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Biography

Jump to: Overview (1) | Mini Bio (1) | Trivia (6) | Personal Quotes (9)

Overview (1)

Born in Dewsbury, Yorkshire, England, UK

Mini Bio (1)

After graduating in English Literature, Philip Hinchcliffe worked for a travel company and as a teacher before becoming a script editor for the television company Associated Television. After extensive experience of working with writers and scripts for a number of shows, he began to set his sights on moving into the production side and gained experience as an associate producer.

In the spring of 1974 he joined the BBC to take his first full production job after the corporation's head of serials, William Slater, offered him the role of producer of the popular science-fiction series Doctor Who (1963). He teamed up with script editor Robert Holmes, an experienced television drama writer, and produced three seasons of the programme which were broadcast between January 1975 and April 1977. He led the show into darker, more dramatic storylines, which resulted in unprecedented levels of both popularity and controversy for the series. Television watchdog Mary Whitehouse became a frequent critic of the series during this period, considering it too violent and horrific to be shown at a time when children would be watching. The frequency of her complaints caused growing concern amongst Hinchcliffe's superiors at the BBC, although they publicly backed the producer as he was delivering consistently high viewing figures. After Whitehouse wrote a particularly strong letter to the BBC in November 1976 about the serial The Deadly Assassin, in which she accused the BBC of ignoring its own guidance on the portrayal of violence on television, an apology from BBC Director-General Charles Curran marked a change in the BBC's policy. Hinchcliffe and the BBC agreed that he should be moved on to producing other programmes at the end of that season and his successor, Graham Williams, was ordered to lighten the tone of Doctor Who (1963).

Hinchcliffe's next series was Target (1977), a police series that was intended as the BBC's answer to ITV's popular The Sweeney (1975), although it failed to capture the same degree of popularity and only lasted for two series. Nevertheless, Hinchcliffe would spend the next two decades as one of British television drama's most successful producers, working on series such as Private Schulz (1981) and the long-running Taggart (1983).

Although he has worked on numerous productions, Hinchcliffe is still most famous for his time on the legendary television series Doctor Who (1963), which is still considered the strongest period of the show by many fans. He also wrote novelisations of The Keys of Marinus, The Seeds of Doom and The Masque of Mandragora. Since retiring from television, Hinchcliffe has recorded numerous interviews and commentaries on DVD releases remembering his time on the show.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Anonymous

Trivia (6)

He was the winner of the 1990 Prix Europa Fiction Prize for And a Nightingale Sang (1989).
He was heavily criticised as producer of Doctor Who (1963), especially by Mary Whitehouse and her National Viewers' and Listeners' Association, for introducing more horror elements into the series and sanctioning more graphic depictions of violence and gore. Despite this criticism, the series enjoyed its highest viewing figures during this period, with 44 episodes winning more than 10 million viewers, making him by some measure the most successful producer of the series.
His run as producer on Doctor Who (1963) is considered by many to be the high point of the entire series. In a poll for Doctor Who (1963) Magazine in 1998, four of the stories voted into the top five were from his time as producer. In fan site Outpost Gallifrey's 40th Anniversary Poll, five of the serials from his time were voted by fans into the top ten.
He has a degree in English Literature.
His daughter is the sports presenter Celina Hinchcliffe.
He lays claim to creating the film series drama strand at the BBC with Target (1977), which he persuaded the BBC to make entirely on film.

Personal Quotes (9)

