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

Pamela Salem 1944-2024Bookmark and Share

Friday, 23 February 2024 - Reported by Marcus
Pamela Salem (Credit: BBC)

The actress Pamela Salem has died at the age of 80.

Pamela Salem appeared in three Doctor Who stories. In 1977 she played Toos in the acclaimed Fourth Doctor story The Robots of Death. Her voice was used as one of the voices of Xoanon in the previous story, The Face of Evil.   She returned to the series in 1988 playing Rachel Jensen alongside the Seventh Doctor in Remembrance of the Daleks. She later reprised her role as Jensen in the Big Finish audio spin-off series Counter-Measures and 1963: The Assassination Games. 

Pamela Salem was born in Bombay, India, and educated at Heidelberg University in Germany and later at the Central School of Speech and Drama in London, England.

Film work included the role of Miss Moneypenny in the 1983 James Bond film Never Say Never Again, starring Sean Connery. 

Other television appearances included parts in EastEnders, where she played mafia affiliate Joanne Francis, and as the evil witch Belor in ITV's Into the Labyrinth.

Other television guest appearances have included roles in the third episode of  Blake's 7, The Onedin Line, The Professionals, Howards' Way, Ever Decreasing Circles, Tripods and All Creatures Great and Small

She later moved to the United States where she continued her career in series such as Magnum, P.I., Party of Five, ER and The West Wing where she played a British prime minister.

 





FILTER: - Obituary

Michael Jayston 1935 - 2024Bookmark and Share

Monday, 5 February 2024 - Reported by Marcus
Michael Jayston

The actor Michael Jayston has died at the age of 88.

Michael Jayston is best known to Doctor Who fans for playing the Valeyard in all fourteen episodes of the 23rd season The Trial of a Timelord. The script describes the character as an amalgamation of the Doctor's darker sides between his twelfth and final incarnations.

Jayston played the character opposite the Sixth Doctor as played by Colin Baker in the series that aired in the autumn of 1986. He later recreated the character in many Big Finish audios. 

Colin Baker today paid tribute to his old colleague

My dear dear friend, Michael Jayston has left us today. I am absolutely devastated. He was warm witty, clever naughty and a very fine actor & wonderful man. My thoughts and love go to his wife Ann and daughter Katie. Heartbroken Goodbye my friend

Michael Jayston was born in the town of West Bridgeford in the English Midlands. He trained as an accountant before switching careers and enrolling in the Guildhall School of Music and Drama.

One of his best-known movie appearances was as Tzar Nicholas II in the film Nicholas and Alexander, the film that featured an unknown Tom Baker as the monk Rasputin, a role that helped Baker to win the role of The Doctor. 

He was a familiar face on television throughout the last 60 years. His first appearance was in 1962 in the series Suspence.  By 1970 he was taking leading roles playing Macbeth alongside Barbara Leigh-Hunt. He played Mr Rochester in the 1973 version of Jane Eyre and Peter Guillam in the acclaimed 1979 version of the spy novel Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

In 1975 he headed the cast of a detective series playing the title character Quiller. 

He has appeared in a number of long-running series including Coronation Street, EastEnders, Only Fools and Horses, The Bill, Heartbeat Casualty and Midsomer Murders. 

Michael Jayston's death was announced earlier today. A statement on behalf of his family said:

Michael Jayston sadly passed away this morning after a short illness.

Those who knew Michael will know he was full of love, laughs and happiness. He adored meeting his fans all over the world.

 





FILTER: - Obituary

In Memoriam 2023Bookmark and Share

Monday, 1 January 2024 - Reported by Marcus

Toby Hadoke has published his annual memoriam of those who have delighted us both in front of and behind the scenes of Doctor Who and its extended worlds, who sadly passed away in 2023.

 

Doctor Who In Memoriam 2023
Remembering those whom we lost from the worlds of Doctor Who this year. Includes a small number from before 2023 whose deaths only came to light this year.





FILTER: - Obituary

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

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

Sylvia Syms 1934-2023Bookmark and Share

Friday, 27 January 2023 - Reported by Marcus
Sylvia Syms as Mrs Pritchard (Credit: BBC)

The British actress Sylvia Syms has died at the age of 89.

Sylvia Syms was a star of British cinema. She appeared in a number of iconic movies including Ice Cold in AlexNo Trees in the Street, Victim, and The Tamarind Seed.

She appeared in Doctor Who in 1989 playing Mrs. Pritchard in the Seventh Doctor story Ghost Light

Sylvia Syms was born in South East London in 1934.  At the age of five World War II broke out and she became one of the thousands of children who were evacuated from London, moving first to Kent and then, in 1940, to Monmouthshire in Wales. She later recalled the trauma of being separated from her mother, who was to die of a brain tumour when Syms was just 12.

At 16, she suffered a nervous breakdown and contemplated suicide but, at the insistence of her stepmother, had psychotherapy which helped her through the crisis.She trained as an actor at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art

After graduating she quickly moved into filmmaking earning plaudits with her second role, playing the delinquent daughter of  Anna Neagle in My Teenage Daughter. The following year she had a key supporting role in the kitchen-sink drama Woman in a Dressing Gown, for which she was nominated for the Bafta for best British actress

A couple of years later she was appearing alongside John Mills in the war movie Ice Cold with Alex. She later played thwannabe singer Maisie in Expresso Bongo. By 1960 had worked with Flora Robson, Orson Welles, Stanley Holloway, Lilli Palmer and William Holden.

