TARDIS Index File

Ayton Whitaker

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Ayton Whitaker was the Drama Group Administrator at the British Broadcasting Corporation in 1963, a deputy to Donald Wilson at the creation of Doctor Who. He was responsible for some of the more "nuts and bolts" decisions of scheduling and budgeting the production of Doctor Who. His job was to liaise with the planning departments within the BBC. These controlled studio space, recording facilities and other resources for the production of a television programme. He was a "buffer" between the more "creative" executives, like Wilson, Newman and Lambert and the more technical executives like Joanna Spicer, John Mair, and Richard Levin, who controlled the resources to make the show.

He was a key player in what Sydney Newman famously called the "Dr. Who Hassle" in a memo dated 27 June. The "hassle" was a struggle for control of facilities, equipment and design personnel for the production of Doctor Who. It erupted during Newman and Wilson's simultaneous vacations in June. In their absence, Whitaker became the voice of Wilson's office, making him virtually the most senior advocate of Doctor Who in the BBC. His furious stream of memos that June was instrumental in keeping the production of the new programme on course until the return of Wilson and Newman at the end of the month. As Newman wrote in a memo designed to cut through the production ennui, "While I may be ignorant of the some of the finer points of Corporation routine, it is apparent that Ayton Whitaker and others in my Group are not."

Whitaker was clearly one of the people who knew how to get things done in the Corporation. He had been the first person to deliver any specifics about what Doctor Who would be in practical terms. His 26 April memo — a reply to a query intended for Donald Wilson — set out the general recording schedule, were the show picked up as a year round concern. The memo also establsihed an initial budget of £2300/episode and £500 for the building of the as-yet-unnamed TARDIS.

He was also a key player in the battle through season 1 of where, exactly, Doctor Who would be recorded. He offered a sympathetic ear to the complaints of Rex Tucker, Verity Lambert and David Whitaker of the unsuitability of Lime Grove Studios for Doctor Who. Perhaps because his boss, Donald Wilson, was dissatisfied with Lime Grove, as well, he quickly lobbied John Mair for a move to either BBC Television Centre or Riverside Studios after the recording of the first two serials in a memo dated 10 June. (REF: The First Doctor Handbook)

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