It is with deep sadness that BlogtorWho reports the death of Doctor Who Script Editor and Producer Derrick Sherwin.
During the latter years of the Patrick Troughton era, Derrick Sherwin joined the Doctor Who production team as Assistant Story Editor. He would go onto become the programme’s Script Editor and eventually Producer. During his time on Doctor Who, Sherwin commissioned Robert Holmes’ first script for the show. Holmes would become one of the series’ most celebrated writers and later the Script Editor. Most notably Derrick Sherwin is credited with creating two of Doctor Who’s most enduring elements; UNIT and the Time Lords.
His work as Story Editor/Script Editor spanned the stories from The Web of Fear to The Mind Robber. Due to the loss of an episode of The Dominators Sherwin would fill the gap by writing the first episode of The Mind Robber himself. Following The Mind Robber Sherwin became the unofficial Assistant Producer for the next 3 serials, with Terrance Dicks succeeding him as Script Editor. Sherwin also wrote the script for The Invasion, adapting an original storyline supplied by Kit Pedler. This story saw the return of the Cybermen and the introduction of the United Nations Intelligence Taskforce (UNIT). On The Space Pirates, Sherwin briefly resumed the role as Script Editor, whilst Dicks and Malcolm Hulke were tasked with writing the epic 10-part season finale The War Games. Dicks has credited Sherwin with the creation of the Time Lords, introduced in that serial.
Spearhead From Space
Derrick Sherwin succeeded Peter Bryant as producer of the programme in 1969, producing The War Games and Spearhead from Space. Together Sherwin and Bryant were instrumental in the casting of Jon Pertwee as the Third Doctor. Sherwin also conceived the Earth-bound setting of Pertwee’s era. He considered the concept of exiling the Doctor to Earth in an attempt to improve falling viewing figures. Reinventing the programme, bringing more reality and basing it more on Nigel Kneale’s Quatermass serials from the 1950s, saw UNIT, who Sherwin had introduced in The Invasion, become a prominent feature throughout The Third Doctor’s era.
Overseeing production of Spearhead from Space, Sherwin also oversaw the transition from black-and-white to colour. He also made a small on-screen appearance as a UNIT Commissionaire. Sherwin dismissed the actor originally cast in the part due to an inability to perform the relatively simple role. A former actor himself and still a member of the actors’ union, having appeared in shows such as United! and Here Lies Miss Sabry, Sherwin donned the uniform for the scene. Derrick Sherwin was then succeeded as Producer by Barry Letts after Jon Pertwee’s debut serial, Spearhead from Space.
Further Career and Memoir
Derrick Sherwin would go on to produce other shows including Paul Temple and The Man Outside. During the 1970’s, he would also write episodes for Nobody’s House and Kim & Co. In an unflinching memoir for Fantom Publishing, Derrick Sherwin; Who’s Next?, he recanted his experiences on the show and the pitfalls of writing and producing Doctor Who. Although not as celebrated as he perhaps should be, Sherwin’s legacy to Doctor Who is unquestionable.