TARDIS Index File

Shirley Coward

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Shirley Coward was a BBC Vision Mixer. She devised and executed — but was uncredited for — the initial regeneration sequence seen in The Tenth Planet. Without her intervention, there likely would not have been a visual regeneration sequence at all. Indeed, it had been planned as an unseen event, obscured by the cloak which William Hartnell would pull over his face at the end of Tenth and Patrick Troughton would lower at the top of The Power of the Daleks. However, Coward discovered a way to do a clever bit of vision mixing using somewhat broken machinery. The result was a high-contrast fade that suggested transformation. (REF: The Second Doctor Handbook)

She was also the uncredited vision mixer on Frontier in Space in the 1970s. (INFO: Frontier in Space) The full extent of her involvement is hard to verify, however, as vision mixers weren't credited until the later 1970s. Her first credited work on the programme was — appropriate to the person who had pioneered the visual art of regeneration — The Five Doctors. She also was credited for Paradise Towers and Remembrance of the Daleks.

Although her career appears to have ended about 1990, the lack of early credits makes it difficult to know when she started working in television. Nevertheless, she was heavily credited in some of the BBC's top shows from 1978 onwards, suggesting that her career was already thriving by the time vision mixers started getting credited.

Amongst the shows she was known to work on were Terry Nation's Survivors and Blake's 7; June Whitfield's Terry and June; Tony Virgo-directed and Johnny Byrne-written episodes of All Creatures Great and Small starring Lynda Bellingham, but not Peter Davison; Yes Minister; Geoffrey Palmer's Butterflies, Tenko with Ann Bell, Burt Kwouk and Louise Jameson; By the Sword Divided, starring Tim Bentinck, Eileen Way, Rob Edwards and Julian Glover; EastEnders and others.

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