Graham Williams
Richard Graham Williams

(1945-05-24)24 May 1945
Cheshire, England
Died17 August 1990(1990-08-17) (aged 45)
Occupation(s)Television producer, script editor
SpouseJacqueline Williams

Richard Graham Williams (24 May 1945 – 17 August 1990) was an English television producer, script editor and screenwriter. He produced three seasons of the BBC science fiction television series Doctor Who during Tom Baker's era as the Fourth Doctor, the ITV children's series Super Gran (1986–1987), and thirteen episodes of Tales of the Unexpected (1982–1984).

Early work

After working as the script editor for The View From Daniel Pike (1971), Sutherland's Law (1973), Barlow at Large (1975) and Z-Cars (1975–1976), he was encouraged by Bill Slater, then BBC Head of Serials, to move to production. He created a new police series for the BBC, which became Target, but the corporation's management decided to take him off it at an early stage and charged him with taking over Doctor Who in 1977, swapping roles with Philip Hinchcliffe.

Doctor Who

Williams was the producer on Doctor Who between 1977 and 1980, during the Tom Baker era. Under Philip Hinchcliffe, the series had "reached an almost unprecedented level of popularity",[1] but also come under heavy criticism for its frightening and violent content, especially from Mary Whitehouse. Upon taking over the reins of the series, Williams was instructed by his superiors to tone down the violence.[2] Williams himself thought Hinchcliffe had gone too far for a series that had a large audience of children, but said the BBC had been guilty of an overreaction in response.[3] One of the notable early introductions to the series under the Williams tenure was the robot dog K9, which was part of his effort to aim the series more at younger viewers.[4] Williams was also keen to introduce more humour into the series.[5]

During his period on the programme, Williams worked closely with three script editors: Hinchcliffe-era script editor Robert Holmes continued with Williams for a short while,[6] but was succeeded by Anthony Read in his first season.[7] Read remained as script editor for the following season, also known as the Key to Time, which introduced the character of Romana (Mary Tamm), but Douglas Adams (now best known for The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy) took over the role for his final year, season 17, which saw Lalla Ward replace Tamm as the regenerated Romana.[8] Williams also wrote significant portions of the scripts for two stories beset by writing problems, The Invasion of Time (1978) and City of Death (1979).[2] Although the viewing figures dipped somewhat during Williams' first two seasons, they remained healthy and in 1979 the series achieved its highest ever ratings of 16.1 million viewers (for episode 4 of City of Death), although this was partly attributable to the strike which took the BBC's then-only rival, ITV, off the air.[9]

Williams had three difficult years on the show, including clashes with the increasingly demanding Baker, who wanted more influence over the production side,[10] and also had to deal with budget cuts due to inflation[11] and several instances of industrial action affecting the show, most notably with the abandonment of his final serial, Shada. He decided to leave in 1979, handing over the role of producer to John Nathan-Turner, who had worked under him as production unit manager.

During Nathan-Turner's reign as producer, Williams was approached by script editor Eric Saward at Nathan-Turner's instigation to write a story for Colin Baker's second season. The script was at an advanced stage when it was abandoned, as were all the scripts initially commissioned for that season, after the series was put on hiatus in February 1985. It was to feature the return of the First Doctor villain the Celestial Toymaker. In 1989 Williams wrote a novelisation of his story, The Nightmare Fair (ISBN 0-426-20334-8).

In 1985, he helped design the Doctor Who text video game Doctor Who and the Warlord.[12]

His work on the series is examined in some detail in the documentary 'A Matter of Time' (included in the 2007 BBC DVD release of The Key to Time season), which includes excerpts from two interviews with Williams, conducted at 1980s Doctor Who fan conventions.

Later life and death

He left the BBC in the early 1980s and went on to produce Tales Of The Unexpected for Anglia and the Tyne Tees children's series Super Gran,[13] before leaving television in the late 1980s to run The Hartnoll Hotel, a country hotel in Bolham, Tiverton, Devon.[14]

He died in a shooting accident at home on 17 August 1990.[14] He left a widow, Jacqueline, and three children.


  1. ^ David J. Howe; Mark Stammers; Stephen Walker (1994). Doctor Who: The Seventies. Dr Who. p. 108. ISBN 978-1852274443.
  2. ^ a b "Graham Williams – Doctor Who Interview Archive". Retrieved 26 March 2015.
  3. ^ David J. Howe; Mark Stammers; Stephen Walker (1994). Doctor Who: The Seventies. Dr Who. p. 120. ISBN 978-1852274443.
  4. ^ David J. Howe; Mark Stammers; Stephen Walker (1994). Doctor Who: The Seventies. Dr Who. p. 112. ISBN 978-1852274443.
  5. ^ David J. Howe; Mark Stammers; Stephen Walker (1994). Doctor Who: The Seventies. Dr Who. p. 115. ISBN 978-1852274443.
  6. ^ "Top 10 Doctor Who producers: Part One". 30 March 2010.
  7. ^ "BBC – Doctor Who Classic Episode Guide – Season 15". Retrieved 26 March 2015.
  8. ^ "BBC – Doctor Who Classic Episode Guide – Season 17". Retrieved 26 March 2015.
  9. ^ "City of Death ***". RadioTimes. Retrieved 26 March 2015.
  10. ^ David J. Howe; Mark Stammers; Stephen Walker (1994). Doctor Who: The Seventies. Dr Who. p. 132. ISBN 978-1852274443.
  11. ^ David J. Howe; Mark Stammers; Stephen Walker (1994). Doctor Who: The Seventies. Dr Who. p. 139. ISBN 978-1852274443.
  12. ^ "The CURSE of WHO: WHY has there never been a decent videogame with the Doctor? • The Register". Retrieved 26 March 2015.
  13. ^ "Top 10 Doctor Who producers: Part One". 30 March 2010.
Preceded byPhilip Hinchcliffe Doctor Who Producer 1977–80 Succeeded byJohn Nathan-Turner