 1936-2023Bookmark and Share

Monday, 25 December 2023 - Reported by Marcus

The actor Richard Franklin, who played Captain Mike Yates in 43 episodes of Doctor Who, has died at the age of 87.

As one of the UNIT personnel, Franklin was a key character in the team which developed in the third Doctor era, led by Jon Pertwee, as a sidekick to Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart and a love interest for Jo Grant. 

Richard Franklin made his debut as Mike Yates in the eighth series of Doctor Who, appearing in four of the series' five stories, Terror of the Autons, The Mind of Evil, The Claws of Axos and the story often designated as a favourite by members of the cast The Dæmons

The character was back in the following year appearing in Day of the Daleks and The Time Monster before returning in the last three episodes of series 10, The Green Death

In Pertwee's final season, the character of Yates found himself on the opposite side to the Doctor in Invasion of the Dinosaurs believing in a project to return the earth to a golden age. His final appearance in Planet of the Spiders saw the characters' redemption.

Richard Franklin died early on Christmas morning after a long illness. His death was announced by family friend Liam Rudden on Social Media

It is with great sadness, that the family of Richard Franklin have asked me to share news of his passing, early this morning. Richard passed away peacefully in his sleep. Details of funeral arrangements will be shared here when announced. Sleep well Richard. #RIP 

Richard Franklin was born in Marylebone, London, on 15 January 1936. He was educated at Westminster School and Oxford University before training as an actor at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art. 

His early work was in the theatre where he spent six years in repertory theatre. His break into television came in 1969 when he was cast as Joe Townsend in the soap opera Crossroads, appearing in thirty-six episodes. 

Other roles included parts in Dixon of Dock Green, The Saint, Little Women, The Borgias and Blake's 7

He returned to Doctor Who in audio productions for BBC Audio and Big Finish and made a cameo in the 20th Anniversary story The Five Doctors.

Katy Manning, who played Jo Grant in the series was a good friend and collogue of Franklin, paid tribute on x.

@ManningOfficial Our wonderful brave captain Yates #RichardFranklin has gone on his awfully big adventure I'm so very grateful i saw him on  Friday. smiling memories & love for him are with me & all of us whose lives he touched & enriched❤️.  my thoughts are with his family.

 

 





FILTER: - obituary - classic series

Classic Doctor Who Now Streaming On TubiBookmark and Share

Thursday, 16 November 2023 - Reported by Marcus
Classic Doctor Who (Credit: Tubi)

Viewers in the United States and Canada can from today stream over 600 episodes of classic Doctor Who via Tubi

Audiences will now have access to episodes from the original series as well as the recreated animated versions of stories missing from the BBC archive.

The episodes will be available for free via On-Demand and a dedicated FAST Channel.

Fans can dive into the legacy series by Doctor, as well as through the “New to Who” collection which is a great entry point for new viewers to gently climb into the Tardis. 

Doctor Who is the longest-running action-adventure television series in the world spanning 60 years and winning over 100 awards. This quintessentially British show has a huge global following, with 9.6m fans across social platforms/channels and 100m video views on YouTube in the last year alone.

Tubi is the most-watched free TV and movie streaming service in the U.S. As an ad-supported video-on-demand service, the company offers audiences a personalized experience and offers the world’s largest content library of over 200,000 movies and TV episodes, a growing collection of Tubi Originals, and nearly 250 FAST channels. Tubi is part of the Tubi Media Group, a division of Fox Corporation that oversees the company’s digital businesses.

 

 




FILTER: - Classic Series - Tubi

John Nettleton 1929-2023Bookmark and Share

Friday, 14 July 2023 - Reported by Marcus
John Nettleton (Credit: Chuck Foster)

The actor John Nettleton has died at the age of 94.

In 1989 John Nettleton played the Reverend Ernest Matthews in the Seventh Doctor story Ghost Light.

