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Obituary of Dave Martin

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2007-04-17 Daily Telegraph.jpg


DAVE MARTIN, who has died aged 72, was one of the most prolific writers for the Doctor Who television series in the 1970s; with his writing partner Bob Baker, he created K-9, the metallic robot dog, which returned to the programme last year.

Martin and Baker came up with the K-9 character for a four-part Doctor Who adventure called The Invisible Enemy (1977). Although the creature itself was inanimate, and moved around on concealed castors, it did have a voice, provided electronically by the actor John Leeson.

On screen K-9 was the creation of Professor Marius, played by Frederick Jaeger.

Early versions - when K-9 was the canine companion of the fourth Doctor, played by Tom Baker - were comparatively crude, and kept bumping into the scenery. But later versions incorporated sophisticated radio-controlled devices that allowed much greater flexibility.

While K-9 Mk I was left on the Time Lord planet of Gallifrey with Leela, one of the Doctor's assistants, K-9 Mk II ended up in E-Space with another assistant, Romana.

In the stories, K-9 was programmed as a computer, given to such gnomic utterances as: "Probability computed at 0.00057, Mistress. There is a .567 error correction to that estimate. Error in error-correction estimate estimated at 0.375."

Neither Martin (who always owned a dog) nor Baker had any idea when they wrote the 1977 episode that they would develop K-9 as a regular character.

They retained a half-share in the rights to the mechanical dog, whose Mk III version appeared in the recent episode School Reunion and, after minor modification, also appeared in the first episode of The Sarah Jane Adventures, shown recently.

When the BBC decided to write the dog out of the show in 1980, so many viewers protested that producers relented. As The Daily Telegraph wryly noted, it was a case of dogged persistence paying off. But in the event, the new show, K-9 and Company, which aired in December 1981, was written by someone else, and never developed into a series.

As a partnership Martin and Baker earned a considerable reputation as ingenious and quirky writers, originally setting much of their work in Bristol, where they lived. An early example of their collaboration, Thick as Thieves (1974) for HTV, starring a peg-toothed Leonard Rossiter, won the British Television Society's award for best regional drama.

Rossiter appeared again as a seedy private investigator in their 90-minute thriller, again for HTV, Machinegunner (1976).

In the same year their children's series King of the Castle was nominated for a Bafta award. With Baker, Martin also wrote scripts for several television police series including Target, Hunter's Walk, Public Eye and Z-Cars.

David Ralph Martin was born on New Year's Day 1935 at Handsworth, Birmingham, into a working-class family, and himself proceeded to grammar school. His father died when he and his son were both hospitalised with tuberculosis.

After reading English at Bristol University, Martin worked as a flyman at the Bristol Old Vic and as an advertising copy-writer before teaming up with Bob Baker.

In 1968 their first joint project, a film of George Crabbe's Peter Grimes, was about to start shooting when the director suddenly died, and the pair turned instead to television.

After their partnership ended amicably in 1979, Bob Baker worked with Nick Park on the Wallace and Gromit films The Wrong Trousers, A Close Shave and The Curse of the Wererabbit.

On moving to Dorset, Martin went on to write four novels, police thrillers set in Bristol, including I'm Coming to Get You (1996) and Arm and a Leg (1999).

Dave Martin, who died on March 30, married twice; by his first wife Ruth he had a daughter, and by his second, Celia Constanduros, daughter of the creator of The Huggetts, he had a son and a daughter. All survive him.

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  • APA 6th ed.: (2007-04-17). Obituary of Dave Martin. The Daily Telegraph p. 25.
  • MLA 7th ed.: "Obituary of Dave Martin." The Daily Telegraph [add city] 2007-04-17, 25. Print.
  • Chicago 15th ed.: "Obituary of Dave Martin." The Daily Telegraph, edition, sec., 2007-04-17
  • Turabian: "Obituary of Dave Martin." The Daily Telegraph, 2007-04-17, section, 25 edition.
  • Wikipedia (this article): <ref>{{cite news| title=Obituary of Dave Martin | url= | work=The Daily Telegraph | pages=25 | date=2007-04-17 | via=Doctor Who Cuttings Archive | accessdate=18 April 2024 }}</ref>
  • Wikipedia (this page): <ref>{{cite web | title=Obituary of Dave Martin | url= | work=Doctor Who Cuttings Archive | accessdate=18 April 2024}}</ref>