Monday, 13 February 2012

Doctor Who Do You Think You Are?

I love it when worlds collide! One of my passions apart from genealogy is cult television, particularly shows from the 60s such as The Prisoner and Doctor Who. Earlier today I purchased a DVD of an old William Hartnell Doctor Who story from 1964, the ninth story ever made, entitled The Sensorites. Little did I know that I was about to watch a half hour of genealogy related programming...

It seems that the writer of the episode, Peter R. Newman, had only once written a story for the series. As a consequence very little was known about his career, and so the DVD makers, funded by the BBC, decided to commission a special feature as an extra to try to find out more about him. In the feature the presenter tried to find out about Newman by first visiting Westminster Registry Office to locate his death certificate from 1975. Further investigation then took him to meet the archivist of the old Hammer films studios at Shepperton Studios, where it was discovered that Newman had written a war film of all things for Hammer, but had later priced himself out of the market as a writer.

Following his story for Doctor Who nothing further was known about him. Tracing his parents back to Ilford in Essex through his birth certificate the presenter established the names of several siblings, and through investigation into local electoral registers for the area he then traced the writer's sister and niece, who recalled his final days. Having developed writer's block Newman had taken up a job as a porter at the Tate Gallery, but had later collapsed from a cerebral haemorrhage in 1975 and died. The feature ended with the presenter interviewing the niece, and her comments that he would have been delighted that a show written for children almost 50 years should still see his name discussed all these years later. The presenter concluded the piece by then listening to an audio recording made by the writer in the 1960s, in which he had recited some Shakespeare.

Completely unexpected - who needs a celebrity for an interesting genealogy show?!

Now to the main feature....! :)


1 comment:

  1. Dr. Who and genealogy ... it doesn't get any better than that!