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Barry Letts 1925-2009

October 9th, 2009 (07:54 pm)

It's been reported within the last hour that Barry Letts has died. He was producer of Doctor Who from Jon Pertwee's second story, Doctor Who and the Silurians in 1970, to Tom Baker's first, Robot in 1974/5, and executive producer of the series for the eighteenth season, Tom Baker's last, in 1980/81. He also directed the Patrick Troughton story The Enemy of the World (1967/8) as well as several stories during his tenure as producer; his final story as director being The Android Invasion, starring Tom Baker as the Doctor. He co-wrote the final stories of all but the first Jon Pertwee seasons, The Daemons being credited to 'Guy Leopold', and the remainder being credited to his collaborator Robert Sloman. As the man who was running Doctor Who when I started watching, before I even started school, he has indirectly had a very great influence on my life.

He had been in remission from cancer.

GallifreyNewsBase report the story here:


Posted by: Gayalondiel (gayalondiel)
Posted at: October 9th, 2009 07:54 pm (UTC)

How sad. :(

Posted by: parrot_knight (parrot_knight)
Posted at: October 9th, 2009 08:01 pm (UTC)

It is. He added so much to Doctor Who, reinforcing the programme's ethical base, and adding characters who endure today, such as the Master, and Sarah Jane Smith. He was also open to supporting tie-in projects such as the Tenth Anniversary Special published by Radio Times in 1973, and the first edition of The Making of Doctor Who, both of which associated Doctor Who with familiarizing a wide readership with the mechanics of television production, a legacy maintained through Doctor Who Magazine to this day. He seems to have had a kindly, avuncular relationship with the young fan club organizers in his day. He taught television directing for the BBC - I wonder how many of today's television professionals learned their craft under him? A quietly influential man in many people's lives.

Posted by: gervase_fen (gervase_fen)
Posted at: October 9th, 2009 08:01 pm (UTC)
plan d

Very sad. A remarkable man, who got so many decisions absolutely right.

Posted by: parrot_knight (parrot_knight)
Posted at: October 9th, 2009 08:02 pm (UTC)

Eloquent in few words, and with verity.

Posted by: brewsternorth (brewsternorth)
Posted at: October 9th, 2009 08:09 pm (UTC)
behind the masks

*sigh* He will be missed.

Posted by: parrot_knight (parrot_knight)
Posted at: October 9th, 2009 08:14 pm (UTC)

He will, very much. It's the end of an era - Jon Pertwee might have been the 'UNIT family''s team captain, but Barry Letts was the manager.

Posted by: wrong but wromantic (sally_maria)
Posted at: October 9th, 2009 11:38 pm (UTC)
Doctor Five

That is a great shame.

My earliest memories in connection with Doctor Who are at least as much reading "The Making of Doctor Who", several times from the school library, as they are of late Tom Baker and early Peter Davidson.

So, I can credit him in part with the beginning of my fannishness, as opposed to just TV watching.

Posted by: parrot_knight (parrot_knight)
Posted at: October 9th, 2009 11:58 pm (UTC)

Barry Letts was immensely kind towards fans. The forums have been full of stories about his geneosity and his accessibility, the latter being increasingly rare as Doctor Who fandom has grown from its Gestetner machine and church hall origins. He cared about his job and about the world, and thought that Doctor Who could genuinely help make the world a better place - his stories preach against ignorance, prejudice, hatred and exploitation. I have The Green Death on now.

Posted by: Virgers! How are we doing with those explosives? (tree_and_leaf)
Posted at: October 9th, 2009 11:55 pm (UTC)

A great man, and a sad loss.

Posted by: parrot_knight (parrot_knight)
Posted at: October 10th, 2009 12:05 am (UTC)

Very much so, and underrated at the time - the cry of BBC heads of department in the late 1970s seems to have been that they wished Philip Hinchcliffe or Graham Williams was making Doctor Who like Barry Letts did, but Barry Letts didn't make television to an easily-copied formula. (He later turned the BBC Sunday afternoon classic serial into a crucible for experimentation, with multiple levels of superimposition of actors on illustrated backgrounds for Gulliver in Lilliput, and produced the 1983 adaptation of Jane Eyre, with Timothy Dalton as Rochester, which garnered BAFTA nominations when the Sunday evening serial wasn't meant to be in the running.)

Posted by: Alice Dryden (huskyteer)
Posted at: October 10th, 2009 08:45 am (UTC)
Pertwee bike

RIP and many, many thanks, Mr Letts.

Posted by: parrot_knight (parrot_knight)
Posted at: October 10th, 2009 10:40 am (UTC)

I think mourning for Barry Letts is of a very different quality than that for Verity Lambert. This is probably not just because Barry Letts was a regular figure at conventions, but because when what we called 'organized fandom' emerged, Barry Letts's era was very recent and the first point of comparison for critics of the Hinchcliffe-Holmes period. He was an immediate guru whose productions could be easily bought in Target book form, when Verity was a remote figure, busy with post-watershed drama, often on ITV; and when he made public appearances, he adopted a paternal role. The sense of loss is much more personal.