In 1961 she played the wife of Dirk Bogarde in the film Victim. The movie dealt with homosexual activity, then unlawful in the United Kingdom, and the movie is thought to have helped change the law. In 1963 she played Tony Hancock's wife in The Punch and Judy Man. Another comedy followed with The Big Job alongside Sid James, Dick Emery, and Joan Sims.

She was again nominated for a British Film Academy award for the 1974 film The Tamarind Seed where she starred with Julie Andrews and Omar Sharif. In 2006 she played The Queen Mother in the Stephen Frears film The Queen

From the mid-seventies onwards her main work was on Television appearing in many supporting roles. In 1991 she portrayed Margaret Thatcher in Thatcher: The Final Days for Granada.  She played Marion Riley in the ITV comedy-drama series At Home with the Braithwaites and in 2007 joined EastEnders for a short run playing dressmaker Olive Woodhouse.

Her last role was in the 2019 series Gentleman Jack, where she played Mrs Rawlinson

Sylvia Syms died peacefully on Friday at Denville Hall, a care home in London for those in the entertainment industry.

She is survived by her two children, Beatie and Ben Edney who said

Our mother, Sylvia, died peacefully this morning. She has lived an amazing life and gave us joy and laughter right up to the end. Just yesterday we were reminiscing together about all our adventures. She will be so very missed.

 





FILTER: - Obituary

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

Bernard Cribbins 1928-2022Bookmark and Share

Thursday, 28 July 2022 - Reported by Marcus
Bernard Cribbins

The actor Bernard Cribbins, one of the most beloved actors of his generation, has died at the age of 93.

Bernard Cribbins played Wilfred Mott, the grandfather of Donna Noble, in the fourth series of Doctor Who. He appeared in the 1966 Movie version of Doctor Who, Daleks' Invasion Earth 2150 A.D. playing Tom Campbell

Former Doctor Who showrunner Russell T Davies, who cast Cribbins in the series, led the tributes to the actor. 

He knew everyone! He’d talk about the Beatles and David Niven, and how he once sat on the stairs at a party impersonating bird calls with T H White. Then he’d add, I said to Ashley Banjo last week… 

He loved being in Doctor Who. He said, ‘Children are calling me grandad in the street!’ His first day was on location with Kylie Minogue, but all eyes, even Kylie’s, were on Bernard. He’d turned up with a suitcase full of props, just in case, including a rubber chicken.

And what an actor. Oh, really though, what a wonderful actor. We once took him to the TV Choice Awards and sent him up on his own to collect the award, and the entire room stood up and cheered him. That’s a lovely memory.

He’d phone up and say, ‘I’ve got an idea! What if I attack a Dalek with a paintball gun?!’ Okay, Bernard, in it went!

He loved Gill with all his heart; he mentioned her in every conversation we ever had. A love story for the ages. I’m so lucky to have known him.

Thanks for everything, my old soldier.

A legend has left the world.

 
Bernard Cribbins began his professional career at the age of 14 as a student at the Oldham Repertory Theatre, remaining there for eight years with a break to do his National service in the Parachute Regiment! From Oldham, he went onto work in rep at Manchester, Liverpool and Hornchurch.

His first West End appearance was in 1956 at the Arts Theatre playing the two Gromios in A Comedy of Errors; this was followed by leading roles in the West End.

He co-starred in the revue And Another Thing at the Fortune Theatre His recording of a song from the show entitled Folksong reached Number One.

This chart success prompted the release of two more comic songs Hole in the Ground and Right Said Fred, both of which reached the Top Ten. Cribbins was incredibly proud that the former was chosen by Noël Coward as one of his Desert Island Discs

His long Television career began in 1956 in The Black Tulip followed by playing Thomas Traddles in David Copperfield. 

Very quickly Cribbins became known for comic character acting with appearances in three Carry-On films. 

His most famous movie role is often considered to be that of Albert Perks in the 1970 version of The Railway Children

Regular appearances on the BBC series Jackanory endeared Cribbins to a whole generation of children, who had the delight of Cribbins reading out such stories as The Wind in the Willows, The Hobbit and The Emperor's New Clothes. He appeared in 114 episodes of the series, more than any other presenter.

His bond with children was cemented by his voice work on the animated series The Wombles, where his gentle storytelling enchanted generations of all ages. 

Cribbins would often appear as a guest artist in well-known series, Appearances in The Avengers and Coronation Street were followed by a show-stealing appearance in Fawlty Towers.  

His first link with Doctor Who came in 1966. He was cast as Tom Campbell in the big screen version of The Dalek Invasion of Earth. He was playing the role played by William Russell in the TV series, alongside Peter Cushing as Doctor Who. It was a masterful performance full of comedy and pathos.  

It would be nearly 40 years before he made his debut on the television version of Doctor Who. He was cast as Wilf in the 2007 Christmas special Voyage of the Damned. It was a small role and expected to be a one-off. However, the character was so successful he was brought back in the 2008 series and given a back story as Donna Noble's Grandfather. He appeared in six episodes in the series cementing his place in Doctor Who history. His role in the Tenth Doctor's swan song The End of Time was vital, providing the reason for the Doctor's regeneration. 

Cribbins worked well into his 90's including many appearances in the CBeebies series Old Jack’s Boat.

Cribbins was married to Gillian McBarnet in 1955 until her death last October. In 2011 he received the OBE for services to drama.

Bernard Cribbins's death was announced by his agent this morning. . 

 

 





FILTER: - Obituary