He was best known for his portrayal of the Whitehall Mandarin Sir Arnold Robinson in the comedy series Yes Minister and its successor Yes, Prime Minister

Born in South London in 1929, John Nettleton graduated from the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in 1951, the same year as Joan Collins and Jacqueline Hill

As a successful character actor, he had a 40-year career in British Television appearing in some of the best-known series of the time such as Softly Softly, Armchair Theatre, The Avengers, Please Sir!, Elizabeth R, Black Beauty, Upstairs Downstairs, The Pallisers, All Creatures Large and Small, The Professionals, Tales of the Unexpected, Brideshead Revisited, Crown Court, Minder, Rumpole of the Bailey, Midsomer Murders, and The Bill

Nettleton’s film work included A Man for All Seasons in the 1960s  and a 2005 adaptation of Oliver Twist

His voice is very familiar to a generation who grew up in the 1970s thanks to his frequent use as a narrator for illustrated stories told on the BBC Children's programme Blue Peter

His work at the National Theatre included Alan Bennett’s adaptation of The Wind in the Willows in 1990 and The Voysey Inheritance in 2006. He was a member of the Royal Shakespeare Company and London's Old Vic

A statement from the theatrical agency Scott Marshall Partners said:

It is with great sadness that we announce the death of our beloved client and much-loved stage and screen actor John Nettleton at the age of 94. 

He is survived by his wife the actress Deirdre Doone, who he married in 1954, their three children and five grandchildren. 





FILTER: - Obituary - Classic Series

Chris Boucher 1943 - 2022Bookmark and Share

Sunday, 11 December 2022 - Reported by Marcus
Chris Boucher

The writer Chris Boucher has died at the age of 79.

Chris Boucher contributed three stories to Doctor Who, all of which were transmitted in 1977 and starred the Fourth Doctor played by Tom Baker.

His first contribution was the story which saw the introduction of a new companion Leela played by Louise Jameson. The Face of Evil.  Leela was conceived as an intelligent but uneducated savage who would be educated by the Doctor. 

This story was followed by one of the most acclaimed stories in Doctor Who's cannon, The Robots of Death a 'whodunnit' set on a futuristic mining machine. Later in the year, his final story was Image of the Fendhal

Although Chris Boucher never wrote for Doctor Who again his contribution to British Television is impressive. Immediately after Doctor Who he became the Script Editor for the BBC's new science fiction series Blake's 7. It was a role he was recommended for by the Doctor Who script editor Robert Holmes. 

Boucher served as Script editor for the entire run of Blake's 7 and also wrote several stories including the dramatic final story which saw the deaths of all the main characters. 

He was the Script Editor for the second series of the detective series Shoestring show in 1980 before he moved on to the police series Juliet Bravo. Staying with police series he script edited the series set on the island of Jersey, Bergerac from 1983 until 1987.

In 1987 he created his own series combining his knowledge of both Police series and Science Fiction with Star Cops, seen by some as a replacement for Doctor Who. Nine episodes were made with a tenth being canceled due to industrial relations problems. 

Other work included episodes of The Bill for Thames Television and the Jim Davidson comedy Home James. He also wrote a number of Doctor Who books featuring the character of Leela. 

The death of Chris Boucher means that no writers for Doctor Who from the 1960s or 1970s now survive. 





FILTER: - Obituary - Classic Series

Shirley Coward 1934 -2022Bookmark and Share

Saturday, 10 December 2022 - Reported by Marcus
Shirley Coward (Credit: BBC)

Shirley Coward, the woman responsible for creating the first regeneration effect in Doctor Who, has died at the age of 88.

Shirley Coward was a Vision Mixer for BBC Television for over 30 years. She worked for the Corporation in the days when most programmes were either transmitted live or recorded 'as live'. 

At the time, the role of the Vision Mixer was vital as they were the person who operated the Vision Mixing desk, the piece of equipment which controlled which camera or video source was fed to the recording machine or transmitter. It's a role that has almost disappeared in TV drama but is still vital in live television programmes, such as Strictly Come Dancing and News programmes. 

Following a Camera script written the director, it was the Vision Mixer that set much of the pace of the programme, a job that demanded absolute accuracy. Many mistakes made in live television recordings could be glossed over but it was difficult to hide a cut to the wrong camera.  

