Doctor Who Cuttings Archive

Barry Letts (The Herald)

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TV producer, director and writer; Born March 26, 1925; Died October 9, 2009.

BARRY Letts, who has died aged 84, was a former actor with only a few years experience as a television director when the BBC put him in charge of Doctor Who in 1969. It had been going for six years and it was reckoned to be on its last legs.

"I think I was asked to do it because nobody else wanted it, " he said later. "They didn't think it would last more than a year, but I was to try it and see how it went." It went very well indeed.

Letts was series producer for six years and wrote and directed episodes during that time. It was on his watch that viewers first came across The Master, a renegade Time Lord who became the show's regular villain.

Letts was also instrumental in the creation of the Doctor's feminist companion Sarah Jane Smith, who eventually got her own spin-off series, The Sarah Jane Adventures, in 2007.

During most of his time the Doctor was played by Jon Pertwee, but one of his final acts as series producer was casting the little-known Tom Baker as the fourth doctor.

He moved on in the mid1970s, taking charge of the BBC's Sunday Classic serials and winning an Emmy as producer of A Tale of Two Cities (1980), but he returned to Doctor Who as executive producer for a brief stint at the beginning of the 1980s.

The son of a headmaster, Barry Leopold Letts was born in Leicester in 1925, he began acting in his teens and served in the Royal Navy during the Second World War.

He appeared in dozens of films and television series, including The Cruel Sea (1953) and The Avengers (1964). He began writing for television in the early 1960s and branched out into directing.

His first involvement with Doctor Who was as director of the 1967 story The Enemy of the World, with Patrick Troughton in the dual roles of the Doctor and an unpopular dictator who looked just like him.

Between 1967 and 1981 Letts wrote, directed and/or produced more than 150 episodes. He also wrote various Doctor Who novelisations and was reunited with Jon Pertwee on a radio version in the 1990s.

Following his death, one fan site described him as "one of the most important figures in Doctor Who history".

His wife died earlier this year. They are survived by three children - Janna, Dominic and Crispin - and two grandchildren.

Disclaimer: These citations are created on-the-fly using primitive parsing techniques. You should double-check all citations. Send feedback to whovian@cuttingsarchive.org

  • APA 6th ed.: Pendreigh, Brian (2009-10-16). Barry Letts (The Herald). The Herald p. 18.
  • MLA 7th ed.: Pendreigh, Brian. "Barry Letts (The Herald)." The Herald [add city] 2009-10-16, 18. Print.
  • Chicago 15th ed.: Pendreigh, Brian. "Barry Letts (The Herald)." The Herald, edition, sec., 2009-10-16
  • Turabian: Pendreigh, Brian. "Barry Letts (The Herald)." The Herald, 2009-10-16, section, 18 edition.
  • Wikipedia (this article): <ref>{{cite news| title=Barry Letts (The Herald) | url=http://cuttingsarchive.org/index.php/Barry_Letts_(The_Herald) | work=The Herald | pages=18 | date=2009-10-16 | via=Doctor Who Cuttings Archive | accessdate=22 January 2021 }}</ref>
  • Wikipedia (this page): <ref>{{cite web | title=Barry Letts (The Herald) | url=http://cuttingsarchive.org/index.php/Barry_Letts_(The_Herald) | work=Doctor Who Cuttings Archive | accessdate=22 January 2021}}</ref>