David Whitaker

Born: 18th April 1928 (as David Arthur Whitaker)
Died: 4th February 1980 (aged 51 years)
Episodes Broadcast: 1963-1968, 1970

Biography

Born in Knebworth, Hertfordshire but raised in London, David Whitaker grew up an avid reader with a keen interest in science-fiction and adventure stories. Although he got his start in the theatre variously acting, producing and directing, it was writing that held the greatest lure for him. In 1957, he was asked to adapt A Choice Of Partners -- a play he had devised for the York Repertory Group -- for BBC Television. This led to a job with the BBC Script Unit, where his work included episodes of Garry Halliday and Compact.

1963 proved to be a watershed year for Whitaker. First, the Script Unit was disbanded, but this led to Whitaker's appointment as the original story editor of Doctor Who. He began working on this new programme in June, the same month that he married Coronation Street actress June Barry. Whitaker played a fundamental role in helping shape the narrative style of Doctor Who, including contributing the offbeat serial Inside The Spaceship, which demonstrated the versatility of the show's format. It was also Whitaker who recruited Terry Nation to Doctor Who, with Nation's creation of the Daleks helping catapult the series to cultural prominence.

Whitaker took on an outsized role in various Doctor Who spin-off media

Whitaker, however, was dubious about Doctor Who's long-term prospects, and arranged other work which prevented him from remaining as story editor for more than a year. He exited by contributing a second short adventure, The Rescue, which introduced new companion Vicki. But, by now, Doctor Who had Whitaker firmly in its clutches: not only did he continue to write for the programme itself, but he also took on an outsized role in various spin-off media. He wrote two of the first three Doctor Who novelisations published by Frederick Muller (one based on Nation's The Daleks and the other on his own The Crusade). He ghostwrote more than one hundred Dalek comic strips for the weekly TV Century 21 magazine. He scripted the stage play The Curse Of The Daleks. And he was involved in developing the screenplay for two Doctor Who feature films (based on The Daleks and The Dalek Invasion Of Earth) which were produced by Milton Subotsky in association with Aaru Pictures.

In the late Sixties, Whitaker became the chairman of the Writers Guild of Great Britain, but still found time to develop four Doctor Who serials for Patrick Troughton's Doctor -- including his introductory story, The Power Of The Daleks. His final Doctor Who contribution, the Third Doctor adventure The Ambassadors Of Death, was an unhappy endeavour which culminated in his removal from the project, to be replaced by Malcolm Hulke. Whitaker also provided scripts for other programmes such as Public Eye and Paul Temple, and wrote the 1968 spy movie Subterfuge, starring Joan Collins.

In the early Seventies, Whitaker relocated to Australia where he continued to write and occasionally act. In 1978 he married ballerina Stephanie St Clair, but around this time he was diagnosed with cancer. Whitaker returned to the UK and began working on a novelisation of one of his Second Doctor stories, The Enemy Of The World. Sadly, he was unable to complete this project; Whitaker passed away on February 4th, 1980.

Credits
Story Editor
100,000 BC
The Daleks
Marco Polo
The Keys Of Marinus
The Aztecs
The Sensorites
The Reign Of Terror
Planet Of Giants
The Dalek Invasion Of Earth
Writer
Inside The Spaceship
The Rescue
The Crusade
The Power Of The Daleks
The Evil Of The Daleks
The Enemy Of The World
The Wheel In Space
The Ambassadors Of Death

Updated 4th May 2020