Shirley Coward worked on many productions for the BBC including many episodes of Doctor Who, and in October 1966 she found herself rostered to work in the BBC studios at Riverside on the final episode of the first Doctor's final story The Tenth Planet

At the end of the story, William Hartnell collapsed before regenerating into Patrick Troughton.  No clear plan had been made as to how to achieve this transformation, with one thought being that Hartnell could just cover his face with a cloak before it was removed to reveal Troughton's face. 

Coward suggested to Director Derek Martinus, that they could take advantage of a fault on the second bank of her vision mixing desk, which was causing the incoming image to break up. By using this distorted effect, and mixing between banks of the Vision Mixer,  Coward could produce a much more spectacular regeneration effect.

In an interview for the BBC DVD release of The Tenth Planet Shirley Coward explained how the effect was achieved. 

It was my job to do the mixes so we had a fluent transition face from William Hartnell's face into Patrick Troughton's. The first I knew about it was when I arrived in the studio, but nobody was exactly sure how they were going to do it. 

They knew roughly what they wanted, they wanted one face to come through the other. It was a matter of the studio engineers and cameramen all trying out things. We discovered that the actors cheekbones matched, which helped us enormously.

We had William Hartnell on one camera and Patrick Troughton on another and through the B bank of the Vision Mixing desk, which was breaking up,  we could make Patrick's face break up and William's face break up

 I started with William Hartnell's face, absolutely straight on the A bank, then slowly mixed to the B bank where I had his face, exactly the same shot, breaking up. I then mixed on the B bank to Patrick's face breaking up and then mixed slowly back to the A bank where I had Patrick's face absolutely straight. 

Shirley Coward worked on at least 44 episodes of Doctor Who. As the woman who created the first regeneration, it was fitting she Vision Mixed the 25th-anniversary story, The Five Doctors, which saw the return of the First Doctor, albeit played by a different actor. 

Other productions she worked on include Bomber Harris, EastEnders, The River,  All Creatures Great and Small , Talking Heads, In Sickness and in Health, Three Up Two Down, Galloping Galaxies!, Dear John, )Tenko, Juliet Bravo, Titus Andronicus, Only Fools and Horses, Last of the Summer Wine, By the Sword Divided, The Two Ronnies, Rentaghost, Ever Decreasing Circles,  Aladdin and the Forty Thieve, Don't Wait Up, Just Good Friends, Butterflies, Dombey & Son, Yes Minister, Terry and June, To the Manor Born, To Serve Them All My Days, Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, The Enigma Files, Blake's 7, Secret Army, Rings on Their Fingers, Pennies from Heaven, Survivors, Blue Peter, The Tragedy of King Richard II, The Six Wives of Henry VIII and The Canterbury Tales

First Doctor Regenerates | William Hartnell to Patrick Troughton





FILTER: - Obituary - Classic Series

Maurice Roëves 1937 - 2020Bookmark and Share

Wednesday, 15 July 2020 - Reported by Marcus
The actor Maurice Roëves has died at the age of 83

Maurice Roëves appeared in the acclaimed 1984 Doctor Who story The Caves of Androzani, playing Stotz the mercenary hired by Morgus to smuggle arms.

Roëves was born in Sunderland in the North of England and brought up in Glasgow. In his twenties, while working in a flour mill, he became interested in amateur dramatics, leading to a course at Glasgow College of Dramatic Art.

Three months after getting a job as an assistant stage manager at Glasgow's Citizen Theatre he was playing lead roles such as Lorenzo in The Merchant of Venice. In 1966 he was cast as Martin in the film The Fighting Prince of Donegal which led to the television play Cock, Hen and Courting Pit

Many television roles followed including in Danger UXB, The Nightmare Man, Days of our Lives, Tutti Frutti, Rab C. Nesbitt, The New Statesman, Spender, Star Trek: The Next Generation where he played a Romulan captain, Vanity Fair and EastEnders.

He played Chief Superintendent David Duckenfield in the 1996 television film Hillsborough, in which his character patrolled the FA Cup semi-final in the Liverpool F.C. game where a crush led to the deaths of 96 fans.

In 2006 he starred in the BBC docudrama Surviving Disasters, portraying Sir Matt Busby in the story of the Munich air disaster.

He starred as Robert Henderson in BBC Scotland's drama River City.

