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The director Rodney Bennett, who has died aged 81, oversaw three very different productions during the early years of Tom Baker’s tenure as the Doctor.


The Ark in Space (1975) – Bennett’s first credit on Doctor Who – marked a sea change for the series. The new emphasis – which was on psychological horror and plausible, hard-edged science-fiction found an ideal home amidst the stark, clinical environment of the suspended-animation repository of Earth’s last survivors. The impressive sets, designed by Roger Murray-Leach and lit by Nigel Wright, were shot to their full potential by Bennett’s cameras. Murray- Leach remembers Bennett with affection: “My enduring memory of him was his sense of humour – he had one of the most infectious laughs. If you came up with a convincing argument to back up your ideas he was prepared to give them a go and give you free rein. He was a thoroughly nice person, an attribute all too rare in this industry.”

Bennett would have liked to have got the camera even higher when capturing the Doctor’s famous speech about Mankind’s indomitability, but the restrictions of the studio prevented this. It is, nonetheless, the scene which emphasises that Tom Baker is fully in command of the character and remains one of the most memorable ‘Doctor Moments’ in the show’s history. The story is also remarkable because of its unflinching approach to the horrific. Indeed, producer Philip Hinchcliffe – not known to flinch from difficult scenes – opted to cut an exchange in which base commander Noah asks Vira to kill him as he deemed it too horrific.

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About Doctor Who Magazine

Contents include: An interview with actor and Doctor Who fan Rufus Hound; Showrunner Steven Moffat answers readers’ burning questions; a feature by Steve Lyons investigates the weird world of the supernatural in the Doctor Who universe; the feature 'Crack of Doom' finds out more about Big Finish’s audio box set Doom Coalition 4; Toby Hadoke pays tribute to Rodney Bennett, the director who oversaw three very different productions during the early years of Tom Baker’s tenure as the Doctor; the original Master returns for new comic strip adventure 'Doorway to Hell' part two, by Mark Wright, with art by Staz Johnson; 'The Fact of Fiction' examines 1972's 'The Mutants'; The Time Team rewatch the 2011 series opener 'The Impossible Astronaut'; plus Previews, book and audio reviews, news, the Watcher's column, the annual season survey poll, prize-winning competitions and much more!