Doctor Who News Philip Hinchcliffe

Published on September 4th, 2013 | by Drew Boynton

Philip Hinchcliffe: “RTD is a Genius.”

The Talons of Weng-Chiang. The Deadly Assassin. Pyramids of Mars. Producer Philip Hinchcliffe oversaw one of the most successful periods in Doctor Who‘s long history: the mid-1970s. It was during this time, with Tom Baker taking over as the Fourth Doctor, that the show reached peaks in both popularity and creativity.

Tom Baker and Bernard Horsfall as the Doctor and Chancellor Goth in The Deadly Assassin

Den of Geek recounts a recent Q & A evening with Hinchcliffe, as organized by the arts and entertainment group Space, in Brighton.

During the talk, the former Who-producer touched on a variety of topics related to the show, from how he got the job, to his relationship with Tom Baker (he’s delighted by him!), to his thoughts on the Russell T. Davies years. He said:

“I think Russell T Davies is a genius. He really is, because bringing the programme back could have been a total disaster. It had fizzled out, let’s be  honest, and why would they bring something back that could be so catastrophic? But he took everything that was good in the formula and moved it on into a  modern idiom in the way it was written, acted and produced, and then with all  the special effects and the action that could now take place, he could make  mini-movies each week, essentially. I think he did a fantastic job. He put in  more of an emotional tug in the relationships which we didn’t do that much. It  wasn’t the formula really and so I think he reinvented the show brilliantly, but  it could have been a total disaster. Now, I think Steven Moffat has taken on  that mantle and has done a good job.”

One fascinating aspect is how, even though the ratings were high, Hinchcliffe became one of Doctor Who‘s youngest producers:

“They couldn’t get a producer from the BBC… It was such a difficult show to produce that they couldn’t get producers to produce it… so little did I know I was walking into the lion’s den!”

And like Verity Lambert, Hinchcliffe was also 29 years old when he started the job.

The Brain of Morbius

The former producer also shed light on how the ‘showrunner’ position was approached in those days:

“Someone has to be the guardian of what the show is about. In my case, it happened to be the two of us (writer Robert Holmes) together. I think Bob Holmes and I sort of gelled and we both brought something to that role.”

Hinchcliffe’s continuing affection for Doctor Who shines through in the talk. He’s still a fan of the Doctor (“He’s just an old-fashioned hero really, isn’t he?”) and maybe an even bigger fan of Tom Baker (“He was fabulous, absolutely wonderful… I think his enthusiasm was the main thing.”)

So, Kasterborites, who would you rather see follow Steven Moffat when the time comes? A young upstart like Hinchcliffe was when he took over, or a seasoned vet?

You can read the full interview here.

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About the Author

Drew has been a fan of Doctor Who ever since he flipped through the channels late one night and saw a girl blowing up an army of funny robot men with nothing but a slingshot and some old coins. He currently lives somewhere in the woods of Missouri with his beautiful wife Barbara.




16 Responses to Philip Hinchcliffe: “RTD is a Genius.”

  1. rickjlundeen says:

    Although I think it unlikely, it would be very interesting to see Hinchcliffe step back in as show runner.

    • Lozzer says:

      As much as I love PH, I’d rather RTD step back in. Hey, if we’re really lucky perhaps Moffat will convince both of them to write for the show.

  2. Simon Magellan says:

    Given that Steven Moffat has said he consulted Mark Gatiss on the casting of Peter Capaldi as the Doctor I think this gives a strong indication of who the next Showrunner, if there is indeed to be one, will be…

    • Matt D. says:

      That scary knowing Mark Gatiss’ stories in Doctor Who are mediocre and none yet that will define him as DW writer. He’s briiliant in Sherlock but not really in DW. I don’t think anyone is capable of running the show other than Moffat yet. RTD and Moffat are like gifts from God with writing and running the show.


      • “Mediocre”? Matt D, let me introduce you to 2005…

  3. Tony Sobol says:

    With the show being such a massive brand for the BBC, it’s always going to be a seasoned vet as showrunner and I think that Toby Whithouse is the man for the job. Bags of experience producing a genre show (on a tight budget), creating arcs and replacing beloved characters in his own show BEING HUMAN means he has all the skills necessary to take over when Moffat goes.

  4. Ian Gettings says:

    Oh grief – I hope Gatiss has a script editor he can “gel” with then!

    • Lozzer says:

      I wouldn’t be surprised if two showrunners follow Moffat. I personally think Mark Gatiss and Nicholas Briggs would make an excellent team. Have you heard Brigg’s Dark Eyes? It’s utterly amazing Doctor Who.

      • Mark Lenton says:

        As soon as fans start mentioning Nick Briggs for the job I laugh. From a Beeb management POV what is Brigg’s TV pedigree? He’s not even been a script editor on one of their shows… or anyone’s? Why would he suddenly be made an exec?

        Gatiss and Whithouse both have the qualifications (showrunners on other things) and Chibnall should not be ruled out…

        • Tony Sobol says:

          Couldn’t agree more on Briggs, Mark!

  5. Ian Gettings says:

    I have so far heard the first one of the Dark Eyes, which was excellent. The second one was patchy and a bit disappointing. Did Briggs write any of these ones (or all of them)?

  6. Chris says:

    “Genius” isn’t a word I’d use to describe Russell T. Davies. Granted I applaud him for getting the show back on the air and for his casting of Eccleston and Tennant but RTD is not a good writer in my opinion. The only story of his I was able to stomach was “Midnight” which apparently he didn’t think was good enough. And yet he thought that “Love & Monsters” was good enough to air. His scripts are full of problems and his attempts to make the show trendy comes across as gimmicky. Just my opinion of course =)

    • Mark Lenton says:

      Now I think that Love & Monsters is brilliant beyond words and RTD’s canon of work (not just DW) is exemplary. Yep I’d go as far as to say Genious. But I would have put the Moff in that bracket too before his period as showrunner…

      • Chris says:

        The only thing I have to say to that is: BJ-dispensing-Moaning-Myrtle-encased-in-cement.” Brilliant work Doctor! Instead of letting her die a noble death you’ve doomed her to a horrible existence. Everybody lives…I guess.
        I could write an essay on how bad The End of Time is, a special that’s so self-aware, self-aggrandizing thing I’ve ever seen. Instead of going with class, RTD end his era of the show with “I’M SO GREAT!” Its a shame because Tennant is a good actor but I have to rank pretty low on my list because of RTD’s writing which makes him so unlikeable.
        I think Moffat’s shtick starting to wear on me during Series 6 and only got worse with Series 7.1, but I think that Series 5, despite some misfires (Daleks, Craig), was a pretty solid season.

  7. Edwardian Cricketer says:

    I, for one, would actually like to see Doctor Who get away from the current “showrunner” formula and go back to the producer-script editor team formula that worked so well most of its for 26 classic years.

    As far as whom I’d like to see in the command chair, I think it might be time to let a non-fan take the reins for a spell. Not someone not familiar with the show, just not a giddy fan-boy or girl.


    • You mean like Mr Hinchcliffe?

      Couldn’t agree more…

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