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Donald Cotton

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Playwright, actor had wide range of talents Briton wrote scripts for Dr. Who during the 1960s

Donald Cotton, who has died aged 71, was a British playwright and actor who wrote lyrics for theatrical revues and scripts for radio and television series; with Richard Harris he created the adventure series Adam Adamant Lives!, which ran from 1966 to 1967.

Adam Adamant Lives! featured a dashing Edwardian hero, Adam Llewellyn de Vere Adamant (played by Gerald Harper), who in 1902 had been drugged and frozen alive in a block of ice by his arch-enemy, The Face.

Discovered and thawed out 64 years later, he confronts the noisy and garish world of '60s London.

With the help of a with-it female disc jockey. Juliet Harmer, Adamant ("Bold as a knight in white armour, cold as a shot from a gun") takes on and vanquishes assorted gangsters, traitors and military fanatics, cutting a swathe through modern-day crime and villainy.

Witty and stylish — the series' directors included Ridley Scott — Adam Adamant Lives! cleverly combined fin de siecle gallantry and '60s cool in the context of some straightforward, old-fashioned adventures.

Donald Henry Cotton was born on April 26, 1928, and educated at University College, Nottingham, where his father was head of the engineering department.

He then trained as an actor at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, where he took part in the first performance in London of Alphonse Daudet's L'Arlesienne. He subsequently wrote and produced Pandarus, a musical version of Troilus and Cressida.

In 1952 he directed, produced and narrated the first London production of Stravinsky's L'his-toire du soldat; it was preceded by a curtain raiser of his own, The Salvation of Faust, for which Loudon Merry provided the score.

After this initial success, Donald Cotton's only full-scale London production as a writer was The Demon Barber, the story of Sweeney Todd (with music by Brian Burke), which had a short run in 1959.

In 1956, Donald Cotton's musical version of A Christmas Carol — entitled The Merry Christmas — was shown on television with Hugh Griffiths as Scrooge, and during the '60s he wrote a number of scripts for Dr. Who.

Among his several musicals, his dramatized version of Oscar Wilde's The Nightingale and the Rose was revived last year in Cape Town to a new musical setting by Brian Burke.

As an actor, Donald Cotton spent several years at the Theatre Royal, Northampton, to which he commuted by donkey cart, having never acquired a driving licence.

Donald Cotton had a gift for friendship but he preferred to work in isolation; in his later years he moved for a time from London to the island of Anglesey, in Wales.

He married first, in 1964, Hilary Wright and secondly, in 1971, Eileen Shaw; both marriages were dissolved. He is survived by both his former wives and by his son by his first marriage.

The Daily Telegraph

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  • APA 6th ed.: (2000-01-28). Donald Cotton. National Post p. A15.
  • MLA 7th ed.: "Donald Cotton." National Post [add city] 2000-01-28, A15. Print.
  • Chicago 15th ed.: "Donald Cotton." National Post, edition, sec., 2000-01-28
  • Turabian: "Donald Cotton." National Post, 2000-01-28, section, A15 edition.
  • Wikipedia (this article): <ref>{{cite news| title=Donald Cotton | url= | work=National Post | pages=A15 | date=2000-01-28 | via=Doctor Who Cuttings Archive | accessdate=6 February 2023 }}</ref>
  • Wikipedia (this page): <ref>{{cite web | title=Donald Cotton | url= | work=Doctor Who Cuttings Archive | accessdate=6 February 2023}}</ref>