Barry Letts

Barry Letts was, to many of us in recent years, the steady paternal voice which balanced Terrance Dicks’s excited ‘weak R’-ing and Katy Manning’s extroverted babble on Pertwee DVD releases.

These genial observations and recollections marked the fifth decade of Lett’s association with Doctor Who – previously directing in the 60′s, producing in the 70′s, Executive Producing in the 80′s and writing in the 90′s.

It was absolutely right that he and his trusty wingman Terrance were invited to the 2005 premier of Rose, and was reportedly recognised and complimented there by some big names in television today.

Of Letts himself a tantalising glimpse was given in an early DWM interview of an ex-Royal Navy Buddhist former actor who once had a swordfight in the surf with Roger Delgado.  A man who felt that Doctor Who could be a platform for social concerns and who approached every script with the demand “So, what’s it about?”  Mention of Delgado brings us to perhaps Barry Lett’s greatest legacy to Doctor Who – his casting ability.  Katy Manning, Elizabeth Sladen, Ian Marter, Tom Baker – names which the programme is absolutely inconceivable without.  It’s interesting that having introduced Baker to the world Letts later got the chance to see him off, as executive Producer of season 18.  We can only guess at what his relationship with the then inexperienced Nathan-Turner must have been like, but I feel sure that someone who could handle Pertwee and Manning at the same time wouldn’t have found it a problem. 

In Zeus Plug I once nominated The Daemons as a DVD release I’d most like to see, suggesting that it would be a perfect opportunity to feature a documentary about Letts’ long association with Doctor Who.  Rating high on the recent DWM poll, this DVD seems likely, but now impossible to imagine without that ‘steady paternal voice’ on the commentary. 

But nowits nice to imagine Barry Letts happy in some socially conscious, mildly CSO-fringed nirvana, smiling approvingly at the ever- increasing fortunes of the programme he contributed so much to.


2 Responses to “Barry Letts”

  1. Jono Says:

    Very nicely put Al.

  2. Foo Says:

    Yes, I couldn’t agree more.

    From what Paul said on the NZDWFC forum, it seems that Barry has already recorded commentary for a number of forthcoming releases, so perhaps we will get to hear him on The Daemons after all.

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