RIP Barry Letts

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RIP Barry Letts

Postby HGervais » Fri Oct 09, 2009 1:42 pm

Sad day for Doctor Who fandom. Details from Gallifrey News Base:
Barry Letts, producer of Doctor Who through one of its most fondly-remembered periods with Jon Pertwee as the Third Doctor from 1970 to 1974, has died at the age of eighty-four.

Previously an actor, Letts moved behind the camera in the 1960s, finding work as a director on several programmes for BBC television. He first worked on Doctor Who as director of the 1968 Patrick Troughton serial Enemy of the World, before accepting the job of producer during production Jon Pertwee's first season, in 1969. Working closely in association with script editor Terrance Dicks, Letts oversaw the creative direction and production of the programme for the following five seasons.

In addition to his producing role, Letts also directed several serials during his time in charge of the programme - Terror of the Autons, Carnival of Monsters and Planet of the Spiders. In addition, he handled much of the direction for Inferno after Douglas Camfield was taken ill, and after leaving the series as producer he directed The Android Invasion for his successor, Philip Hinchcliffe. He also co-wrote The Daemons with Robert Sloman (under the pseudonym 'Guy Leopold') and worked closely with Sloman on the writer's other scripts for the programme.

Letts's legacy to the programme included the creation of the character Sarah Jane Smith, played by Elisabeth Sladen on the BBC to this day, and the decision to cast Tom Baker as the Fourth Doctor. The latter was a decision for which Tom Baker was always ready to express immense gratitude, as when Letts appeared on his episode of "This is Your Life" in the year 2000.

Letts remained fond of and connected with the series right up until his death. When producer Graham Williams broke his leg during production of season 16 in 1978 Letts helped to keep an eye on the series, and more officially he served as Executive Producer in 1980, overseeing the inexperienced John Nathan-Turner's first season in charge of the programme. For many years thereafter Letts also penned novels, novelisations and radio serials connected to the programme. He also appeared on DVD commentaries and in various documentaries.

He also gained extensive credits outside of Doctor Who, most notably as producer of the BBC's "Classic Serial" strand during the late 1970s and early 1980s. In this role he produced many acclaimed and award-winning adaptations of classic novels, including "Great Expectations", "Alice in Wonderland" and "Jane Eyre". Later, he directed episodes for the soap opera "EastEnders".
"The most dementing of all modern sins: the inability to distinquish excellence from success."-David Hare
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Re: RIP Barry Letts

Postby HGervais » Fri Oct 09, 2009 1:45 pm

And from Relative Dimensions:
Barry Letts, Doctor Who's producer between 1969-74 and then again in 1980-1, has died after a battle with cancer. He was 84.

Throughout the decades Letts has been one of the show's most dedicated supporters. Long after he had finished working on the show he was still writing novels, audio plays and, in latter years, contributing to the majority of DVDs of his stories in commentaries and documentaries. A thoughtful, intelligent man, he guided the show through two pivotal eras, producing the entirety of the Pertwee era and then coming back as Executive Producer to help JNT during Tom Baker's last season.

His first connection with the show was directing The Enemy of the World, the Patrick Troughton thriller from 1969. When previous director Derrick Sherwin left during the transition between Troughton and Pertwee, Letts took over, and soon formed a strong relationship not only with his new leading man but also Terrance Dicks - indeed, fandom often considered the pair the elder statesmen of Doctor Who. Unusually for the period, while producer he also got the chance to direct a number of Third Doctor serials, notably saving the day when Inferno's first director Douglas Camfield was taken ill. Perhaps his single most personal story was Planet of the Spiders, Pertwee's swansong which Letts both directed and wrote, basing it on his own strong Buddhist philosophy.

In 1980, when bigwigs at the BBC were concerned about new producer John Nathan-Turner's abilities, he briefly returned to the show as Executive Producer for one series, although in the event JNT proved himself up to the task. Following the show's cancellation, Letts returned to the Pertwee era to write two audio plays in the early 1990s, The Paradise of Death and The Ghosts of N-Space, which saw the Third Doctor teaming up once again with Sarah Jane Smith and the Brigadier (this being years before Big Finish.) Latterly he also wrote a handful of original BBC novels, including Island of Death and, with Dicks, Deadly Reunion. Although scathing about the Paul McGann TV Movie, Letts gave an enthusiastic thumbs-up to the RTD series, much to the new producer's delight. A popular figure in fandom, his contribution to the show is incalculable and he will be sorely missed by all who knew him or met him.
"The most dementing of all modern sins: the inability to distinquish excellence from success."-David Hare
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