Thursday 19 December 2019

Donald Tosh (1935 - 2019)

Sad to say that it was reported yesterday that former Story Editor Donald Tosh passed away at the beginning of December. He was the third holder of that post on Doctor Who, taking over from Dennis Spooner in 1965 with The Time Meddler. He worked briefly alongside producer Verity Lambert, but is best known for his partnership with her replacement John Wiles. Both were keen to move the programme into new areas, with more hard science-fiction concepts. Unfortunately they were saddled with a 12 episode Dalek story and other scripts already commissioned which they were not happy with. Wiles also, famously, failed to hit it off with William Hartnell and the two hated each other. It was Tosh who was often called upon to placate the irritable star. It is said that The Ark is the one story which actually reflected the vision of Tosh and Wiles. Wiles resigned after only a short time in the role, and Tosh decided to go with him out of loyalty. He pretty much rewrote The Massacre, to make it more historically accurate, and he totally rewrote The Celestial Toymaker - though it was then overhauled by the incoming Story Editor Gerry Davis, leaving little of Tosh's work in the finished story.
Tosh has featured on only a few DVD extras, but he did make a cameo appearance in An Adventure In Space And Time, the 50th Anniversary drama, as one of the guests at Verity Lambert's leaving party.
Since 2005 the programme has been run using the Showrunner model but, back in the Classic Era, the creative force behind Doctor Who was the Producer / Story Editor partnership. Wiles / Tosh may not have the same high profile as Hinchcliffe / Holmes or Letts / Dicks, but they did oversee a particularly turbulent period of the show's development, attempting to guide it in new directions. Sad to say, none of the people who made up these partnerships from the 1960's and 70's now survives save for ex-producer Philip Hinchcliffe. Tosh was the last of the pre-JNT story editors, so an important part of the programme's history passes with him. RIP.

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