Malcolm Hulke

Born: 21st November 1924 (as Malcolm Ainsworth Hulke)
Died: 6th July 1979 (aged 54 years)
Episodes Broadcast: 1967, 1969-1974


Born out of wedlock and into poverty, Malcolm “Mac” Hulke initially lived in Hampstead, London, but he and his mother moved regularly to avoid creditors. Hulke served in the Royal Navy during the Second World War, his status as a conscientious objector having been denied. However, his service brought him into contact with Soviet prisoners of war, who inspired an interest in Communism. After the War, Hulke intermittently held a membership in the Communist Party of Great Britain, even briefly working as a typist in their headquarters. In 1954, he became the production manager for the far-left Unity Theatre. There he met Eric Paice, and together they began to write for BBC Television. Hulke's first credit came on an installment of Television Playwright in 1958. The pair also provided the screenplays for two movies: Life In Danger in 1959 and The Man In The Back Seat in 1961.

In the early Sixties, Hulke and Paice wrote a series of science-fiction serials aimed at a juvenile audience, starting with Target Luna. These programmes were overseen by Sydney Newman, who became the BBC's Head of Drama in 1963 and was a key architect of Doctor Who. During the show's formative months, Hulke worked on two adventures -- “The Hidden Planet” and “Britain 408 AD” -- but neither wound up being produced. Around this time, Hulke also wrote for shows like The Avengers (often in tandem with his friend and lodger, Terrance Dicks), Danger Man and United!. In 1966, he was approached to write a pilot script entitled Journey Into Time for a proposed radio version of Doctor Who, starring Peter Cushing as the human “Dr Who” who had appeared in two feature film adaptations of Dalek stories. However, the project failed to progress to series.

When The Impersonators fell through, Hulke found himself co-writing Patrick Troughton's swansong

By now, Hulke was heavily involved with the Writers' Guild of Britain, and it was through that organisation that he met David Ellis, another writer who had been hitherto unsuccessful with his submissions to the Doctor Who production office. Hulke and Ellis partnered to develop “The People Who Couldn't Remember” and while it, too, failed to find favour, it did lead to the duo being commissioned for The Faceless Ones, which aired in 1967. The following year, it was intended that Hulke would write “The Impersonators” for the latter part of Patrick Troughton's tenure as the Second Doctor. When that script fell through, Hulke instead found himself co-writing Troughton's swansong, the ten-part The War Games. His collaborator was Terrance Dicks who, by now, was working on Doctor Who as a script editor.

Hulke then wrote a story for each of Jon Pertwee's five seasons as the Third Doctor, many of which expressed themes evoking a concern for the environment and a distrust of authority. His most enduring creations were the eponymous monsters of 1970's The Silurians. He also provided uncredited assistance in redrafting the troubled script for the same year's The Ambassadors Of Death. Hulke's final contribution to televised Doctor Who was 1974's Invasion Of The Dinosaurs. In 1972, he and Dicks co-wrote The Making Of Doctor Who, the programme's first behind-the-scenes guide, for Piccolo Books. Between 1974 and 1976, with Dicks' encouragement, Hulke provided Target Books with novelisations of all five of the Pertwee-era serials for which he was credited, as well as Robert Sloman's The Green Death.

Away from Doctor Who, Hulke wrote episodes of Woobinda, Animal Doctor for Australian television, and was the script supervisor on Spyder's Web in 1972. But his television home became the soap opera Crossroads, for which he not only wrote hundreds of episodes but was the script editor during 1969; in the mid-Seventies, he also wrote several tie-in novels. Hulke's last television credit was on a 1975 episode of Crossroads, although he continued to work in radio. In 1977, he wrote The Siege for the Roger Moore And The Crimefighters range of children's adventure novels. Hulke also ran a screenwriting correspondence course, and his 1974 volume Writing For Television In The 70's was widely read.

Unfortunately, Hulke died of lung cancer on July 6th, 1979. Two books he had written were published posthumously: his novelisation of The War Games in 1979, and an updated version of his television guidebook, now simply called Writing For Television, in 1981. In 2015, Five Leaves published a short biography entitled Doctor Who And The Communist: Malcolm Hulke And His Career In Television by Michael Herbert.

The Faceless Ones
The War Games
The Silurians
The Ambassadors Of Death (uncredited)
Colony In Space
The Sea Devils
Frontier In Space
Invasion Of The Dinosaurs

Updated 28th June 2020