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Barry Letts: 1925-2009

Barry Letts, Doctor Who's producer between 1969-74 and then again in 1980-1, has died after a battle with cancer. He was 84.

Throughout the decades Letts has been one of the show's most dedicated supporters. Long after he had finished working on the show he was still writing novels, audio plays and, in latter years, contributing to the majority of DVDs of his stories in commentaries and documentaries. A thoughtful, intelligent man, he guided the show through two pivotal eras, producing the entirety of the Pertwee era and then coming back as Executive Producer to help JNT during Tom Baker's last season.

His first connection with the show was directing The Enemy of the World, the Patrick Troughton thriller from 1969. When previous director Derrick Sherwin left during the transition between Troughton and Pertwee, Letts took over, and soon formed a strong relationship not only with his new leading man but also Terrance Dicks - indeed, fandom often considered the pair the elder statesmen of Doctor Who. Unusually for the period, while producer he also got the chance to direct a number of Third Doctor serials, notably saving the day when Inferno's first director Douglas Camfield was taken ill. Perhaps his single most personal story was Planet of the Spiders, Pertwee's swansong which Letts both directed and wrote, basing it on his own strong Buddhist philosophy.

In 1980, when bigwigs at the BBC were concerned about new producer John Nathan-Turner's abilities, he briefly returned to the show as Executive Producer for one series, although in the event JNT proved himself up to the task. Following the show's cancellation, Letts returned to the Pertwee era to write two audio plays in the early 1990s, The Paradise of Death and The Ghosts of N-Space, which saw the Third Doctor teaming up once again with Sarah Jane Smith and the Brigadier (this being years before Big Finish.) Latterly he also wrote a handful of original BBC novels, including Island of Death and, with Dicks, Deadly Reunion. Although scathing about the Paul McGann TV Movie, Letts gave an enthusiastic thumbs-up to the RTD series, much to the new producer's delight. A popular figure in fandom, his contribution to the show is incalculable and he will be sorely missed by all who knew him or met him.

Last updated: 19/04/2018 22:51:11

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