Anthony Read

Born: 21st April 1935
Died: 21st November 2015 (aged 80 years)
Episodes Broadcast: 1978-1980


Anthony Read was born in Cheslyn Hay, Staffordshire. His early life was marred by tragedy when, aged seven, he lost his father to a mining accident. In 1952, Read began attending the Central School of Speech and Drama and formed the Theatre Unlimited company with his classmate, Ian Hendry. However, Read soon realised that a career as an actor was not in the cards. Instead, he parlayed a lifelong love of writing into jobs in advertising and publicity. During this period, Read's National Service saw him join the Royal Artillery and, in 1958, he married Rosemary Kirby; they would have two daughters.

With Hendry's help, Read made unsuccessful attempts to move into television. Finally, in 1964, he earned a position as a writer and story editor for Detective, and then performed the same duties on The Indian Tales Of Rudyard Kipling and Sherlock Holmes. He next worked on The Troubleshooters, and was soon promoted to associate producer and then producer. Read continued to work as a producer for the next several years, with the early Seventies seeing him move onto The Lotus Eaters and The Dragon's Opponent. However, he grew tired of the politics of the job and decided to return to writing full-time. During the mid-Seventies, he contributed to programmes such as Marked Personal, The Black Arrow, Crown Court and Z Cars.

In 1977, Graeme MacDonald hoped to convince Read to return to the BBC as a script editor

In 1977, new Head of Serials Graeme MacDonald contacted Read in the hope of convincing him to return to the BBC as a script editor. Read was initially disinterested, until MacDonald mentioned the opening that would soon be created when Robert Holmes left Doctor Who. Holmes and producer Graham Williams had both recommended Read, who had recently explored the possibility of writing for the programme. Read began trailing Holmes in early May, before officially becoming Doctor Who's script editor in July. Although he had done some work on Image Of The Fendahl and The Sun Makers, his first on-screen credit came with the broadcast of Underworld.

Read then found his writing skills pressed into service when the planned 1978 season finale, David Weir's “Killers Of The Dark”, had to be abandoned at the last minute. As a result, Read and Williams collaborated on the hastily-assembled replacement, The Invasion Of Time, which was credited to the pseudonymous “David Agnew”. Read remained on Doctor Who for the entirety of the 1978-79 season, during which he shepherded Douglas Adams' The Pirate Planet to the screen. Adams would replace him as script editor the following year, during which Read contributed The Horns Of Nimon, a story inspired by his interest in Greek mythology.

Read's final work as a script editor was on Hammer House Of Horror in 1980. He wrote for a number of programmes during the first half of the Eighties, including Sapphire & Steel, Into The Labyrinth, One By One and Chocky. By now, however, Read was establishing a new career in publishing. He initially focussed on non-fiction books about World War Two, primarily in collaboration with David Fisher, whom he had commissioned multiple times for Doctor Who. Their first work together was Operation Lucy: Most Secret Spy Ring Of The Second World War, published in 1980. Read also served as chair of the Writers' Guild of Great Britain from 1981 to 1982.

As his print career started to take off, Read wrote only occasionally for television. During the Nineties, he provided scripts for programmes like The Adventures Of Swiss Family Robinson, Heartbeat and A Twist In The Tale. His final televised credit came on a 2003 episode of Revelations. In 2005, Read began writing a series of novels based upon his Eighties television series The Baker Street Boys. Seven volumes were published prior to his death from cancer on November 21st, 2015.

Script Editor
The Invasion Of Time
The Ribos Operation
The Pirate Planet
The Stones Of Blood
The Androids Of Tara
The Power Of Kroll
The Armageddon Factor
The Invasion Of Time (as David Agnew)
The Horns Of Nimon

Updated 5th February 2021