His film roles include Oh! What a Lovely War, Ulysses, Hidden Agenda, the 1992 version of The Last of the Mohicans, the Judge Dredd movie and Beautiful Creatures .

Maurice Roëves death was confirmed by his agents Lovett Logan earlier today. He is survived by his wife Vanessa.





FILTER: - Classic Series

Earl Cameron 1917 - 2020Bookmark and Share

Saturday, 4 July 2020 - Reported by Marcus
Earl CameronThe actor Earl Cameron, the longest-lived actor ever to appear in Doctor Who, has died at the age of 102.

Earl Cameron appeared in the 1966 Doctor Who story The Tenth Planet, the final story featuring the First Doctor. He played Glyn Williams, one of two astronauts on the Zeus IV when it conducted an orbital atmosphere survey mission. He was the first Black actor to portray an astronaut on any film or TV series in the world.

Cameron is best known for his pioneering work becoming one of the first black actors to take up a starring role in a British film. He played Johnny Lambert in Pool of London, a 1951 British noir crime film and the first film to portray an interracial relationship.

Earl Cameron was born in Pembroke, Bermuda. As a member of the Merchant Navy, he sailed the world but found himself stranded in London when World War II broke out.

A ticket to the theatre excited his interest in acting and in 1942 he talked his way into a West End production of Chu Chin Chow. Further roles followed and in 1945 he toured with the Entertainments National Service Association (ENSA) to play to British armed forces personnel in India.

His breakthrough acting role was in Pool of London directed by Basil Dearden and set in post-war London. It involved racial prejudice, romance and a diamond robbery. He won much critical acclaim for his role in the film, which is considered the first major role for a black actor in a British mainstream film. Over the next 50 years, he made many feature films starring with actors such as Sean Connery in the James Bond movie Thunderball, and Sidney Poitier in A Warm December.

In Television one of his earliest major roles was a starring part in the BBC 1960 TV drama The Dark Man, in which he played a West Indian cab driver. In 1956 he had a smaller part in another BBC drama exploring racism in the workplace, A Man From The Sun. He appeared in the TV series The Prisoner as the Haitian supervisor in the episode The Schizoid Man. Other television work included Emergency – Ward 10, The Zoo Gang, Crown Court, Jackanory, Dixon of Dock Green, Neverwhere, Waking the Dead, Kavanagh QC, Babyfather, EastEnders, Dalziel and Pascoe, and Lovejoy.

In 2009 he was appointed a CBE in the Queen's New Year's Honours list. In 2012 he returned to his country of birth to open the Earl Cameron Theatre in Hamilton, Bermuda.

Earlier this year he became the longest-lived credited actor to appear in Doctor Who, overtaking Zohra Sehgal who died in 2014. He is one of four Doctor Who actors to have reached the age of 100.

Earl Cameron died on 3rd July 2020




FILTER: - Classic Series

Pip Baker 1928 - 2020Bookmark and Share

Tuesday, 14 April 2020 - Reported by Marcus
Pip BakerThe classic series writer Pip Baker has died at the age of 91.

Pip Baker, along with his wife and writing partner Jane, was one of the best-known writers from the mid 80's era of Doctor Who, writing eleven episodes for the series. Together they created the Rani, a female Time Lord scientist who was brought to life so vividly by the late Kate O'Mara, as well a creating the companion Mel.

Pip and Jane Baker began writing together in the 1960s working on the films The Painted Smile, The Break, The Night of the Big Heat and Captain Nemo and the Underwater City. On Television, they worked on the children's thriller Circus as well as episodes of Z-Cars and Space 1999.

In 1985 they were commissioned by producer John Nathan Turner to write for the first full series of the Sixth Doctor, Colin Baker, producing the story Mark of the Rani. The story was well received and the couple returned the following year to pen Terror of the Vervoids The third segment of the Trial of a Time Lord Season, envisaged as a whodunnit in space.

Later that year the couple were called in following the departure of the then Script editor Eric Saward, who left following a disagreement with Nathan Turner. Saward had withdrawn his script for the final episode of the season leaving the Bakers to come up with an alternative ending, without access to anything already written, and without creating anything which needed a new set to be built. They had just three days to come up with a script capable of concluding a season they had very little part in conceiving.

