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Eric Saward (pronounced SAY-ward) (born 9 December 1944) is an English writer. He is best known as the script editor on the BBC television series Doctor Who from 1982 until 1986, for which he also wrote several stories.[1]

Eric Saward
Born (1944-12-09) 9 December 1944 (age 74)
OccupationScriptwriter and script editor
Partner(s)Paula Woolsey (former)

His career as a scriptwriter began with drama for radio while he was working as a teacher. Later he was able to cross into full-time writing. He was approached by then Doctor Who script editor Christopher H. Bidmead to submit some ideas to the series on the strength of a recommendation from the senior drama script editor at BBC Radio. He received a commission to write the story The Visitation. This in turn led to his appointment as script editor on the recommendation of Antony Root, who had briefly replaced Bidmead.[2] In addition to his role as script editor, Saward also wrote the television stories Earthshock,[3] Resurrection of the Daleks[4] and Revelation of the Daleks.[5]

He has claimed in interviews that he also performed uncredited writing duties, over and above that normally expected of a script editor, on The Awakening, The Twin Dilemma, Attack of the Cybermen and The Trial of a Time Lord, amongst others. Not all of these claims have been substantiated by other sources.

Saward's other Who writings include the 1983 short story Birth of a Renegade in the special magazine published by Radio Times at the time of The Five Doctors (1983), the 20th Anniversary Special' (and Starlog Press in the United States) and the 1985 radio play Slipback which was broadcast on Radio 4.[6] He wrote the novelisations of The Twin Dilemma and Attack of the Cybermen, as well as those of The Visitation and Slipback, for Target Books' Doctor Who range. His two Dalek stories were for a long time the only stories from the classic Doctor Who series (from 1963 - 1989, 1996) never novelized; Saward eventually wrote novelisations of both stories in 2019.[7] Earthshock was novelised by Ian Marter.[8]

Saward aroused controversy in 1985 because many of the stories of Colin Baker's first season in the role contained numerous scenes of graphic violence and darker themes, which many commentators felt was inappropriate for a programme aimed at a family audience (the season featured acid baths, hangings, cell mutation experiments, executions by laser, cannibalism, poisonings, stabbings, suffocation by cyanide and a man having his hands crushed). Unlike the criticism of violence levelled against the series by Mary Whitehouse during the Philip Hinchcliffe era, disapproval this time came from members of the general public and some Doctor Who fans, as well as Whitehouse. BBC 1 controller Michael Grade publicly criticised the violence featured in Colin Baker's first season and claimed it was one of his reasons for putting the series on an 18-month hiatus from 1985 until 1986. Saward defended these scenes, claiming they were intended to be dramatic and intended to warn audiences against real-world violence.[9]

Saward had a sometimes strained relationship with Doctor Who producer John Nathan-Turner, which gave rise to occasional tensions behind the scenes.[10] When asked in July 1988 "If you could go back and start again, what would you change?" he replied. "The producer" [11]

Saward often objected to Nathan-Turner's insistence on hiring novice Doctor Who writers, which led to Saward having to work hard, not always successfully, on unsuitable scripts submitted by inexperienced contributors. Saward was eventually able to bring veteran writer Robert Holmes back to the series and they became friends before his death.[12] Unfortunately, his working relationship with Nathan-Turner deteriorated further. He had disagreed with Nathan-Turner's casting of Colin Baker as the Sixth Doctor[13] and, following the 1985 hiatus, problems peaked during the production of The Trial of a Time Lord in the middle of 1986 when he resigned as script editor before the completion of production. Nevertheless, Saward's association with the show continued and in the 1990s he wrote linking narration for Doctor Who audio releases of missing episodes. More recently he has appeared in interviews on DVDs of his serials.[14][15] He also contributed a short story to the Big Finish Short Trips collection.[16] Saward has not worked in British television since leaving Doctor Who but he has written for German radio drama.

In his personal life, Saward lived in the Netherlands for three years where he was briefly married. He also had a relationship with fellow writer Paula Woolsey for a number of years. He has two daughters named Natasha and Marielle.


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  4. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2015-04-27. Retrieved 2015-04-19.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  5. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2015-04-27. Retrieved 2015-04-19.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
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  9. ^ See The Handbook:The Unofficial and Unauthorised Guide to the Production of Doctor Who by David J. Howe, Mark Stammers and Stephen James Walker, Telos, 2005 (pgs. 640-2).
  10. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2013-09-16. Retrieved 2015-04-19.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  11. ^ 'Secret Eric Saward' Interview DWB Magazine Issue #58 September 1988. UK: Gary Levy. Retrieved 15 June 2018
  12. ^ Martin, Dan (13 September 2013). "The Trial of a Timelord: Doctor Who classic episode #14". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 31 March 2017.
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