Friday, September 4, 2015


For the month of September, the Television Crossover Hall Of Fame honors people of the Trueniverse who have been responsible behind the scenes for some of the great crossovers and other expansions of the TV Universe.  This being the British Invasion theme year, we are going to honor the man responsible for a series that can be nexus for hundreds, perhaps even thousands, of crossovers - 'Doctor Who'

In the past we honored Russell T. Davies, the man responsible for reviving this science fiction colossus.  I take the blame for not honoring this man first.

From Wikipedia:
Sydney Cecil Newman, OC (April 1, 1917 – October 30, 1997) was a Canadian film and television producer, who played a pioneering role in British television drama from the late 1950s to the late 1960s. After his return to Canada in 1970, Newman was appointed Acting Director of the Broadcast Programs Branch for the Canadian Radio and Television Commission (CRTC) and then head of the National Film Board of Canada (NFB). He also occupied senior positions at the Canadian Film Development Corporation, Canadian Broadcasting Corporation and acted as an advisor to the Secretary of State for Canada.

During his time in Britain in the 1950s and 60s, he worked first with the Associated British Corporation, or ABC (now Thames Television), before moving across to the BBC in 1962, holding the role of Head of Drama with both organisations. During this phase of his career, he was responsible for initiating two hugely popular television programmes, the spy-fi series 'The Avengers' and the science-fiction series 'Doctor Who', as well as overseeing the production of groundbreaking social realist drama series such as 'Armchair Theatre' and 'The Wednesday Play'.

The website of the Museum of Broadcast Communications describes Newman as "the most significant agent in the development of British television drama."  Shortly after his death, his obituary in The Guardian newspaper declared that "For ten brief but glorious years, Sydney Newman ... was the most important impresario in Britain ... His death marks not just the end of an era but the laying to rest of a whole philosophy of popular art."

In 1963 he initiated the creation of the science fiction television series 'Doctor Who'. The series has been described by the British Film Institute as having "created a phenomenon unlike any other British TV programme," and by The Times newspaper as "quintessential to being British." Newman had long been a science-fiction fan: 
"[U]p to the age of 40, I don't think there was a science-fiction book I hadn't read. I love them because they're a marvellous way--and a safe way, I might add--of saying nasty things about our own society."

When Controller of BBC Television Donald Baverstock alerted Newman of the need for a programme to bridge the gap between the sports showcase 'Grandstand' and pop music programme 'Juke Box Jury' on Saturday evenings, he decided that a science-fiction drama would be the perfect vehicle for filling the gap and gaining a family audience.  Although much work on the genesis of the series was done by Donald Wilson, C. E. Webber and others, it was Newman who created the idea of a time machine larger on the inside than the out and the character of the mysterious "Doctor," both of which remain at the heart of the programme. He is also believed to have come up with the title 'Doctor Who', although actor and director Hugh David later credited this to his friend Rex Tucker, the initial "caretaker producer" of the programme.

After the series had been conceived, Newman initially approached Don Taylor and then Shaun Sutton to produce it, although both declined. He then decided on his former production assistant at ABC, Verity Lambert, who had never produced, written or directed, but she readily accepted his offer. As Lambert became the youngest—and only female—drama producer at the BBC, there were some doubts as to Newman's choice, but she became a success in the role. Even Newman clashed with her on occasion, however, particularly over the inclusion of the alien Dalek creatures on the programme. Newman had not wanted any "bug-eyed monsters" in the show, but he was placated when the creatures became a great success. Later in the show's run, in 1966 he took a more hands-on role again in the changeover between the First and Second Doctors.

In the 2007 'Doctor Who' episode "Human Nature", the Doctor (in human form as "John Smith") refers to his parents Sydney and Verity, a tribute to both Newman and Lambert. Verity Newman, a character in the 2010 episode "The End of Time", is also named after them. A similar acknowledgement had appeared in the show's original run: in "The Powerful Enemy," the first episode of the 1965 story "The Rescue", in order to hide the fact that one character is actually another character in disguise, the role is credited to the non-existent actor "Sydney Wilson," an amalgam of the names of Sydney Newman and Donald Wilson.

For the fiftieth anniversary of 'Doctor Who' in 2013, BBC television commissioned a dramatisation of the events surrounding the creation of the series, entitled "An Adventure in Space and Time" and written by Mark Gatiss. Newman was portrayed by Brian Cox.

And so Newman is one of the few creators honored with the September induction into the TVXOHOF who was also portrayed in one of the alternate Toobworlds, in this case Docu-Toobworld.

Thank you, Sir!

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