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,Â 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 Â£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-worldlinessÂ Â Taylor deserves every accolade for his sterling work.