Born: 1st October 1944 (as Philip Michael Hinchcliffe)
Hailing from Dewsbury, Yorkshire, Philip Hinchcliffe harboured a love of adventure stories which dated back to his childhood. After completing a degree in English Literature at Cambridge University, Hinchcliffe had aspirations to write for television. After a brief period as a teacher, he joined Associated Television and began contributing to the soap opera Crossroads. Hinchcliffe more often worked as a script editor, however, earning credits on shows like Alexander The Greatest, The Jensen Code and The Kids From 47A. At Associated he met Deirdre Hanefey, and they married in 1970. They had two children: son Christian, born in 1973, and daughter Celina, born in 1976. Celina became a well-known sports reporter, and contributed to the DVD release of The Android Invasion.
Associated gave Hinchcliffe his first taste of producing, in an associate role on General Hospital. Eager for more, Hinchcliffe asked his agent to approach Bill Slater, the BBC's new Head of Serials. Struggling to find a replacement for outgoing Doctor Who producer Barry Letts, Slater quickly offered Hinchcliffe the job. He began trailing Letts in the spring of 1974, and formally took over as work began on Season Twelve. Letts had already cast Tom Baker as the Fourth Doctor -- and, indeed, would produce his introductory adventure, Robot -- but Hinchcliffe worked closely with Baker and new script editor Robert Holmes to develop the role.
All three men were eager to appeal to a broader audience by making Doctor Who more atmospheric and sophisticated. Classic horror tales were regularly mined for story ideas, and Hinchcliffe did not shy away from pushing the envelope when it came to what was acceptable at Saturday teatime. Audiences embraced the approach, but Hinchcliffe also faced fierce criticism for Doctor Who's content, both from outside the BBC and within it. Having made three seasons of the show, he was still contemplating whether to remain for a fourth year when he was introduced to his successor, Graham Williams. Hinchcliffe would instead take over Williams' latest project, which he redeveloped as the hard-edged police drama Target.
For a time, Hinchcliffe retained a connection with Doctor Who. In 1978, he submitted a story idea called “Valley Of The Lost”, later adapted for audio by Big Finish Productions. He also wrote three novelisations for Target Books between 1977 and 1980. For the most part, however, Hinchcliffe moved on to new projects. The Eighties saw him in charge of programmes like Private Schulz, Nancy Astor and Strangers And Brothers. Bust was his own creation and, in addition to producing, he also contributed several scripts.
Nineties television included The Gravy Train, Friday On My Mind (which provided one of the first lead roles for Christopher Eccleston, the future Ninth Doctor) and Downwardly Mobile. Hinchcliffe also produced two feature films: An Awfully Big Adventure, starring Alan Rickman and Hugh Grant, and an early Leonardo DiCaprio vehicle called Total Eclipse. In the late Nineties, Hinchcliffe joined Scottish Television, and soon became its Controller of Drama. In this capacity, he oversaw programmes such as Rebus and Taggart, taking his career into the twenty-first century. Hinchcliffe subsequently wound down his work in television but, from 2014, he contributed occasional Doctor Who story ideas to Big Finish Productions under their Philip Hinchcliffe Presents banner.
|Updated 23rd October 2020|
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