Been and Gone: Doctor Who's longest-serving director and Top of the Pops disc spinner
- 4 March 2014
- From the section Magazine
Our regular column covering the deaths of significant - but lesser reported - people in the past month.
Chris Barry was the longest-serving director of the original series of Doctor Who and one of only three directors to work with the all of the first four doctors. He directed the episode that saw the very first appearance of the Daleks as well as the first episode to be shot entirely on videotape, Robot (which was also Tom Baker's first story as the Doctor). He was famous for some of the programme's great cliff-hangers, notably the first encounter between human and Dalek when viewers had to wait a week to actually see the alien for the first time. Barry began his career as an assistant film director in the 1950s before moving into television. He became well known at the BBC as the director of the soap Compact, before he was asked to move to Doctor Who. Among his many other credits were episodes of Z Cars, Poldark, The Onedin Line and All Creatures Great and Small.
Samantha Juste became famous as the girl who spun the discs on early editions of Top of the Pops. Originally broadcast from a disused chapel in Dickenson Road, Manchester, the programme had neither space nor budget for bands to perform live. Instead, groups would mime on stage to their records which Juste would spin on her turntable. Although her tenure lasted only three years, it was enough to make her as recognisable as the DJs who hosted the programme. Her striking good looks caught the eye of the Monkees drummer, Micky Dolenz, and the pair eventually married, although the union ended in the 1970s. She was born Sarah Slater in Manchester but changed her name when she took up a modelling career. She eventually established a jewellery business with her daughter in California.
Sean Potts was a founding member of The Chieftains, a band credited as one of the foremost ambassadors of Irish popular music. Potts, whose family was steeped in Irish music, formed the band with Paddy Moloney and Michael Tubridy in 1962. The emphasis was on instrumental music, with Potts specialising in the tin whistle, although he also played bodhran (an Irish frame drum) and the bones. The band were notable for their collaborations with a wide range of musicians, from the Rolling Stones to Bob Dylan and Luciano Pavarotti. Potts quit The Chieftains in 1979 due to the pressures of touring but became a regular on Ireland's broadcasting network, RTE. He served for a long spell as chairman of Na Píobairi Uilleann, the organisation dedicated to traditional Irish bagpipes although, ironically, he had given up earlier attempts to master the instrument.
The Computer Programme, presented on the BBC by Ian McNaught-Davis, was essential viewing in the 1980s for owners of the cutting-edge technology provided by computers such as the BBC Micro and ZX Spectrum. Indeed the former machine was specifically developed by the corporation for the programme which aimed to show what practical applications computers had. The series paved the way for the huge take-up of home computing over the ensuing decades. McNaught-Davis went on to front the two follow-up series, Making the Most of the Micro and Micro Live. Away from the studio he was a proficient hill-walker and mountaineer. In 1956 he was one of the team that conquered the Muztagh Tower in Pakistan, which many had thought was impossible to climb. He also took part in the televised ascent of the Old Man of Hoy in Orkney in 1967, which attracted 15 million viewers.
In 1941 an ambulance driver named Eileen Sykes was told to take an artificial leg from Roehampton Hospital in London to an RAF base in Norfolk. It was, unbeknown to her, the first stage of an operation to deliver a new prosthetic leg to the fighter ace Douglas Bader, who had been shot down over France. Bader, who had returned to combat despite losing both legs in a flying accident, had been forced to leave his right leg behind when he baled out of his burning plane. The leg was eventually dropped by parachute during an RAF bombing raid on St Omer. Sykes was the daughter of a wealthy Manchester cotton entrepreneur and was brought up in considerable style. At the outbreak of war she volunteered as a government chauffeuse but later transferred to the ambulance service.
Doppler was a ginger tabby cat who appeared on the weather forecasts of WSTM, a local television station in Syracuse, New York. He would regularly take his place on screen as the station's meteorologist, Wayne Mahar gave out the forecast in the open air from what was referred to as the "weather deck". Doppler was actually the third feline to feature on the programme. The first had an unfortunate encounter with a car and the second was spooked by all the strange noises around the studio and had to be retired. Doppler was adopted from the SPCA and got his name, officially Doppler T Weathercat, after a competition among the station's viewers that attracted an incredible 11,000 entries. He was retired in 2013 at the age of 16 and spent his final months in the care of an animal welfare expert.
Among others who died in February were:
Maximilian Schell, Austrian film actor
Philip Seymour Hoffman, Oscar-winning star of Capote
Shirley Temple, former child star and US diplomat
Sid Caesar, Emmy award-winning comedian
Sir Tom Finney, footballing legend
Harold Ramis, Ghostbusters actor and director of Groundhog Day
Bunny Rugs, reggae singer