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ONE SHOW, TWO GUVNORS

Terrance Dicks and Robert Holmes didn’t just dominate 1970s Doctor Who – even today, they remain contenders for the title of the show’s best-loved writer.
Writer and script editor Terrance Dicks in the mid-1970s.

If David Whitaker and Terry Nation had stamped their authority on 1960s Doctor Who, it was nothing compared to the impact of Terrance Dicks and Robert Holmes on the show’s second decade.

From 1969 to 1974, Dicks’ partnership as script editor with producer Barry Letts revived the series’ flagging fortunes with a bold, dynamic new storytelling approach that elevated Jon Pertwee’s dashing Doctor to the peacock prince of Saturday night telly. Holmes, Dicks’ successor, struck up an equally fertile relationship with producer Philip Hinchcliff e, launching Tom Baker’s Time Lord into a golden era of Gothic horror, offering inventive sci-fi riff s on everything from Frankenstein and Jekyll and Hyde to Sherlock Holmes and the Phantom of the Opera. It’s a measure of the long shadows cast by Dicks and Holmes that, when pushed to name the greatest Doctor Who writers, not just of the 1970s but of the entire 20th-century run, no other names were offered for consideration by our panel.

The Doctor (Jon Pertwee) in The Time Warrior (1973-74), and the 1978 Target novelisation of the story.

STEVEN MOFFAT: If you were going to go with the most reliable, best writer of individual Doctor Who yarns, I suppose you’d say Robert Holmes. He wasn’t as structurally important as Terry Nation or Terrance Dicks, but if you’re talking about picking up a script, waving it about and looking at all the dialogue and the plot construction… Who’s the best at that? Probably Robert Holmes.

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About Doctor Who Magazine

In DWM 542, today's Doctor Who writers pay tribute to the series' pioneers. Featuring exclusive contributions from: Paul Cornell, Sarah Dollard, Matthew Graham, Peter Harness, Pete McTighe, Steven Moffat, James Moran, Rona Munro, Robert Shearman and Toby Whithouse. This issue also includes: • Exclusive interviews with Billie Piper and Camille Coduri ahead of Big Finish’s new audio series Rose Tyler: The Dimension Cannon. • The Robots of Ravolox – investigating Robert Holmes final mystery. • Bonnie Langford answers questions from the TARDIS tin. • 1980s script editor Eric Saward reflects on the troubled production of The Trial of a Time Lord. • The Trial of a Time Lord on trial: could it be Doctor Who’s most underrated story? • The Fact of Fiction explores the 2008 Tenth Doctor story Planet of the Ood. • An exclusive preview of Doctor Who: The Collection – Season 23. • Part Three of Power of the Mobox, a new 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!