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Published on January 17th, 2011 | by Andrew Reynolds

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Norman Taylor

Kasterborous is sad to report the passing of Norman Taylor, one of the technicians behind the original, groundbreaking Doctor Who title sequence.

Norman was Technical Operations Manager on Crew 9 based at Lime Grove, London, who, during down time made the serendipitous discover of the ‘visual howl-around’- the haunting effect that was a mainstay of the show until being replaced by the star effect in 1980.

After experimenting with a camera filming a monitor showing its own image, Norman found that:

“I got the usual effect of diminishing images of the monitor disappearing into limbo, when suddenly some stray light hit the monitor screen and the whole picture went mobile with swirling patterns of black and white. Later I repeated the experiment but fed a black and white caption mixed with the camera output to the monitor, and very soon got the Doctor Who effect.”

The titles were believed to have been recorded in August 1963 in TC5 at Television Centre where Bernard Lodge, who was credited as creating the titles, was marshaling proceedings from the gallery while Taylor lit a match to trigger the ‘howl-around’ while Hugh Sheppard operated the camera.

Taylor was given a Technical Suggestion award of £25.00, a handsome fee at the time.

Later in life, Norman claimed to be:

“Somewhat miffed that Bernard Lodge got the credit when all he did was to produce one white on black caption”.

For discovering such a vital component in giving Doctor Who its other-worldliness  Taylor deserves every accolade for his sterling work.

(Via Gallifreynewsbase)

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About the Author

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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.




2 Responses to Norman Taylor

  1. avatar Proud daugther says:

    It is Norman’s daughter here. Thank you so much for posting this. I have always been immensely proud of the fact that my father helped created the title sequence effects and take great comfort that Doctor Who fans have chosen to note his achievements.

    Thank You.


  2. Hi Proud daughter

    As you will know, Norman Taylor’s role is one of those things that has been terribly overlooked, just as the input of Delia Derbyshire in the theme tune and Raymond Cusick in the design of the Daleks.

    However there is something ethereal about the swirling effect – when I took the screen captures above I watched the intro far many more times than necessary as it is simply amazing. I should also add that I attempted to replicate the effect many years ago when studying a city and guilds in TV and video production, with some success, the sequence having left an impression on me.

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