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Barry Letts

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Barry Letts
Barry Letts
Birth date: 26 March 1925
Death date: 9 October 2009
In the DWU
Main jobs:
Stories: see credits section
Main time period active:
Career highlights
Notable non-DWU work: Sunday Classic, David Copperfield, Sense and Sensibility, Jane Eyre, EastEnders
IMDb profile
Interview

Barry Letts (26 March 1925-9 October 2009) is perhaps best known as the producer of Doctor Who during Jon Pertwee's tenure as the Doctor. A former actor, he also had considerable directorial experience. Letts made cameo appearances in several Pertwee-era episodes.

Before Doctor Who Edit

For years before entering the producing field and being put in charge of Doctor Who, Letts worked as a film and TV actor. His earliest credit listed in the Internet Movie Database is a 1943 film called San Demetrio London. He appeared in numerous UK TV series, including The Black Arrow, Z-Cars and Softly, Softly. A foreshadowing of his later career occurred when he guest-starred on two series created by Sydney NewmanPolice Surgeon and The Avengers. Newman would later create Doctor Who.

Impact on Doctor Who Edit

His influence ran deeper than the average producer of "classic" Doctor Who, as evidenced by his wide-ranging credits. He was the only executive producer of the 1963 version of the show, overseeing the work of John Nathan-Turner's first year as producer and Tom Baker's last year as the Doctor in 1981. He was the only producer of Doctor Who to also serve as a director. He also held a number of uncredited positions in the show, varying from uncredited acting jobs to writing. In this last capacity, he paired with Robert Sloman.

As the person who cast Tom Baker as the Doctor, commissioned Baker's first year of scripts and significantly advanced Robert Holmes' career as a Doctor Who writer, he also had a profound, but sometimes under-appreciated, impact on Philip Hinchcliffe's time as producer. With Terrance Dicks, Letts is also generally seen as the effective co-creator of the Master [1], Sarah Jane Smith[2] and Harry Sullivan[3].

His contribution to the casting of these characters was especially diligent. He felt it his duty to be on the look-out for suitable actors to replace companions during his time as producer. He kept meticulous records of many actors, on the off chance that one might be required to play a companion. Elizabeth Sladen was about the two hundred-fiftieth actor whose details he had recorded. (TV: The Hand of Fear) He was so taken with Ian Marter's qualities that he twice gave the actor the chance to become a series regular. (DCOM: Carnival of Monsters)

Letts is also credited with introducing certain themes that later appeared in Doctor Who. He was the first writer to insist upon including eco-friendliness and Buddhism — later seen in stories like The Seeds of Doom and Kinda — in scripts produced on his watch.

Although Letts's final formal screen acting credit was in 1966, he stepped in front of the camera to appear in unbilled cameo roles in episode 6 of Doctor Who and the Silurians and episode 1 of Planet of the Spiders.[source needed]

Outside the world of televised Doctor Who, he was the first writer of "past Doctor" adventures on audio, predating the rise of Big Finish Productions audios by half a decade. He also contributed to the Target Books range of television novelizations and adapted his own radio dramas. Interestingly, his adaptation of The Paradise of Death was the final book released by Target before their license passed to Virgin Books. He also wrote a couple of novels for the BBC Past Doctor Adventures range.

He was a frequent contributor to the BBC DVD range. While he unsurprisingly appeared on commentaries of stories which he had produced, he also came to be used as a general "authority" on the classic series. He appeared in front of the camera as himself in many bonus documentaries. He was sometimes seen on DVDs of serials in which he had no formal role, as when he was part of a general retrospective on Sarah Jane for The Hand of Fear.

His autobiography, Who and Me, was released in November 2009. Letts had been scheduled to make public appearances promoting the work. However, he died on 9 October after a long battle with cancer. The Waters of Mars was dedicated to his memory.

Filmography Edit

Doctor Who stories directed Edit

Doctor Who stories written Edit

Doctor Who stories produced Edit

Bibliography Edit

Prose stories Edit

Target novelisations

Virgin Missing Adventures

BBC Past Doctor Adventures

BBC Radio dramas Edit

References Edit

External links Edit

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