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.
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 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.