Sydney Newman

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19 Jun 1990
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Sydney Newman was born on April 1, 1917 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. He was a writer and producer, known for The Avengers (1998), The Avengers (1961) and Doctor Who. He was previously married to Elizabeth McRae. He died on October 30, 1997 in Toronto, Ontario Canada

As one of the most powerful men in British television during the 1960s, Sydney Newman was responsible for television legends such as The Avengers (1961), Doctor Who (1963), The Wednesday Play: Cathy Come Home (1966) and The Forsyte Saga (1967).

He was the head of ABC (Associated British Corporation) Drama (1958 - 1962) and the head of BBC Drama (1962 - 1967).

While at the BBC, he recommended actor Barry Letts for a directors' training course. Two years after Newman left the BBC in 1967, Letts was made the producer of Doctor Who (1963), which Newman had created.

When he was interviewed for Melvyn Bragg on TV: The Box That Changed the World (2017), director Ken Loach was effusive in his praise for Newman and said British television no longer had the people who would take risks like he did.

[on his inspiration for Doctor Who (1963)] We required a new programme that would bridge the state of mind of sports fans, and the teenage pop music audience, while attracting and holding the children's audience accustomed to their Saturday afternoon serial. It had to be a children's programme and still attract both teenagers and adults. Also, as a children's programme, I was intent upon it containing basic factual information that could be described as educational, or, at least, mind opening for them. So my first thought was of a time-space machine with contemporary characters who would be able to travel forward and backward in time, and inward and outward in space. All the stories were to be based on scientific or historical facts as we knew them at the time.

I came to Britain at a crucial time in 1958 when the seeds of Look Back in Anger (1959) were beginning to flower. I am proud that I played some part in the recognition that the working man was a fit subject for drama, and not just a comic foil in middle-class manners.