[regarding his time on Doctor Who (1963)] Some of the stories of my era were latched onto as being more frightening but I don't think we ever overstepped the mark in my view and people seemed to like it because the ratings were very high.
I believe that the stories should be very well plotted and should have a lot of jeopardy and genuine excitement in them.
Bob Holmes (Robert Holmes) and myself, over the three seasons that I produced and he story edited, we ran into trouble with Mary Whitehouse a little bit because we were doing stories that the premises of which were quite disturbing. People seem to be very happy if you've got pepper pot Daleks coming round the corner and croaking, or Cybermen walking around and everybody knows it's an actor behind a mask, but where you get really good actors showing anguish and real emotional pain and what have you, that seemed to be something that the guardians of taste of teatime viewing didn't want the drama to go into that area. And I was pushing for it to go into that area because I felt that that's where we could not just make it a children's show. Not to be sensational for the sake of just getting viewing figures but in a way to make the programme more imaginative, because it's interesting to write about that and to make it happen, and something for the actors to get their teeth into.
[on David Maloney] David did some very good shows for me and we were a good working partnership. He was very skilful in his craft as a director but he had very good people skills, David, and there was always a sense of fun on his productions. If things really got down to the wire and you were very, very tight for time, he could actually go up another two gears and actually deliver the show and get stuff in. He was very experienced and very competent. I think that he saw that he could do something really good with the show and he was being asked to do something.
I always had the theory that the Who (Doctor Who (1963)) audiences were indulgent. They loved the programme and they knew they'd be thrilled, but the scenery might wobble a bit and they would sort of let that go. We tried to take the scenery wobbling out of Who during my period and try to tighten the whole storytelling up a bit and pay more attention to the design. I think we improved it in some stories more than others.
We had to rely on the story because there was little we could do with the effects. Star Wars [Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope (1977)] in a way was the turning point. Once Star Wars had happened, Doctor Who (1963) effectively was out of date from that moment on really, judged by that level of technological expertise.
I guess the thing that probably distinguishes Bob Holmes' (Robert Holmes) approach and my approach was that we did take the story element very very seriously. Although there are some beautiful touches of humour done in the characterisation in Talons (Doctor Who: The Talons of Weng-Chiang: Part One (1977)), for example, nonetheless, we took the story seriously. My feeling is that later producers saw it as ironic or a parody, so there was more humour and mucking about. Somehow it lost the narrative power at times. That's my general impression. It just seemed that was the adopted approach that was decided upon. To me, that wasn't a good thing. It got worse towards Sylvester McCoy's time, not that I'm criticising his performance at all. If I'd been doing the programme, it would not have gone that way or been like that.
In Doctor Who: The Ark in Space: Part One (1975), there's a scene where Noah begins to get infected and the Doctor and Vira meet him in the corridor. Immediately he starts pleading with them, saying 'shoot me... shoot me... I'm in terrible agony', and it turned out to be a sequence that really made your blood run cold. We ended up editing it down a bit although, with hindsight, I think it would have passed over the heads of the children and only been disturbing to adults. Similarly, with Doctor Who: The Seeds of Doom: Part One (1976) we had another scene we had to chop down where the guy is being turned green by a plant infection. You see, it all has to do with the portrayal of human pain which, curiously enough, does not worry many children but does worry a lot of adults. If you have a good actor who is made up to look horrible and who is really putting everything into portraying pain, anguish and torment then it does convey very strong across to the audience. So you have to be a bit careful. Personally, I felt those two scenes in Doctor Who: The Ark in Space: Part One (1975) and Doctor Who: The Seeds of Doom: Part One (1976) were far more frightening than the one which did create the big fuss with Mrs. Whitehouse (Mary Whitehouse) where, in Doctor Who: The Deadly Assassin: Part One (1976) cliff-hanger to part three, we held the Doctor's head under water that bit too long. So what Bob and I discovered was that, having made the series more adult and more realistic, we had to run up against the thin dividing line between what is acceptable to Saturday tea-time family viewing and what is not. I felt we steered a pretty good line and I would suggest that most of Mrs. Whitehouse's criticisms were somewhat over-hysterical. At the time, there were a lot of people at the BBC who were very worried about Mrs. Whitehouse's general onslaught at the Corporation. But, at the same time on my front, there were medical experts writing to me saying that Doctor Who (1963) was having beneficial effects on children, that it was helping children to crystallise what had previously been unarticulated fears. In other words, if a child can actually pin its fears on something that is acted out, then although the child might be frightened during the battle of good versus evil, it gains a release and a removal of those fears when the Doctor is seen to win at the end.
Basically, all the stories in the first season I produced had been commissioned by Bob Holmes (Robert Holmes). He had chosen Doctor Who: The Sontaran Experiment: Part One (1975). Doctor Who: Genesis of the Daleks: Part One (1975) had been written in a loose form by Terry Nation, and there was an outline already in for Doctor Who: Revenge of the Cybermen: Part One (1975). Doctor Who: The Ark in Space: Part One (1975) was a story Bob had wanted to do that was in a very fuzzy state when I arrived. He'd had a go at it with another writer and it hadn't worked, so I commissioned him to do it and acted as his script editor, working out the details on the lines we'd agreed. The two of us gelled! We immediately felt we wanted to make the series more exciting, and what we did with Doctor Who: The Ark in Space: Part One (1975) was to take it into the realms of real science-fiction. That point of view we then carried over into our treatment of other stories, including the ones that had been commissioned already. We wanted to lose the Cowboys and Indians approach - of men in red hats shooting at men in blue hats in caves, that sort of thing. It seemed to me that there was a poverty of genuine science fiction within the series - and by genuine science fiction I mean of the literary kind. The plot for Doctor Who: The Ark in Space: Part One (1975), for instance, is a very old plot but what I did was to take great pains to present it in an adult appealing way. We pushed the design side to make it feel real and to make it constantly interesting to the eye. Then we pushed to beef up our monsters so they would be taken seriously, even in subsequent stories where we were using old favourites like the Sontarans and the Daleks we determined to treat them slightly differently and remove the traces of silliness from them.

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