TARDIS Index File

Shaun Sutton

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Shaun Sutton (14 October 1919-14 May 2004) was a major creative force in the British Broadcasting Corporation from the 1950s to the early 1990s. By the early 1960s, he had established himself as a producer. Sydney Newman offered him the opportunity to be Doctor Who's first producer. When he declined, the job fell instead to Verity Lambert. In 1966, he became the BBC's Head of Serials — a position that effectively made him the intermediate boss between Newman and then-producer of Doctor Who, Innes Lloyd. He was thus the de-facto, if uncredited, executive producer of Doctor Who, occupying a position somewhat similar to those of Julie Gardner and Piers Wenger in the BBC Wales version of the programme.

He was particularly well known for his role in the transition from William Hartnell to Patrick Troughton. A fierce advocate of Troughton, he had to negotiate with Newman — who strongly disagreed with the choice — to win Troughton the role and to find a tone for the characterisation of the Second Doctor that Newman found acceptable.

When Newman left as Head of Drama in 1967, Sutton succeeded him. At first, Newman was both Head of Serials and Acting Head of Drama; he maintained a close supervisory role on Doctor Who until 1969, when he fully transitioned to the position of Head of Drama. Thus, he also had a significant role in picking Jon Pertwee for the role of the Third Doctor.

Despite his increased distance from the day-to-day operations of Doctor Who, his value to the programme was frequently noted by 1970s producer Barry Letts. (Who and Me) Among other things, he suggested Tom Baker when Letts was casting the Fourth Doctor. Famously, Sutton took Letts to a movie theatre near the BBC to watch The Golden Voyage of Sinbad as a "screen test" for Baker. (Who on Earth is Tom Baker?)

After his retirement, Sutton opined in a 1995 documentary that Pertwee was his favourite incarnation of the Doctor.

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