Anthony Coburn

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Anthony Coburn
James Anthony Coburn

(1927-12-10)10 December 1927
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
Died28 April 1977(1977-04-28) (aged 49)
Canterbury, Kent, England
OccupationTelevision producer, Television Screenwriter

James Anthony Coburn (10 December 1927 – 28 April 1977) was an Australian television writer and producer, who spent much of his professional career living and working in the United Kingdom.

Doctor Who[edit]

He moved to the UK around 1950,[1] where he joined the staff of BBC Television. While working as a staff writer for the BBC in 1963 and living in Herne Bay, Kent that he became involved in the early development of the science-fiction series Doctor Who.

He liaised closely with the series' first story editor, David Whitaker, on establishing the format and characters of the show, which had been initiated by various BBC drama executives before being handed on to the new production team. It is believed to have been Coburn's idea for the Doctor's travelling companion, Susan, to be his granddaughter, as he was disturbed by the possible sexual connotations of an old man travelling with an unrelated teenager.[2]

Coburn wrote four full serials for the programme, An Unearthly Child, The Robots (also known as The Masters of Luxor) and two other unnamed scripts.[2][3][4] Only An Unearthly Child was produced and it was the first ever Doctor Who serial to be made, despite both Coburn and the production team's misgivings about its prehistoric settings. The Robots was continually delayed and put back in production order, and then finally rejected – following this, Coburn severed his links with the show.[2]

Later work[edit]

He was the co-creator of Warship with Ian Mackintosh, a popular British television drama series that centred on the Royal Navy. The programme was aired by the BBC between 1973 and 1977. A book was also published in 1973 to coincide with the series.[5] Another of his assignments was the 1965, six-part series Heiress of Garth, based on the novel Ovington's Bank by Stanley J. Weyman.

Coburn produced the original pilot episode of The Onedin Line; his tasks included searching many inlets and harbours before finally finding, in Dartmouth, Devon, the schooner that would be the Charlotte Rhodes.[6]


He died in 1977[7] of a heart attack[8] while producing the second series of the BBC period drama Poldark.


  1. ^ Legge, James (10 November 2013). "Who owns the Tardis? Son of man who invented Doctor Who's time machine is challenging BBC over breach of copyright". The Independent on Sunday. London, UK: The Independent. Retrieved 17 November 2013.
  2. ^ a b c "The Origin of Doctor Who". Teletronic, The Television History Site. Archived from the original on 27 August 2008.
  3. ^ Tom Cole (14 March 2013). "Doctor Who: never-before-seen scripts uncovered in Kent". Retrieved 22 November 2013.
  4. ^ Kiran Kaur (22 November 2013). "Doctor Who collector Jason Onion has scripts from very first episode written by Anthony Coburn". Retrieved 22 November 2013.
  5. ^ MacKintosh, Ian; Coburn, Anthony (1973). Warship. Arrow Books. p. 192. ISBN 9780099077404.
  6. ^ Joan Coburn-Moon, "Answers to Correspondents", Daily Mail 27 June 2000
  7. ^ "Stories, Listed by Author". Miscellaneous Anthologies. William G. Contento. Retrieved 16 March 2010.
  8. ^

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