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Published on June 26th, 2010 | by Andrew Reynolds

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Pennant Roberts

As reported by GallifreyNewsBase Doctor Who Director Pennant Roberts has passed away at the age of 69.

Pennant was a well respected Television director working during the 70’s and 80’s on such classic programmes as The Onedin Line, Doomwatch, Survivors, Angels, Blake’s 7, Juliet Bravo, Tenko and Howard’s Way.

Doctor Who director Pennant Roberts, 1940-2010He directed six stories for Doctor Who. His first, in 1977, was the Fourth Doctor story The Face of Evil which saw the introduction of Leela.

He returned later that year to direct The Sun Makers and then a year later in 1978 to direct the Douglas Adams story The Pirate Planet.

After completing work on this story Roberts submitted a story outline called “Dragons of Fear” which saw the Doctor landing on the green world of Erinella (a Celtic pun meaning ‘Perhaps Island’) where the sky changes colour instead of night falling – days are known as whites and nights are known as blues by the natives who capture the Doctor believing him to have murdered a local Lord. The finale of the story would have seen Romana leading a Dragon army against the scheming Errinellan Queen.

The episode was shelved by producer Graham Williams because the high amount of technical work was too expensive to realise. The episode was replaced by The Horns Of Nimon.

Roberts also directed the never completed Douglas Adams story Shada, the seventeenth series climax that was curtailed by industrial action at the BBC.

Parts of this story were later used in the twentieth anniversary story The Five Doctors. In 1984, as one of the only returning directors during the John Nathan-Turner era, Pennant was charged with bring back the Silurians and the Sea Devils in the Fifth Doctor story Warriors of the Deep. However, the production of that episode was compromised when Prime Minster at the time Margaret Thatcher called a snap election, which would require the Doctor Who studios, bringing filming forward by several months and leaving little time for pre-production.

Roberts’ final Doctor Who story was the Sixth Doctor tale Timelash in 1985. In 2008 Pennant Roberts, who also directed several episodes of the original Survivors series, spoke in favour of the 2008 remake, written by Adrian Hodges.

Louise Jameson, who appeared as Leela in The Face of Evil and worked with Roberts on Tenko spoke to GallifreyBase and The Doctor Who News Page paying tribute to him.

“I have the sad duty of posting you the message that the wonderful Pennant Roberts died on Tuesday June 22nd at 6.30pm. The passing was very peaceful and dignified and his loving wife, Betsan, was at the hospice. He had been bravely fighting cancer for a year. He helped shape my life, not just on screen but off it too, and I feel the loss of him more acutely than I can express.

“However his absence will be felt by many, many more in many, many ways. He had the gift of being able to bring out the best in people, be that in a rehearsal room or around a dinner table. In his own words ‘sorry to bow out early’. Rest in peace darling Pen.”

It is with regret that we give our best wishes to Roberts’ surviving family.

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Everyone has a favourite Doctor and mine - just for his honesty, his fairness and his ability to not notice the Master's awful, awful disguises/anagrams (Sir Gilles Estram!?!) - has to be the Fifth Doctor, Peter Davison. The stories didn’t serve him as well as his acting served those stories.




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