Eric Saward

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Eric Saward
Born (1944-12-09) 9 December 1944 (age 71)
Occupation scriptwriter and script editor
Partner(s) Paula Woolsey (former)
Children Natasha

Eric Saward (pronounced SAY-ward) was born on 9 December 1944 and became a scriptwriter and script editor for the BBC, resigning from the latter post on the TV programme Doctor Who in 1986.

His career as a scriptwriter began with drama for radio while he was working as a teacher. Later he was able to cross into full-time writing. He was approached by then Doctor Who script editor Christopher H. Bidmead to submit some ideas to the series on the strength of a recommendation from the senior drama script editor at BBC Radio. He received a commission to write the story The Visitation. This in turn led to his appointment as script editor on the recommendation of Antony Root, who had briefly replaced Bidmead. In addition to his role as script editor, Saward also wrote the television stories Earthshock, Resurrection of the Daleks[1] and Revelation of the Daleks.[2]

He has claimed in interviews that he also performed uncredited writing duties, over and above that normally expected of a script editor, on The Awakening, The Twin Dilemma, Attack of the Cybermen and The Trial of a Time Lord, amongst others. Not all of these claims have been substantiated by other sources.

Saward's other Who writings include the 1983 short story, Birth of a Renegade in the special magazine published by Radio Times at the time of the The Five Doctors (1983), the 20th Anniversary Special' (and Starlog Press in the U.S.) and the 1985 radio play Slipback which was broadcast on Radio 4.[3] He wrote the novelisations of The Twin Dilemma and Attack of the Cybermen, as well as those of The Visitation and Slipback, for Target Books' Doctor Who range. His two Dalek stories remain among the few never novelised, while Earthshock was novelised by Ian Marter.[4]

Saward aroused controversy in 1985 because many of the stories of Colin Baker's first season in the role contained numerous scenes of graphic violence and darker themes, which many commentators felt was inappropriate for a programme aimed at a family audience (the season featured acid baths, hangings, cell mutation experiments, executions by laser, cannibalism, poisonings, stabbings, suffocation by cyanide and a man having his hands crushed). Unlike the criticism of violence levelled against the series by Mary Whitehouse during the Philip Hinchcliffe era, disapproval this time came from members of the general public and some Doctor Who fans, as well as Whitehouse. BBC 1 controller Michael Grade publicly criticised the violence featured in Colin Baker's first season and claimed it was one of his reasons for putting the series on an 18-month hiatus during 1985 and 1986. Saward defended these scenes, claiming they were intended to be dramatic and intended to warn audiences against real-world violence. [5]

He did not always have a harmonious relationship with Doctor Who's producer John Nathan-Turner which gave rise to occasional tensions behind the scenes.[6] Saward often complained at Nathan-Turner's insistence on not hiring experienced Doctor Who writers, which led to his having to work hard, not always successfully, on unsuitable scripts submitted by rookie writers. Saward also disagreed with Nathan-Turner's casting of Colin Baker as the Sixth Doctor. This came to a head during the production of The Trial of a Time Lord in the middle of 1986 and he resigned as Script Editor before the completion of production. Nevertheless, Saward's association with the show continued — in the 1990s he wrote linking narration for Doctor Who audio releases of missing episodes, and more recently he has appeared in interviews on DVDs of his serials[7][8] and contributed a short story to the Big Finish Short Trips collection.[9] He also writes for German radio drama.

In terms of personal life, Saward lived in the Netherlands for three years where he was briefly married. He also had a relationship with fellow writer Paula Woolsey for a number of years. He has two daughters named Natasha and Marielle.


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Preceded by
Antony Root
Doctor Who Script Editor
Succeeded by
Andrew Cartmel