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Designs Life for

Michael Pickwoad died in August, leaving a tremendous legacy of film and television work. Among his greatest achievements was seven years of outstanding production design for Doctor Who.
Michael Pickwoad examines a model of his TARDIS set.
The TARDIS set under construction at Roath Lock Studios.
Michael’s father, William Mervyn, as Sir Charles Summer and William Hartnell as the Doctor in The War Machines (1966).
George S Patton (George C Scott) and Omar N Bradley (Karl Malden) in Patton (1970).
A poster for House of the Long Shadows (1983).

“I f you can make the impossible look plausible, you’re going somewhere in the right direction,” Michael Pickwoad told me when I interviewed him earlier this year. He was proud of his design work on an astonishing 61 episodes of Doctor Who, as well as all eight instalments of the 2016 spin-off series Class. At 73 he had the creative energy of someone half his age, so it came as a shock to learn of his death.

Born in Windsor on 11 July 1945, Michael was the son of the character actor William Mervyn (1912-76; full name: William Mervyn Pickwoad) and stage designer Anne Margaret Payne Cook. Michael attended Charterhouse School in Surrey prior to studying environmental and civil engineering at Southampton University. The year before Michael graduated, his father guest-starred in the 1966 Doctor Who serial The War Machines. In 2011 Michael recalled witnessing his father confronting a robot menace on the streets of London; it was one of several First Doctor adventures that he saw. “I remember watching [Doctor Who] and it was always interestingly worrying,” he said. “I particularly liked the psychology of the stories, and, provided the set didn’t fall down, you sort of believed it.”

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About Doctor Who Magazine

Contents include: • An exclusive interview with Bradley Walsh • Previews of the next four episodes: Rosa, Arachnids in the UK, The Tsuranga Conundrum and Demons of the Punjab • A tribute to Michael Pickwoad, Doctor Who's production designer from 2010 to 2017 • A look back at the origins of UNIT, which made its debut in Doctor Who 50 years ago • DWM investigates the role a military organisation like UNIT plays in Doctor Who • An interview with John Levene, who played UNIT's Sergeant Benton • Members of Series 11's Script and Story Department describe their roles • The Thirteenth Doctor makes her DWM comic strip debut in part one of Warmonger • A tribute to Jacqueline Pearce, who was Chessene in 1985's The Two Doctors and more recently played Cardinal Ollistra in Big Finish's War Doctor audio adventures • The Time Team listens to some Who-related chart hits • Tips from Thirteenth Doctor cosplayers • Our verdict on the first two episodes of Series 11: The Woman Who Fell to Earth and The Ghost Monument • Previews, audio and book reviews, news, The Blogs of Doom, prize-winning competitions and much, much more!