David Whitaker (screenwriter)

David Arthur Whitaker (18 April 1928 – 4 February 1980) was an English television writer and novelist known for his work in the early years of the science-fiction TV series Doctor Who. He served as the programme's first story editor, supervising the writing of its first 51 episodes from 1963 to 1964.

David Whitaker
David Whittaker.jpg
Whitaker in an image from a documentary on the DVD release of The Edge of Destruction
David Arthur Whitaker

(1928-04-18)18 April 1928
Knebworth, Hertfordshire, England, United Kingdom
Died4 February 1980(1980-02-04) (aged 51)
Fulham, London, England, UK
OccupationTV script editor and writer
Years active1957–1973
Known forFirst Doctor Who script editor


Prior to joining the BBC, Whitaker worked as a writer, actor and director with the York Repertory Group. A play he wrote for them, ‘A Choice of Partners’ (1957),[1] gained the attention of the BBC's script department. They commissioned Whitaker to work on the programmes Garry Halliday (1962) and the long-running Compact (1962).[2]

Whitaker also contributed his own scripts for a number of Doctor Who serials, including The Crusade[3] (1965), The Power of the Daleks (1966),[4] The Evil of the Daleks (1967), The Enemy of the World (1967–68) and The Wheel in Space (1968, from a story concept by Kit Pedler).[5] Although he left the post of story editor in 1964 his final script for the show was The Ambassadors of Death (1970).[2] He had not planned to stay longer than a year as Doctor Who's story editor, as he thought the serial might not be renewed. He had therefore agreed to take up a role working on another production.[6] His other work included writing the Dalek comic strip for the weekly children's magazine TV Century 21, in addition to the stage play The Curse of the Daleks (1965).[7]

In 1964, Whitaker published the first novelisation of a Doctor Who serial; more than 150 other such books would be published in the course of the next 30 years. His own, Doctor Who in an Exciting Adventure with the Daleks, was based on Terry Nation's script for the first Dalek TV serial.[8] He completed a second novelisation the following year, this time based on his own script for The Crusade.[7] Both books were originally published by Frederick Muller, with the first also being given a paperback release by Armada. In 1973, Whitaker's novelisations (along with a third, written by Bill Strutton and based on The Web Planet) were re-issued by Target Books as part of its launch of a new series of novelisations; Whitaker's Dalek story was re-titled Doctor Who and the Daleks.

From 1966 to 1968 Whitaker was the chairman of the Writers Guild of Great Britain.[1] He moved to Australia in the 70's and contributed to the series "Homicide", "The Drifter" and "Elephant Boy" before returning to the UK .

Before his death in 1980, Whitaker had been undergoing treatment for cancer. He died leaving his novelisation of The Enemy of the World unfinished[9] and his plans to adapt The Evil of the Daleks unrealised. The adaptation of The Enemy of the World was ultimately written by Ian Marter without using any of the material prepared by Whitaker, while The Evil of the Daleks was eventually novelised by John Peel and published in 1993.

List of Doctor Who creditsEdit

As writer (1963–69)Edit

Although tasked with writing the serial that would later be produced as The Invasion (1968), Whitaker was ultimately unable to contribute a script, leaving then-story editor and future Doctor Who producer Derrick Sherwin to write it himself.

As story editor (1963–64)Edit


  1. ^ a b "David Whitaker obituary". The Doctor Who Cuttings Archive. Retrieved 6 October 2017.
  2. ^ a b "BBC Two - An Adventure in Space and Time - David Whitaker". BBC. Retrieved 26 March 2015.
  3. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 26 August 2018. Retrieved 25 August 2018.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  4. ^ https://tv.avclub.com/a-lost-doctor-who-classic-regenerates-into-animated-for-1798189561
  5. ^ https://www.radiotimes.com/news/2009-07-20/the-wheel-in-space/
  6. ^ "David Whitaker (1970's)". Doctor Who Interview Archive. 23 October 2009. Retrieved 6 October 2017.
  7. ^ a b "Media : Whitaker, David". Science Fiction Encyclopedia. Retrieved 6 October 2017.
  8. ^ "David Whitaker (1970's)". Doctor Who Interview Archive. 20 November 2009. Retrieved 6 October 2017.
  9. ^ Alastair Savage. "David Whitaker – Unsung Hero of Doctor Who". Amazing Stories. Retrieved 6 October 2017.


External linksEdit