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Digital Subscriptions > Doctor Who Magazine > 539 > ICE AND FIRE

ICE AND FIRE

“There’s a devilment in me.” In the second part of an in-depth interview, writer and script editor Eric Saward wonders if violence is the answer.
Cryons in the ice tombs of Telos in Eric Saward’s Attack of the Cybermen (1985).

Not much is known about Eric Saward’s formative years.

“Well, that’s good. I like to be a man of mystery,” says the architect of mid-1980s Doctor Who. But Doctor Who Magazine likes a challenge. Let’s delve a little deeper…

Here’s what we do know: Eric was born in December 1944 and grew up in Welwyn Garden City, Hertfordshire. What did his parents do? “My father was an engineer. He worked at [the aviation manufacturer] De Havilland in Hatfield. They were building Tridents,” says Eric, chatting in his west London local in early March. “And my mother – well, she was his wife and did what she had to do.”

As a child, did Eric dream of one day being a writer? “First of all, I wanted to be an actor. I’d done some am-dram, which I enjoyed, but I realised very early on that I wasn’t good enough and probably would never be. Writing gelled much better with me.” When did he start? “When I was about 16, 17, I used to doodle little stories. Detective stories. Love stories. Just practising.”

He was an ardent reader, too. What literature energised Eric as a young man? “David Mercer was one. People like Brian Moore. Simple writing, but daring. And Harold Pinter, who was at his height. They were my favourites.”

Years later, when he was Doctor Who’s script editor, Eric wanted to ask Pinter to write for the show. “It was an ongoing office joke,” says Eric. “It was never gonna happen.”

“How would that have gone, if he’d said yes?” wonders Eric’s partner, Jane Judge, who’s joined us at the pub. “I would’ve handled him,” says Eric, smiling. “Problem is, I don’t think we’d have got what we wanted. It would have been someone standing on a planet, not doing or saying much.”

“Cheap to make,” suggests Jane, who’s as familiar with Doctor Who’s budgetary constraints as anyone. From 1978 to 1983, she was the programme’s production secretary. That’s how Eric and Jane met.

“Cheap, yes,” he muses. “Well, no – Pinter would have wanted the planet built full-sized!”

After leaving school at 18, Eric worked in a Welwyn Garden department store. “But I got restless,” he says.

So he moved to the Netherlands for three years, where he worked as a cost-checker on the construction of an oil refinery in Rozenburg. He married a Dutch woman, Marijke. They lived together, mainly in Rotterdam, in the late 1960s and had two children together.

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About Doctor Who Magazine

Contents include: • An exclusive interview with Jodie Whittaker. • The latest Production Notes from showrunner Chris Chibnall. • Former Doctor David Tennant discusses Jodie Whittaker. • Howard Burden recalls designing costumes for three different Doctors. • The second part of a candid interview with 1980s script editor Eric Saward. • What topped the DWM season poll? We reveal the results! • We talk to the team behind the Blu-ray special edition of 1973’s Planet of the Daleks. • The Fact of Fiction explores the 2005 story The Long Game. • Eric Saward previews his novelisations of Resurrection and Revelation of the Daleks. • Is Doctor Who a kids’ show? The Time Team decides. • How to recreate the Second Doctor’s ‘cosmic hobo’ style. • The final part of Herald of Madness, a comic strip adventure featuring the Thirteenth Doctor and her friends. • The Blogs of Doom, audio reviews, previews, news, prize-winning competitions and much, much more!