In 1988 Pip Baker told Doctor Who Magazine about some of the problems they encountered.
We went over to Eric’s empty office and talked it through – whether we could do it justice – not just because of the time period, as we had experience of that kind of speed on American series – but because we were being asked to wrap up thirteen episodes. If people have watched it that long, there’s an expectation that has to be satisfied – this has got to be it. We had three days in the end – two to write, and one to type up from out longhand, which we always write in, and collate everything.
After the transmission of the season, Phi and Jane Baker found themselves defending their scripts on the BBC's feedback programme Open Air, facing criticism from some fans including future showrunner Chris Chibnall.

The Bakers returned to Doctor Who at the start of the next season, introducing the seventh Doctor in Time and the Rani, a script which brought back their most enduring creation The Rani.

In the early 1990's they created the children's programme Watt on Earth which ran for 24 episodes on BBC One.

Jane Baker died in 2014. Pip Baker died this morning after being ill for some time following a fall.




FILTER: - Classic Series - Obituary

Honor Blackman 1925 -2020Bookmark and Share

Monday, 6 April 2020 - Reported by Marcus
Honor Blackman _ Terror of the Vervoids (Credit: BBC)The actress Honor Blackman, best-known for playing Bond girl Pussy Galore and Cathy Gale in The Avengers, has died at the age of 94.

Honor Blackman enjoyed a career spanning eight decades, appearing in many films and television series. She appeared in Doctor Who in 1986 playing Professor Lasky in the Sixth Doctor story Terror of the Vervoids.

Honor Blackman was born in East London in 1925, the daughter of a Civil servant. For a 15th birthday present, she was given acting lessons, a gift that would lead to her becoming one of the hardest working and most successful actresses of her generation.

Her film debut came in 1947 with a non-speaking part in Fame Is the Spur Other films include in 1948 Quartet based on short stories by W. Somerset Maugham and in 1950 So Long at the Fair in which she appeared with Dirk Bogarde. In 1958 she appeared in the film based on the Titanic disaster A Night to Remember.

Her breakthrough came in 1962 when she was cast as leather-clad crimefighter Cathy Gale in the hit British show The Avengers, playing alongside Patrick Macnee as John Steed. Her action role, which required her to learn judo, endeared her to the nation and with her distinctive dress sense, she quickly became a British icon. One side effect, a top ten single, Kinky Boots, recorded in 1964 with Macnee.

It was her performance in The Avengers which led to Albert R. Broccoli casting Blackman as Pussy Galore, opposite Sean Connery in the James Bond franchise, despite the show not being well known in America. He said, "I knew the Brits would love her because they knew her as Mrs Gale, the Yanks would like her because she was so good, it was a perfect combination".

Appearances followed in series such as Never the Twain, Bridget Jones's Diary, Jack and the Beanstalk: The Real Story, Casualty and even a stint in Coronation Street where she played Rula Romanoff

In 1990, she was cast in a regular role in the ITV sitcom The Upper Hand, playing the glamorous mother of the lead female character. Blackman expressed her fondness for the role, saying it "made women who’d just retired and felt they’d been put on the backburner realise they had a lot of life left to live".

Blackman was a political activist and a member of the Liberal Democrats. She was a committed republican declining an honour from the Queen in 2002, as she felt it would be hypocritical to accept.

Honor Blackman's death was announced today by her family.
It’s with great sadness that we have to announce the death of Honor Blackman aged 94. She died peacefully of natural causes at her home in Lewes, Sussex, surrounded by her family. She was much loved and will be greatly missed by her two children Barnaby and Lottie, and grandchildren Daisy, Oscar, Olive and Toby.

As well as being a much-adored mother and grandmother, Honor was an actor of hugely prolific creative talent; with an extraordinary combination of beauty, brains and physical prowess, along with her unique voice and a dedicated work ethic, she achieved an unparalleled iconic status in the world of film and entertainment and with absolute commitment to her craft and total professionalism in all her endeavours she contributed to some of the great films and theatre productions of our times




FILTER: - Classic Series - Obituary