Doctor Who writer and script editor Terrance Dicks dies aged 84 | Television & radio


The former Doctor Who writer and script editor Terrance Dicks has died aged 84.

Dicks had a long association with the BBC’s longest-running sci-fi show, writing episodes from the late 1960s until the early 1980s. He also served as its script editor from 1968 to 1974 and wrote numerous Doctor Who novels.

The programme’s official fan site confirmed the news in a post on Twitter. “Just received comms that legendary #DoctorWho writer, Terrance Dicks has died,” it read.

“Genuinely gutted. An incredibly talented man who we had the pleasure of interviewing over the years. He also regularly took part in Q&As on the DWO Forums. He will be sorely missed!”

Dicks’ first Doctor Who writing credit was for the second Doctor’s swansong, The War Games in 1969. He also worked as a scriptwriter for shows including ITV’s The Avengers and produced BBC adaptions of literary classics such as Oliver Twist, David Copperfield and Vanity Fair.

Chris Chibnall, the programme’s current producer and showrunner, paid tribute to “one of the greatest contributors to Doctor Who’s history, on-screen and off … responsible for some of the show’s greatest moments and iconic creations.”

Chibnall said: “As the most prolific and brilliant adaptor of Doctor Who stories into Target novels, he was responsible for a range of books that taught a generation of children, myself included, how pleasurable and accessible and thrilling reading could be.

“Doctor Who was lucky to have his talents. He will always be a legend of the show. Everyone working on Doctor Who sends his family and friends our love and condolences at this difficult time.”

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The novelist Neil Gaiman, who went on to pen his own episodes of Doctor Who, tweeted: “I remember reading his and Malcolm Hulke’s book The Making of Doctor Who when I was 11 or 12, and deciding then that I would one day write an episode of Doctor Who, because they had shown me how. RIP Terrance Dicks.”

Dicks was born in East Ham, east London, and studied English at Cambridge University before going into TV writing.

In the 1970s and 80s he turned his hand to children’s fiction, and also wrote more than 50 Doctor Who spin-off novels between 1974 and 2007, including The Sarah Jane Adventures.

At the time of his death the father of three was living in Hampstead, north London, with his wife Elsa.

In 2013, Dicks told the tech and science website the Register that he believed the endurance of Doctor Who was down to its variety but added that working on it was often a challenge.

“When I arrived, the script situation was fairly diabolical and chaotic – they were very often late, and shows were falling through,” said Dicks.

“The most extreme example I can think of is when a four-parter and six-parter had fallen through, and [script editor] Derrick Sherwin came into my office and said: ‘Terrance, we need a 10-part Doctor Who and you’re going to write it and we need it next week.’”

Author Jenny Colgan, who writes Doctor Who books under the name JT Colgan, said that Dicks’ novelisations were “always the best”.

“Like many children’s authors he was wildly undervalued – despite being a key ingredient in a lifelong love of reading, particularly among boys, he received almost no official recognition whatsoever,” she said.

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“He claimed to be no stylist but his short chapters, clear sentences and ability to get to the point extremely quickly influenced a generation of writers. When I met him as a new Doctor Who novelist he looked at me and asked sternly if I was planning to ‘sex up’ Doctor Who, as there were very few female Doctor Who writers then. ‘Yes,’ I said. ‘I’m calling it 50 Shades of Gallifrey.’ After that, I think we were friends.”





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