Date Of Birth / Death: – 20 September 1925 – 5 April 1999
Doctor Who Producer: 1965 – 1966
Preceded by: Verity Lamb
Succeeded by: Innes Lloyd
John Wiles was the second producer of Doctor Who, taking over from Verity Lambert in 1965 – until 1966; when he was replaced by Innes Lloyd.
Wiles was brought in to produce, the whilst the show was still riding a popularity wave, due to “dalek-mania”. So Wiles had a hard act to follow, following Verity Lambert’s previous success and eventual departure.
He also struggled to make the leap from being a writer – to being producer. A role he later remarked, was less suited to being creative and more akin to being a “peace-maker”.
Wiles era was short-lived – at only 1 year. In that time, Wiles only worked on 4 serials (The Mythmakers, The Dalek Masterplan, Massacre Of St Bartholomews Eve and The Ark).
His time in charge, was an unhappy one. He tried to put his own stamp on the show, through 1966 but found his direction blocked and his decisions overturned.
He petitioned to have William Hartnell replaced – (as the two frequently clashed and Hartnell’s declining health meant he was difficult to control and unreliable) with another actor (not regeneration exactly but for another actor to physically start playing the Doctor – without it being referenced!).
“……he [Hartnell] was physically not in the best of health, and so he could not learn lines. Consequently, studio days could be absolute purgatory for everybody. If Bill was in an unhappy state, it put everyone into a terrible state!” – John Wiles On William Hartnell.
This idea of replacing the lead actor was overruled but it did start the BBC bosses thinking – about how they could keep the show going, when it came time to retire Hartnell (due to the show’s popularity with the viewing public and Hartnell’s declining health).
Wiles wanted to give First Doctor companion Dodo – a ‘cockney’ regional accent to make her more relatable to working-people but was denied this by bosses who felt that only ‘well-spoken’ actors should appear.
Some of Wiles direction on the studio floor, was overruled by Hartnell himself – who by this point was acting – as an unofficial producer and custodian of the show.
Wiles wanted to remount the latter half of season 3 with new stories but was made to use previously planned stories (which had been written during the Lambert era). Including, The Dalek Masterplan which he was not a fan of. Being aswell that it was a 12-episode story and it’s production time was huge.
Wiles did manage to bring in the more familiar 4-episode format to some of his serials (which was continued after he left) but generally, found his other endeavours completely frustrated.
Out of the 4 produced serials from the Wiles era (The Mythmakers, The Dalek Masterplan, Massacre Of St Bartholomews Eve and The Ark) only The Ark exists complete (and a few non-sequential episodes of The Dalek Masterplan). This was due to the BBC’s criminal policy of wiping tapes to record over them to save money.
It was Wiles who had conceived the concept for The Ark, being a huge city in space. The rest of the story was fleshed out by the writers.
Wiles was also a great admirer of Star Trek: The Original Series and had wanted to retool some of the ideas for use in Doctor Who. Especially, the notion that god of myth and legend were actually powerful space entities.
One of Wile’s abandoned ideas, was to have the Doctor meet an entity – claiming to be “god”. Something that was later done, in the movie – Star Trek V: The Final Frontier – 1989
“I’m one of the few producers ever to resign from the BBC, and it was simply because I was heading very rapidly for a nervous breakdown and I decided that if I was going to have a breakdown, it might as well be in something for which I had respect, rather than this programme [Doctor Who] which, at that stage, I didn’t like!” – John Wiles on resigning.
With most of Wiles era now missing, this was further compounded by Wiles choice, not to use John Cura and his ‘telesnaps service’ which usually documented all of the production (infront of and behind camera) – with still photography.
Wiles eventually resigned in protest – only a year after taking up the role and was replaced by Innes Lloyd. His script editor – Donald Tosh, also resigned, in protest – at Wiles treatment.
Wiles later commented that he was first and foremost a writer – not a producer. After Doctor Who, he returned to writing books and TV scripts. He died, aged 73 – in 1999.
Season Three – 1965-66 :