REVIEW: "A Day with a TV Producer" Book

by Zepo
02 January 2000

Rickard, Graham, _A Day with a TV Producer_, (East Sussex, UK: Wayland,
1980), hardcover.

[Image of Book]

RATING: 6 (of 10)

     The book, "A Day with a TV Producer" is not directly a Doctor Who
product.  Released in the early 1980s, it was one of the books in Wayland
Publishing's "A Day with..." series in which the book would look at a day in
the life of a person with a specific occupation.  When it came to the job of
a TV Producer, the subject who was chosen John Nathan-Turner, who in 1980
had just become the new producer of the 18th season of Doctor Who.
     The book is aimed at readers of about ten years of age and the text is
quite simple to read.  Each part of producer Turner's day is accompanied by
a photograph to allow the reader to see what is meant by that particular
day's actions.  It is these photographs that reveal to us more than
anything, the true state of Doctor Who's production at the BBC.  There are
excellent behind the scene's photos of the set design, rehearsal and filming
of the story "The Leisure Hive."  Other photos of note see the press taking
the famous Brighton Beach press photos of Tom Baker and Lalla Ward.[p.14]
Another in the sequence shows Tom Baker being measured for his wax model at
Madam Tussaud's.[p.15]  But more telling than any of the behind the scenes
descriptions are the photos showing the production of Doctor Who.  As on
reads this book in the year 2000 or on, we might forget the labor intensive
process in which Doctor Who was made.  Nathan-Turner sits in front of a
typewriter as he works on a script[p.16], listens to the Doctor Who theme on
a reel to reel tape recorder, and has two rotary dial telephones in his
office.[p.24]  Also interesting to see are the producer meeting with a young
Matthew Waterhouse in his office[p.30], and with costume designer June
Hudson who reveals the new costume design for the Fourth Doctor.[p.22-23]
Also of great historical note is that we see John Nathan-Turner in a picture
in front of his production schedule board and if one looks closely you can
see that serial '5S,' now crossed out,  was originally a story called
"Sealed Orders" by Christopher Priest.[p.20]
     If one has heard the phrase "a picture is worth a thousand words" this
book reinforces the truth of that statement.  The accompanying text is dull,
but the photographic evidence of how Doctor Who was produced and in what
conditions is a strong document for those interested in remembering, by our
contemporary standards, how archaic the conditions of Doctor Who's
production was.  Hopefully though, it will also reinforce to those with an
influence over the show's future marketing or production that one does not
need to have phenomenal special effects or an all computerized office
environment to make outstanding television drama.
     This book is recommended if one wants to see how Doctor Who was made.
The text is not the strength of this book, but rather it is the photographs.
If one wants to see the Doctor Who production office at work this book is an
interesting read.

(c) Copyright Zepo, 1999.

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Last Updated January 4, 2000