Barry Letts, the producer of Doctor Who throughout the early 1970s, has died aged eighty-four.
The show's current Lead Writer and Executive Producer, Russell T Davies, paid tribute, saying, 'The whole of the Doctor Who production team took pause, when we heard this sad news. None of us would be here, without Barry's brilliant work in the 1970s. As a child, his show filled my eyes and my heart and my mind; he fostered the imagination of an entire generation, and his work will never be forgotten.'
Barry's contribution to Doctor Who was enormous, varied and enduring. His long relationship with the show began in 1967 when he directed the Second Doctor story, The Enemy of the World. This six-part adventure allowed Patrick Troughton to play both the Doctor and his opponent, the ruthless but smooth Salamander. It proved to be one of Troughton's most effective performances and the story's sole surviving episode offers tantalising glimpses of Barry's early directorial style.
Two years later he returned to Doctor Who to succeed Derrick Sherwin as producer, his arrival coinciding with huge changes to the show. Jon Pertwee was replacing Patrick Troughton as the Doctor, both the regular companions from the previous season had departed and for the first time, episodes would be transmitted in colour. But Barry Letts quickly formed a superb working relationship with script editor Terrance Dicks and together they forged five magnificent seasons which remain fondly remembered by millions.
Barry was responsible for casting Tom Baker as the Fourth Doctor and during his time as producer, Doctor Who introduced hugely popular enemies such as the Master and the Sontarans. He oversaw the debut of Elizabeth Sladen as Sarah Jane Smith and after stepping down as producer in 1974 - handing on the baton after Tom Baker first full story - he returned six years later as Executive Producer on Baker's final series.
Barry also directed many Doctor Who adventures including the Master's debut story, Terror of the Autons and the wonderfully atmospheric The Android Invasion. He co-wrote the 1971 classic, The Daemons, scripted two radio serials featuring the Third Doctor and penned several Doctor Who novels.
Away from the world of Doctor Who he directed on projects as varied as EastEnders and David Copperfield and produced several BBC adaptations including The Hound of the Baskervilles starring Tom Baker as Sherlock Holmes. Originally an actor appearing in movies such as Scott of the Antarctic (1948) and The Cruel Sea (1953), he briefly returned to the screen in Exodus (2007).
In recent years he provided commentaries for a number of Doctor Who DVDs and demonstrated time and again that his passion and affection for the show he produced for five marvellous years remained as strong as ever. It is no exaggeration to say he stands as one of the true greats of Doctor Who.
His wife, Muriel, died earlier this year. He is survived by his children Dominic, Crispin and Joanna. Barry Leopold Letts, producer, director, writer and actor, born 26 March 1925; died 9 October 2009.