|Script Editor · Writer|
Born: 14th April 1935 (as Terrance William Dicks)
Terrance Dicks was a voracious reader virtually from the moment of his birth in East Ham, London. In 1954, he went to Cambridge University on a scholarship to study English, after which his National Service was spent with the Royal Fusiliers. Dicks then worked as an advertising copy writer, living in rooms he rented from scriptwriter Malcolm Hulke. Aware that his tenant was eager to spread his creative wings, Hulke invited Dicks to collaborate with him on episodes of The Avengers, starting in 1962. The following year, Dicks married Elsa Germaney, whom he had met in 1957 while working at a summer camp. The couple would have three sons: Stephen, Jonathan and Oliver.
Dicks decided to try his hand at a solo scriptwriting career, and started selling plays to BBC Radio in 1966. In 1967, he began contributing to the soap opera Crossroads, on which one of his colleagues was Derrick Sherwin. When Sherwin was appointed the story editor of Doctor Who later in the year, he invited Dicks to become his assistant from early 1968. The plan was always that Dicks would eventually succeed Sherwin, but this occurred under more chaotic circumstances than intended when a number of scripts for Doctor Who's sixth season ran into problems and producer Peter Bryant became ill. Dicks was appointed the script editor (as the position was now known) for three serials beginning with Sherwin's own The Invasion. Much of Brian Hayles' The Seeds Of Death was completely rewritten by Dicks. He also collaborated with Hulke on The War Games, the final adventure for Patrick Troughton's Second Doctor.
In 1970, just as Jon Pertwee was finding his feet as the Third Doctor, both Bryant and Sherwin were unexpectedly moved away from Doctor Who and Barry Letts became the new producer. Now the permanent script editor, Dicks quickly forged a strong working relationship with Letts, and they remained in charge of the programme for all five years of the Pertwee era. Together they helped introduce enduring characters such as the so-called “UNIT Family” (including popular companions Jo Grant and Sarah Jane Smith), as well as arch-villain the Master.
In 1972, Dicks and Hulke teamed up again, this time on The Making Of Doctor Who from Piccolo Books, the programme's first behind-the-scenes guide. Dicks would later craft a revised version, issued in 1976; it was here that he originated the phrase “never cruel or cowardly” to describe the Doctor, which was memorably echoed in the fiftieth-anniversary special, The Day Of The Doctor. In 1974, Dicks wrote a stage play called Doctor Who And The Daleks in The Seven Keys To Doomsday. The same year, he began a long association with Target Books and their range of Doctor Who novelisations. Dicks would write more than sixty titles in the series, beginning with an adaptation of Pertwee's debut serial, Spearhead From Space, which was published as Doctor Who and The Auton Invasion. He also helped recruit other writers to contribute to the line.
Dicks and Letts cast Tom Baker as the Fourth Doctor before stepping down from Doctor Who -- with Dicks convincing his successor, Robert Holmes, of a non-existent tradition which led to him being commissioned to write Robot, Baker's introductory adventure. Other Fourth Doctor serials had a more tumultuous gestation. Dicks objected to changes Holmes made to 1976's The Brain Of Morbius, resulting in an on-screen credit to the pseudonymous “Robin Bland”. A vampire story planned to lead off the 1977-78 season was scuppered by the BBC at a late date, compelling Dicks to hastily provide a replacement in the form of Horror Of Fang Rock. The abandoned scripts eventually saw the light of day as State Of Decay in 1980.
Away from Doctor Who during the Seventies, Dicks worked with Letts to set up the short-lived science-fiction drama Moonbase 3, and also wrote an episode of Space: 1999. Meanwhile, Dicks' experience with the Target Books novelisations led to him writing several Doctor Who non-fiction books, and then the first of what would wind up being more than one hundred original novels, for a variety of publishers. In the early Eighties, Dicks became the script editor for the Sunday classics serials which Letts produced. He also accepted the challenge of scripting Doctor Who's cameo-laden twentieth-anniversary special, The Five Doctors, in 1983. When Letts retired from the classics serials in 1985, Dicks succeeded him, and remained until 1988. The following year, he wrote the script for a second Doctor Who theatrical production, called Doctor Who: The Ultimate Adventure.
In 1991, Dicks wrote Timewyrm: Exodus, the second novel in the Doctor Who: The New Adventures range of original adventures from Virgin Publishing. He contributed three more titles to the series; one of these was Shakedown, which was expanded from a 1994 video drama entitled Shakedown: The Return Of The Sontarans, the first installment in a trilogy of unofficial Doctor Who spin-offs he wrote for BBV. When BBC Books took over the Doctor Who publishing license in 1997, Dicks was asked to write the inaugural volume, called The Eight Doctors, which introduced companion Samantha Jones. Six more books would follow, one of which was co-written with Letts. Dicks also wrote two Tenth Doctor novellas aimed at adults with literacy challenges, and novelised Invasion Of The Bane, the premiere episode of The Sarah Jane Adventures. In addition, Dicks contributed several audio scripts to Big Finish Productions, beginning with the Sarah Jane Smith story Comeback in 2002.
Dicks died on April 29th, 2019 following a short illness. His last piece of writing, a Second Doctor short story revisiting the events of The War Games, was published posthumously by BBC Books in the fittingly-titled Doctor Who: The Target Storybook. The first episode of Spyfall, the opening story of Doctor Who's 2020 season, was dedicated to Dicks' memory.
|Updated 15th July 2020|
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