Saturday, 10 October 2009
Barry Letts (1925 - 2009)
It is with a heavy heart that I must report the passing of Barry Letts, producer of Doctor Who from 1970 to 1974, who has died at the age of 84.
Although his role a producer for the Jon Pertwee era will be the one he is most remembered for, his association with the program began in 1968 when he directed the Pat Toughton serial Enemy of the World before accepting the role of producer.
Having read some of the obituaries that have been published, I was unaware that not only did he produce the Jon Pertwee era, but also directed several serials, and wrote as well! He is also credited with creating Liz Sladen's character Sarah Jane Smith, and of course, casting Tom Baker as the Fourth Doctor.
After handing over the production rains to Philip Hinchcliffe, he still remained closely connected with the program including directing, writing novels and novelisations, returning as Executive Producer in 1980 to oversee John Nathan-Turner's first year on the series, attending conventions, providing DVD commentaries, and appearing in numerous documentaries about the program.
One of my favourite Barry Letts stories is the redesign of the Console Room, designed by Tim Gleeson, for the Jon Pertwee story The Time Monster. Barry went on to tell how he disliked the new design immensely and felt that the new roundels resembled plastic washing-up bowls stuck to the wall!
Although he is best known for his connection with Doctor Who, he did go on to produce other programs and adaptations for the BBC such as Great Expectations, A Tale of Two Cities, The Hound of the Baskervilles, The Invisible Man, Alice in Wonderland, and was nominated for a BAFTA for his production of Jane Eyre.
It is with certainty I can say that Barry will be sorely missed by the whole of the Doctor Who community, but the he will always be fondly remembered and the legacy he leaves behind makes him immortal!